Four Guidelines for Posting Frequency

by JC Hewitt on November 4, 2010

How often is too often?

There is no single answer to the question of how often you should post to your blog. Whether it’s a large corporation, a mid-sized one, a startup, or a solo operation, it depends on the nature of the content, the expectations of your community, and what you’re writing about.

If you post too much dense content, you can risk wasting resources on posts that might be read by relatively few people. Spacing out your content provides more time for readers to digest the material.

If you update too infrequently or irregularly, your readers will lose interest and abandon the blog.  There are exceptions to these guidelines, so use your judgment. Tim Ferris’ phenomenally successful Four Hour Workweek blog  jukes the common wisdom in that way – it features very long posts, an unpredictable updating schedule, and eclectic content. Yet his books routinely top the New York Times and Amazon best seller lists.

Search Traffic Blogs

If much of your traffic comes from searches or browsing services like StumbleUpon, your frequency of posts essentially doesn’t matter. Those readers typically come in for one piece of content and then leave forever.

When selling a product on those kinds of sites, it’s sensible to make the offer more obvious in the design than you would otherwise. Brazen advertisement bothers regular readers, but can snag browsers in your net.

You might want to even alter your blogging software to take down the dates from posts accessed directly to reduce the bounce rate from readers who might otherwise think that your evergreen content is out-dated.

Thought Pieces

If the blog tends to publish long articles, extreme irregularity is acceptable. Paul Graham’s essays exemplify this. His website is hardly a blog, seeing as there are no comments. His standing in his industry ensures that every time he publishes something new, it’ll spread through social media like mono in a freshman dorm.

Community-Driven News Blog

If your website relies on witty and informed commentariat to keep things lively, it’s best to take a cue from websites like Gawker and publish multiple times daily. Ideally, you want to create an environment in which commentators can jump in, say something, and jump out at any time during the day and find fresh conversation.

Websites directed at traders and other finance professionals also need to be updated constantly during working hours, because they’re considered resources for the profession.

Corporate Blogs

There’s nothing duller than a corporate blog that only updates when it sends out a new press release.

No one could mistake Irrational Games’ Irrationally Speaking for that kind of blog. At an ordinary company, the people running that blog would be fired. They even bring on competitors – shock! – for interviews. Much of the content is directly related to their products. But there’s also material on individual employees, on past games, and other tidbits of interest to their target market. The blog offers a steady trickle of minor updates (often rich with imagery) mixed in with longer podcasts and features.

That’s the sort of authenticity that new-wave marketers like to talk about, but that we so rarely see from real companies. This generates the kind of good will that can’t be created by advertising, fancy events, and other forms of paid marketing.

[Photo Credit: Robbert van der Steeg, Flickr]

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  • http://www.marcana.com Mark Brimm

    Awesome insights here. I wish every corporate blog content provider would read this…

  • http://will.crosscutcommunications.com William Reichard

    Nice work, JC! You’ve packed a lot in a small space here. I really like that you’ve given some examples, because that seems to be the best way to pick up that sixth sense. Thanks for posting–very strong piece!

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  • http://twitter.com/jckhewitt JC Hewitt

    Thanks guys. Online media has a completely different rhythm and alternative requirements to print, and it’s taken years for it to gel.

    I don’t know how successful it’s been, but NY Mag has also developed a great mix that compromises between the print product and online offerings.

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