Do You Really Need it Every Day?

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secret

Two bloggers meet in a smoky bar…

They’ve both been at it for years. Veterans. Each growing giant readerships, respected and renowned by their peers. Both writing on similar topics. One, however, seems burnt and harried, while the other is kicking back enjoying life. And on this night, in the veiled anonymity of the bar, lubricated by a bit of booze, a confession tumbles forth…

“Sometimes,” says one, “I go without it for weeks…even months.”

“No way,” comes the reply, “if I miss a day, it’s like the world is ending.”

“Damn shame,” says the first one, “but you did this to yourself…”

By now, of course, we all know what they’re talking about…post frequency!

For years, there’s been a raging debate about how often you need to post to pattern your readers’ expectations and consistently grow your blog.

I’ve written about blog post frequency and size along with many others. And, even noted how 95 of top 100 blogs post many times a day. After watching some pretty interesting experiments, though, I’ve come to a conclusion…

Post size and frequency don’t matter nearly as much as Post-Fungibility.

Let’s look at two telling examples…

ThinkSimpleNow.com, written by Tina Su, launched in September 2007. Tina only writes once a week…max. And, there have been times where she’s literally shut her blog down for months while she travels overseas. Knowing little more than this, you’d figure her readership would be razor thin. Spotty at best. But, as I write this, only 2 years into blogging, she’s rocking more than 15,000 subscribers and she hasn’t posted in over 2 weeks!

What gives? Tina understands something very powerful.

Frequency matters most when your content is fungible with what everyone else who shares your niche writes. So, instead of throwing out rehashes, tips and spins as do many others in the wildly crowded “personal development” niche, she writes only when she’s got something deep and unique to share. And, if you thought my posts were long, Tina’s the queen of mega-posts.

So, her readers stay with her because they know, even if they have to wait a while, it’ll be worth it. Plus, she also does two key things that let her blog thrive with minimal content injection.

One, her content is so long and evergreen, new readers can stumble upon it and connect with it, even though it may have been written months (or years) ago. Nod strongly taken from StevePavlina.com. Two, Tina does something a lot of really savvy info-marketers do…she buries her post dates in small type at the very end of the post, which gives new readers the opportunity to “not” pre-judge her content as stale because the date is old.

So, Tina can write a couple of times a month, travel at will and continue to build a giant following.

Now, contrast that with another blogger I know in the same niche, a/k/a, the one who has to do it daily.

We’ll call her/him Charlie to protect the disgruntled. Charlie runs a very well known blog, has been at it for more than 5 years and has a bigger readership. Charlie’s approach is more self-help/lifestyle tips. And the blog is updated at least once a day, often times more. This leads to a huge content creation burden and the need to bring in paid writers and contributors. Sounding like fun, yet?

And, because the content is far less unique and far more fungible with other lifestyle tip based blogs, readers become patterned to view Charlie’s blog as more of a daily reminder of what they know they should already be doing, along with the occasional good insight. With content that’s less than mission-critical, readers don’t value the blog as much as Tina’s and the old adage “out of sight, out of mind” applies far more to Charlie’s blog than to Tina’s. Because of this, Charlie has shared with me that any day on the blog without a new post is a day where subscribers are lost.

It’s the Fungible/Frequency corollationโ€”the more fungible your content, the more you have to rely on frequency and exposure to keep yourself in front of people and growing. The less fungible and more original/unique your content, the less frequency matters. Readers will wait however long they need to in order to get the long, deep, down and dirty stuff.

There’s one more big consideration, too…your money model.

If your model is based purely on ad-revenue, then daily traffic really matters. You need the exposure and the clicks. If your model is based more on developing a long-term consistent readership/list and then serving solutions into that list, then frequency doesn’t matter nearly as much. Something else to consider when deciding whether you’re a “need it daily” blogger or not.

As always, just thinking out loud.

Where you do stand?

What’s YOUR model?

