How often should I blog? Five steps to answering the question

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how often should i blog

One of the questions I am asked most often is “how often should I blog?” So let’s get into that one today.

I’ve seen a lot of studies declaring optimum posting schedules but like everything in marketing, the answer is, “it depends.” There is no formula, only guidelines, and it’s up to you to find a consistency that’s right for you and your business.

Here are a few things I consider when I’m advising a client on posting regularity, whether it is a blog or any other form of content for that matter.

1. What’s your goal?

Let’s start by clearly defining what you want to achieve.

Answer this: If you looked back at today two years from now and declared that your content effort was a success, what would have happened?

For many businesses, that might be increased sales or leads but that’s not the only possible benefit. You might want to:

  • Establish a powerful personal brand
  • Grow an email list
  • Sell advertising
  • Raise awareness for a social issue or cause
  • Improve site authority and SEO
  • Build a community that becomes an actionable audience
  • Be seen as a thought-leader in your industry
  • Lower costs by allowing your content to resolve customer service questions

Those are just a few possibilities and all would be tuned a little differently in terms of frequency. For example …

  • If you want to establish SEO advantages in an un-contested niche, an aggressive posting schedule of several times a week might be appropriate (Google likes fresh content!)
  • If you’re on your own and trying to establish thought leadership, maybe 2-4 posts per month is all you can handle.
  • If you’re trying to monetize through ads, you’re probably going to need millions of views and tons of content every day.
  • And if you’re trying to raise awareness for a charity, perhaps a quarterly newsletter might be all the reader attention you need.

See how blogging consistency is connected to goals?

2. What are your competitors up to?

The most important aspect of marketing is determining where you can maneuver, meaning, identifying where can create leverage in your marketplace. This rarely means going head-to-head and creating a dogfight. Especially in the online world, there are lots of places to squeeze in and find an un-saturated or un-contested niche.

Doing a competitive analysis is an important first step in any marketing strategy but it may also help you determine how often to post content.

One of my favorite stories from my book KNOWN involves John Lee Dumas. When he was driving around Southern California on a real estate job, he longed for a daily podcast to pass the time. So, he started one and Entrepreneur on Fire became a multi-million-dollar business. John actually found a way to maneuver based on the frequency of his content.

Before you make a decision, look around and see if content frequency can be a source of differentiation.

3. What are your customer needs?

I have lots of ideas for content. I could literally post something on {grow} every day … but I’ve learned over the years that my readers won’t stand for that.

I’ve experimented with publishing everywhere from once a week to five times a week. When I went to five days a week (the Friday post was a cartoon), the number one reason readers unsubscribed was “too many updates.” When I went back to four days a week, my “unsubscribes” dropped by 80 percent.

As far as I know there are only three ways to include a customer consideration in your decision: 1) trial and error (as I did); 2) ask them about their preference in a survey; or 3) when people unsubscribe note what the reason is, if they provide one.

4. What are your resources?

I’m a practical guy, and I think you have to ask yourself how much content output you can handle and still maintain your sanity.

Content marketing is a hot trend but research shows that most companies are producing increasing levels of content despite the fact that they can’t show a positive return on the investment. My theory is, they’re afraid NOT to do it.

I’ve never met a marketer who complained “I simply have too much budget.” Everybody has to determine the optimal levels of content production based on the very simple limitation of the resources of your business.

5. What brings you joy?

If you’re not having fun producing your content, your readers/viewers/listeners will know it.

Tom Webster and I have been doing The Marketing Companion podcast together for four years and we only produce two shows per month. We’ve been asked to do more, and we’ve talked about it, but the increase would also add pressure.

We decided to stick to the current schedule for one reason: it brings us joy. We have fun cracking each other up and challenging each other but we probably wouldn’t have as much fun if we did it every week. And when we have fun … you have fun.

Bottom line, if you’re not having fun, you’re probably going to quit and I don’t want you to quit!

You might be thinking that “joy” may make a difference for a personal blog but what does that have to do with a company content publishing schedule?

Maybe joy is not the operative word (after all you’re being paid to do it) but what about quality? In this day and age, you can’t ever let your readers down by pushing your schedule past a limit where you are delivering quality with every post.

I hope these five guidelines shed some light on an ideal publishing schedule for your own blog.  Are there considerations I missed?

SXSW 2016 3Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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