Wednesday, July 8, 2009...7:00 am

The five pillars of blog longevity, part 3

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Part 1;   Part 2;   Part 3;   Part 4;   Part 5
Part three of a series on how to keep going with a blog, even when you’d rather stick pencils in your eyes rather than open another bloody WordPress window.
Today, advice to alleviate the loneliness of the long-distance blogger.
3) Pace yourself
It’s difficult enough to write anything every day, but writing a daily 1,000 word, opinion-led piece on a topic relevant to your blog is impossible. Trust me – I know.
One of the most common problems I see in my journalism students is that they run out of steam and get demotivated because they just can’t write an essay each day – or even each week – for their blog.
The answer’s simple, though. Don’t do it.
Instead, pace yourself. Write a long, essay-style post once in a while – say once a month or once a fortnight. Then fill in the rest of the days with shorter posts.
Short posts can be anything you fancy:

  • A quick comment on an event or news report
  • A photo with a witty/incisive caption
  • A video clip
  • An opinion poll

These are quick to produce, and don’t take up too much energy. But they can really work. Audiences like a change of pace too – too many long posts can be a bit offputting.
Crucially, don’t try to make your post too complex. Stick to one key thought.
Looking back over Freelance Unbound recently, I’ve realised I’ve been producing more long posts than short – and I should mix it up more. It’s good for your sanity as well as for that of your readers.
And, while long posts are the ones that will probably keep readers coming back for more, once they realise your blog has some real meat to offer, short posts are often the ones that attract their attention in the first place.
I found this out when a throwaway joke post got sent to Reddit and doubled my traffic in a day.
Frequency and timing
Part of pacing yourself is figuring out how often to post and when to do it.
My traffic is light at the weekend – as most people come here during the working week. This means I don’t worry so much about posting on Saturday and Sunday. It’s nice to put a short post in, but not critical.
But since the weekend has lots of spare time to write in, I can get some of the work done then – then schedule the posts to appear the following week.
It’s worth trying to build up a small backlog of non-time-critical posts that you can spread over a few days or use to fill in when you don’t have the time – or motivation – to write something new.
And while posting every day is a good goal, two or three times a week is fine – if you are reliable about doing it. Consistency is important. Don’t get all excited and post two or three times a day for a week and then leave it for days with nothing because you run out of steam. That’s not good for you or your readers either.
The multiple post
The great thing about a long post is that you can carve it up into shorter ones. Which works well for structured tips like this one.
I was going to run this complete, but it broke down naturally into five sections – which handily enough fills a working week.
Readers get bite-sized chunks they can digest easily, while you get the benefit of a breather after the effort of writing 2,000 words or more.
There are other benefits. If your series gets picked up by other sites or bloggers, there’s a chance you’ll get more than one link out of it. They’re human too – as they update their site each day, hey, there’s a new link for them to offer their readers. You get to help with their pacing too.
It doesn’t always work. Often a list of tips works better if the tips are shorter, punchier and all together. This can also help with getting a post spread via Twitter, say.
But you could get the best of both worlds by summarising a series of longer posts in a round-up at the end.
Develop a rhythm in your posting and you can develop a habit in them. And that’s the key to keeping going for longer than a few weeks.
Next up: Make sure there’s someone out there reading this stuff.
Part 1;   Part 2;   Part 3;   Part 4;   Part 5

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