And, do you really need it every day…

…or is really good, but less often good enough to keep you chirping along?

Let’s discuss…

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54 responses

54 responses to “Do You Really Need it Every Day?”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dave Navarro. Dave Navarro said: RT @jonathanfields: Do you really need it every day… http://is.gd/3Na2q […]

  2. Mike Piper says:

    My model, one you’ve been writing a lot about lately, is selling books from my blogs. I post every weekday, and I suspect that if I posted less, my readership would decline. However, I’m not sure sales would. After the initial push, Amazon does much of the work for me.

    For the moment at least, I write frequently simply because I enjoy the discussion. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Mike, if you’re having fun, adding value and can keep doing that every day, go for it

  3. First off, let me just say, nice headline. It got my attention!

    As a relative newcomer to the world of blogging, the discussion on post frequency is an interesting one to me. Generally speaking, I agree with you. If you do it right, you can blog once a week or less and still have a great readership. I know this because most of my favourite blogs publish sporadically, and many of them seem to have very healthy subscriber counts. Also, I’ve never unsubscribed from an RSS feed because it wasn’t updating often enough. I *have* unsubscribed from feeds that were flooding my feed reader, however.

    The part where I wonder if this might not be the case is for NEW blogs. Even Tina posted several times a week for the first few months of ThinkSimpleNow.com. That makes me wonder if a blogger needs to post often to attract an audience, but can then reduce frequency once he’s developed that audience (of course, that’s assuming the content is worth sticking around for)?

    • Mike CJ says:

      You hit the nail on the head there Adam. When a blog is new, you really need a high post frequency to build up a head of steam for search traffic, and also to provide your readers with some content to get stuck into when they arrive.

      Once there are several hundred posts on there, you can take your foot off the gas and settle into a less frequent regime.

      Jonathan: Fungible? That had to be a bet…… ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Adam, Great point. Many bloggers I know who now post less frequently did start out daily or 3-4 times a week. At least until they has a big enough “body of work” to begin to show and enduring commitment to quality.

    • Tina Su says:

      Hi Adam,

      When I first started TSN, I was posting 3 articles a week MAX. Remember that content is king, and quality is more important than quantity for reader stickiness. Just always put yourself in the position of a reader: what do you like to read? What makes you want to subscribe to something?

      Tina

  4. Pat McAnally says:

    Jonathan, great post and proves the point that the depth or originality of the content is the thing that mattes. I’ve worked in developing “thought leadership” content for B2B technology companies and the whole point of a piece is to prove something new – so that the reader walks away with new information, a new prospective, something in return for his/her precious time. This quid pro quo works for books and white papers and articles and blog postings. Like a previous commenter,I’ve unsubscribed from those blogs who post what amounts to predigested pap instead of musings that make you think.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Pat, it’s funny, there’s been this raging debate about post length for years. My philosophy on that is really that nothing’s too long or too short…only too boring. Perfect example, my post last week on PR Gone Bad was over 2,500 words (which is long even for me), yet it’s at over 130 comments and is still getting passed around. If you can engage and add value, that’s what matters most

  5. Paul Norwine says:

    Timely post for me as I just recently decided to adopt a once-per-week strategy. Although I must admit that I have the same question as Adam – as a newcomer, does posting a couple of times a week, even if the content is a bit diluted, increase readership / subscriber counts in the beginning? Or do you stick to the consistency you are comfortable with from the outset?

    My personal feeling is that high subscriber counts that are the result of lots of post updates are not the “targeted” subscribers that we are looking for. In other words, if they are only subscribing because you post every day or every other day, they aren’t the right type of readers to build your “tribe.” Just my two cents…

    Paul

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Good point on the quality versus quantity issue. I have no complaints about my readership size, but I also know it’s smaller by a serious margin than many friends. But, when I look at the quality of the conversation in the comments here, I’m consistently blown away and that means more than anything

  6. I am also trying to figure out a regular post schedule. I was doing three times a week and then when I upped it to four, my readership went up. However, it also makes it more tiring and stressful as I now have an extra post to write. I naturally am better at writing mid to long length posts. I think I’d love to get to Tim Ferriss’ level where you can post once or twice a week and still have a massive readership. That way I could enjoy other things in my life.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Hehehe. Remember, too, Gordie, Tim had a teensy weensy advantage of having a massively bestselling book drive his traffic within weeks after launching.

