Keeping up the posts — What's your strategy?

Aug 052009
 

images 18-55-03A while back I read a piece in the New York Times called “Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest.” It said that according to a survey by Technorati last year, only 7.5 million of the 133 million blogs it tracks were updated in the past 120 days. That means 95 percent are not active with any regularity.

Whoa. I’m trying for two posts per week. It’s only been a month since I started this thing, and I am still surprised by how long it takes me to write and publish an entry. Even if it’s short, it takes several hours. What I’ve learned so far is not to start a new post on deadline day, but to have some  ideas and maybe a preliminary draft in the hopper. (Of course, when I’m advising clients about starting a blog, I tell them to come up with a list of 10 topics before they begin. Easier to dish it out, apparently.)

Looking for inspiration, I asked some food bloggers about creativity and productivity. I started with Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen:

Q. Do you have an editorial calendar to determine blog posts?images 11-22-09
A. Absolutely. Mondays and Tuesdays are my highest traffic days, so I usually post Sunday night or Monday morning, depending how good the TV shows are on Sunday nights. I also find time to post Wednesday or Thursday. Twice to three times a week is my norm.

Q. How far in advance do you write drafts?
A. I don’t write drafts, unless they are recipes that I’m working on. Blogging is a spontaneous medium. I write exactly how I feel in the moment and I’d just feel strange if I was writing for tomorrow.

Q. How do you keep the inspiration flowing?
A. By having fantastic support group and friends like Elise (Simply Recipes), Diane (White on Rice Couple), and Bee ( Rasamalaysia). We’re always throwing ideas back and forth, listening to each other rant and rave, and teaching each other things. We’re a team. That’s important. Plus there’s a whole ‘nother side of blogging that isn’t talked about much: the “job” of blogging. My full time job is my blog, which is very different than 99% of others. The technical and monetization side of blogging certainly keeps me on my toes. Between those three areas, I get all the variety and excitement I need for the week.

Anytime I need inspiration or feel like I need a kick in the pants, I usually start a new branch or project. My newest one is Good Bite.

Q. How many hours per week do you spend on your blog?
A. You don’t want to know.

images-1 11-22-57Then I asked another veteran, Amy of Cooking with Amy, for advice. She said she’s almost always composing posts in her head. “By the time I sit down to write it generally goes pretty quickly. I also no longer beat myself up if I only get one or two posts out a week. I try to write something then save it as a draft and return to it later to edit it.” Sarah at Lettuce Eat Kale said she keeps an editorial calendar and planannehamersky_09032_0482s a month ahead. She posts three times per week. “The best advice I got,” she said, “Is post when you can, keep it fun. If it feels like a chore or burden or added stress, then step back and think about what your goals are. So far, I look forward to writing my posts.”

Now I feel more encouraged. It’s always satisfying to reach out an talk with people who know more about this than me. I also found a terrific article on ProBlogger, “Seven Ways to Keep Fresh Content Flowing. ” And I’d like to learn more.

What about you? If you’re a blogger, how do you keep the posts coming? Do you plan out an editorial calendar? Block out time in your datebook? Write lots of drafts and store them until ready? Please share your strategies with me. I’m the new kid on the block.

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  12 Responses to “Keeping up the posts — What's your strategy?”

  1. Yea. I think posting should be blog/blogger specific. I read sites that update multiple times a day and some that update only once a week. Whatever allows you to provide good content.

    I do think it’s important to have a schedule though. If you always post on Monday… always post on Monday. It’s hard to build a community if you are constantly changing the meeting times…

    I post on most days (usually not on Sundays), but that’s because I like to write a lot and it keeps me focused. If I take a bunch of days off it’s harder for me to get back into writing posts. I do keep an editorial calendar, but I don’t write posts really far in advance.

    Speaking of posts… this was a good one!

  2. Thanks for a helpful post! I’m new to blogging too, and I was wondering the same thing. I’m enjoying your blog!

  3. Great post that hits on a lot of different points when it comes to blogging strategy.
    Thanks for including me in the mix. I come off sounding way more together than I actually am. As a newbie to this arena I’m pretty much learning as I go, like you.

    I do think there are a tremendous number of variables that come into play regarding keeping up the posts — whether or not you get paid to post, how demanding your day job is, whether your posts are “pithy snippets” or full-blown stories, to name a few — but what’s great about blogland is there’s room (and readers) for all types.

  4. Hmm, my photos tend to dictate the content of my posts, so I queue them up and then wait until I figure out what to write. Sometimes, like today, I have a great batch of inspiring pictures but the words don’t flow as easily as I hope.

    (So today, for example, I put up a quiz instead of a traditional post. My readers have proved that they’re far funnier than I am. At least on Wednesdays.)

    This summer I scaled back from 5 posts a week to 3 due to intense travel, and so far the earth hasn’t swallowed me whole.

