beingCheryl

i am a good idea.

On maintaining a regular blog post schedule

Don’t.

Let me clarify. Blog as often as you can produce quality content. If that’s once a month, that’s ok. If that’s everyday, that’s awesome too. But DON’T blog regularly because the social media expert who spoke at the last conference you attended told you that you HAD to blog at LEAST once a day to be a “real” blogger and get “real” traffic and get “real” credibility on the Interwebz. Nope.

I’m talking about a personal blog. If you’re blogging for a business, then you need to write at least once a week. You have your regular news letters and press releases you have to write, even if you’re not feeling particularly inspired that day. Business blogging is the same. It’s good for your website. It’s a good lead generator. So, if you’re MAIN intention of blogging is to sell stuff, then write. If it’s to build a personal brand or professional credibility or generate LULZ, then read on.

Personally, I don’t click “publish” unless I can:
a) Make you laugh
b) Teach you something
c) Make you think

I will never be the blogger that posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I’m not going to start stretching for content by telling you the life lesson I learned from dropping my pack of Splenda in my coffee today. I unsubscribe from bloggers who pull that shit. In an era of sparse attention spans, I’m not going to let you waste my time.

I have never heard anyone say “I unsubscribed from Blog X because he didn’t post this week.” I have heard dozens of people say “I unsubscribed from Blog X because it was obvious he was stretching for content.”

All that being said, here’s my take on how you can produce quality content on a regular basis, whatever that basis may be for you. I have a “take” now because I’m doing it again – this blog has been around for 3 years, but only in the past few months has there consistently been something new to come back to – previously I was a 1-3 post a month kinda gal. Now I’m in ur google readaz at least once a week. Usually.

So what worked for me? I got excited about writing! It started with the 3 Things video series. I found that people enjoyed me making an ass of myself on video and telling silly stories, and the videos were quick and easy for me to make, and I really enjoyed making them. Then I started telling some long-form stories about being a juvenile delinquent and stuff, because I enjoyed writing them. And, oddly enough, I found that once I got myself back into writing for fun and not for “personal branding” or “professional expertise,” the professionally relevant and brand-building posts started coming to me again. I had found my voice again. And I wanted to use it.

My takeway: Start writing what you enjoy writing. You don’t have to post it anywhere, especially if you’re writing about things like quitting a job for $100 and don’t want everyone to know it – just write whenever you think of something that inspires or enchants you. Scribble it on a napkin or put it on a private WordPress. And you might find the stuff you’re “supposed” to be writing – the business blog, the personal brand building content – comes easier.

Another note: If you happen to be particularly inspired one day and write several quality posts, don’t publish them all at once. Spread them out over a few days, or weeks, or months, depending on how often you predict you will be inspired again. Hell, if you want a regular blog schedule, schedule them all to post on Mondays or something. But don’t force a post next Monday because it’s Monday and Monday is your blog post day. See the difference?

I know some of you don’t agree with me about post frequency. There’s a comment box below. Hit me with your best shot. :)

  • http://nomadbard.blogspot.com Ben Anderson

    Great post. I guess I’ll add that if you have a schedule and you keep to it read your content out loud before you post it. Make sure you’re not the only one hearing you read it out loud. When you feel like your content is “good” not “good enough” then you should post it…but write on the schedule regardless. I think that if you do that you’re more likely to find yourself inspired and writing well when you are inspired. That’s it…maybe I’ll blog about this…hmmm funny how that works.

  • Cheryl

    Thanks for the comment, Ben. I agree that the more you write, the better you get at writing, and the more ideas for things to write about you come up with. Reading your content aloud is definitely “a good idea” :)

  • http://www.connecting-with-clients.com Pam Makowski

    I agree. I would even say if you are a small business, follow the same rule. I haven’t update my family law blog in months, but it is still current and informative. In the end, it is all about content. Good quality content. Reminds me of when my mother would say, if you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything!

  • http://www.reubenyau.com Reuben Yau

    I like your advice, it works well for people like you who like to write. On the other hand, trying to get clients to even update their main website with up to date product descriptions is sometimes like pulling teeth. Some of them need a schedule, because unless they integrate it into their workflow, it’ll never get done.

  • Cheryl

    I agree to some extent on the small biz front, Pam. While you SHOULD try to post content regularly for the benefits it gets your biz, posting garbage is more detrimental than posting nothing for a few weeks. Thanks for the comment!

