June 1, 2008

Blogging Tip #4: Post Frequency

The blogging tips I have provided so far in this series have been anything but controversial. Not so with this one. The question of how often one should update one's blog has no more accurate answer than "it depends." Some argue that a post a week is sufficient, and others suggesting we should post several times a day. In this tip, I'll consider some of the factors on which it depends and provide some general recommendations to the degree possible.

The most common advice given to new bloggers hoping to build their readership is 1 post/day (see here for a dissenting opinion). For this target group (i.e., those with relatively new blogs seeking to build a reader base), I believe that 1 post a day is a reasonable goal worth recommending.

The mistake most bloggers make, especially when starting out, is not posting frequently enough. This is precisely the time when high post frequency is so important - you are establishing your brand, trying to stimulate search engine traffic, and hoping others will link to you. I certainly made the mistake of not posting often enough in the early days of this blog. My readership built very slowly, I received little search engine traffic, and only a dedicated few linked to me.

But if more posts are better, why not post as much as one can? Besides the obvious challenge of not having enough time to write multiple posts per day, there may be other costs associated with posting too frequently. I have noticed again and again that I lose feed subscribers each time I write multiple posts in a day. I know this is why they leave because they tell me, indicating "blog updates too often" as their reason for unsubscribing. I usually make up the numbers over time, but it is still discouraging. Next, frequent posting significantly reduces comment conversation. Many readers (though certainly not all) comment only on the most current post. It takes a stronger post to continue to draw comments as it moves down the list. This means that if you want to encourage active commenting, you should be careful about writing too many posts per day. Finally, there is the issue of quality. I have no doubt that fewer better quality posts are better than more crappy ones.

The optimal number of posts is unlikely to be static across all blogs and will depend on your goals and the nature of your blog (e.g., established blogs have far more leeway than new ones in not posting as often). For me, it seems to be 1 post/day. I get to enjoy active comments without driving away subscribers. There will be some days when I write 2-3 posts and others where I do not write any, but I do find the 1/day frequency advantageous.

To find your optimal number, consider the following:
  • Why do you blog? The more important traffic and readership growth are to you, the more I'd recommend a 1 post/day target.
  • How new is your blog? The newer it is, the more I'd recommend averaging 1 post/day.
  • What sort of post frequency is reasonable for you, given your job, your social life, and your level of interest in blogging? If you try to exceed what you can handle, quality will suffer.
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