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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.ย 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. Thank you! That was exactly what I needed. We all need a dose of Castor Oil every now and then to get the pipes flowing again – the truth hurts and it tastes really bad but it has to be done! The superb writer Elizabeth Gearge has said we all need ‘bum glue’ and that sort of fits in with what you’ve just said. Sit there and write – write and save or jot down ideas, I like that. Now I shall get all my working titles in a row …..

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  2. After struggling with this for a while, I am now doing three posts a week for my fiction writing blog on set days of the week. One is always too a picture story, that is a short bit of fiction written around a photograph(http://justmomentarily.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/loose-lips-a-tale-of-two-kisses/). I’m finding it works well for me in that its like any other deadline in my life and my readers seem to prefer it too. Curious? Check me out at: justmomentarily.wordpress.com

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  3. Enjoyed the post. Loved the “COLON” metaphor!
    Being a student, my plate is never and empty, and thus I prefer posting weekly. Except when there us any special occasion, of course. That is the only way I can keep up!
    I do jot down ideas for new posts, and the weekly challenges are really helpful!

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  4. It is tough to find a balance, I think 2 posts a day is fine, 3 at a push and I hopefully will stick around that figure. I do use the schedule option sometimes so that my posts fall on the same time which shows regularity, but sometimes I struggle for content.

    Also although I write for me rather than for others, I still do love the interaction that comes with comments and even likes. I know I would not bother writing anything if no one commented and no one liked posts so it is a two way street really.

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  5. I think posting in a predictable manner, so your followers have some idea when a new post is likely. Posting at random intervals certainly affects things negatively, regardless of the quality of the post

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  6. Thanks WordPress (Michelle W). Great reminders and tips from everyone. I was an on-again off-again poster when I was at another site, but since I moved to WordPress in October I have been posting regularly.

    It is hard not to feel a little pressure once you start to have more than just your friends following you, but I have decided to stay true to myself and post what I am interested in. I don’t care about the number of views so much (many views are not captured, so it is only an estimate anyway) and I am much more interested in developing relationships with other bloggers. Connections, networking, collaborating, and sharing.

    To keep myself regular, I create draft posts when I have an idea, then I jot down some of the thoughts or web links to follow up. That way I have a few posts ready and waiting in the background for a day when I feel like I “ought” to post something but really don’t have time to do anything major. This way I do not lose that fantastic morning commute idea that came to me just before my stop.

    http://www.journeyofmixedemotions.com

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  7. I find the schedule post tool really useful. Some days I have more time at the computer than others, so I type up a couple of posts, publish one immediately and schedule the second one for a few days time. That way my readers get regular posts (on writing), rather than infrequent posts dealing with too many things at once.

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  8. Achievable goals, the first step to success. -JK Rowling.

    I have made a goal of (minimum) 5 posts per month. Happy to report that I have been successful so far! The DPchallenge and Daily Prompt are a lot of help, not to mention the blogs that I follow. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  9. I’m guessing the length of post and the style of blog will have a big effect. For example a blog that posts short posts could be more regular than a blog that posts 2000 word essays. This is from the readers side as well as your ability to write them.

    But I imagine a blog like the recently featured film review blog could get away with writing several posts a day as long as teh readers use it more like an archive. Thoughts?

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  10. I had already noticed popular food blogs having a great consistency in their postings and I’ve been trying to do the same. Not easy at all, sometimes a have a great idea, the food turns out well but I don’t like the pictures. Or vice versa. I am finding it is a challenge to have food, pictures and writing, all good enough to publish in the same regular schedule every week. Because I do cook from scratch every day I thought it would be much easier, but it is not! Probably with practice things will go better. Planning ahead in my case is a must. Thanks for reminder and the tips!

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  11. The last name “Colon” is usually pronounced like “cologne”.

    Still, an aromatic topic.

    I began with a full fledged daily posting schedule, with photo challenges incorporated 3 times weekly, but have developed Intermittentnet out here in the country where writers love to live. I’ve puzzled about what to do — usually running to town when I want to post, just to be sure everything loads right, especially media. It is hard to schedule time for this, but I have learned I need to make better use of the scheduled post option and get ahead, somehow. After all my kids have finally married, I should find fewer interruptions!

