What I Learned from a Year of Writing (Almost) Daily Blog Posts
This is my 389th blog post of 2015.
Which… kind of makes me want to take a break, to be honest. I mean, 389? Really? I knew I’d posted a lot this year, but I had NO idea I’d written that much: while I did skip a few days here and there, though, there were also a few days when I posted more than once, hence the slightly crazy total.
I’m not telling you this to brag, by the way, or because I think daily posting is something everyone should aim for. Actually, I fell into it more or less by accident: I had a rush of post-holiday enthusiasm right at the start of the year, which gave me tons of ideas for things I wanted to write about, and it just kind of snowballed from there, really. I definitely didn’t set out to post every single day, and I’m not trying to convince anyone else to do it either, but my posting schedule is something I get questions about fairly often, so today I thought I’d share some of the things I learned from my year of (almost) daily blogging. Such as…
It’s easier to come up with ideas than you think it’ll be
If I actually HAD set out to write a blog post every day for a year, I think I’d have been so daunted by the very thought of it that I’d have given up before I even started: because how on earth would I find something to write about every single day without fail? Actually, though, coming up with new ideas is easier than you think it’ll be, and the thing that surprised me most is the fact that the more I write, the more I WANT to write. I know that sounds counter-intuitive – and possibly like an outright lie – but, I don’t know, it’s almost like your brain gets used to coming up with ideas for posts all the time, and before you know it, you’ve been blogging for two weeks straight, and you still have some topics lined up.
It’s not like that ALL the time, obviously: there have been a few times this year when I’ve found myself staring at the blank WordPress page without a clue what I’m going to write next, but for the most part, I’ve always had a few ideas in store. Of course, it helps that writing has always been a habit for me: even in the days when I didn’t write for a living, I was writing constantly – I’d write hundreds, maybe thousands of words every day in my personal journals, and as my blog is basically an extension of that, it’s not a huge change for me. It also helps that my blog covers such a wide range of topics: if I had to restrict myself to one set topic every day, I’d definitely find daily blogging much more of a chore.
It requires more planning and organisation
Having said that I didn’t find it too hard to come up with ideas for blog posts, I did find I needed to be more organised with my posting schedule. Up until this year, I hadn’t ever bothered with an editorial calendar – I basically just posted whenever I felt like it, or had some spare time. There’s nothing wrong with that approach, obviously, but when I started posting every day, I also started to use an editorial calendar to plan things out, and I also found it useful to plan certain types of posts for certain days of the week. At the moment I post my blogging tips series on Sundays, shopping posts on Saturdays and I normally do a weekly roundup of some kind on Fridays. The rest of the week is fairly flexible, although Mondays and Wednesdays tend to be the days I get the most visits, so if I have a “big” post planned, I’ll try to schedule it for those days.
It really helps boost your traffic
I’ve said this before, but the more often you update your blog, the more visitors you’ll tend to get, and switching to daily updates is the thing that’s made the biggest difference to my pageviews. Of course, it can work the other way, too: if you’re forcing yourself to write something purely to meet a self-imposed schedule, and are just posting any old thing in order to get a new post up, the quality of your content is bound to suffer from that, which definitely won’t help. This is why I always try to tell myself that it doesn’t really matter if I miss a day here or there: most readers probably won’t notice, and it’s better to skip a day altogether than to publish something you’re not proud of. With that said, however…
It gets a bit addictive
“Addictive” is probably the wrong choice of word here, but what I mean by this is that once you get into the habit of posting every day, it can be hard to persuade yourself to stop, even for a day or two. In my case, I may not have planned to start posting every day, but once I’d been doing it for a while, it started to become a bit of a “thing”, and even although I KNEW I was placing far too much emphasis on it, it was really hard for me to overcome the feeling of guilt that would hit me if I didn’t have a post up on a particular day. (Yes, this is pretty much the same experience I had with my Fitbit: I obviously have some issues…)
The problem here, of course, is that while your readers probably won’t mind if you don’t post every day, it DOES make a difference to your stats – and therefore to your income, if you’re blogging for a living. I can get anything from 500 – 1000 extra visitors on days when I have a new post up, and while that may not seem like a lot to lose if you’re raking in millions of pageviews every month, it IS a lot to me, and it does add up over the space of a week, month or year. When you know that updating your blog will get you extra visitors, it can be hard to convince yourself not to do it – but, of course, numbers aren’t everything, and as I said, you really need to weigh up the benefits of a few (or, OK, a lot) extra hits compared to producing content you’re proud of. In the long terms, those visitors are only useful to you if they like what they see – and like it enough to want more of it. If what those precious visitors see is a half-hearted blog post that’s only there because you felt you HAD to have SOMETHING to publish that day… well, you can guess what’s going to happen, can’t you?
The biggest problem with daily blogging, however – and the reason I don’t think it’s totally realistic for a lot of people – is that it basically NEVER lets up. Every spare second of your time is taken up with content production, and that leaves very little time for all of the other things you need to do as a blogger – or just as a human being. I think most people feel like they need more time to accomplish everything they want to do in life, but this year I’ve been particularly stretched trying to keep up with everything, and I’m constantly feeling guilty about all of the OTHER things I could/should be doing for my blog, but which I just don’t have time for because of the pressure I put on myself to come up with new posts every day. As I said, though, when you know that skipping a day is going to make your traffic drop, it can be really hard to convince yourself to do it – so you end up feeling like you’re stuck on a treadmill which you can’t ever get off.
Conclusion: daily blogging has worked really well for my blog this year, but I definitely don’t think it’s the be-all-and-end-all, and it’s not something I ever want to start seeing as an obligation. Quality will always be more important than quantity, so next year I’ll continue to keep blogging about the things I really want to write about: that might mean a new post every day, or it might not -I guess I’ll soon find out!