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Quick Tip: Stay Regular

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.

Javier Colon

Javier Colon: much more pleasant to look at than a photo of an actual 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.

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  1. I am still in the process of setting up my blog (~ 3 months old) so I try to publish daily. I’ve recently (actually today) changed the layout, themes, added some self-designed simple buttons (no custom upgrade yet).
    I also started a website 2 months ago and try to post regularly there as well.
    In an ideal world, I would have thousands of followers by mid march and then I would comfortably post at least 3 times a week on both blogs.
    Thank you for your helpful tips Michelle!!!

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  2. I have a hard time posting regularly when I’m traveling because of inconsistent access to the Internet and I am using only an iPad when I travel. Maybe I need to remedy this by purchasing a different tablet that’s more compatible with WordPress.

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  3. Daily posts are hard going, I have had my stumbles but since Jan i have had a mon to fri schedule, each day is a different kind of theme, Sat sun are post free days unless there is overflow. I once read a photography blog should be posted on several times a day but really once or twice with good content is fine for me.

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  4. I’m not sure that regular posting makes that much of a difference (someone will now produce some stats to tell me that it does).

    I’ve got a core group of readers/followers/commenters. Some fall off the end inevitably and happily some new ones appear.

    I tend to post two to three times a week on my main blog, more if I have lots of news. But sometimes, I may post more frequently on some of my other blogs. It depends how I feel. For me, Must Write on Monday doesn’t work. Or Wordy Wednesday. Or Snapshot Saturday. Or whatever else. I want to maintain variety of subjects for my readers and don’t want to feel constrained to write on a certain day if I have zilch to say.

    Some people do manage daily blogs well, but they are few and far between. And the idea of needing a prompt defies, to me, what blogging is about. If you can’t think of anything to write, I would say don’t bother. I do sometimes join in the photo-challenge, it can be fun. It’s also fun to see how some of the blogs I follow interpret it. But again, I don’t see it as a must-do.

    One of the reasons I don’t blog daily on each blog (I have blogged daily across all my blogs at times) is that I find it quite overwhelming to read daily blogs, especially if I go away and am off the internet – catching up is a nightmare on a daily blog. If all the blogs I followed blogged daily, I would be swamped. Having said that, I do look for some new posts on certain blogs and am disappointed when they haven’t posted more frequently.

    So I break just about every single rule that has been suggested. I don’t pre-write, I don’t schedule posts in advance, I don’t write on regular days of the week, and when I say I will post about something later, I invariably forget because something else comes up.

    My one comment to new/inexperienced bloggers would be – don’t force yourself to blog. It will come across as contrived and without feeling. I would say writing well, with a distinctive style, and giving your blog a certain sense of identity is the most important thing you can do. And if you are taking time out, or cutting down on your blogging (I did over summer), you may want to add a sticky to let people know that you are either not going to be around, or only posting once a week/once a month, whatever.

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    1. “And the idea of needing a prompt defies, to me, what blogging is about. If you can’t think of anything to write, I would say don’t bother. ” I totally agree.

      Unlike you, I do pre-write. Sometimes I get into a writing jag, so I want to take advantage of it. But don’t need to publish my creation immediately.

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  5. I have been writing every day since half of last January, I noticed The Daily Post and since that I am participating in DP and WP challenges, the blog traffic is good, I am fine with the idea and also I am gaining new readers….

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  6. i would probably be a full time blogger if i could fit it into the rest of my life or find someone crazy enuff to pay me for it – that said i post pretty regularly and close to once a day – i find i generally have more than enuff of what i want to say and use the weekly photo challenge and a fair amount of the weekly writing challenges to fill in the gaps… i think i have a steady, growing readership…

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  7. I post everyday and have since Jan 1. It was supposed to be 1 photo with a bit of story behind it but has evolved into about 5 – 6 photos with a bit longer story. I have been able to keep up so far………I am pleased with WordPress and their helpful challenges and support when needed!

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  8. I’ve found the crossroads of poop jokes and blogging. My life is now complete.
    And to answer the question, my blog is like my poop schedule – it comes out when it comes out.

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  9. I tend to post quite sporadically, and this post made me think about it, and realise that if I was following someone like me, I would hit unsubscribe.
    ie: Recently I didn’t post for 2-3 weeks, then posted twice in a row, and 3 more times that week, then not again for a few days then once, etc.

