Why You Should Ditch Your Blogging Schedule

Why You Should Ditch Your Blogging Schedule

For several years now, you’ve been given advice from probloggers (and not-so-probloggers) that just wasn’t very good advice at all. The advice made sense. The analogies were understandable.

But the theory was wrong.

I know, because I dished out that advice and followed it strictly for years. I was convinced it was good advice and that if I didn’t follow it, all hell would break loose. Lightning would strike me dead. All my loyal readers would string me up, tar and feather me and throw rotten food as I pleaded for mercy.

I was wrong too.

After all, the advice made sense: Have a blogging schedule, and stick to it. Be reliable. Dependable. Write blog posts and publish them according to this rigid schedule and provide readers with a steady stream of constant blog posts.

And if you did, if you busted your ass and posted on the days you promised, no matter how you felt, no matter what you’d written, no matter if your kids were sick… you’d reap the benefits.

But no one thought to really examine those benefits closely. How could we? We were all new to this blogging thing. No one had come before us and proven any best-practices principles. We really had no idea what would work.

We made up the rules as we went along – and then we realized they were pretty stupid rules.

Here’s what the rules told us to do: Blog according to a schedule, and you’d be conveying that your blog was reliable, dependable and consistent… like a grocery store with set business hours you knew by heart. You could go in and get bananas because you knew the store would be open. And you knew when it would be closed, too. (Everyone needs sleep, after all.)

Warm fuzzies for everyone. Let’s give a round of applause, shall we? You’ve stuck to your schedule and your readers nod in approval. What a nice, reliable person you are.

But that’s where the benefits stop. In fact, if you stick to your consistent blogging schedule religiously, come hell or high water, you’ll soon fine the warm fuzzies fading away. You may even damage your readership relations, wreck your ability to collect comments, destroy your open rate on hot new posts and generally make your blog a boring mecca of take-it-for-granted production.

You might even neglect your business and forget that blogging should have an ROI.

I know, because that’s what happened to my blog.

And not just my blog, either. My peers and I have been secretly discussing this problem for some time. And we’ve all come to near-unanimous agreement:

Constant, reliable, regular posting sucks the life force out of your blog.

Think about it: When you first sign up to receive new blog posts, you’re excited. You read each one that reaches your inbox, quickly. It’s awesome!

But after a week or two, maybe three… you’re not reading those new posts every day. They slip into your inbox whether you need them or not. They light up in your RSS feed like clockwork.

And those blog posts start to become clutter.

Because hey, you’re busy. You’ll skip reading today. Besides, you probably already know what the blog post will say. So many of them become redundant advice you’ve heard before. Nothing new. Nothing exciting. Same old, same old…

Then you skip another day. And another. And maybe even a full week goes by before you feel guilty and decide to read some of the posts waiting for your attention. You skim the headlines, you scan a few posts… you have no time to waste – there are a LOT of posts to read!

Ah, to hell with it. You’ve read five. It’s all the same boring stuff. So you hit the delete button and flush the rest.

And then you go back to whatever you were doing before. No worries – there’ll be more blog posts to read. They’ll just keep coming at a nice, steady, reliable, dependable pace.

I get it. I know how it goes. I’ve flushed plenty of great blog posts in my time (and probably without much regret). Inbox zero, right?

But I’m not just a reader – I’m a writer. I know exactly how much thought, time, and effort goes into every post I write. I’ve spent hours writing great material – days. And that’s just for one or two posts! There are over one thousand articles here at Men with Pens.

That, my friend, took me years to create.

And knowing that only a fraction of my readership avidly opens those articles, only a small minority actually reads my hard work – slowly, carefully, with the intention of learning something new… well.

Makes one question what the hell we’re all doing with this blogging thing, right?

Because we all know the truth: Beyond adding to the social proof of your sum total readership, blog readers don’t do much for anyone. They won’t make you rich. They aren’t buyers. They prefer (and sometimes even feel strongly entitled to) free-of-charge articles that took time and effort to create.

Provided with a smile. On a steady, regular basis. And rarely a penny (or even a thanks!) shall change hands.

And the more articles that writers produce (because hey, everyone and their gramma has a blog these days), the less readers care. There’s content everywhere. Everywhere. On any subject in the world written from at least 68 different perspectives. And that’s just in a single day, within a small, specific niche.

With all that content going around, with all those people caring less and less, readers get blasé. They read less. They comment less. They ignore massive amounts of blog posts because there’s just too much of them. It’s a little like eating cheap Chinese buffet every day for a month.

After a while, you’re sick of it. And you just want a really good steak for once, dammit.

So here’s a thought: Let’s forget the cheap Chinese buffet rule of having consistent blogging schedule and ditch it in favour of an occasional steak dinner. The kind you save up for and enjoy. The kind you really savour. The kind you look forward to because it’s rare. And because it’s that good.

I’d much rather sit down and write a great article when a profound idea strikes me or when I’m feeling particularly excited or have something significant to say. If that’s Friday or Tuesday, who cares? If it’s once a week or once a month, who cares?

Wouldn’t you rather get something from me and feel excited? Wouldn’t you prefer that awesome feeling of, “Ooooh, cool, a post from James… I wonder what it’s about this time!”

I would. And so I shall.

It’s time for this blog to become a high-end restaurant. This isn’t a grocery store. It’s not a buffet. It’s a place you come for blog posts you can savour.

So I’m ditching the blogging schedule. And that’s very good for you, my friends, because there’s nothing like reading profound, inspired, motivated posts written because they had something significant to share.

It’s way better than reading posts written out of obligation just to appear reliable, don’t you think?