  7. I have a schedule more or less and then post when I feel like it outside that schedule. For example Mondays are interview days and I never miss that, Wednesdays are usually guest posts by other people and Thursdays I usually do a piece in my Lab Rat series. Everything else depends on my time and interest.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Alex,

      That’s what I’m about to move toward myself, a regular “feature” schedule, with room to pop in here and there around it. Thinking a weekly rant and 1 or 2 weekly riffs. I’m also about fold the blog part of Career Renegade into this blog next week and announce some other very cool things next week, so stay tuned

  8. Dayne says:

    I really loved this post and I’m a big fan of Tina’s website. You make a great point regarding content and frequency. I think, bottomline, is it has to be interesting and you do have to post at least once a week or else people check out. That is my opinion.

    Thanks for the fantastic post Jonathan!

    Dayne

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Yeah, Tina’s stuff is so long and deep, she can get away with longer stints without content, but I tend to agree, the average “mortal” should probably stick to a minimum of 1 time a week

  9. I’m a follower of Tina’s amazing blog! I have to admit that I have to actually set one huge hour aside just to read a full article (that was when I first stumbled onto her blog).

    Coming back to point on post frequency, I kinda went for the 1 post every 3 days (on average), not for the sake of posting, but for building up a habit for writing. Oh, and of course I’ve heard that new blogs gotta start with a high frequency schedule to get articles up and visible to attract new readers. Is it safe for me to say that its a good way to start of with?

    Besides that, my blog has only recently been promoting one product, and I’m pretty happy that there’s awesome people buying through the site now. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Daniel,

      Yeah, this touches back on my final thought, which is you really do have to keep your monetization scheme in mind as well. That will definitely inform your posting agenda. I don’t serve ads and only promote my own stuff here and there, so daily traffic/pageviews isn’t a huge driver for me.

  10. Jonathan,

    I’ve found that twice a week works well for me (when I say well, I mean that every week is better than the last week). The running out of content thing is kind of huge for people who post often. I personally get inspired, and then go nuts shooting post ideas into WordPress and saving them. That way if I come up short, I look back at a time when I was inspired, and go to town on those ideas.

    Heck, a couple of your posts inspired the heck out of me, and created a discussion on my blog (I’m actually putting a video game on my TV, and I can’t play it until I finish my book ๐Ÿ™‚ ). So really, as long as you are connecting with people, learning from them and thinking thoughtfully about what they say, good content will always be there. That’s the way it is for me anyway.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Jim,

      Love it, I actually do the same thing. Two years in, I’m firing post ideas in the draft section a few times a day just so I can remember to come back to them and turn them into posts when the muse hits me. I’ve got about 50 or 60 stacked up right now, lol!

  11. Bob Bessette says:

    Hi Jonathan,
    Being fairly new to this arena, I am sticking with the once a week model. I am also adding some sporadic guest-posting to spread the word. I can’t see how someone can post once a day or more unless they are at it full-time, which I am not. Obviously you have to seek out guest-posts, as you mentioned, to keep the content fresh, if you are posting so often. I tend to agree with Tina. Fresh, interesting posts on a longer posting schedule are more appealing to me than daily content that tends to be repetitious and re-hashed. In fact, the anticipation of the next post on the longer posting schedule blogs tends to add to the fascination.