    WordPress also has a ‘publish at x time’ feature, which I think I will use to regularate the posting, when I post multiple times quickly.

    Thanks for this post!

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  10. I don’t know if where this tip fits in, but take advantage of the auto-post feature, especially if you don’t post very regularly. I have unfollowed blogs that post several times in a day. My reader doesn’t work properly, so I follow through email. Ten emails a day is a little overboard. Spread those posts out over several days, or even a few weeks.

    Posting regularly is great. Posting multiple times a day can be kind of a drag for the reader.

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    1. “And the idea of needing a prompt defies, to me, what blogging is about. If you can’t think of anything to write, I would say don’t bother.”

      That would be a turn-off for me.

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      1. Thank-you my dear friend, I do try, as people remind me……Pete, you are so trying sometimes 🙂 I hope you are well, its freezing here -5c so I am cosy in bed, watching ‘How its made’ Yes I am a geek lol. 🙂

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  11. If I posted an article every time I moved my pooh-man, I’d be posting about 5 articles a day. I’m not sure my few readers could handle that. That shit’s intense. Pun very much intended. IBS, yo!

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  12. I definitely enjoy blogging more now that I regularly use the schedule feature. I made a goal to blog everyday in January, which I did and even though, I’m on holiday for all of Feb, though I don’t have a set goal, I’ve only missed a day or two. The schedule function and I are very good friends 😀

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  13. I don’t have any sort of schedule when it comes to posting. Sometimes I am able to post a day for a week then I find I have nothing to say so readers get…silence. I suppose I could set some sort of schedule but if I miss a day then I’ve blown it! meh..that’s almost close to stressful. lol! I did disappear once for about 6 weeks (I hit a mega writer’s block). My readers waited for me to return. A couple of them even told me, when I did return, that they had gone looking for an email on my page to try and communicate with me…they were worried. That was nice. I suppose my readers don’t expect any kind of schedule from me as no one “unfollowed” me in my absence. I don’t plan to be absent without prior explanation again.

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  14. Consistently erratic and very hyper sensitive to all this prodding and prompting from WordPress. I was seething so much in response to the this Daily Post that I wrote a long rant about it on my blog – so kudos to you Michelle, it actually had the desired effect in a perverse way and dragged another post out of me – just not a very polite one.

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  15. If my math is accurate, tonight will mark my 300th consecutive day of posting without a break. I can’t recommend that sort of monomania for everyone, but I decided to challenge myself back on 4/28/2012 and figured I’d see how long I could go before hitting a wall. So far, so good, even in the worst of times. Miraculously, not once have I had to write a post about having nothing to write a post about. (Oh, how I dread the coming of that day.) I’m considering slowing down the pace in Year Two and allowing myself the occasional vacation day, but haven’t made a firm decision yet.

    Outside of a few stray occurrences, I don’t have time or inclination to write multiple posts per day myself. If I’m following another blogger that manages this because they have a lot more free time than I do (or they can’t resist the urge to keep pounding that “Reblog” button on other peoples’ blogs, like Mario hammering barrels), then I set my email notifications for said blog on “Daily” instead of “Instantly”, which nicely collects their scattershot efforts into a single daily infodump.

    Otherwise, I don’t pay attention to the posting frequency of the blogs I follow — daily, fortnightly, once in a blue moon, whatever. One of my major rules when I’m reading another blog for my first time: if one of the first few posts I skim begins with “Sorry I haven’t posted in a while…” then I’m gone. Don’t spend your entire return post apologizing, listing your excuses, or writing about not writing. If you’d like to write, just write.

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  16. I do have a regular audience. I only blog once a month or twice. Hence, I try to make my blog posts quality oriented in its composition –both visually with decent photos and the writing itself. Not sure if I blogged more frequently my statistics would really jump up a lot.

    As for comparing it to bowel movements,…instead, I like to compare blogging, at least the way how I do it, as stocking the pantry with good groceries and produce. And creating posts as a “dish” to serve up to whoever wishes to sniff, peek and eat it. Even talk about it a bit.

    I do schedule my posts in advance, sometimes several months in advance so that it sometimes coincides with the season and my topic.