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. Halle-f**king-julah! I’ve so wanted someone to confirm my thinking and you have done so. I could put a post out everyday/week but I fear I’d not only bore people rigid but I’d lose my passion for writing. My best writing comes when I am passionate about something. Passion doesn’t happen everyday and those who says it does/can are fibbing. The mundanity of life tends to trample the good stuff to the bottom. A good post once every couple of weeks, however, can drag it to the top of the pile once in a while. Photos also help. ;) Thanks for a thought-provoking post. x

  2. Amen to that!! I seldom blog because… I’m too busy reading other people’s stuff and then realize that there is already so much good stuff out there that ‘one more blog trying to get attention’ just isn’t worth the time.
    Yes, there are great blogs — Seth Godin for one… short, regular, meaty. Copyblogger is always good and so are you!
    But I look for substance, not regularity. A regular blog says “I’ve got to write something so my readers will think ‘m consistent”. No you’re just regular, and regular often means you’re struggling to find something to say because you have to… to be regular.
    In a world flooded with information, substance is all that matters. And when you find it, you covet the words and enjoy the read.
    We like regular bowel movements. With blogs, I’d rather have them when there’s something of real value to read.

  3. Exactly my thoughts! Even as a writer, I got really tired with sticking to my blogging schedule, and going through Analytics I realised that these “unscheduled” or “irregular” posts had much more hits. Time to get off the leash?

  4. This is a topic that is uppermost in my mind. I was encouraged to write if not daily then at least 3 times a week. Bugger me that would be impossible in my line. And for what real return? I see you are a rebel too,

    cheers Carole

  5. *Stands up and applauds*

    You’re abso right about the inbox clutter. I too am guilty of filtering email alerts from certain blogs into a folder for later reading, and the “later” never really happens. At the end of the day, most people subscribe on impulse and then, are too lazy to unsubscribe because – what the heck – email space is unlimited and you “never have to delete anything again” right?

    I do exactly as you’ve described here. And the people who care always watch for what’s next. Luckily, my blog is not a “niche” blog. It is a mongrel of sorts – and I don’t promote anything there.

    I just needed to read this post today because I had an argument, no, discussion with someone about blogging schedules and editorial calendars. Works for some. :D

    Thank you, “James”! Although I am a subscriber to MWP for a long time, now, I recently read your interview with Fran Sorin on her blog and really enjoyed it.

  6. You might be onto something. After the initial burst in pageviews after the start of my blog, they kept on a similar if nnot lower level from wee to week. Maybe I really should shake things up a little. Sure, this past week, I disappeared offline, but that shouldn’t impact my blog the way it did :/ I’ll have to take some time to analyze all the data and maybe I’ll keep it a little bit less predictable in the future.

  7. This post is a Godsend! I struggled with my first blog (an 11-month undertaking about teaching English in Paris – http://jolieaparis.com/) – not because I didn’t like to write or because I couldn’t find material, but because I kept pushing myself to produce regular posts even when the inspiration wasn’t flowing. After a few months I realised that I simply wrote better when I didn’t try to push it, even if that meant taking a week off.

    But now I’ve fallen into the same trap with a new corporate blog – I committed to once a week and only managed to last three before I went on holidays, and trying to make myself write about work when I should be seeing the sights has not been going well. But what you’ve said is absolutely right – I’m only proving my reliability to readers, not to potential clients, and my potential clients already know whether or not I can write based on the content on my site.

    Thanks again – you’ve really taken the pressure off :)

  8. This was something I felt as true deep inside.Tthank you , now it’s confirmed by you.
    I will now stop worrying when 2 weeks pass after my last blog :-)

  9. Thanks for writing this. I don’t have a blog myself yet, but I’m very familiar with the feeling of clutter that blog posts can create. Even my A-list blogs, I mean the BEST blogs on my list, quickly get “cluttered” up and I often skip posts.

    Someone who goes against the stream and also has spoken out against posting every day is Derek Halpern at Social Triggers. It might be tomorrow, it might be next week or even a few weeks. And you know what? I JUMP over every post he puts out. I don’t know when the next comes out, but I KNOW it will be good and I’m hungry for more.

  10. I’d much rather sit down and write a great article when a profound idea strikes me or when I’m feeling particularly excited or have something significant to say. If that’s Friday or Tuesday, who cares? If it’s once a week or once a month, who cares?

    Yep. I started my blog in 2008, and by the first week figured this out, and have been doing it ever since.

    I also don’t follow blogs that write 3 sentence blog posts on a regular basis. If I am going to fill my inbox with blog notices, it’s going to be blogs with good, usable content. Call me *crazy*, who cares?

    Many blessings,
    Nancy

  11. You know what? I’ve had so many arguments about this (usually from people dealing in quantity over quality), and it’s glad to see someone else pointing out that schedules aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

    And it’s not just burnout – it’s that the pro-schedule argument makes no sense.

    “Oh, if you don’t post at 4pm EVERY Wednesday, people won’t know to visit your blog!”

    Obviously that only applies to returning vistors, but even then, do people really only visit at set times?

    If you can’t work Twitter, Google, Facebook, my RSS feed or any of the dozen ways I put the word out about my posts, then I’m not sure that you’ll get much out of them anyway.

  12. This is good stuff, but it’s a lot more valid for people like you, who have a strong archive of content on your website. I’ve only been blogging for months so writing 1-2 posts a week helps me – a lot!

    Still, as I write for longer and longer, I’ll definitely write less often. It makes a lot of sense!

