We talk a lot about WordPress.com’s capabilities, blogging etiquette, and stretching yourself as a writer, photographer, and creator. Today, let’s take a step back and think about the general health of our blogs — specifically, their gastro-intestinal health:
A healthy blog is like a healthy colon.
There are a few ways to interpret this, and I encourage you to push the metaphor in the comments.* For today, we’re going to focus on regularity: a healthy blog is regular.
Does that mean you have to post every single day? No! Nor does it mean you have to post every other day, or every week — there are some blogs that publish once a month, and they still have followers. What’s important is that there’s some regularity, so readers know what to expect.
Picture this: you stumble onto a new-ish blog. You enjoy the topic, and the blogger has a fun writing style. They post three or four times a week, and you look forward to reading their new posts and chatting with their other fans. They disappear for a few weeks, and then there’s another spate of posts. Next time, they’re gone for a few months, and they they return with a “I’ve been busy!” post. The conversation isn’t as lively any more, and most of the posts are about how they’re sorry not to be posting. You nix them from your Reader, because the good stuff has become infrequent and there’s not much of a community any more.
This has happened to us more often than we care to admit, and it’s probably happened to you, too (maybe it is you). It’s hard to stay engaged with a blog whose author doesn’t seem to care much about it.
We get that life happens, and keeping up a blog isn’t always at the top of the priority heap. You can care about your blog a great deal, but not find the time to post. That being said, consistency remains the key to unlocking many of the treasures of the blogosphere, from a robust fan base to a good Google ranking.
The best thing to do? Be honest with yourself about how much time you can devote to your blog; if you want to build a readership, you need a schedule that will be sustainable over the long haul. If you like to write longer, researched essays and can only churn out one a month, that’s fine. If you like to post shorter, slice-of-life vignettes and can bang them out three times a week, also fine. Once your readers know when they can expect the goods, you’re all set.
There are a few ways you can set yourself up for success:
- If you like structure, create a calendar for yourself sketching out your posts week-by-week, or month-by-month.
- If your prefer something more ad-hoc, pick the days of the week or month you’d like to post and leave the topic up in the air. Jot down ideas as they come to you, and save ’em up for post days.
- If this is more planning than you want to put into your blog, write when you want and keep a periodic eye on things — once a month, take a look at what you’ve published, see how the timing and topics affect your readership, and adjust things on the fly.
- If you feel like you need more of a push, add a widget to your sidebar that announces upcoming posts — you’ve said it publicly, so now you’re committed.
What’s your posting frequency like? Are you challenged to post as frequently as you’d like, and how do you overcome that? What would your ideal schedule look like?
*Here, I’ll start you off: A healthy blog is like a healthy colon; if you put crap in, you’ll get crap out.