Wargaming Tradecraft: Scheduling Blog Posts


Scheduling Blog Posts

In the early days of your blog, you'll probably just be posting every now and then. I suggest a minimum of once a week, so that you keep readers interested and don't fade off into Internet. As you begin posting more frequently, there's a few things you're going to need to consider.

I'm sure Wordpress has their own method, but in Blogger if you click "Post Options" you'll see a "Post date and time" section. This will allow you to schedule posts for the future. What I'm going to look at here is what time of day you should post, day of the week, and splitting up your posts.

You've got readers from around the world

You're going to end up with readers from all over. Personally, I follow a number of blogs that Google Reader translates for me. (Is it perfect? No, but it's pretty close.) Additionally, I do all my browsing in Google Chrome, which translates pages for me. Google Translate lets you type in text or a website for instant babbling. My blog even includes a Google Translate Blog Widget in the top right so anyone can translate it themselves. (Am I a Google whore or what? Well, show me someone doing it better than them)

What time should you post?

Taking this into account, what time should you post your articles? I like to post my articles so they'll be waiting for my readers in the morning. Call it old fashioned, but breakfast and/or coffee and a newspaper used to be a national staple of our society, right? I also like to start my posts off in the morning so that any discussion on them can occur back and forth throughout the day, involving my whole readership.

Revolver Maps lets you customize a widget to keep track of your world wide readers. This gave me an idea of where my readers are, and I was able to compare that to a map with the timezones overlayed.

Looking at where my readers are coming from, I decided that 2am EST would be when I post my articles, and here's why:
2 am EST is in the middle of the night, or at least late at 11 pm for those on the west coast in PST. Hopping across the ocean puts my blog posts hitting at 10am on the far side of Europe. While 10am isn't exactly breakfast time, I've found looking at my hourly stats that midnight to 2 am EST is generally dead, so 2am it is.

You can see in the photo to the left of Blogger's hourly stats. Between 2am and 3am EST is when Europe is waking up, then it dips as we cross the ocean. (My crustacean readership may be affected by the copious amount of crab I devoured while in Baltimore for Games Day 2010) Around 7am and 8am EST is when the east coast in the Americas wakes up, surging at 9am and then just up from there as people check their blogroll during their lunches, dinner time and before bed.

What day of the week should you post on?

Honestly, I've found that when I pull up monthly stats traffic is pretty consistent no matter which day of the week it is. Yes, weekends tend to be down slightly, but not by a lot. Increases can usually be explained by days of the month that you submit new articles while spikes are usually caused by posts that get linked from outside sources. (Other blogs, forums, people sending them to friends, etc) Dips are generally caused by holidays - which is important to recognize.
This past month is a good example because there's two holidays - Christmas and New Years. As you can see, readership doesn't go away completely, but there's a noticeable dip.

In the blogosphere, I like to treat Monday as the start of the week. Saturday and Sunday are usually full of whatever your weekend plans are, so Monday just seems like the logical break.

To summarize: any day that's not a holiday is a good day to post.

How should you spread posts out?

As you begin writing more often, you're going to want to split your posts up across multiple days of the week. Use that scheduling feature - don't write five articles on the weekend and post them all at once, instead spread them out across the week. If you're going to have a heavy post week, maybe some of them can be pushed back a week or so to even things out. There are a few benefits to this.

People usually have other things going on in their lives and aren't staring at their RSS Reader (how-to) waiting for them to update. They're mostly checking their blogs every now and then. When a single blog has a whole bunch of posts, there's more chance that people will scroll faster to finish them all, not paying the attention your posts deserve.

Information overload also exists. Too many posts at once is overwhelming, so if you want readers to learn from you, spread out the information you're throwing at them.

By spreading posts across multiple days, you create pacing. Consistent pacing becomes important, so delaying posts from a heavy week can supplement an upcoming week you know is going to be light. This pacing keeps people coming back because they know there's a good chance there will be something to read waiting for them every couple days or so.

Should you commit to a regular posting schedule?

This is the act of committing to your readers that on X day of the week, you will always post an article on Y. (ideally, also at the same time) This gets a little tricky because it really depends on how much time you can commit to your blog. If you can commit the time and effort, there's a huge benefit to scheduling your posts - your blog becomes more recognizable because people get used to and anticipate a regular schedule. (ever stop watching a TV show because it had it's time/day moved around?) Keep in mind that while people understand that "it" happens and sometimes you can't keep to a schedule, don't commit if you're going to end up disappointing readers and apologizing for more missed posts than written ones.

Ron's and my Back to Basics series is an example of a scheduled post (every other Wednesday) as is my Weekly UpdateFrom the Warp has it's Tuesday Top Ten, Rogue Trader Friday and Sunday Warp Report, while House of Paincakes has it's New Member Mondays, Weekly Top X, Where in the World is Lantz and User Content Friday - these sites have it easier though since multiple people contribute to them. Some indie bloggers do have their own series though, such as Dethtron's Friday Night Internet Fight, Loquacious' Weekly Whimsy and Santa Cruz' Barter Bucket.

If you are going to write a series on anything, scheduled or not, always give that series it's own label that people can read through your posts with. You don't want to go to all that effort and have the articles disappear into obscurity. (More on indexing your posts later)

Personally, I can't commit the time to create a schedule and promise that every week I'll have an article to post on that day about a certain topic. For this reason, I'm sticking with pacing alone and trying to spread articles out so you'll always have something to read and my sanity will remain in check by my blog not taking over my life.

One way to post to a schedule, ensure you'll always have content and have the bonus of your articles being organized, in order, concise and well written is to write an entire series ahead of time and just save them all as drafts until you're ready to release them to the masses. Once you look at everything you've written, you can decide what order to post them in. Even giving yourself a few weeks head start on a series can help a great deal to giving you a buffer to ensure you don't miss anything. I wrote roughly 8 posts and scheduled them weekly before releasing this series to ensure I wouldn't miss anything - and to be honest, if I posted them all at once, who would want / have the time to read THAT MUCH information at the same time?

Another method of being consistent in your blog's posting and having a lot of content to keep bringing readers back is to create a network of multiple authors or invite guest writers. By spreading the work out, nobody gets overloaded, you'll have content all throughout the week and if you know you're going to miss a post then maybe one of the other authors can pick up the slack. Lots of constant content will have a large positive impact on your blog and it's readership. Just be sure to be clear about who everyone is so that one person doesn't get all the credit.

Both writing ahead and getting other writers also allows you to disappear from Internet for a while without affecting your blog's footprint. Whether you need a break, work or school increases, family commitments, emergencies - you can step away without your blog becoming completely quiet.

How does scheduling posts improve your writing?

By allowing posts to sit for a few days before they post, it gives you the chance to reread them a few times and improve on anything you'd like to change. Sometimes this will be something as simple as spelling or grammar, but can include changing, adding or removing content, softening language or tone and any other edit you think will help the article. I find that two reads over a couple days, is a good edit amount, but feel free to reread yourself numerous times before posting - you'll probably find it improves your writing.

When you write anything in passion, though usually if you're angry about something, it's always a good idea to sit on the article for a few days. Maybe you'll want to ease off the language or strength, maybe you'll want to remove the article completely. While in person we don't have a filter and can't take the things we say back, Internet gives us that ability.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this article. I rarely think about these things and just post when I'm finished with an article.



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