    Thanks for this post. I needed a boot.

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  12. When I first moved to Korea I had set myself a thrice-weekly posting schedule but given the length of most of what I write, making that into a twice-weekly made a lot more sense. I generally try to write around 500 words per day on something (anything!) and have a couple ideas cooking on my computer so that roughly every Tuesday or Friday I have something done or close enough to done that I can just polish it and let it go.

    And you’re correct on the gaps: I took a hiatus while I travelled for a few months, and getting back into the regular swing of things has been difficult (both in terms of the writing, but also in getting my audience back, who understandably might have moved on in the interim).

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  13. I can post every day, no problems there (I write fast and have too many ideas to find myself without something to say). My problem, right now, is finding time to read other blogs. I love to read, like and comment on other blogs. Lately I am running short of time to do so. I’ve considered simply not writing as much for a while so I can spend the time reading instead, which is probably the best solution for the time being, but I don’t want to get out of the habit of posting every day. Blarg!

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    1. how about maintaining your writing and using ‘pingbacks’ (i think they’re called) to add related articles to your post? You can read the pinkbacks you’ve added to view a different approach similar to your own.

      Reading other blogs is a great way to interact in the blogosphere community and see what else is out there!

      All the best!

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  14. I’d like to post more frequently than I do. Unfortunately, I write about my local outdoor activities, and those are dependent on my and my significant other’s work schedules. I have two jobs, he has one very demanding one. We get out most weekends, but every once in a while, we’re just too wiped to get the gear together and head out. I’m trying to stick to once a week as best I can though. I’m also considering making some regular, in-betweener posts out of gear purchases, scouting we do both hands-on and online. This weekend I’ll have two posts, since we’ll be making it out to ice fish and we’re going to the local fishing expo. Once it’s warm again and fishing/going outside isn’t such a drawn out chore, it will be easier.

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  15. I used to post more regularly in the summer, but now I don’t anymore as I am “busy” with university ๐Ÿ˜ฆ when inspiration strikes, I sometimes finish up many posts and schedule them in places along the upcoming week or two. . . My blog doesn’t have many readers though, and I mainly use it to keep all my publications in one place, and to link people to them later ๐Ÿ™‚
    I still love writing, though, and I don’t think I’ll be stopping any time soon!

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  16. True story – When I was a child, my parents left for a week and I stayed with a cousin. One day her mom (my great aunt) called to inquire if I was “regular” or not. At the time, I was. My blogging is not though. I like the schedule idea. It helps to post this in the About page so readers know what to expect.

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  17. For me, I find that posting once every 10 days works best. I also prefer a similar rhythm, or perhaps one post a week, for blogs that I follow. People who post every day soon get chucked from my reader. Not only do I feel overwhelmed by this constant stream of posts coming my way, often the quality of posts drops as people post more frequently. To put it with a cliche: Less is more, people! Quality before quantity!

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  18. I often struggle with posting frequency and have found at least 2x/week works well presently. I also include quotes and pictures as posts to “mix it up”.

    Thanks for the suggestions.

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    1. I have also noticed that when I am particularly interested in making sure everyone sees a post, if I wait a few days before I add another post, that seems to help. It’s as if most folks only read the top post, so if I add one, the last one suffers for it. Anyone else notice this?

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      1. I post once a day, sometime twice. but I make sure that there is a time gap in between. Title of the post is really important just like the book cover or newspaper headlines.

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  19. Thanks for the tips. Donโ€™t consider myself much of a blogger but I do know that I want to be good at it. Posting regularly also sharpens your skills as a writer.

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  20. When considering the importance of self imposed regularity rather than natural flow… I suggest considering the following quotes in the interests of perspective:

    “Compassion, caring, teaching, loving, and sharing your gifts, talents, and abilities are the gateways to power.”
    — Jamie Sams

    “There are two kinds of men who never amount to much: those who cannot do what they are told, and those who can do nothing else.”
    — Cyrus H. Curtis

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  21. I do my best to post about 3 times a week. I usually do one ‘heavy’ post and about 2 other lighter ones. Sometimes even simply to wish my readers a great day. I also write most of my articles in advance and save them up for posting later. It helps me for the days that I’m busy. Then I have a back up post to use ๐Ÿ™‚

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