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Going Serial: The Power of Intervals

Going serial — introducing an element of repetition and regularity into your writing schedule — can go a long way…

Going serial — introducing an element of repetition and regularity into your writing schedule — can go a long way toward ending a blogging slump.

Blogging gives us absolute freedom to create content and publish it on our own schedule, at the click of a button. The same freedom, however, can sometimes become a blogger’s Achilles’ heel. With no set deadlines to meet, you might feel less pressed to post regularly. Your readers, too, might stop expecting a steady flow of fresh material from you. It’s a vicious cycle many writers have encountered.

Good habits, happy readers

When you decide to post (something, anything) in prefixed intervals you make a double pact. First, with yourself: as the person who sets the pace, you choose how to manage your time and your blog’s schedule. Your pact is also with your audience, though: with a schedule in place they know they can trust you, and have a reason to come back for more of the good stuff.

Anti-Gravity, by bmakphotography (from his Project 52, a weekly photo series)

There are many ways to serialize your blog — in part or in whole — and bloggers have been tremendously creative with structuring their blogs to fit with their busy schedules. At WordPress.com, we, too, have taken advantage of regularly scheduled features, from Theme Thursday to Friday Faves — to say nothing of our Daily Prompts, designed to motivate bloggers to post something new every single day.

A daily dispatch? A weekly wave?

For those who want to personalize their own post-a-day project, the options are limitless, from a 365 Project featuring a photo diary, to a daily foray into a fashion-obsessed blogger’s closet. (Yes, you can post your daily Lego creations, too, if you wish!) Some daily blogs go for a more diverse program on their sites. For example, Should Be Reading, a book blog, offers a weekly menu that includes Salon Sunday and Teaser Tuesday. Another blog,  What’s for Lunch? came up with a smart idea for busy writers: its seven collaborators are each responsible for content one day a week.

Some bloggers want to have more flexibility in their schedule, while still anchoring their writing activities with a weekly feature. How about About-Me Mondays?  A Cover Crush Tuesday (or a Texture Tuesday photo post, for the Tuesday lovers out there)? A What I’m Listening To Wednesdays, perhaps? There are really no rules other than making a rule. You can base your decision on your own work schedule, or try to match your strongest, most reliably popular content with days on which you get the most traffic (how can you do that? A quick look at your stats will do the trick!).

Jellies, by Melinda Anderson, from her Texture Tuesday weekly photo series. Texture by Kim Klassen.

Many bloggers prefer greater liberty in their topic selection or in their publishing frequency. Others might be worried about exhausting their chosen subject. Even so, enterprising writers have found creative ways to maintain a regular schedule and encourage a healthy, loyal readership.

Your time, your blog

A weekly photo post might give an audience just enough time to want more. A weekly song challenge inspires one blogger to compose an original song every week, while another artist uses a weekly post to report on the progress of his different projects. Their respective readers don’t know in advance what they’ll encounter in each post, but they know it’ll be there.

You shouldn’t be intimidated by the need to create original content on call — in fact, some of the most interesting weekly features out there use a repeated feature as the space for some curation activity. You may have heard of Freshly Pressed, but what about Freshly Pegged? That’s where Peg, from Peg-o-Leg’s Ramblings, allows one favorite blogger every week to present his or her best post. One blogger, focusing on books, presents readers with a monthly reading report, while another gives a best-of list of links to her favorite content of the previous month.

A timely hook

A regularly scheduled post can serve one more useful purpose: showcasing your own best (recent) work. How about a weekly summary of your posts, accompanied by an attractive photo mosaic? Or a monthly digest of your blogging activities? Both are great ways to prolong the shelf life of your posts and ensure that new visitors get a glimpse of your archive, even if they had just stumbled upon your blog for the first time.

Creating a steady tempo of posts is but one aspect of serializing, and we’ll cover others, like longform and fiction writing, in later installments of the series. For now, though, tell us about your own experiences: how have you serialized your blog? What has worked for you?

Enjoy serialized blogs? Looking for more ideas? How about…

You might also enjoy these related posts:

71 Comments

  1. This is great advice. Right now, I’m doing 100 Essays in 100 days. (www.redswrap.wordpress.com). Twofold purpose: get into a challenging rhythm of writing and boost readership. It’s working on both counts.

