I recently received a question from Dan about ensuring the quality and quantity of his blog posts. With so many of us blogging I thought it might be an interesting areas to cover.
Over 66% of blogs have not been updated in over 2 months and anywhere between 60% and 80% are abandoned within their first month. It is very easy for a blog to go from a good idea to an embarrassment.
The main problem is that blogging is a lot more work than people expect. Regularly coming up with quality content over the long term is a significant challenge and many individuals and organisations find it hard to keep up.
Many bloggers struggle with getting their posts right. They feel the pressure to post regularly but also want to maintain the quality of what they put out. I think Dan reflects the feelings of many bloggers in the question he sent to me…
For as long as I can remember the prevalent thought has been that the key to success for blogging and podcasting is to post frequently and on a regular schedule. Now, this made a lot of sense because websites had to get visitors to comeback manually to find new content. But now in the age of RSS feed is this advice still as important as it used to be if at all? Also in terms of how web managers spend their resources is it more important to do a few updates with stella quality or to manage your time so that frequent updates are the priority?
I get the sense that Dan is keen to lighten the load and understandably so. However I think that by doing so he may undermine the effectiveness of his blog.
Let look at the two questions he raises.
Do I still need to post regularly and frequently?
Dan is right when he says the prevalent thought is that bloggers should be posting frequently and on a regular schedule. However, I believe this is about more than drawing people back to your site.
The amount and regularity with which you post depends very much on why you are blogging in the first place. If you are blogging purely for fun then it really doesn’t matter how often or how regularly you post. However, if you blog for more commercial reasons or even to build your personal profile then it does matter.
Blogging is a powerful way of continually keeping your brand (whether that be personal or corporate) in somebody’s mind. For example if I only posted once every few months the chances are you would soon forget about me and fail to include me in that invitation to tender for that great web project you are working on! Equally by posting regularly you build an expectation (either consciously or unconsciously) and users start to miss your when they are not there. For example, every time I take a week off of recording boagworld I always receive emails saying that the show was missed. Even the absence of a post can keep your brand in people’s mind if you are posting regularly enough.
Of course Dan’s point about RSS feeds is a valid one. In a world of RSS the need to constantly encourage people back to your site is less. However, you need to be careful not to make assumptions. Yes it is true that if you are aiming at the geek audience there is not the same need to post regularly and frequently. However, if you are aiming at a mainstream audience I wouldn’t be so sure. Feeds are still a long way from being universal and many users still do not know how to get notifications via RSS.
There are endless debates online about how often you should blog. To be honest there is no single answer. It depends on multiple factors including audience, subject matter and the popularity of your blog. However as a rough starting point I would encourage most people to blog at least once a week. Of course if you have a particularly popular blog that figure might be nearer two or three times a day!
However, blogging isn’t just a matter of frequency its also about the quality of the posts. That brings us nicely on to the second part of Dan’s question.
Is quality or quantity more important?
Should the emphasis be placed on posting regularly and frequently or on ensuring a high quality of post? Personally, I am not sure that this is the best question to ask. I think instead the question should be “how do I create something relevant to my readers?”
If you are writing a blog aimed at academics then the chances are the emphasis should be on quality. If you are writing to friends and family they are probably more interested in hearing from you regularly. However, for those of us who have an audience somewhere in between there are ways that you can have the best of both worlds.
Consider defining a list of several different types of posts you can add to your blog. Some of those types can have an emphasis on quality while others can be quick and easy so they can be used more regularly.
Take my blog for example. I post the show notes which tend to be very detailed and take a long time to put together. Then there are opinion pieces like this one, which are more frequent but not quite as detailed. Finally, there are links to other resources. It takes seconds to bookmark and comment on a link and so these appear on a much more regular basis. By using these different styles of postings you can ensure a frequency on your blog without losing the quality of what you are publishing.
Obviously, there is a lot more that can be said about blogging. Indeed entire books have been written on the subject. However, in answer to Dan’s question I strongly believe that posting frequently and regularly is still very important. The trick is to do this without overly compromising the quality. Having different styles of post will help with that but you may also want to get others involved in posting. The only downside of this in my experience is that a lot of people who offer to “help out” fail to deliver the goods.