Thoughts From The Cloud: Irregular Blog Posting and You
If you’re the clever sort, you probably noticed that we missed posting blogs last week. It wasn’t for lack of trying, last week was just a real doozy. Whatever could go wrong did, including, but not limited to the bloggo. I mean, sure, you could just throw any old thing up and call it a blog, but honestly, that’s not really my bag. I’m about quality over quantity and if the blog I’m about to write will be utter garbage, well, I might as well not.
That’s why this blog is about posting irregularity. The irony is not lost on me. I get this question a lot — especially around the holidays when it gets hard to do it all. Follow the bouncing ball as I peel back some of the theories about posting, posting irregularity and life in general.
SEO Myths and Legends
One of the biggest challenges we as marketers are faced with is the ever-changing, ever-growing, all-seeing search engine we affectionately call Google. You definitely can’t be mad at “Google,” it’s just too damn cuddly. The reality is that Google is squirrely. Google is moody. Google will tell you something one day and totally change its mind in a week. Google keeps us on our toes.
When it comes to blogging, there are so many things that people believe, or worry about doing wrong, that the top concerns deserve a quick run-down. Do you find yourself believing any of these terrifying thoughts?
I have to publish every day. First and foremost, you don’t have to post every day. In fact, if you’re a small business, you don’t need to publish every couple of days. According to an article by Hubspot, you get the biggest bang for your buck with 11 or more posts a month, but you’re still doing ok with four to 10. Eleven blogs a month is about three a week, a sometimes overwhelming number. Your industry may make it hard to come up with enough material to do that. If you’re blogging at least weekly, you’re doing better than most.
Irregular posting means death to my blog traffic. Yes and no. One or two irregular posts is no big deal. That’s just life, it happens, we move on. If your posting is ALWAYS irregular, however, you’ve got a problem. Write a few extra blogs and set them up to go off on time and then start writing like you don’t have them. This way if you’re a day late, you still have that secret pad to keep your posts regular. Fiber can’t fix everything.
I can just buy a bunch of bargain blogs and use those. I cannot stress this enough: the days of keyword stuffing, poorly written content and cheating the Google Bot are long over. Google is backed up by a seriously intelligent AI that literally reads the content that you publish. IT CAN READ. That alone floors me. But I digress. Poor grammar, incorrect usage and even plagiarism are easy catches these days. If you do it enough, Google is going to act. That act will be to blacklist your site. You don’t want this. It’s very hard to recover from.
I can’t come back from missing a post. Yes you can. Don’t apologize, don’t simper, just start up like you never missed a post at all. It might not seem real polite, but if you think of your blog more like a book that’s being delivered in pieces, it only makes sense to just pick up where you left off and keep on keepin’ on.
Establishing a Regular Blogging Schedule
This is the meat of the thing. If you skipped the stuff above, just make sure you read this. Successful blogging is a long-term game. You often won’t see results for up to a year and even then, you might not realize what you’re seeing is related to your blog. Hubspot reports that one in ten of your blogs will start to compound over time. This means that the blog you write today may not actually help you tomorrow, but it’s highly likely to help you in a year as your library grows and builds on itself.
I can tell you this is definitely a thing from my vast experience. Some of the blogs I wrote even five years ago are still driving traffic and getting comments. It’s kind of amazing how much of a bang you get for your buck with them. If you can stick it out that long, the rewards are many. Perseverance is one thing, but having the right tools for the job is another. That’s why we’re going to talk about content calendars and blogging schedules right now.
Content Calendars and Blogging Schedules
A content calendar is a list of the content you plan to write, usually in calendar format, but sometimes just tossed willy-nilly into a spreadsheet. Blogging schedules tell you exactly when to post that content from your calendar. You always need both, they’re teammates and pals. Here’s how to get started:
Content Calendars Come First
First thing’s first. You need to know WHAT you plan to publish. This is going to require you do some wild brainstorming, write lots of ideas down (because at least half will be garbage, let’s not lie to ourselves), then let them stew a bit. The waiting is important, since it’s hard to be objective about your own ideas when they’re fresh. The best content ideas are:
Actionable. That is, they not only discuss a particular topic, but how to put the information in the blog to work. Like in this blog, where I’m telling you about irregular blogging and then how to do better.
Detailed. Generic blahdy blah blah garbage content is worse than no content. There’s so much noise on the Internet that if you don’t have any intention of actually saying anything before you toss a call to action at the reader, don’t bother. Write something that’s meaningful and useful, always.
Related. This one is a little more nebulous. Sometimes it gets hard to come up with new ideas for blogs, it makes you a bit desperate. Your unicorn factory running out of ways to blog about unicorn personalities? Maybe instead, you can write about some specific people who were vital to the development of the modern unicorn craze. Or, hey, there’s a unicorn-related event coming up that you saw on your RSS feed. Even information like how to grow the special grass that unicorns eat would be related. Always tie in somehow to your blog’s purpose and you’ll be gold.
Blogging Schedules Flesh It Out
I use a couple of different platforms for blogging schedules, depending on the client’s preference and required publication frequency. One is called AirTable, it’s best for complicated blogs that require multiple writers or editors. You can sort that thing in any way that you want. It’s pretty overwhelming, to be totally honest. For most things, I use Google Calendar because it’s easy, it’ll email me when I forget to do something and I can color-code stuff. But it’s really not powerful enough to juggle big projects. More than six or eight blogs a month get really hard to track with Google Calendar. These are just a couple of the tools out there, you have a ton of options, including old-fashioned pens and paper.
No matter your weapon of choice, putting it all together is a simple matter:
- Combine similar ideas from your brainstorming session.
- Remove any that really aren’t on topic.
- Look for blogs that will really resonate with your customer base.
- Choose your posting frequency (remember, once a week is plenty for a small business).
- Arrange your blogs on the calendar so they build on one another.
To clarify, that last one means that if you have three blogs about painting, one that explains how to cut in properly, another that talks about types of brushes and a third that explains how to use painter’s tape, there are ways to arrange them that make more sense and give you better opportunities for internal linking.
The brushes and tape make sense to go first, then cutting in, so that you can link the other two internally. You’d write about cutting in and the right brushes for it, creating a link in that section, then alternatives like taping, with a link to the tape blog. You could possibly also do this with brushes last, linking from which brushes are good for what (including angled brushes for cutting in) and how to apply tape for best results.
Getting Back on Track
Like you, I’m way off track right now, so I’m going to stop dragging my feet and get myself organized. We both need consistency for our blogs, and that journey starts with a single editorial calendar… or something.