  5. Regular posting is very hard! It depends on what you want for your blog, I suppose. I see it as part of my job, so commit to it. It helps that I share the blog with my company partner so it’s not every day. I have a loose plan for each of the days – one day for a link, one about what I’m working on…

    Taking time off from the blog is important to. We took the month of July off (and we’ll do the same in December) and it’s amazing how refreshed and ready to go we were come August first…

  6. I am enjoying your new blog and glad you started it up! I am interested in hearing more about how other bloggers jog the creative process on those days when the topics just aren’t flowing. Jaden Hair touched on it a bit in answering your questions, but I would love a full post on how sucessful bloggers keep it interesting.

  7. I have a rough editorial calendar but like to be spontaneous so I often bump an evergreen topic in favour of a timely one.

    Life often hands me topics when I least expect it — a trip to the grocery store, an overheard conversation, a chance encounter. If you’re open to it, you’ll find cues everywhere.

    I also find reader questions to be a great source of inspiration. Some of my most visited posts are in response to a reader’s query. Who knew rice stumped so many people?

  8. I don’t have a calendar. I’d like to do one post a week, and sometimes two, but I’m not always successful because I have a full time job in addition to my blog and another website I have.
    I do try for one post a week though, because I can see that traffic drops off without frequent posting. However, traffic only matters as much as my ego, because there are no ads on my blog. :-)
    As for topics, so far it’s just been based on whatever I’m cooking whether it’s seasonal or just an inspired dinner. I also post about where I eat when I travel and because I just spent 2 weeks in Vietnam, I currently have a large backlog of material. All I need is the time to get it written and posted!

  9. I have been blogging a little over a year and I am still amazed at how much time it requires. I try to post twice a week and only achieve that goal sometimes. If it weren’t for the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group I joined, where we post our results on Tuesdays, I might not even post weekly. I find the peer pressure for participation very motivating.

    I am never at a loss for ideas, but generally don’t have the time to either write them up or take the necessary photos. I just brought home some beautiful purslane from the farmer’s market tonight and think it would be a great topic, but I bet I just eat the purslane and never get a picture or write it up! I try to set reasonable goals and not fret too much if I only get one post a week up.

  10. I tried having an editorial calendar, but I rarely stuck to it because more often than not I’d be spontaneously inspired to write something else. Now I just keep a running list of topics in a Word file and photograph most of the work I do in the kitchen so I have a never-ending supply of visual elements for posts. Often just skipping through my photo directory will drum up all sorts of ideas, and I already have photos to go with them! How handy!

  11. I post on two different sites. As a contributing food writer and restaurant reviewer for a city magazine, I’m paid to blog once a week. So I have to be as regular and dependable with posting as I am with getting my print stories to my editor on deadline. I keep a file of possible subjects and ideas and make a monthly by-the-week list of what I’ll blog about. But I usually write them one at a time, week by week- that way if something interesting, unexpected or time sensitive comes up I can substitute that for the post I was planning which gets bumped to another date.

    I also have a blog to promote my book Cleveland Ethnic Eats, a guide to the authetic ethnic restaurants and markets of greater Cleveland(www.clevelandethniceats.com). I use it to connect with readers and get their input; chat about the ethnic food I cook and eat; share updates about the places listed in the print edition; track trends and relevant isues; and publicize my book signings, talks, and appearances on radio and tv. I am of course not paid for this. I’ve set myself the goal of posting at least once week. I never realized it was important to post on the same day until reading the comments here. In addition to that weekly post-for which I also keep a running list of ideas to draw on- I blog there randomly whenever I have something to say and the time to write.

    I’m leaving on a two week vacation in a few days. That means I have had to do what I call “blog aheads.” I’ve written two posts for each site and scheduled them to publish each week while I’m away.

    Sometimes I love having a forum where I can talk about whatever interests me. But other times the relentlessness of blogging and the constant demand for new content can be a real burden.

  12. I write 2-3 posts a week. Sometimes my writing is flowing and naturally self-evolving. Sometimes it’s like pulling water from a rock. I don’t have the structure of a strict schedule, but I get very grumpy and edgy if 4 days go by without a new post.
    My inspiration comes from food I make for my family and friends, which I do all of the time and does wonders for my popularity. My inspiration also comes from cravings I have for food I love to eat and cuisines I love and miss. My recipes are often inspired by visual cues from my daily travels, the farmers’ market, a picture in a magazine, a perfect strawberry, a beautiful serving bowl, or simply a fleeting image that pops into my mind.
    My posts are also about those “perfect pearls” of experience that come with a multi-cultural family and growing kids, an affinity for travel and a propensity to relocate internationally. Those moments of perspective, irony and humor are what I try to remember and share – certainly for my readers, ultimately for myself. This is not always easy to do, but when it happens I write my favorite posts. And sometimes I just make fun of myself, which is important, too.
    If I could spend all of my time on my blog I would – it’s an insatiable beast, an ongoing learning curve and a deep well for networking and community. The good thing is that I cook all of our meals for my blog, otherwise my family would be extremely neglected and hungry.

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