My 15th Blogging Anniversary: 15 Blogging Truths – Part 3
This month, I’m celebrating 15 years of this blog, ‘Patrick’s Place,’ with 15 blogging truths. But I quickly realized it would require more than one post!
- If you missed Part 1 of my 15 Blogging Truths, you can read it here.
- If you missed Part 2, please check it out here.
So now we’re on to Part 3. What I’m sharing in these posts are truths I’ve learned over the past decade-and-a-half. I believe these points to be true. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I think these points I’m sharing will work more often than not.
7. Consistency Matters
When I talk about consistency, I’m not necessarily talking about the format of your posts or even the topics. I definitely agree that you should want to create a certain level of quality for your posts and then maintain that bar. You should try to raise it as often as you can. That level of dedication can speak to your audience about how much you value their time.
But in this case, I’m talking about something else. I’m talking about posting consistently.
I’ve written before about one of the worst questions I hear from newbie bloggers: “How often should I publish?”
It’s a bad question because it presupposes two things.
First, it assumes there’s some magic number that works for everyone. There isn’t. Second, it implies that if there were a magic number, the person asking it would just strive for that number with ease. They wouldn’t necessarily even be able to.
The better question to ask yourself, not someone else, is this: “How often can I publish?” We all have different schedules and different demands on our time.
I’ve been posting daily for more than five years now. Sometimes, it’s easy. Sometimes it isn’t.
But I made a decision years ago when I realized that I could reasonably provide a new piece of content every day that I would commit to doing so. Because of that, I make sure something new goes up every day.
So if a couple of days go by without anything new going up, there’s some part of me that hopes someone would call out the National Guard to check on me. (Or maybe an email would suffice.)
But if I’m honest, I have to say this: I wouldn’t recommend posting every day. At least, not until you know you’re really ready to commit to it. It’s a struggle sometimes. You want to pull your hair out some days. But on the flipside, you get a few posts ahead of schedule and your blogging life couldn’t feel better.
Figure out what you have time and energy to do and then focus on making that output be the best it can be. You don’t have to post daily because someone else does. One post per week might be exactly what you can reasonably do. If that’s the case, take time each week to make that one post sing!
If you decide you can realistically produce three posts per day, set a schedule and then stick to it. You’ll be surprised how quickly your audience will come to expect new posts on those days. If you plan to go on vacation, write a few posts ahead of time and schedule them on the appropriate days.
Your audience shouldn’t have to suffer without your content just because you want a few days off. Being consistent with your schedule tells them you’re committed not only to your blog but to your readers.
They will appreciate that.
8. Reading Matters
Let me ask you a simple question: How often do you sit down in front of the computer and read someone else’s blog?
It’s okay if you’re a little embarrassed by the answer that just popped in your head. All of us are guilty of not spending enough time reading what others have to say.
Sometimes, we convince ourselves that we don’t have time to do so because our next post is due. Sometimes, we boneheadedly convince ourselves that we shouldn’t read other sites because we might be tempted to copy someone else’s ideas. (If you fall into the latter category, consider this: there are very few completely original ideas out there.)
I use Feedly to help me follow other bloggers to see what others are buzzing about. I’ll occasionally find a post on another site that actually gets me worked up enough, whether in a good way or bad way, to write a post here about that post. I follow the rules of good blogging etiquette — (See last week’s post on that!) — and link to their post and then make my case for why I agree or disagree.
The last time I did so, the blogger who I cited actually tweeted out my post. It was a kind thing to do.
But by taking the time to set my schedule aside to read other people’s blogs, I am better able to come up with ideas on topics that fit my blog.
It doesn’t always have to be blogs that fit your niche; sometimes a post on an unrelated topic can still spark an idea that you can relate to your subject matter.
It also can help you improve your writing and evolve your style. When you find a post by someone whose writing style you admire, you may find little things they’re doing that really speak to you. Elements of that style, then, could help you better connect with your audience.
9. Time Spent Not Blogging Matters
Every now and then someone will chime in with what, on the surface, sounds like great advice. It goes something like this: “Write something every single day, no matter what.”
You may be shaking your head in total agreement about how wonderful a pearl of wisdom it is.
Please stop. It’s not a pearl of wisdom and I don’t care who said it.
Yes, writers write.
But writers also read. They go outdoors and experience life. They talk to people. Sometimes, they go somewhere and just people-watch. They try things they’ve never tried. They take vacations. They spend time with their families.
You can’t effectively write about this crazy thing called life if you never get out and experience it.
I’ve found that there’s nothing more freeing for a blogger than to use an editorial calendar to schedule posts in advance and get ahead so that you can take an occasional day off.
Yes, there are days when I write not one single word for this site, yet I still post something new every single day.
The further ahead I get and the more time I have to do other things, the more enthusiastic I am the next time I sit down to write a post.
It’s inevitably better than it would be otherwise.
So what matters here isn’t whether you dutifully punch your writing time clock every day; what matters so much more is that you’re experiencing enough things to inspire your next writing task.
I hope you’re doing that. If you’re not, because you’re a prisoner of that bad advice, I hope you’ll take this point to heart.
Once again, I’ve easily crossed the 1,200-word mark in a post, something I don’t do all that often. I appreciate your taking the time to read this far.
And I hope you’ll be back for the next post tomorrow (and the next blogging truths post in one week)!