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  17. “A healthy blog is like a healthy colon; if you put crap in, you’ll get crap out.” I find that even when I put healthy food into my colon, I still get crap out. But hey, that’s probably just me.

    As for writing, when I challenged myself to a 31 day blogging schedule in January, I kept to it even during the challenging days. When I eased up to a lighter, Wednesday and Saturday, schedule for February I’ve been slipping with my Wednesday posts coming out on Thursdays and my Saturday posts coming out on Sundays.

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  18. I’ve started carrying a notebook with me and writing down my ideas so I have a lot for the future. I’ve also started scheduling a couple of things I’ll do regularly each week and this has really helped me! I’m a full-time writer so sometimes my blog can be overwhelming when it’s added to my daily literary labors, but if I keep options for myself it’s always fun! 🙂

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  19. I put a lot of time into my blog, and am committed to posting every day. It brings me peace, so I make it a priority. But lately I’m struggling – some of the daily prompt topics don’t really spark anything and I don’t know what’s worse – posting something uninteresting or not posting at all. Any and all feedback welcome, as always. WileySchmidt.Wordpress.com

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    1. Hi Wiles, I know the daily prompts can be a challenge. The challenge is to ignite our creativeness on how to respond to the prompt. We do have our own purposes why we started blogging but somehow if I want to be recognized, I must play my part in the blogging world. Also, as I navigated in your site, to find your previous blogs are at the bottom of the page. To have a sidebar is easier for readers. Try and take a look at some of the “likeable” sites. I still love reading your post, Wiles. Keep on trying.

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      1. Ms. Seeker,

        Thank you for taking your valuable time to help me. I really do appreciate it. I’ve been thinking of changing my layout for some time now, and it’s just a matter of finding the right one and following through. Thanks for your advice…it is always appreciated. 🙂 With love, Wiles.

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  20. I carry a notebook with me everywhere i go…..write down thoughts and ideas….my blog is bout me and is totally random just like thoughts are…..i blog pretty much when i have sime spare time….usually when the family is watching tv =)
    I wrte bout things that impact my life…things i like and enjoy….so it makes bloggin’ pretty easy for me…some might say my content is not the greatest….but i enjoy it….and its my blog….so that makes it okay =) even if one person reads it….it was worth writing

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  21. It’s really useful to hear about everyone’s different posting schedules/frequencies and takes on the importance of consistency — thanks for sharing! Hopefully, it helps to hear from others who grapple with posting frequency as well as from those who don’t give a colon’s output about regularity.

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  22. well I always say a healthy body is a healthy mind… and also a healthy colon. That should make me regular right? Well sort of. There are days when I literally don’t know what to write (constipated- yuck) and I have other day were my mind is a laxative and I’m writing even two or three posts a day! Not to mention my backload of drafts… Thats the ‘fat’ my post is storing for a ‘fight or flight moment’!… I’ll excuse myself to the bathroom… I feel another post wanting to be released!!

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  23. Great post, first of all:)
    When I started blogging I read a list of tips for bloggers and the “Do posts an a regular basis” one seemed to me to be the hardest. Also: I didn’t like the obligation that was implied with this regularity (who does like to feel obliged, anyway?)
    BUT…
    I soon realized that it was one of the most important tips and also that you need to be realistic, to be honest to yourself about what you actually can manage.
    It’s like starting a diet in a way – if you want too much too fast (and eat “too less”), you’re bound to fail.
    So I asked myself – in all honesty – what I can manage and came up with this:
    Regular posts only on weekends, because I work full time but nearly always have free weekends.
    Every Saturday I write about an artist that I like and every Sunday I publish a page of my sketchbook (each post can be done in 1-2 hours).
    Sometimes these posts “grow” over the course of the week and sometimes they are done a bit hastily at the day of publishing – but it’s definitely not too much to manage.
    I also post during the week whenever there is something I feel I’d like to do – and I think that this spontaneity is as important as the regularity. They are two sides of the same coin, I guess.

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  24. If you visit my blog, you can see ‘Post A Week’ badge which I took as a challenge to make sure I always post something interesting for everyone out there.

    But for some posts, I can’t wait a week to write, so I have to post it right away. So sometimes I post 2 or 3 times a week depends on the post I write, you may check my Calendar on my blog to check the frequency of my posts, and let me know what you think

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