  • http://www.theindielaunchpad.com Dave Huffman

    This has been on my mind a lot lately Cheryl…I’m with ya.

    A couple things are at play though – first, “Content Quality” is totally subjective. I might get my face blown off by that same “pack of splenda” post that annoyed the shit out of you. So, it’s kind of hard to advise folks not to post stuff in that vein, you know?

    Secondly, there is a ton of data that proves a higher frequency is better. And, unfortunately, folks blindly follow that data. Posting anything and everything they can get their hands on or dream up.

    Again though – I’m totally with you – personally, I’m starting to learn that I’m probably ONLY going to blog when I feel I have something unique to say. Might not be unique to anyone else, but to me it will be.

    From a biz perspective though, I still push to publish regularly (3x’s a week) – but we use our blog for a few different purposes – mostly as a news source for current/potential students and we have 6 campuses – so there is a lot to say and share.

  • http://twitter.com/kkreft Karin Olover-Kreft

    I think there needs to be a fine balance. You don’t want to post JUST to maintain a schedule. But most people, if they don’t feel like they have a schedule to maintain, will continually put it on the back burner. And the next thing you know, it’s been a year and you haven’t posted anything. If you can’t post on a fairly regular basis, your blog probably won’t do much for you – other than serve as an outlet for you to vent.

  • http://jarsloth.wordpress.com/ John Schumacher

    I agree whole-heartedly. I can’t stand when people post just because they feel they have to. It weakens their blog as well as my inclination/resolve to read it.

  • Joel

    I say the same thing about podcasting…the real people who want your content will stay subscribe no matter how long it takes you to get off your butt and record a show. DO it because you enjoy it…not because you have to.

  • http://thehotmesschronicles.blogspot.com/ Cake Betch

    Hahaha I sweat about this all the time! I totally agree though, I’ve never unfollowed anyone because they don’t post regularly. I’ve got plenty enough blogs to read in a day and would be completely overwhelmed if everyone felt that it was necessary to post every day.

  • http://planningforever.com/blog saundra, event engineer

    Thanks to Dave for RT this post.

    Thank you for saying this because I have had this thought for a long time. Something interesting is better than constant drivel. I have a creative business so sometimes it can be as simple as a great photo with a caption.

    I just know when I have a hot subject and fire it off … stats go through the roof as well as viral. That’s more impressive than forced posts.

    Now I would read your blog more often, but the black background on my glossy macbookpro is killing my eyes.

  • Cheryl

    Dave H: You and I exchanged about this on Twitter recently, which is why I decided to write this :) – And yes, I agree that someone might make that Splenda shit awesome. Seth Godin makes random, 3 sentence stories captivating. Most people are not Seth Godin. And from a biz perspective, I think OCB does a GREAT job blogging. I subscribe to the blog, because it’s interesting and regular content.

  • Cheryl

    Karin K: I understand, Karin. Personally, a schedule doesn’t work great for me, because on the day I appoint to sit down and write, I have nothing to say. If someone can get inspired to create interesting content during a blocked out recurring time frame, then go for it!

  • Cheryl

    Cake Betch (which, by the way, is an awesome name): Dear god, if everyone I subscribed to decided they needed to write every day, my Google Reader would implode. You’re doing a great job with hilarious content. Don’t ever force it :)

  • Cheryl

    Saundra: Thanks for the comment. My blog design sucks. It will be rectified soon. Put me in your Google Reader in the meantime and you will see black text on a white background :)

  • http://www.toobusygals.com Alexis Chapman

    Great post! I wholeheartedly agree. I have unsubscribed to blogs due to a massive amount of information that was content just to have content. I always remind myself that someone is taking time out of their day to read something I wrote, so it’s important that I give them something worthwhile for their time and energy.

  • Cheryl

    Alexis: Thanks for the comment! It’s always good to be care about the people who are taking the time to care about what you say.

  • http://www.fandura.com Elijah R. Young

    Damn. Right.

    I’ll take it even one step further and suggest you band together with another newbie when starting a blog. Why take the full mantle of building a blog on by yourself if you’re shaky on how often you can create awesome content.

    Take two great content creators with inconsistent schedules, and alternate their content. Now you’ve got a powerhouse blog with regular updates and no one is left hanging.

  • Cheryl

    Elijah: Brilliant. Two is better than one!

  • http://www.twitter.com/megpurcell Megan

    This is great advice! I’ve been planning to/thinking about starting a blog for almost six months, and I haven’t gotten it off the ground. This has given me a lot to think about. Thanks!