  2. When I first started out I didn’t really have a set schedule, but now I post regularly three days a week (Mon, Wed, Fri) and video posts three times as well (Tues, Thurs, Sat). While it definitely think this has shown positive changes on my blog, I’m starting to run into writers block a bit more often. Part of me wants to designate at least one of the writing days to something really simple, but I’m not sure what that might actually be. This post has definitely got me thinking, though!

    1. For a truly easy idea, you can always rely on our Daily Prompt (linked above) — it’s sure to present an interesting, yet approachable topic.

  3. I used exactly this strategy for my entire blog. It’s called Any Given Monday and each Monday I post short stories (or installments of my more “medium stories”). It’s worked well because I have time to spend each week writing and polishing new pieces of work and at the same time my readers know when to expect new material.

  4. So many terrific ideas, here, thank you! I post on Tuesdays and Fridays on my poetry blog (www.andotherpoems.wordpress.com) but I’m more haphazard with my personal blog. I really like the idea of introducing a regular feature. With the school summer holidays about to start in the UK, now would be a good time to run a mini-serial post to test response! Lots to think about here – thanks for the inspiration :-)

  5. Hey, thanks for the shout out! Every Wednesday I’m thrilled to select a talented blogger and present the post that THEY think was their best work.

    But can we still be friends since today’s offering was an announcement that Freshly Pegged is taking a month off for the summer? Awkward.

    1. Thanks for the clarification — I tweaked my description accordingly. We’ll be there when you’re back from your much-deserved break (enjoy!).

  6. Really good advice. I just started sparkfileblog.com but I’m trying to post in a predictable fashion. I’ve anchored the blog around three series: Tuesday Truth, Wednesday Well Said and Three Song Thursday.

    The challenge (for me) is to make these series connect to one another. Otherwise it feels like I’m running three different blogs out of one page.

  7. I’ve been doing Wildlife Wednesdays (photos from my yard) for more than a year, and it’s my most popular day. The other 6 days a week can be about anything or nothing, but Wednesdays are covered…takes the pressure off the ol’ brain!

  8. I just do whatever I can do. I have no choice right now. It is all I can do. For some reason my subscribers are so loyal to me since I started here in 2011 that I am truly in awe of their presence in my world. It is such an honor to have so many who have never met me in the real world comment on my “genuine” way of being in the world and speak volumes to theirs as well. Thank goodness I only know how to be me, lol. Blogging has saved my life and given me new hope, fresh breath and promise of more to come. For this, I will be eternally grateful. auroramorealist.wordpress.com.

  9. Hey, this is timely! Today’s edition of Bipolar For Life kicks off the first of a series (ongoing, I hope) of interviews with people who live with mental illness. Our first victim, er, interviewee, is the fabulous Ruth Jacobs, author and human rights campaigner against sexual slavery, who happens to suffer from mental illness as well. The thrust of the series, Breaking the Silence of Stigma, is to, uh, break the silence of the stigma that surrounds mental illness, which creates barriers in every possible aspect of life and promotes worsening of symptoms including suicide risk. The interviews will come out every Wednesday, God willing, so stop by and check them out!

  10. I am a new blogger and trying to figure out my rhythm. For me, I am really committed to posting once a week. I would like to write more, but I am worried about fatiguing my audience and my subject. Does anyone else worry about this? I am also looking for ways to encourage my readers to comment, such as adding a questions section called, Food for Thought. I love this advice and need more! :)

    -Kristy

    1. I’m figuring out my rhythm as well since I just started blogging 4 weeks ago. I can easily whip out 4 posts a week if I wanted to, however like you said I don’t want to ‘fatigue my subject’, so I did a little experiment to see which days get the best traffic so I can put out my ‘best’ content or the ‘gems of the blog’ on the best days. I experimented by putting my smaller posts: ‘Food Finds’ and ‘Snack Finds’ everyday throughout the week over a 2 week period to get my answer.

      As for encouraging commenting, I would say it can be tough to gage which posts will get you comments and which won’t because you just don’t know since it’s dependent on the reader and how inspired and invested they feel to leave a response. The best way I’ve found to get more readers to engage in your comments is by leaving comments on their blog, at least in the beginning when you’re trying to gain readership this will at least get them to visit your page. Just think of it as putting more of the odds in your favor. It’s the blogging circle of life.

      Let me know what ends up working for you. Happy blogging :)

      1. Thanks! I will try the checking the traffic too to see if there is a pattern. I have also been trying to comment more on other blogs and when doing so, asking for the blogger to check out my site (when they have some time of course). I don’t know if it works most of the time but it doesn’t hurt to try right? Thanks for the advice. Now I’m off to check out your site!