    Best,
    Bob

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Bob,

      I’ve also noticed that I’ve been checking my feed reader less often these days and recently culled the blogs I follow from hundreds back down to about 40 or 50. If they all posted multiple times a day, I’d have no time to do anything else, so I’ve been leaning more toward ones with truly unique content and/or conversations

  12. Robert Fay says:

    Jonathan,

    This really helped. I do such a unique blog it may not be necessary to blog consistently after all.

    Gab later,
    the IRF

  13. Cath Duncan says:

    I agree – as a blogger (who’s income comes from coaching and infoproducts that are the focus of my time), I’ve found that my “sweet spot” that allows me to enjoy my writing and write good content is twice a week. Lately I’ve been guest-posting though, and rounding up my guest posts and other project updates on my blog once a week with another original post on my blog each week. I had thought I could keep doing my twice a week posts on my blog as well as all the guest posts, but then I just felt trapped trying to squeeze it all in, so I decided to do the post round-up instead.

    As a blog reader, I also find that I can’t really follow the blogs that post everyday (even Seth Godin’s, who’s work I LOVE!) and Seth’s is the only daily posting blog that I can think of where I feel like there’s genuine value posted each day – most of the daily posting blogs just do list posts that skim the surface of a topic and are a little boring. Okay, Chris Brogan is another exception – that guy’s a machine!

    Cath

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Funny you mentioned Seth and Chris, they’re some of the very few I actually get by email so I can be sure to read them every day.

  14. Karlil says:

    Hey Jonathan. This is really the topic I’ve been looking for. I been trying to find the right frequency since I started my blog two months ago. I think a short posting frequency is ideal when just starting out, but when one has built a sufficient number of subscribers, he can then start posting irregularly.

    I’m a big fan of Tina Su. I did check on her posting frequency looking at her archive. And I found out she has more blog posts during her first three months of blogging than the rest. And since her blog posts are often very long, I’m guessing she has set aside a few articles before she even started her blog. Which is really a good idea in my opinion.

    For me personally, I post every 3 days.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      karlil, that seems to work well when you write the way Tina writes. Question is whether it transfers to other styles and niches, too.

  15. I’m glad to see this topic here! The conventional wisdom is no shortcut to thinking for yourself. Here’s how you should figure post frequency: how often can you write or create content that KNOCKS IT OUT OF THE FREAKIN’ PARK?

    That’s your post frequency, right there.

    I’m not even going to say how often I post, because that shouldn’t matter to anyone else.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Hey Michael, great point. And, we’ve talked about my feelings on conventional wisdom..largely there for suckers.

  16. Dataflurry says:

    I think that blogs that are visited on a daily basis traditionally have a large volume of posts because they have a lot of information to cater to a variety of visitors. However, that isn’t always the case. Fungibility is this weeks vocab word…

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      That’s true to a certain extent, but I also know many friends who post a few times a day in a tight niche. I think it’s more often when posts are news/development driven and some niches are robust enough to generate a lot of developments on a daily basis. Of course, the challenge with that type of blogs is you’re constantly under pressure to scoop others and that’s a tough pace to keep. And, hey, glad you like “fungible!” Dunno why, but I always loved that word.

  17. Kelly says:

    Jonathan,

    This is an evergreen subject for sure. Lots of folks struggle with it.

    For me (and like MM, I do think it’s such a personal thing), I planned the blog out in advance. As in, about six months in advance. I started writing to see how often I could write and still love it. I figured if I couldn’t keep it up that long then there was no point in starting, but it turned out that blog-writing and I click quite well.

    This gave me a huge bank to draw on in dry times (I still occasionally grab one, two years on), but most importantly it helped me find my rhythm, which has been 4x weekly unless I don’t wanna or unless I’ve just *got* to say something extra, since the very beginning. I’ve got a posting schedule and two regular features weekly so I can think inside of the box half the time, but I don’t want to be a slave to it.

    I always listen to myself. If I get stubborn about it, it’s time for a day off, because I want to be doing this for years and I never want to resent myself for it. So if I hear inner resistance, I walk away for that day. There are way more important things in life.

