Optimal blog posting frequency

April 26th, 2005

by

My friend and colleague Toby Bloomberg of Diva Marketing Blog posed an interesting question to me and a small group of other bloggers whom I hold in high regard (Tris Hussey, Paul Chaney, Wayne Hurlbert, Yvonne DiVita, and Dana VanDen Heuvel). Her question was this:

What is best practice for scheduling posts?
If you’re not going to post 5 days a week, should posts be scheduled consistently for the same days of the week e.g., if you’re posting 3 times a week Monday-Wednesday-Friday? How do you feel about mixing up posting days? One week post M-W-F and the next week post T-TH-F. Or does it really matter? For the most part are the only blogs that are doing a consistent schedule the networks?

What a great question! And what great answers from the group. So great, in fact, that it evolved into a podcast group Skype-conference call that we conducted just yesterday. The 53-minute audio recording should be ready soon. I’ll post it when it is.

In the meantime, my take on the issue is this: as far as retaining your readers, frequency is not nearly as important as recency. A couple weeks of inactivity makes the reader feel like nobody’s home. Conversely, having the latest post be only a day old makes the blog appear “fresh”. Personally, I don’t like keeping feeds in my newsreader that haven’t had recent activity.

It also depends on the type of blog you have. A “writer’s blog” (as defined by Seth Godin) doesn’t need the same level of recency or frequency as a “news blog” (also defined by Seth in the same post).

Relevance overrides both recency and frequency. Searchengineblog.com recently posted (paraphrased) “I’m going to stop posting about SEO for several months but I’ll post about my vacation”. Making such an announcement wrecks even more havoc on recurring readership levels than two months of inactivity, because the blogger is in a sense inviting his readers to unsubscribe from his RSS feed. After all, how many of them would want to read irrelevant I’m-touring-the-world posts? My guess, in this time-pressed world of ours, is not very many.

As far as gaining new readers, the trick is getting noticed by the “connectors” (using Malcolm Gladwell’s terminology) in the blogosphere and then getting them to link to you. Again, this isn’t necessarily an issue of frequency. One blogger could post to his/her blog once per week and be more successful at getting coverage by A-list bloggers than a prolific blogger who posts many times per day. This could be achieved a number of ways. Linking to other bloggers can get you noticed by them. Mentioning their names could get you noticed by them (see my recent post where I described the name dropping tactic). Already having some of them as friends helps too. 😉

A lot of the blog entries floating around in the blogosphere strike me as “filler.” I strive to have this blog be filler-free. I only blog when I have something I believe to be valuable for you, my dear readers. I won’t blog about “Adobe acquires Macromedia” unless I can come up with a unique angle that would deliver real value to marketers who read my blog. Unique commentary, I believe, is key to the value proposition. Last week for example I blogged about “how to search engine optimize your podcasts” – something I believe has not been adequately addressed by bloggers. This I’m hoping will get some coverage in the blogosphere because of its uniqueness. “News blogs” can get away with less unique and practical posts than “writers blogs”, but they tend to make up for it with volume – increasing the frequency.

Finally, posting too frequently increases the ephemerality of your blog posts. Mike Davidson made the insightful comment:

“The relative importance of the feed vs. the site depends almost entirely on the ephemerality of the posts. Scoble?Ä´s posts are extremely ephemeral because he a) has so many of them, and b) only comments briefly on each item. Their place in history is rather fleeting, in other words. In the case of a more traditional blog, you have far fewer posts with more in-depth writeups. In this case, the site is of utmost importance and the feed is merely a notification technology.”

With all that said, Wayne Hurlbert has an interesting case study to share of how he doubled his blog traffic by doubling the number of posts per day from one to two. Have a read. (Paul Chaney makes the point that “every blogger is different, the way we write is different, and our personalities are different,” so there’s no right or wrong answer here and of course your mileage will vary.)

Bottom line of all this: the blogosphere is still the Web and the basic online marketing principle of testing everything, rather than just believing whatever I say, still applies.