  • http://thatgirlblogs2011.com thatgirlblogs

    I blog for myself. I post when I want. Like a car crash, if you don’t like it you can (and should) look away. I don’t do contests, or create link ups, because I want the people who are there to be there for the content, not the prize. That said, I post a LOT.

  • http://www.BlueZer0.net Decanus Picto

    What? You blog with your readers in mind? The BZ staff have been doing for our own amusement since ’02. And, we have no followers to prove it!

  • http://nateriggs.com Nate Riggs

    Huh. You make it sound like trying to write as frequently as possible is an awful and annoying thing do. Have you unsubscribed from my blog then?

    Look, I get the point, but he tone of the article makes it sound like all bloggers who write frequently and talk about business stuff and NOT Juvenile Delinquent stories are total douche-bags. Just sayin.

    Hell, maybe I’m in the middle. I talk about my kids and family and church and all kinds of shit outside of social business stuff. Guess that makes me only half-douche-bag.

    I know that not every post you write is going to be a win. Some are always going to be better than others and some of them that you think are awesome are going to completely bomb with the audience. You get over it quickly. Each post is a learning experience.

    If that approach causes people to want to subscribe from my blog, then I’m ok with that. I’d still rather have the reps though. For me, practice makes perfect….

    [off soapbox now] :)

  • Cheryl

    Nate – I think you drastically misunderstood my post. I don’t think anyone on any site needs to write any type of personal story to not be a “douchebag.” I was saying for me personally writing personal stories helps me write what I want to write better. Also, I’m not saying writing as frequently as possible is an awful idea. I’m saying posting subpar content for the sake of posting as frequently as possible is a bad idea.

  • http://nateriggs.com Nate Riggs

    Fair enough. I understood the message and you make good points. I just thought the tone was a bit condescending to anyone who’s looking at blogging as part of their own professional or business development. That is all.

    Your last paragraph is spot on an an easy trap to fall into when you suddenly catch the writing bug. Good advice…

  • http://www.agent-seo.com Jacob Stoops

    Good points. I suck at posting regularly. Life gets in the way too much… but apparently I’m doing well?

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  • Cheri Allbritton

    I love this post Cheryl. You really are a Good Idea.

  • Cheryl

    Thanks, Cheri :)

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  • http://techsmaz.com/ ASHRAF KAMAL

    Fantastic points, I like those :)

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  • Todd Hurley

    Hi Cheryl,

    Love what you have to say. I’ve been one of those people who have been caught up in the whole ‘if I don’t post every (insert frequency here) people will forget about me, hate me, or just plain not take me seriously’. I’ve had a recent hiatus from my blog due to some major surgery, so I plan to come back with a bit of a rebrand and a slight refocus of my blogs topic focus. I came across your post because I was looking for something to help me stay focused and able to plan ahead with posts. I’d like to have an example of an editorial calendar, but not as a ‘must post here and here’ but more as a guideline. I’ve tried creating my own but they have failed in the past. As my background is not in publishing (as I suspect most bloggers aren’t) I have been looking for an example of some way to get guidance.

    I understand your approach, as you have a decent amount of followers, but I am at ground zero. Any ideas that I can just stick to, to get me off the ground? Any kind of simple schedule / guidance would be very much appreciated.

    All the best

  • http://www.thehurleyedition.com/ Todd Hurley

    Hi Cheryl,

    I just tried to leave you a long comment that somehow got erased. It’s probably for the best. I’ve had my blog for about four years now and have had no success on getting any kind of readership. I like your theory, but it doesn’t seem to work for someone like me, who has virtually no readership. I have been looking for some kind of guide to help me along, so that I can at least get organized in my approach. I very tech savvy, but trying to attract a readership is beyond technical ability, it’s more of an art it seems to me. Any ideas for someone in my situation?

    All the best

    ~ todd
    P.S. Love your blog!

  • http://upfromnothing.com/ alexs@upfromnothing.com

    I have to agree with Todd about the readership point. The advice to write long and quality posts has to be paired with the reality of today’s world. There is just too much competition for readers attention. If one publishes a great post its the equivalent of going over the edge of Niagara Falls while no one is looking. Our technology appears to favor great content, but not as mush as it favors regular average content. I can’t tell you how many times I have come across outright nonsense masquerading as content, and wondered how was it that I could have even found the author’s site on more than one occasion! To only stumble across a long dead blog in which the author posted great content, only to have no chance of actually succeeding due to the infrequency of the responses.

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