    • Actually, a post a week is pretty reasonable – it fits into a busy schedule and it gives writers time to put good research and material into it. (I’m probably going to fall into this post a week schedule naturally, just without the “MUST POST” attitude.)

      What kills me is seeing people bust themselves to write every day, or five days a week… after a year, they have sooooo little to show for all their efforts. Imagine spending all that writing time on improving their business – what would happen then? :)

  13. I TRY to write once a week. Sometimes I am lucky if I post every 10 days – or so!. My philosophy is simple – I write when I have something to say. Heck, I advocate that. This is something that I tell my subscribers upfront too and no complaints so far. Happy to see that someone else agrees for a change.

    Now, serve up my steak please. It has been a while. :)

    Marya

  14. Hear, hear! I ignore blog posts all the time–I follow too many and wind up spending half my homework time catching up on the blogger world since that’s what my writing teachers have said will help get my own “stuff” out there. Posts are more significant if the writer actually has something to say.

    Like today, “Oooh! James sent me an email, it’s been a few days, let’s see what’s on her mind today…”

  15. In the beginning I wrote 3 posts a week, because I thought more was better. Then I started writing once a week, and now I write whenever I feel inspired, which usually ends up being once a week.

    Refuse blog post schedule slavery!

  16. Amen….and pass the horseradish
    I was just sitting down to finish my post for today, since the beginning of the year I have been posting 5/days week and I was thinking to myself…why the hell am I doing this. What is my ROI, over the past month, a few extra visitors but little else.
    Thanks as always for over the top value in your posts and I did notice that you have been posting less frequently and it was why I opened this post…I missed your wisdom.

    • I think that’s the biggest question we should all ask ourselves: Why are we doing this? Is there ROI? What is it? Has it improved income, clientele, results? Magical questions!

      (I love horseradish. Mmmm….)

  17. You have made my Monday!
    I’ve always felt a little guilty about not sticking to a schedule. One thing I notice, my writing in all areas is better when I do things my way. (I’m certainly less grumpy!)
    So glad you agree.

  18. Amen, sistah!!! I came to the same conclusion (although not this elegantly worded!) last fall. So we switched for a very strict weekly schedule to a 2-post-per-month format. Not only that, but each post is now longer, richer, more detailed and of higher quality. Steak dinner. With a bottle of ’85 Bordeaux. And live jazz.

    The response from our readers has been huge!

    When we do post, it’s always on a Friday. But we may also throw that out the window very soon, because I totally agree with your reasoning here.

  19. I disagree with your advice on not keeping to a schedule. The writers I admire the most kept a strict schedule . The names of the authors escape me and I am too lazy to look them up right now, but I recall several who stuck to a strict regimen of 1000 words a day come hell or high water. The theory is that it is too easy to let yourself off the hook. Writing is like trying to exercise, once you allow yourself some latitude, it is difficult to get back on the wagon.

    Even though you don’t feel like writing or you have nothing to say, something invariably comes out of a 1000 word session. Now, you don’t have to publish it. Maybe there are some days you publish and some you don’t. Of course you can file what you don’t publish as ideas for the future.

  20. Amazing how desperately we need permission to do what we know in our gut is right. Even when we know following “the rules” grinds our creativity into the dirt.

    The world does not need more filler.

    Rock on, lady.

  21. Blogging to a schedule may have its roots from the columnists who wrote against regular deadlines for printed magazines and newspapers. While today’s on-line world removes those physical constraints, there are still good reasons to maintain the discipline. Like with regular newspaper columns, many readers enjoy the anticipation of something predictably regular in occurrence – at least poll your own readership to learn their preferences. It can be challenging to provide fresh content, but perhaps the answer is to publish less frequently than to go to random releases. And like columnists of old, draw on contemporary events for fresh inspiration and materials. If writing starts to become an unenjoyable task, tell your readers you are taking a break. The discipline of writing to a deadline, once honed, should not be given up lightly.

  22. Oh dear, I need to be contrary. Just like the “blog with a schedule” thing wasn’t tested, has this theory? Because here is what I see: Established bloggers who had a VERY regular schedule in the past built readership and NOW do not need a regular schedule because people trust them and their content. Can an unknown, newbie blogger who is just trying to build a platform post whenever they want and still get results? I highly doubt it. If some random person I don’t know posts awesomeness once a month, I don’t care. I don’t even sign up for the feed.

    This advice falls back into the category of “This works for me and my friends, so it will work for you.” This advice from the same people who told us just a year ago that regular posting is the right thing to do.
    Here’s the reality. No one can tell us what works for our blog and our business unless they really know your blog and your business and your clients. This “do it like me” stuff is why I’ve stopped reading so many blogs. It’s based on nothing other than opinion and reactionary experience.

    You know I love you, James, but I need more meat to go on. Let’s do some research on this and then offer that to the public.

    • Actually, Derek Halpern proved the theory and incredibly so. Check out SocialTriggers.com – he went from no one to stupendous results in a very, very short time, and he definitely doesn’t post regularly at all.

      I’ll get back to you with my own personal research and results when I’ve tried it out for a bit! :)

    • My client Michael Ellsberg has built himself a rockstar following as a blogger at Forbes…. from scratch. With irregular posting.

      The difference is that he doesn’t churn out trash on some pre-determinded schedule. He only posts extremely high quality stuff. He does so irregularly. It’s paid off.

      His last post (which required significant research, travel and much much more to complete) had over 100,000 unique views in the week it was released.

      THAT is next level blogging… and I take my hat off to him.

      The idea that beginner bloggers NEED a regular schedule in order to succeed is total crap.