    Has it hurt my blog? Can’t compare, so I can’t say. It’s The Little Blog That Could. I’ve got a fiercely loyal group of readers who love to be a part of the sometimes-rollicking discussions โ€”at a business blog!! โ€”and slowly but surely it grows.

    There’s nothing more that I could wish for, is there?

    Regards,

    Kelly

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      It’s kind of funny, there have been a number of times where I’ve tried to commit to a fairly rigid posting schedule, then I get a few weeks in and it just doesn’t feel right. Some weeks amazing things happen that I want to write about every day, other weeks, I’m wrapped up in projects that keep me very inward focused. So, I’ve taken to a rough commitment of twice a week…we’ll see how long that lasts, lol!

  18. First of all, Jonathan, I want to compliment you on your titles. I enjoy them as well as your posts and you really draw your readers in.

    I’m in my third year of blogging. When I started, I knew nothing about it. As an author, I think I was in a mode that I was writing chapters for a book. The posts were too long. And I was crazy trying to find more and more topics.

    I have settled down. I write a post every five to seven days. And I wait for inspiration from every day things. A personal growth niche blog like mine can get too preachy. What you “should” be doing to improve youself.

    I have decided not to improve. What you hear is what you got. And I don’t think that the normal reader has the attention span to read more than 750 to 1000 words.

    I like telling stories. I notice that you do too.

    My readership goes up and down – but I am happy to report that it is mostly up.

    Most of all, I have fun writing it.

    Other than a few affiliate programs, I have not concentrated on money. But maybe, sometime.

    I am a real fan of your writing. I don’t comment too often because you usually say it all.

    And I loved your book.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Hey Corinne,

      Glad you dig my headlines. Have to admit, I often have more fun coming up with headlines than I do writing posts. Must be why I love copywriting, too. And, thanks for the kind words about Career Renegade, too.

  19. Very interesting.

    I’ve been battling with this for weeks trying to decide how “dedicated” I am to blogging since I have no intentions (none!) of being “that guy — Charlie”. I think the one post a week is excellent, mainly because of the sheer amount of information available on the internet, it’s great to come across interesting content that comes slowly but surely. I also think it may depend on the niche involved, the more current and fast moving the industry, the more posts per week/day perhaps.

  20. Well, first off let me preface this comment that I’m still really trying to figure out what my “voice” is for my blog. I’m passionate about many things, but I know that I need to keep it at least to topics that are related as opposed to being “scatter-brained” with many unrelated topics.

    I’m not a daily poster, nor do I want to become one. I’m afraid that I could not come up with daily topics to talk about that ensure I’m still delivering a decent level of value and absolutely agree that if I did, I would be more of what you called a “daily reminder” of what people should be doing. I instead like to push the boundaries in how I write and the tone of which I write (sometimes calling business owners outright idiots or stupid!) That’s not something I would care nor would want to say every day! So I am fine with posting once or twice per week. Again, I’m just finding my voice, but once it is found, I don’t care to be the “sputter-mouth” who never stops to take a breath because if I do I will lose subscribers!

    Write what you love. Write what you are passionate about. If that only gives you ideas for one post per week, fine. Better to write 4 awesome posts per month than 30 that do nothing more than regurgitate what some other “guru” said or something you’ve already said but are slightly adding to!

  21. Very well said. I actually wrote a guest post about this recently at http://wageslaverebel.com/2009/09/how-to-blog-effectively/ but I think I prefer the way you put your article together. Right now I am trying to post 2-3 times per week to build up some larger archives and because I have an endless list of ideas that I love. But I expect that once I start traveling next year I’ll lower the frequency to one post per week to keep things simple. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. I’ve been posting on my blog about once or twice a month for over two years, and I have no idea how many readers I have. Probably not many, since I get very few comments. I could probably post more than once a week — and I have lots of material (I’m at least 5 book reviews behind), but I just can’t seem to post more often. When I write a post, I compose and edit for at least an hour, even for the short ones. And then my wife always finds some typos or obscure sentences that need correcting.

