After discussing the dangers of leaving your audience hanging, it became clear that a concise description of why a posting schedule is useful and how it should work is needed. Although many professional bloggers offer up the bromide of how important a posting schedule is, it is rare to find a description of the actual process of determining a posting schedule, making it clear to your readers, and sticking to it.
First of all, your posting schdule does not have to be daily (or more than daily). The Marketing Profs give a very good explanation why the supposed “rule” of a daily post is no longer important. And they’re right, to an extent: you don’t have to post every day. Instead, you need to find your own rhythm and then develop a schedule that utilizes that rhythm for regular posting. Do not buy into the hype that you have to post daily or several times a day; you don’t.
Rather than just blindly accepting a pace that you might be unable to follow, spend a few weeks determining your “normal” pace. Write for your blog as you would write normally without worrying about any post requirement. Make sure that this timeframe is rather normal and doesn’t include any irregular events that would cause significant downtime in your posting. Once you’ve completed three weeks or so, count up your posts and divide by the number of days. This is your “normal” pace of posting.
Once you’ve figured out your normal posting pace, toss it out the door. Although it’s a great number to use in defining your posting schedule, it’s a poor number to base your whole posting schedule on. Why? If you post at this rate, you’ll eventually fall behind and give up. Period.
Instead, calculate what 60% of your normal posting pace is, and use this as a schedule. For me, my “normal” posting rate is about ten posts a day (yes, many of them are this length; yes, I’m a logorrheic anomaly). Thus, my baseline schedule is about six posts a day. For many people, it could be that their normal flow is about a post a day, so their schedule should be about six posts every ten days.
Once you’ve figured out your approximate schedule, arrange it so you have fewer posts on the weekends and more posts on weekdays. For example, I post between six and seven posts per weekday (the seventh post is usually part of a cursorily-related series, like this blogging one) and three to four posts per weekend day (the fourth post is usually part of that series). If you’re posting six posts every ten days, then plan for posts every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.
Now you have a posting schedule that matches your natural flow of writing well. Except… as you start with it, you’ll find yourself building up an excess of posts. What should you do with them?
When you have excess posts, set them up to be automatically posted as if you won’t be updating in the near future. If you post along normally, you’ll begin to build up a block of unposted future posts. Give them each a posting time so that they’ll post according to your schedule if you find yourself unable to post due to an emergency or a planned vacation. At various times, I’ve had almost three weeks of future posts built up for The Simple Dollar.
If you have a timely post that needs to go up now, just swap it for the next post and put the removed post at the back of the line.
In the end, what you’ll have is a blogging schedule that enables you to naturally be ahead of pace and prepared for the event of a disaster so that you don’t leave your audience hanging.
Building a Better Blog for 2007 is a month-long series at The Simple Dollar, outlining steps you can take to build a long-term healthy blog that will attract readers. Jump ahead to the next essay, Engage the Casual Visitor, or back to the previous one, Write in Series.