  23. I like what you’re saying here. Blogging when I feel inspired and leaving novel writing to satisfy my OCDish need for my To-Do list. Focusing my creative efforts for the best ROI. You are helping a new novelist make the most of their time and energy.

    Thou rockest.

    Ms T.

  24. I’ve been reading this a lot lately, especially because just recently I have attempted to write a blog post three times a week, no matter what. And I love this post! And then in one of the comments I read someone remark that writing everyday (or regularly) is part of the discipline of being a writer. Well, I’m a fiction writer and I know that it’s true. If I wrote my stories when I felt like it….wow, I would never write. That can be a daily or semi-daily discipline. But the truth is…for my blog, for THAT type of writing…that type of writing I’m concerned could be become worn out and running out of ideas.

    The interesting thing is since I have started my blog schedule I don’t have as much reader engagement. I used to get 20 plus comments…now, I’m lucky if I get five. Not to mention I thought having a blog hop would help and I don’t think it has. Instead, I think THAT has made my blog appear to be just hungry for visitors.

    This has definitely caused me to rethink the schedule entirely! I may go back to what I did before and post once a week with quality posts…

    • If I had to write 1,000 words a day as an obligatory self-regimen, I’d quit my job. Or slit my wrists. Whichever came first. That’s just no fun at all.

      Besides, if you love what you do, writing 1,000 words a day should be something you look forward to doing… not something you force yourself to do.

  25. James, this post was a joy to read for so many reasons.
    Readability, education, and entertainment are some of those reasons that come to mind. Serious and yet I was laughing out loud because what you say here is so true. Your voice is truly back and I look forward to your future posts whenever the spirit moves you to write them. I’m so glad I took the time to not flush or mark all posts as being read. It would have been my loss.
    P.S. – I don’t flush YOUR posts.

  26. James,
    I have stopped reading so many blogs because once someone writes on a topic the rest of the month is full of the same topic! Give me original, different perspectives! Don’t rehash what everyone is writing. If you don’t have anything good to write don’t write!

    I understand that many bloggers are professional writers and if they need a schedule then that is great. If you aren’t a professional writer and you still might need a schedule then that is equally great but there isn’t any ‘have’ to do it this way. Find the way that works for you and to hell with the tested theories!

    Know yourself enough to follow your own way and your original content will follow.
    Kimba

  27. Thanks for your insight, James. I think this is a topic that the blogosphere really struggles with. And, I’ve written about this too – the infamous quantity vs. quality debate.

    While I don’t think a posting schedule needs to be rigid, I do think there is value in committing to the number of posts in a week or month. If we wait around for inspiration to strike, it becomes too easy to fall off the wagon and not post anything at all. I find that when I’m blogging regularly (for me that’s about 2-3 times a week), I tend to have more ideas, more inspiration and more energy to post. When I get away from that, I end up taking a 3-week blogging hiatus. It’s a lot like exercising – when you have a schedule, you are more likely to stick with it. Start skipping workouts and the next thing you know, it’s been a month since you’ve exercised.

    The point is you have to test and tweak until you figure out what works best for YOU and your audience. Some blogs are highly successful with a daily schedule (a la Copyblogger) and others do a great job with weekly or less. There is no one-size-fits all solution. I’ll be interested to see how the switch works for you!

  28. James, I agree! Blogging should be enjoyable and if you’ve become a slave to some schedule it becomes a chore. Make your own rules, I say.

    G.

  29. You make a great point. A blog post worth sharing should be an event. something that give us something to really think about and help us improve our results.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s personal development or travel. I want something that improves my life.

    I’m slowly learning this concept and you’ve helped solidify my expectations of myself. As always you did an amazing job on the copy. You really have a gift for flowing prose.

  30. *stretches fingers*

    Well, well, well…looky here! A Canuck stirring up controversy. Who’d a thunk it? Figured you were about due for one James ;)

    Now, to my reply:

    If you’ve seen my blog lately, you’ll know it has been sorely neglected. Am I worried about it? Yes and no. I have personal and professional reasons for not blogging a lot. Has it hurt my business? Not at all. But I’ve found it’s different with each of my clients, so I think it’s a mistake to think there’s a one-size-fits-all solution here.

    I find whether or not you need to blog on a schedule depends on a lot of things:

    - How visible you are elsewhere. Some of my clients spend enough time on social networks and publishing content elsewhere that they don’t need to blog that much on their own sites.

    - How much time and money you have to invest versus what your business needs. You need to know what you have to invest and where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. If you need to generate some quick cash, I’m going to suggest that blogging likely isn’t the way to do it. If you need to build up your industry presence, or have a blog-based business, publishing a post every day might be the way to go.

    - What your competition is doing. If you do the same thing as everyone else, when are you going to stand out? Are you honestly going to wait around and hope that eventually one of your topics will be different enough to get you there? It happens, but not often.

    - How well you seed, stretch & use the content when you do publish it. If one post generates interest for a week or more, do you really need to post daily? Or is that time better spent on other things? As far as I’m concerned, you need to focus on having a good content and marketing strategy, not just a blog.

    - How often your audience reads blog posts. If you work mostly with busy CEOs, for example, they likely don’t read all that much, if at all. In this instance, you’re probably better off discovering which formats they use most often, when, and base your content strategy on that.

    - The value of what you have to say. I have become so disgusted with some big name bloggers who publish a bunch of words every day, but never really say anything. They eventually lost their passion for the topic, but now it shows and I can’t stand to grit my teeth through another post. That’s another favourite gripe.

    Oh! Or, they say something that’s nothing more than basic common sense. I’m busy. I don’t want to waste my time reading about something I already know! (Same goes for conference talks, while I’m airing this complaint.)

