One of the questions I hear most often from bloggers is, “how often should I post?” I like to turn the question around and ask: “how often can you produce high-quality articles that people want to read?”
The “how often” question can’t really exist on it’s own. There are just too many variables to give a standard answer. What topic is your blog about? Who is your audience? How long are your articles? How often do successful blogs in your niche post?
If you look around at popular blogs both in and outside of your topic, you’ll probably find examples that are frequently updated and some that are infrequently updated. For every Copyblogger, there’s a Tim Ferriss. You’ll find some that publish long, in-depth articles and some that only publish Godin-length posts.
The most important factor isn’t how often you post or how long your posts are. There is no magic frequency or length. It’s the quality of your posts that matters. More specifically, how useful or engaging are your blog posts to your readers?
You should set your content schedule according to your content quality. The more often you can post quality content, the better.
But hold on before you go and decide that you’ll only post when you have something epic to write about. Just like there are dangers in setting the bar for quality too low, it’s also dangerous to set the quality bar too high.
Problems With Setting The Quality Bar Too High
The trouble with setting an overly-high quality bar is that it can lead to burnout, “analysis paralysis” (where you over-analyze every post idea) and second-guessing yourself when a post you thought would be epic doesn’t end up getting much recognition.
- Burnout is a very real problem in blogging. What starts off seeming like a doable plan to maintain a blog can easily turn into a dreaded chore over time. This problem is made worse when you won’t allow yourself to relax and experiment with your post types/lengths/frequencies because you’re afraid of writing something no one will appreciate.
- Over-analyzing post ideas and articles will add a lot of extra time to your writing process and weigh down your efforts. When your content quality bar is too high, it’s easy to over-analyze every decision or idea.
- Expecting every post to be a hit because you’re always aiming for quality can be a recipe for beating yourself up when a post inevitably bombs. Once you start second-guessing your writing abilities, you’ll start overlooking solid post ideas and make your job even harder.
Dangers of Setting The Quality Bar Too Low
I don’t want to make it sound like the only risk is in setting the bar too high. Writing mostly quick, easy, low-value posts might make your job as a blogger easier, but it certainly won’t build an audience very fast.
Producing consistently low-quality posts is worse than the opposite, especially in the beginning.
If you’re new to blogging or haven’t built the audience you’re aiming for yet, you should definitely err on the side of over-delivering value to your readers. Once you’ve gathered some momentum, you can afford to post less frequently and toss in more quick updates.
The Goldilocks Approach
There’s a Goldilocks approach to content quality that will serve you best. Don’t post useless fluff just to meet a self-imposed posting schedule, but don’t predestine yourself for burnout by setting an impossibly high standard for quality. Neither of those situations are ideal for building a loyal audience.
Instead, set a quality standard that is “just right” for you, in that it leads to consistency in value without risking coming to a dead end before you achieve your blogging goals.
The blogosphere is littered with blogs which started with good intentions but ended because their content quality was either too low (and they never got off the ground), or too high (and the blogger couldn’t keep up the pace). Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint, but sometimes you need to take the lead by pushing things in the beginning.
photo by Krystn Palmer Photography