        -Kristy

    2. I’m right there with you! Started blogging this summer, no rhyme or reason to my blogging schedule right now. I’m going to be settling into one though so that when my teaching schedule kicks in I won’t lose my blogging flow. I’m going to be maintaining a classroom website blog as well. Another good reason to have scheduled writing times. Thanks for the advice about commenting on others and hopefully bringing more readers around with their comments for me too.

  11. I post with regularity on Mondays and Tuesdays, though I haven’t set it up at my definite post days. Sometimes, if there’s been a lot going on, a post will sneak in on a Wednesday (like this week). Or, if we’re going somewhere or doing something interesting over the weekend, I’ll cover our preparations on Thursday or Friday. I have a bit of a recurring series in my Wild Food posts, where I cook game. I also had a series about new/interesting/possibly useless equipment my significant other bought for our hobbies. However, my schedule with work is wonky, so neither have a set day. But the food posts are some of my most well-received.

    1. Kudos to you for blogging along with such a packed schedule!

      One thing you can explore, in case you want to build regularity even if your real-life schedule is unpredictable, is to schedule a post to be published on a given day and time (you can set the schedule in the Publish module, in the top-right corner of your editor screen). This way you can write when you have the time, and publish when it makes the most sense for you and your readers.

      1. Thanks! I’d been wondering how to schedule them in advance, but hadn’t thought to ask. When I know I’ll be busy, I line up a few drafts ahead of time, and then take a minute to just post them day-of. :P This will work way better.

  12. This is great. My blog http://www.myfemalepersuasion.com is mostly about dating. Since I’m also working on a memoir, and didn’t want to mix both subjects in one blog, I was going to start an entirely separate blog. After reading this post, I might just start “memoir Mondays” on my existing blog and build on my current readership. Any advice from anyone reading this would be helpful!

  13. There’s a lot of people using wordpress.com/wordpress.org to also do serial fiction blogging. Al lyou have to do is surf the #serial #serialfiction and #webfic tags to find us :)

    1. And I hope we will – as I noted at the end of the post, we’ll be looking at other forms of serialization on WordPress.com in future installments in this series. Fiction is definitely an important part of this.

  14. I’m doing a countdown (top Nebraska Football players to wear each jersey number, 1 – 99). Instead of doing one monster post, I’m breaking it up into chunks of ten that I’m posting each week.

    My hope is that shorter, more digestible posts, on a regular basis (with links from one post to another) boosts readership – and keeping the schedule up is keeping me accountable.

    Speaking of which, I need to finish this week’s segment (79 – 70)…

    If can get started on the countdown here: http://feitcanwrite.com/2013/06/25/greatest-huskers-by-the-numbers-introduction/

  15. I try (but do not always succeed) to post a weekly-photo-challenge photo on Friday.
    Then I try to post a related saying or quote from a famous person using the same cue on my “Saturday Sayings” post.
    Then on Sundays, I try to match it with a similarly suitable selection from Scripture.
    My readers love it.

  16. Great advice! Very insightful and without a doubt, great tips to blog by. I love a weekly wrap up myself and it’s definitely a great thing to do for oneself and the great array of readers out there too!

  17. Thanks for the really great ideas! I will definitely have to try some of them, esp the weekly themes-they sound good… I have just started something called monthly musings on 1 July, where I answers 3 questions about myself each month and encourage readers to do the same on their blog. Yet to see how it goes. I just started my blogging journey and am having a great time really with this blog (www.mindurspirit.wordpress.com) and its heartening to see people read and like it :)

    1. The weekly themes greatly appeal as I have time to think and reflect on the subject.

  18. Since January 7, 2013 I’ve used the word release in every blog post. It started when the minister in our church placed stars on the sanctuary floor. She asked us all to select a star. On the back of each star was a word. Yes, you couldn’t return the star for a word you preferred. “Simply, ” she said, “reflect on the word over the year and place teh star where you can see it.”

    Since I’ve been keeping a blog and did a daily entry last year I decided to use the word release in every blog post. Some posts are humorous, some serious—some a stretch to get the word into the post—but for the most part the word has leant itself to some interesting forays. It’s a word with a myriad of meanings.

  19. Coming off a few years of writer’s block, I know that not being able to write ranks with the greatest of life’s losses to me. I am inundated with words- different types, topics, and styles. It feels like there’s so much to say– that there isn’t enough time to write it all. I condense and its still gigantic. It has only been a little less than a month before I started back writing. Daily Posts are helping me practice writing for a topic again. But the things I try to write pale in comparison to what pours from me. I would love any advice you may have for that, but on this…Great work!