    Others fill their editorial schedule by posting tons of guest posts, from people I don’t want to hear from. This annoys me on a blog that’s supposed to be run by one person. If I’m going there, I want to hear something of value, from that particular person, not a bunch of parrots. Sure how often guest posts appear, and how good they are, can make a difference, but still!

    - What you get out of it. I’m sorry, but with limited time, I’m a “what’s in it for me” type marketer. If creating and releasing reports gets me more sales/links/attention than blogging, which one am I going to spend time doing?

    - How you blog. I think that what you cover on your blog greatly defines your audience, and what they expect when they arrive. If you always focus on a specific topic, your readers will come to you when they want to read about a specific topic. While this can be good in some instances, it can be harmful, too, particularly when you vary from the norm. Your fresh new piece will just get overlooked. In this instance, spontaneity and surprise may be how you can keep people interested.

    - Whether your blogging audience is really your target audience. In my experience, businesses generally have three main audiences: customers (who buy what you’re selling), related businesses (who will link back to you and create opportunities), and competition (who consume information you provide, while providing you with information and ideas). If you’re blogging for the wrong audience, chances are you’re not going to get results and how often you blog will become a moot point.

    - If your audience is receptive to blogging. I could scream every time I hear people say every website should have a blog. That’s just not true. Many target audiences don’t read blog posts, at least not for anything other than entertainment. I think you really need to know your audience before dedicating years to a blog that gets you nowhere.

    I’d forget the schedule and look at your business and your audience instead. Match them and do what works best for you both. Besides, posting too much will just take away from the good posts you write and do more harm than good, if you ask me.

    Too much is like not enough. Even kids will get sick of ice cream if they get too much of it ;)

    Angie

  31. I’m reading a number posts from people who find a lot of postings can be and has led to drivel; that this is a result of adhering to a writing schedule. I think the reason for the drivel is the lack of editing. As far as I’m concerned, I prefer to get up and stick to a writing schedule whether I produce anything or not. I don’t have to publish if I’m writing rot. However if I do publish, I owe it to my readers to edit and polish. And if I can’t justify publishing, then file it away and perhaps a worthwhile idea will spring up later. Since I am not under the gun with a deadline, this type of writing is meant to be a joy for me and my readers.

  32. I agree that posting daily is a path to burnout for many people. That said, I think the bigger problem by far is the length of most blog posts. This one rings in at 1,196 words. It’s overwhelming to look at and overwhelming to read, even though it’s well written.

    If you’re a blogger, CHECK YOUR WORD COUNT and try to reduce it. I think blogging frequently and more briefly is better than longer and irregularly.

  33. Sweet validation. Thank you. I try, in my blog, to adhere to my mother’s advice: if you don’t have something significant to contribute, then shut the hell up.

  34. I read the post that you linked to about readers not being buyers. At that time, you noted a fairly low percentage of readers become buyers, and that most of your leads come from other methods. I was wondering if the numbers are still about the same for the blog to customer conversion and if so, it sounds like it’s still worth it because you still plan to blog.

    If we look at our blogs as one tool of many, if it brings in X percent of our leads, something else brings in X percent, and another X percent, then we aren’t relying on once source, and that’s a good thing.

    I’ve been on the reliable path myself for a couple of years now, based on the kind of advice you mention, maybe I’ll experiment too.

  35. I’ve ditched the publishing calendar for my “work” blog because I just wasn’t feeling the urge, and the posts were starting to reflect it. Same with another site that I contributed to; I took a hiatus because I felt like I was rehashing the same topics from different angles.

    On my “fun” blog (http://whatwouldbettydo.com) I do follow a formula of sorts: I always post a recipe on Friday because readers tend to do their food shopping over the weekend, so the timing is right. Mondays tend to be an item of substance, Wednesdays tend to be a funny post as a midweek boost. I don’t sweat it if I miss a week — if I don’t have anything to say, why would I expect a reader to listen?

  36. If your blog is new, posting irregularly and less frequently won’t get your blog off the ground. Period.

    If your blog is already off the ground, posting frenquently and regulary with relativily good quality can keep your traffic to grow, but you probably would be still doing ok if posting less.

    If your blog is in the popular stage, it doesn’t really matter, posting more or less won’t hurt anything. Quality does though.

    Qty over quality might be doing better for you than the other way around in the starting stage but quality should be over qty once you have gained attention.

  37. This was really interesting and very timely for me as well. As I’ve gotten serious about my blog I’ve played back and forth with a regular posting schedule. My boyfriend has argued for it – saying that he “checks” his favorite sites and webcomics when he “knows” they’ll be posting. Although following his advice helped me get into a regular posting rhythm, I highly doubt people are as reliant on my posting schedule as he is on his big sites.

    One of the benefits of posting regularly was it forced me to write when I don’t feel like it, and often posted something I didn’t think would be a hit. Those posts were, surprisingly, often the ones that went viral and were super popular. The truth is, as much as I have hunches about content, what is often a raving success surprises me. That said, I argue against the schedule because i like to maintain the idea that I would rather publish nothing than publish something forced, filled with air, or crappy. I try and abide by the idea that “you’re only as good as your last post.”

    Today I am not on a schedule, but shoot to post a few times a week. It’s a flexible schedule that insists on regularity but also makes me treat it like a job – and not just “when I feel like it.”

    Thanks for the awesome post and the thought provoking conversation!!

