Going Serial: The Power of Intervals
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.
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!).
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?