Many eager businesses and new bloggers start with the intent of churning out killer content, only to run headlong into the lurking, ever-present challenge of publishing on a consistent basis. If there’s one reason why so many blogs fail to perform as expected with traffic and readership, it’s frequency. Publishing worthwhile content on a regular basis is hard.
But if posting every day is too difficult, how often should a blogger post? What sort of blog post numbers work out best for the brand? Will too many posts start discouraging or annoying readers? Will too few posts make it easy for them to drop the habit? (Stop it. My head is spinning.)
More Posts are Better, But…
It is tempting to say that more blog posts are always better. Yes, blogs that have a higher rate of articles published get more pageviews, as the folks at Repost have demonstrated. In essence, if you get 1000 pageviews per article per week, and you only post once per week, you’re going to get about 1000 pageviews that week. However, if you post two articles, voila, your pageviews pretty much double. And that multiplier holds true if you post 5 or 10 or 30 posts in a week.
That seems like a very reassuring statistic to me: If I post more often, people read my blog more often. Period.
We also know that authorship doesn’t affect readership very much. So, utilizing other sources for content, like guest contributors, or syndication sources are generally a good idea.
But (you knew this was coming), publishing an effective blog is a nuanced business and requires a lot more strategy than simply throwing large quantities of content onto your website. While there probably is a perfect post frequency, it differs from one site to the next.
A Tale of Two Successful Bloggers
Glen Allsopp is the sole author of ViperChill, a widely read blog about internet marketing. He has 21,000 subscribers and an Alexa rank around 6800. Not too shabby. Glen’s preference is to deliver seriously in-depth posts when he has something important to say. In the month of October, he posted three times. His previous post before that was the beginning of September.
It’s easy to dismiss his process as lazy, but he has more marketing reach than the vast majority of blog publishers out there. His site has great engagement, too– rarely do posts receive fewer than 100 comments, often ranging above 400. How does he manage that? Well, read his blog and you’ll see that he can spend days on a single post. They’re packed with examples, images and really good advice. That’s his style and it works for him. His content is just so good, readers will wait.
On the other end of the spectrum is renowned marketer and author, Seth Godin. His blog is visited with almost the same frequency as Glen’s, but Seth posts about once and sometimes twice per day. Unlike Glen’s long form articles, Seth’s posts are often very short. Here’s a great one (though they generally are all pretty great):
How do you compete with free? How does a wedding photographer or a travel agent—someone who used to make a good living performing a task that was hard to do without them—compete against ubiquitous free alternatives?
There’s only one way: Sell something better than free.
Make a product or provide a service that’s worth paying for.
You don’t need a better way to talk about what you do, or a better gimmick, or a better social media strategy. In fact, you need to reinvent and rebuild what you make for a new reality, a reality where paying for something is an intentional act of buying something way better than the free alternative.
I’m sorry if this seems obvious. It’s apparently not obvious to all the frustrated people I encounter who are still trying to sell the old thing in a new market.
That wasn’t an excerpt; that was the entire post.
So while Glen is an infrequent epic post kind of publisher, Seth is more of a stream-of-consciousness, thought-of-the-day blogger. Which is better? Read a handful of their posts and you quickly understand that’s a silly question. They are both phenomenal thought leaders and their different styles work for them, because they have strong editorial visions that readers appreciate. And that’s the point: If your content works for your audience, you don’t have to adhere to a strict code of best practices.
What is the “Best” Publication Frequency for Me?
From once a month to several times a day, setting a blogging schedule is the key. The Internet is a fast-moving place, so it’s a good idea keep up with regular posts, while also matching your content production capabilities. Writer burnout can hurt your image when content gets sloppy or infrequent, or both. If only we didn’t see that happening. All. The. Time.
In general, brands tend to post around 1.3 Facebook posts a day. That fits the Seth Godin pace– all his posts are syndicated straight to Facebook where 219,000 fans like his page. But most blog publishers can’t maintain a Facebook-like pace. Nor does a high rate of production guarantee engagement, and engagement is always the goal.
The key to understanding the best frequency for your blog is based on the kind of content your target audience needs and wants. So take some time to research the best publishers in your niche and recognize what you see that works, and what doesn’t. It’s best to form your publishing strategy around evidence than pure speculation.
Generally, publishing about one post a week is a good benchmark for a business blog when it’s new with little traffic. This is doable for the average small business, and allows you plenty of room for expansion as you become more deft at your work. One post a week will help maintain at least a minimal connection with consumers , social followers and search engines, even if you don’t manage many more social posts in between sharing your blog posts. Then you need to decide whether or not to increase the workload. A professional blogger, on the other hand, might start out with three to five posts per week.
In either case, as I mentioned above, engagement matters. After the first few months of discovering your voice, how you cater to your niche and what readers respond to will guide your content production.
Metrics are your friend here in understanding what’s working for you. By installing Google Analytics, you’ll gain a lot more clarity about how users are actually behaving on your site. Do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t, from post style, to topics to the days and times you publish. It’s all part of the equation.
Remember: Every Blog is Different
That sweet spot of maximum traffic for minimum effort will change based on your business, your niche and the style of your content. Customize the blog to your audience. For example, a blog in the entertainment industry may benefit from a high frequency. A fashion industry site may benefit from a lower frequency that rides the seasonal waves.
Also keep in mind important factors such as:
- Meeting Expectations: When do your customers want blog posts? There’s plenty of information online about when people tend to read posts. Publish in the morning to get more Facebook shares, publish in the afternoon for more Tweets, etc. Posting on the weekends can create more social activity like comments…but if your clients tend to only read business blogs on the weekdays, don’t expect much of a result.
- Finding Out What Your Audience Wants: Mix up content with different types of posts and media, but always study your data. If traffic picks up for a certain type of media, focus more on it. Some audiences may like videos. Other may prefer to share studies and infographics. Some just like to read interesting or funny posts.
- Investing in Quality: Why would readers share a post with friends or follow it to a purchase? Typically, high quality is the catalyst to any successful blog. Throwing out frequent, low quality posts will do your brand no favors. If you want, consider using outside vendors or tools like Storify to help make your content creation simpler.
Once you start to establish a connection with readers, and you trust your editorial judgement, adding more content through curated sources, guest contributors and even branded content is like stepping on the accelerator for your blog. Remember: so long as you have engagement, increasing your frequency is almost always a good thing, because more good quality posts = more pageviews. Just don’t try to force the frequency without knowing