    - Jen

  38. Scheduling is no problem–I simply work all the time!! :) If you want your blog to grow, there’s a lot to do, and unfortunately, not much of it has to do with writing. That said, I am posting new content every two weeks and have found that frequency to work for me. The lengths of the posts vary from 800 to 1400 words for nonfiction and 1200 to 3000 words for fiction. Thanks for the insights!

  39. Siita Rivas says:

    I’ll savour the James articles whenever they come along.

    But I’ve long thought the blog model must be cyclic. You get lots of info and ideas and then you’re off and running putting that all into practice.
    What about all the people who have not read those thousand great posts on your files.. perhaps there could be recycled and fresh in the mix. kind of like a greatest hits re release.. just to keep you uppermost in the blog world.

    Yours is one of about four blogs I follow – It’s a valuing time thing. But rereading posts just serves to refresh essential business info.and I do that often.
    Oh and the occasional page out of your non business – just for fun writing….that’d be cool.

  40. Oh YES!!! I’m a new blogger and that is the one piece of advise that did not sit well with me. I can’t make inspiration come any more than I can make rain. It hits when it hits and that’s what I want to share with my readers… not words for the sake of words. I’m so glad to hear that you’ve received the memo from the universe too!

  41. I’ve never posted regularly and certainly don’t consider my blog to be a failure.

    Should you write every day? I believe so, for the exercise and the discipline and the for the “idea bank-i-ness” of it.

    Publishing every day or consistently? Not so much.

    From where I’m standing, it looks like there is no “best” way to do things. The biggest and most popular blogs publish at a breakneck pace but they also have teams of professional writers to sustain it.

    Myself and I bet most of the readers of this site are running one-person businesses (or close to it).

    You just can’t keep up with that big-league shit, nor should you try.

    IF you can publish frequently, consistently and at high-quality (without hurting your business), then GREAT. No need to stop. But most people can’t do that. Take high-quality over consistency and consistency over frequency. Consistency is not a big deal with a little planning ahead: create an editorial calendar and write in advance of publication dates so you can be consistent and high-quality.

    Two outta three ain’t bad.

    • “You just can’t keep up with that big-league shit, nor should you try.”

      Best. Quote. Ever.

      (By the way, even I can’t keep up with big-league shit, and I AM big-league shit!… Okay, that didn’t sound right, but you know what I mean.)

      • What you wish to accomplish by definition requires that a wish be made… and that means you have to know what to wish for in the first place.

        You know… planning. Goals.

        You will always be big-league shit to me, James, and I mean that in the best possible way. ;)

    • Tom Southern says:

      Writing every day is practice. It’s good. It hones and improves.

      Practice everyday.

      Write for your blog when you’ve something new, insightful, or just plain bitchin’ brilliant. Like you Micheal Martine and James Chartrand, and Derek Halpern and Jon Morrow.

      If I’ve left you out, add your name to the list. I could do with some lessons!

      Cheers!

      Tom

  42. It’s always been about quality, not quantity, and the reason why I subscribe to only a few blogs. My view is that there are too many extroverts blogging. Take time to think about what you’re going to write. Reflect once you’ve written your post. Then yourself: “Is this worth posting?”

  43. I love the passion in your writing, James. I can tell you are excited about this new(ish) direction. I couldn’t agree with you more.

    I know comments are suppose to enhance the article, but sometimes I just gotta say, “Yep, I agree.”

  44. @Everyone – Thanks so, SO much for all your thoughts, opinions, cheers and everything else. It’s been awesome to read all the comments (and the debate), and I just wanted to say thanks.

    Hence the general comment – saying thanks about 40 times would just be silly, right? ;)

  45. I have to agree with ditching the whole scheduled posting. I find I write better when it’s inspired. In fact I took the entire month of December off from writing. I mean writing for 3 blogs and a magazine can take a bit out of you. Ultimately I like steak dinners so I am in favor of this practice. One thing I do on the blogs I manage is to recruit guests to fill in the gaps so I can take a bit of a break once in a while.

    Good post thanks!

  46. I am so thankful for this post. I seriously was obsessed with a scheduled and burned out during my last blogging adventure.

    With this in mind, I have warm fuzzies :)

  47. May I just agree with a resounding YES!!!! Brava, James!
    Applause, applause, applause :-))))
    Absolutely could not agree with you anymore.
    THANK YOU for making it okay to write about what you’re passionate about instead of just what will sell and THANK YOU for making it okay to write a brilliant article when the inspiration strikes rather than on some mundane schedule of forced regularity, with mundane writing to boot… that no one then truly appreciates.
    THANK YOU!!!!

  48. That makes WAY too much sense, James! :-) I love your balance of heart and head…

  49. Great post and so true. I haven’t been blogging for long and I have toyed with the thought of creating a blogging schedule, but for me, blogging equals being passionate about something and wanting to share it with your readers right away, whether is Monday, Thursday or Saturday. I am simply not patient enough to wait until I can release my finished blog post.
    On the other hand, if I don’t have anything worth sharing, why would I write a post? Doesn’t make sense to me.

  50. Thank you!

    If you want to write inspirational articles, you have to write when the inspiration hits you. It often hits at inopportune times, but hey, that’s life. I also find that rules are made by people who love rules. Adhering to rules gives them a feeling of achievement without actually having to create anything. But the map is not the territory.

  51. I love James Chartrand, Men with Pens, and the bullet that went through the term blogging schedule.

    That’s all. Thank you.

  52. Fabulous post! So freeing as I was just berating myself for not being able to stick to a blogging schedule, whilst also trying to edit my WIP and raise three children in a foreign country.