    In short, I guess what I’m saying is that I haven’t found the ‘formula’. I write all my own stuff, from my own point of view, and I will definitely continue to avoid buying of content, at least for this blog.

  23. jacqjolie says:

    I’ve only been blogging for a month, but I’m not sure how everyone that only posts once a week manages to control themselves. I’ve hit publish on up to four a day and have been tempted to do more (saved them as drafts instead). ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m a little afraid to think of how much I’ll be tempted to write when I retire in a few months.

    Maybe the difference is that I’m doing it for personal reasons, to be able to communicate freely with people that I’ve been on an active forum with, not to make an income now or at any other time in the future.

    As in some of the “older professions” – maybe doing it for money takes a lot of the fun out of it?

  24. ElizOF says:

    This was an excellent read and confirmed what I had suspected all along… WE must follow the beat of own rhythmic drum; especially where blogging frequency is concerned. I am pleased you addressed it because I don’t think the blogosphere will be well served if we all followed the same tactics and techniques.
    Cheers,
    Elizabeth

  25. Hi Jonathan,

    Once again you pulled me in with your title and touched on a subject that concerns me. My main blog is one and a half years old, and I spent most of that time also writing a book, along with managing a number of websites and blogs. I had too much on my plate, struggled to find my voice, took conflicting advice, and had to fight back my inner critic when I didn’t post everyday.

    Now that my book is finished, I’ve begun to shed web property for which I no longer have passion so I can focus on the main blog for which I do. I’ve tried setting a schedule like certain types of content on certain days but that’s too restrictive for me. My current goal is 5 days a week (M-F,) and my favorite posts are the ones that take hold of me and wouldn’t let go until they were finished. Those are usually in response to a news story, a great overcoming odds story, or an incident that occurred to me. Like you, I create drafts of a post when I get an idea. That makes writing it so much easier when I decide to develop it.

    My readership is not where I want it to be yet, but I’ve found my voice, am proud of my content and while I still aim for 5-day frequency, I don’t beat myself up for not making that schedule. Blogging frequency is definitely about personal comfort, goals and style. As your examples make clear, we each must find our own stride.

    Thanks for stimulating thought on this.

  26. My style is to write when i have something really important to share. I try not to allow the frequency of my posts undermine their quality. Much more than making an appearance, my goal for writing is to make an IMPACT and that comes from the quality of my posts rather than the quantity.

  27. Brad says:

    I would like to write every day, but sometimes the demands of a job, family, what-have-you just get in the way.

    If I have something I really need to bang out, I’ll find a way. Right now, I try to update three times a week, but I’m struggling.

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  29. Angela says:

    Loved this article, and the introduction to Tina & ThinkSimpleNow. It got me thinking more strategically about how often I post. My favorite blogs have quality content posted about twice a week. Overwhelming quantity can be a MAJOR distraction from the content.

    It’s a good reminder that my readers probably feel the same way! Thanks!

  30. You’ve got all the movers and shakers commenting here. Fungibility? Yes, it does need to be fun. I’ve come looking for a specific answer to the question of wether to have more than one blog and I think the answer is stick to one – otherwise we’ll be spreading ourselves too thin!

    I think you integrating the Career Renegade blog into this one is the vital clue I was looking for. Thanks:)

  31. Squawkfox says:

    I tend to post once a week, and only if I have something interesting to say. A blog can indeed cultivate a strong readership when the blogger offers high value content over a high volume spew fest. The only problem I’ve found with taking a month off (or more) is readers email to “check” if I’m still alive. Warms my heart. ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by InTheHotSpot: RT @jonathanfields How Often Should I Post to my Blog? | Jonathan Fields http://ow.ly/1qtG7X

  33. newblogguy says:

    Just started blogging about baseball and sports what should I post about besides the major headlines of the day?