One question every blog about blogging covers at one point or another is: how much should you post? I’ve yet to see anyone come to a firm conclusion about this, so I’d like to try.
In truth, some post frequencies are wasteful and others are efficient. This depends on two factors: the size of your readership and the frequency of your posts.
If your blog is receiving a few hundred visitors a day, it can be wasteful to post too much. For a post to gain traction on social media and start to spread through word of mouth it requires a certain amount of exposure.
By posting too frequently you may be taking the post out of the limelight and replacing it with another before the necessary amount of exposure can be reached.
Assuming that you have enough time to produce as much content as you would like, the ideal post frequency for a small readership blog is probably once every two days. (In reality, if you can’t sustain quality content at this frequency then your ideal frequency would be as regularly as you can manage while maintaining peak quality).
A well-trafficked blog is the opposite. Once you’re receiving more than 1,000 visitors a day, it’s wasteful not to post every day (once again, assuming an ideal situation where you have the means to do so). This is because if you’re posting once every two or three days a given post is likely to reach the tipping point of exposure well before it is replaced by another one.
There will be a point where more exposure for the post yields steadily diminishing returns. Ideally, you should move the spotlight onto new content as soon as the tipping point is reached. An efficient post frequency for a big blog will be at least once per day, though in an ideal situation this might be closer to several per day. Blogs like Lifehacker and Kotaku update constantly but they have the traffic to ensure each post reaches peak exposure.
The argument I want to put to you is that an efficient post frequency will increase along with your traffic.
I also want to acknowledge that you may not be able to reach your most efficient post frequency while also maintaining the highest quality content you can manage. However, I do want to suggest that this scenario is presented as an ideal that may not be appropriate for everyone.
The best way to determine when your posts reach their ‘tipping’ point is to note down the traffic, number of comments and social media votes received by a given post over the period of several days. Note the rate of drop-off for each day. In an efficient scenario your next post will go up as soon as your previous post hits the point of significantly diminished returns.
Another effective method is to experiment with different post frequencies over several weeks (trialing each frequency for one week) and tracking the results. This isn’t entirely accurate as your content may be more popular on one week than it is on the next, but it should help you to identify general trends.
The factory production-line analogy
A very useful analogy is to imagine a factory belt with a spout that delivers soda into bottles moving along the belt. If there is less soda being poured out of the spout, the bottles will not be properly filled if they’re unable to stay beneath the spout long enough. Each bottle will need to stay under it longer to be filled.
However, if the volume of soda coming out of the spout increases significantly but the bottles stay beneath it for the same amount of time, the bottles will overflow and much of the soda will be wasted. The bottles need to be positioned much closer together on the conveyor belt to be filled just enough without overflowing.
In this scenario, the bottles need to start out spaced further apart and then move closer together as the volume of soda grows. Each bottle needs to be replaced by a new one at the point when it is filled–no less, no more. In a factory, this would be considered an efficient process with no wasted potential.
However, I should restate that if you face the choice between producing one fantastic post per week or seven mediocre posts, you should always choose the first. In this post, I’m discussing an ideal scenario that doesn’t take into account content quality. Lifehacker could not update thirty times a day with any substance if Gina Trapani were in charge of producing every word on the site (as fantastic as she is). A blog like Lifehacker can achieve ideal efficiency because the investments in time and creative output required are shared across a network of people, and as a result, the blog can reach the ‘ideal’ in most areas.
This is something worth thinking about. Are bloggers who try to do everything themselves at a disadvantage when compared to those who collaborate?