    So much of what you said resonates with me, especially the part about the steak dinner since I live in a land without beef. Thanks for this post and the one on finding your voice– great insights!

  53. I’ve never been one to subscribe to the notion of a perpetual stream of blogs, so I’m glad someone else backs me up here! I think a fairly regular stream keeps your writing sound and your readers happier due to it. The loyal ones will stick around if they’re impressed with your content. Still, the company I work for puts out daily blog posts, but this is from a business perspective. I guess it’s important to make your website appear active in this respect.

  54. This is an important topic and one that, in my experience, causes considerable thought. There needs to be a balance between building an initial web presence/brand and properly managing the value of that brand over time.

    For example, when starting a blog or site, I think one would be more aggressive with the frequency of content creation. After experiencing some success (varies for every business), I would think it makes sense to take your advice and pull your foot off the gas pedal.

    The real conundrum comes with quantifying how long to go full throttle when building a web presence/brand. I’m curious about what James and other readers have experienced relative to this transition.

    Thanks,
    Justin

  55. Best line I heard all day: “…you just want a really good steak for once, dammit.” Amen!

  56. I just want to say thanks to everyone who’s commented on this post and those who’ve started discussions about it on social media. I think it’s an important topic and very worth everyone’s attention – after all, we should question the rules, as Johnny B. Truant would say.

    It’s been very good to see so much resoundingly positive feedback from people who are thankful they can stop feeling guilty, are tired of posting filler content and who feel liberated to free themselves of “you MUST do this.”

    You must do what feels right for you. Especially if doing otherwise is making you miserable. A blog, a business, and especially writing shouldn’t feel like a horrible chore.

    And to those who’ve expressed their disagreement, I respect your opinions.

    I’ll still only post when I have something worth saying, though. ;)

  57. I’d like to make a distinction that MIchael and a couple others did refer to. I don’t think I’m disagreeing with James here, just framing it a little differently.

    Writing is an input. The blog post is an output.

    For many people, their writing will get better if they write everyday or every work day (Including me and I’m not doing it right now). Or, if they’re not writing, their blog posts will be better if they are thinking about them or in some other way working every day on their business with an eye towards what can be published.

    Letting the internal things lapse because you’ve given yourself permission to only publish when you’ve written something great is a “good” way for many people to lose track of their doing in the first place.

    I know that, personally, the more I’m involved in something on a daily basis the more I want to go deeper, the more I become original in that area, and the more I’m motivated to share. Part of the reason I stopped blogging was because I stopped writing and sharing because I was focused on other things.

    Post when you’re passionate. And make sure that you keep feeding the fire (or mindfully resting it) on the days in between, is how I would interpret putting this into action.

    • P.S. This post was very timely because it’s changing the way I’ve been thinking about reviving my own blog. I’ve been planning on stockpiling some posts because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to post regularly. Maybe I should just start again with publishing one posts and add on as I can and want to. That would definitely be more fun than having to wait in the name of keeping a posting schedule once I restart.

  58. Agreed. If we post just to post, then what the hell’s the point? It defeats the purpose of blogging. Sacrificing rich content for a forced, consistent article.

  59. I, too, think that there’s a difference between blog writing for my clients vs. myself. For my clients, developing posts everyday or every week makes sense (depending on the audience/customers) and, honestly, can be very easy to write. But when it comes to my OWN blog, I only write when a passionate topic hits me. And when I do, it’s so much more worthwhile.

  60. Abso-frickin-lutely.

    Rigid schedules might work for an army cadet, but I didn’t get into this to wake up at 3am to get yelled at and do 200 sit-ups in a muddy field.

    Interestingly, since I stopped posting in July 2011, my subscriber count has increased by 30% and my daily visitors have increased by over 100%. Surely an argument not to post at all?!

  61. The rules keep on flying in the face of reality, don’t they? I wonder which would be the next rule to kick the bucket?

    I remember a line in Gary Bencivenga’s newsletter where he essentially said that I am going to write to you only when I have something valuable to say. I knew who he was, and I was like- this guy has worked all his life as a top copywriter and he is saying he does not have a good story every week?

    It struck me then as strange, but I later realized that the quality vs quantity argument not only applies for word counts per post but also to blogging frequency.

    However, I think one needs to write everyday to keep exercising the writing “muscles”. I have a notebook in Evernote where I type something everyday, and sometimes I write good stuff. Sometimes, it’s atrocious

  62. Hey James,

    I totally agree with you on this. Yes you should be dependable. Yes you should show your readers that they can expect nothing but the best quality from you.

    But what good is it if you end up killing yourself, huh? :-)

    You will just end up in the deepest hole of creative burnout and that is not a good place to be.

    Take care.

  63. Nice one, James! I hang out for Penelope Trunk’s occasional posts, but also enjoy Seth Godin’s daily fare. If I HAD to choose one, it’d be very hard. But I’d probably go for Penelope’s. You’ve really got me thinking now. Many thanks for that! Best regards, P. :)

  64. Darn Fine Steak James, you certainly know how cook.

    For me personally less has always been more.and a post like this has made me go back in your track to see what else I have missed from you.

    Looking forward to your next cooking session

  65. Amen. I’m days late reading this post, not because it wasn’t important, but becuase there are so many to read and so many to write. I’ve been fighting an uphill battle trying to post consistently. Is it every MWF or every TR or is it TWR? It keeps changing because business work gets in the way. Quality versus quantity is my goal for this quarter.

  66. Thank you James, you’ve confirmed something I’ve wrestled with for ages. How frequently should I blog. I love the idea of blogging when I’m moved to and have been doing this even though I feel guilty of not being more regular!