  20. I am new to the blogging community and still have much to learn. This sounds like great advice. The silence at my lack of blogging comes because life gets in the way. Routine sounds like a good way to get going again. Thanks!

  21. I have two blogs and I post regularly on Tuesdays on one and Thursdays on the other. I also participate in the weekly photo challenge which means I have an extra post on each blog on the weekend that usually doesn’t need quite so much text.

  22. I saw a reference from this blog to mine, and while reading the post realized that you mentioned About Me Mondays, and I was so excited! I’ve had to take a pause from them over this summer, but they will resume in the fall. Thanks so much for the link!!! That makes me so happy!!!! I do About Me Mondays, Half Way Wednesdays, and I’ve started a series of interviews with one every two weeks. I personally like the consistency and it definitely motivates me to think and write. I also find it a great way to plan ahead, and prepare some posts just in case. Thanks again for the link, really appreciate it.

      1. Thanks! I also like to serialize by view count, where I post a short story every 1000 views, which allows me time to organize and/or write the stories between posting them. I find it works very well. It also drives me to write more than I usually might, which is great.

  23. I started out in 2009 with no particular direction to my blog. Health issues interrupted it several times.

    I recently chose a new, more visual theme and a new direction (“…surviving retirement with two cats) that revitalized the blog. Though I don’t post every day, some days I post twice. What can I say?

    If you like what you write about, your blog writes itself! Having a way to post photos and videos that illustrate what I’m writing about also adds interest to the activity. My cats are adorable! That’s my opinion, of course, but it’s true! =(^+^)=

  24. Thanks for linking to me! I’ve definitely found that an editorial calendar and set posts (my monthly round-up and always posting a photo of my pup on Saturdays) helps me maintain consistency.

  25. Despite one-a-week and two-a-week frequencies my two blogs are having trouble get a single reader. What’s wrong? Please help. scienceandartblog.com and abriefhistoryoflife.com

    1. Hi Michael, a couple of general things to think about:

      1) Nurture your network: visiting, reading, and especially commenting on others’ blogs is probably the best way to encourage readers with similar interests to yours to visit your blog. Participating in weekly challenges here on The Daily Post doesn’t hurt, either. In other words, try to raise your community visibility.

      2) Better tagging: I notice on your blogs that you use both categories and tags, which is wonderful. I wonder, though, if your tags might be too specific. Don’t get me wrong — specific tags are a good idea — but it’s even better to mix them in with broader terms to let different types of visitors to stumble on your blog on the Reader.

      3) Finally, even when you do everything right it can sometime take some time to build an audience. I see your blogs are both a couple of months old; that’s already great in itself, but it might just be that you need some more time to gain traction. With better tagging and more interaction in the community, I’d be shocked if your readership doesn’t improve.

      If any fellow blogger wishes to chime in, your thoughts are most welcome.

  26. Thanks for giving me the push I needed to come up with an idea for a regular themed post. I’ve been blogging sporadically for about 5 years and this year decided to try and get more systematic about it. I’d been trying to think of ways to regain momentum on my blog, and this post was very helpful.

    I sometimes participate in the weekly photo challenge and I try to do special posts for special days like World AIDS Day or anniversaries, but after reading this I came up with the idea of doing a regular weekly post on music – so starting from today I will be doing Monday Music (http://maamej.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/introducing-monday-music/) posts. The beauty of it is I can plan ahead and schedule posts, match the content to what’s going on in my life and the world, and keep the blog alive in between other,longer posts on my blog’s ‘core business’ which is life in a bicultural family (and related issues).

    So once again, thanks, I am really appreciating the wonderful ideas and support in the WordPress community.

  27. Thats a great idea! I think I should try this for a period of time and see if it works. Maybe it would also solve my problem, too many ideas and too little time to actually write them down and get the pictures done.

    Most of the time I am writing my posts in my head. And I must say I am stunned at what I get there! Sadly, readers do not have access to it…

    But hopefully pretty soon there will be software that would type my thoughts I virtually type in my head for my blog and post it in black on white accessable to everyone.

    If you happen to already know such a software, please be so kind to let me know, deal? ;)

    1. Ha! I see you over here, Darpegla. Taking time out of your “5 most brilliantly funny bloggers of the universe” life for little ‘ol me? Aren’t you a sweetie!

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