Stop Asking This Common Blogging Question!

Anytime I hear a group of newbie bloggers asking for advice, this blogging question always comes up, and it’s time we dispose of it.

When you gather a group of veteran bloggers and inexperienced bloggers together, whether it’s in person or online in a chat, just sit back and wait. Sooner or later, someone will ask the question.

It’s a question all of us have asked. But it’s a question that some of us now resent because we know it’s not a question we ought to have ever asked to begin with.

The question is a simple one and it certainly sounds innocent enough:

How many times a week should I post?

See what I mean? It’s a great question on the surface. It’s exactly the kind of question someone who is about to start a blog or who has just begun one would ask. It’s reasonable to assume (when you’re inexperienced) that there’s a specific “sweet spot” that works universally for all blogs since so many of the blogging “rules” we constantly hear thrown about seem to be so universal in nature.

One of the problems with the question is the errant assumption that there’s such a sweet spot. What might work for this blog may not work for you. I post seven days a week. Some of you can’t possibly devote that much time to it. I can’t always devote that much time, but I’m too stubborn to allow myself to miss a post, so there are times when I just have to suck it up and wrote, even if I don’t necessarily feel like writing. Granted, I try to avoid painting myself into that kind of corner whenever I possibly can, but once in a while, it just happens.

Another problem is that it assumes that writing for a blog is some easy task that takes no time at all, to the point that if I were to tell you that you needed to post two days a week to be a success, that would be no easier or harder than if I told you that a minimum of five posts was the way to go. The people on the receiving end of this particular blogging question have no idea what your time commitments and writing abilities are, so it’s next to impossible for them to say, without any doubt, what will or will not work for you and your workflow.

But the real problem is that it’s the wrong question to be asking. Here’s the question you should ask:

How many times a week can I post?

Note the subtle difference in the question. Note that the question changes from one that someone else is being expected to answer for you to one that only you can answer for yourself.

How much time do you have in a given week to spend blogging? Please, for the love of Pete, forget that ridiculous advice that claims you must write every day, without fail, no matter what. It’s a nice idea and I honestly think it’s handed out with the best of intentions. But it’s patently absurd. Every profession in the world has time off built into the work structure. That’s for a reason. We need a season of rest. We need time to recharge.

If you’re starting a blog, you probably already have a job. You might even have more than one. You might be a student and you might have family obligations. This blog you’re wanting to start (or have just recently started) is most likely going to be added to those prior obligations.

That means you need to spend some serious time thinking about how much time you can devote to blogging each week.

But wait, that’s not the end of it.

Once you know how much time you have to spend on your blog, you’ve only scratched the surface. You have to then determine how long it takes you to write the typical post. Then you have to figure out how long it takes to tackle social media and any other methods you have in mind for letting people know that wonderful post is up.

Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that it takes you an hour to craft the kind of post you’re going to write for your blog. And let’s say that it takes you about an hour per week (split across the week, of course) for the social media part.

Now let’s say that you’ve determined that you have about an hour you can spend every morning (Monday through Friday) on that blog.

That’s five hours. But one of those hours will be eaten up by social media. That gives you four hours. If you can knock out a quality post in an hour, that means four posts. Except that it doesn’t. You won’t knock out a publish-ready post every time you sit down to write. Some of them you’ll toil over, then toil some more. Then you’ll go back the next day and toil further. You might even decide, after spending a couple of hours on a post that it’s just not the hot topic you thought it was. And you’ll — gasp! — press the delete button and throw it out.

Every post won’t be a winner.

If you have four hours — the time to write four posts, according to your calculations — per week, you don’t have the ability to write four posts per week. You might have the ability to post two or three.

If I were you, I’d go with two. That’s because you should be shooting for three, but saving one evergreen post (one that isn’t so topical that is must be posted that day), whenever you can, for the following week. This gives you a stockpile of content for those weeks when your second great post idea falls into the fire.

Trust me: it’ll happen.

By having that extra post or two in a stockpile, you can simply adjust your editorial calendar and move one of them to your next regular slot. You’ve just given yourself the gift of time: time to get over a post going bust, time to dodge the wave of writer’s block that’ll try to nose its way into your psyche, and time to start brainstorming the next post that will work.

You don’t need someone else to answer this blogging question for you.

You know your writing style. You know your workflow. You know how long it takes to go from idea to completed post. And you know how much time during the week to fit all of that into your schedule.

I suspect that when we ask that question — and all of us do — we’re really asking for permission to go with the schedule we already have in mind. We just hope the answer we get isn’t too far off from what we already suspect we can successfully do.

So I’m giving you the permission to go with your gut. Look at your situation and figure out what you can do. Start there. And as it gets easier, then think about expanding your schedule or post frequency.

You have to do what will work for you and hope that it will work for your readers.

That’s what it’s all about.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.