  67. I’m so glad you posted this – for a while now, I’ve been torn between feeling guilty at not blogging more, and feeling like no one will really notice if I don’t. I only commit to posting on a Monday and a Friday, the Monday being a photo prompt for fiction, and the Friday being a flash story. Whether or not I blog in between depends on whatever is going on, whatever I want to talk about etc. I feel a lot more relieved to be taking that direction!

  68. This post seems to assume that this regular content is banged out right before hitting Publish. I sometimes spend a week on a post. I often am working on 4-5 at the same time. When I publish, they have been brewing for awhile.

  69. I love your view on consistency. I started out on a schedule, and sometimes found myself straining for topics to write about. Now I’m focusing on writing just when I have something to say that I think is important. By the way, I noticed you’re reading the Patrick Rothfuss series – I devoured the first two, and am waiting for the final one!

  70. GREAT post! It takes a lot of courage to go against the “rules” but you’ve clearly laid out why sticking to a regular posting schedule doesn’t make sense. The challenge is figuring out what truly works and what doesn’t in an environment that, compared to other forms of writing, is in its infancy. I really appreciated the advice in this post and will apply it- thank you!

  71. Hello James
    I’ve just flushes quite a few emails, (not yours I quickly add!) because I just don’t have the time or the inclination to read all of that STUFF. I don’t know what the authors had to say but they all had far too much to say and quite frankly I really don’t care, I’ve got other things to do!

    You’re absolutely right, blog when you have something significant to say, otherwise do other things. I’ll still open your emails and if the headline interests me, I’ll probably read it but I don’t want to be on your treadmill, I’ve got my own, thanks.

    So write when the flashes of inspiration hit you because most of the time those flashes are definitely worth reading. Thanks for the occasional flash!
    Monika

  72. I like this post. A lot. Is that because I think it’s brilliant or because it tells me what I want to hear?

  73. I love this article! I’ve noticed in my analytics that when I post an article I see a spike in visitors to my blog and it gradually levels off within about 3 days. While I could crank out a ton of articles that are 200 – 500 words and post them every three days to keep a consistent readership going, I am honestly busy. As a writer, my first responsibility is to producing sell-able work, not free entertainment to whoever might stumble upon me. It’s almost like the difference between being the class clown and a paid comedian. One practices and is expert at the vocation, the other just does it in the hopes of getting a laugh. Which one is likely to be more successful?

    The other part of it is we’re all busy with our lives. If I tried to read every single thing by every single person I knew online I think either my head would explode, or I would never get any sleep. I would be completely crazy within about two weeks and hallucinating due to sleep deprivation. If I wanted to be in a military program to train against advanced torture techniques, that might be ok but I rather enjoy my family, my work, and I have a ton of other responsibilities. I think the perspective has gotten a bit too much focused on satisfying the reader and the audience no longer values blogging because there’s so much of it.

    Excellent and thought-provoking post. I may just have to blog about the topic and add my two cents. Thanks for sharing!

  74. This is a great post! I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately. For years I stuck to a blogging schedule, but recently I’ve been over the whole schedule bit, but feeling almost guilty about it. Although, not tooooo guilty because I’m pretty much over the scheduling thing and moving on the ‘quality over quantity.’ which is far more important in the end.

  75. I really needed this post. I am new to blogging and just started a site a few months ago. I have about five posts and really have been taking my time because I am trying figure out the world of blogging and there’s a lot to learn. I have been feeling the pressure because I too have read and was told there needs to be a schedule. I really want to take my time over the next few months to set my blog up correctly as I aspire to become a professional blotter. Thanks for freeing me up!

  76. I started my blog in October 2011 and find it very difficult to post regularly. I know the more I post the more my readership goes up. So I keep posting about lots of different types of things related to my niche. How long I can keep it up depends on results. Of course a new blog has few readers so I have gone from 100 a month to 200 to 350 to 700 to 1500 so it seems to be progressing.

    I will say that I cant not post on a blogging schedule.

    Anyway that for the inspiration to through the schedule away and post good material instead.

    Thanks
    Lladro

  77. Yes great content is hard to come by and ever harder to out it in an interesting context for readers. Sometimes the ideal germinates for some time before fruition.Other times, you feel that you are so close to completing that idea when you realised towards the end that you have gone off tangent.

    Your writing and blog is a great consolation that it is still worth writing, thinking and pondering how to write great content.

  78. James – awesome post. I am much less stressed about coming up with something meaningful to say just because I decided monday mornings was a good time to get stuff out there. I’m also quite hungry now…

  79. Thank God! I just started blogging in January of this year , and I’ve been feeling guilty for not publishing posts in any reliable way. I write in so many different categories and only when I have something to say. I thought I was doing everything wrong. Thank you for validating my instincts.

    • Tom Southern says:

      @Pauline, sometimes you just gotta go with your instincts!

      I ignored my instinct and spent a lot of time churning crap, all because someone who said they knew about this kind of stuff claimed this was how blogging jived. I felt bad about churning but kept on because, well … they said it would work.

      Funny thing! Along comes a couple of bloggers I respect saying almost exactly what my instinct was saying way back when.

      Here’s the crunch! When more than a couple of people are promoting anything, your best strategy is to just run the other way … fast. Don’t look back. Just keep running.

      You’ll come to a place where you can stop running. Catch your breath. Start making friends with your intuition again. Before you know, you’ll be seen as an innovator yourself.

      Here’s to instinct! Here’s to not having to run so much!

      Tom

  80. I agree! An occasional but interesting article is certainly better than two regular but hollow artcles!

Trackbacks

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