An ongoing struggle exists among bloggers, attempting to reconcile two opposite ideas: 1) the discipline of posting on a regular schedule and 2) the creative value of posting when you’re inspired. Does inspiration come from discipline, or does forcing content only lower its quality? Should you wait until you have something valuable to say, or does waiting mean you rarely post?
Here’s a look at both views:
The Path of Creativity: Post only when you feel inspired.
The idea of creating only when we feel creative appeals to the free spirit in all of us. The freedom! The flexibility! But is it the smartest choice? If you post only when you want to, how often will that be? Could your blog end up neglected while you move on to other things? Let’s look at the pros and cons of choosing the path of creativity:
Obvious perks come from posting only when you want to. Here’s a closer look:
- You’re Not Confined. Knowing you have to post three times a week is, for many writers, a recipe for writer’s block. Meeting the demand of regular posts can feel overwhelming, not to mention discouraging—sometimes even enough to squelch passion for blogging altogether.
- You’re Flexible. When goals change, priorities shift, or new ideas hit you, you’re free to change blog direction as you like. When something big happens in the world, and you have something to say about it, there’s no content schedule or previously scheduled post to stop you. Likewise, when inspiration doesn’t strike and you want to take a break, you’re free to stay silent—no goals forsaken.
- You Aren’t Predictable (and Therefore More Interesting). As you develop an audience, your readers notice when you do and don’t post. If you always post on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, for example, those posts become expected and routine. But if you post irregularly, your readers don’t know what to expect, which makes you intriguing.
- You’re Posting Quality. One perk of inspired posting is that it’s, usually, quality posting. When you wait until you truly have something to say, you give your readers content worth reading.
Posting irregularly, however, is a practice not without drawbacks. Before you jump into the free and blissful world of creativity, consider the following:
- Your Blog Sees Lower Traffic. When you’re posting only when you feel inspired, you’re probably posting infrequently. And posting infrequently means infrequent reminders for readers to come over to your site.
- You’re Less Attractive to Advertisers. Whether individual businesses or ad networks, advertisers like consistent posting.
- You’re Easier to Forget. Infrequent posting makes you easier for readers to forget, especially in an online world flooded with new content. This means increased pressure that the content you do create be exceptional, as a way of making your content stand out.
The Path of Discipline: Feel inspired when you make yourself post.
As Pablo Picasso said, “Inspiration does exist, but it must find you working.” In other words: If you want to find inspiration, work until it comes. In the world of blogs, that means blogging regularly—but is that practical? Consider the pros and cons of the path of discipline:
When you force yourself to post, even if you don’t feel like it, here are some benefits:
- You Build a Habit. As Ali Luke writes at ProBlogger, “Some bloggers do best when they’re in a steady routine—and you might be one of them.” By forcing yourself to stick to a schedule, you’re establishing a creative discipline, a way to continually practice and improve. And, in this discipline you may find, some days, the content you create surprises you.
- Your Blog Sees Higher Traffic. The more frequently and regularly you post quality content, the more likely people visit (and keep visiting) your site. What’s more, the more content you create, the more content search engines recognize—bringing search-related as well as organic traffic to your site.
- Advertisers Like It. Should you want to work with advertisers or an ad network, posting regularly is key. Advertisers want regular content because it means regular opportunities for readers to see their ads.
Blogging on schedule isn’t always easy—sometimes it’s downright discouraging. Before you commit to a specific routine, consider the drawbacks:
- Blog Quality Suffers. In some cases, forcing yourself to post on schedule means posting less-than-ideal content, which, in the long run, hurts instead of helps your blog. Poor content eventually turns away readers and gives you a bad reputation.
- It’s Hard. Part of the reason content quality suffers when you force yourself to post is that posting when you aren’t inspired is tough.
- You Become Noise. When Design for Mankind blogger Erin Loechner posted about a desire to blog less rather than more in 2013, over a hundred responses came pouring in—people who were tired of the noise on the Internet and of bloggers’ incessant desire to post more and more. What this means is that, for many online, the blogs that are constantly posting feel like noise.
Choosing How Often to Post
Looking at the pros and cons outlined above, which direction should you choose? Does it make more sense to post on schedule or when you’re inspired? How do you know? To help answer those questions, ask yourself the following questions, designed to flesh out which option makes the most sense for you:
- What could I gain if I posted only when I wanted to? What could I lose?
- What could I gain if I posted on a schedule? What could I lose?
- Will more content provide real value to my audience? (If not, don’t.)
- Can I realistically deliver quality content on a regular basis? (If not, don’t.)
- Will I still enjoy the blog if I post more often? (If not, don’t.)
- How could I post regularly without the pressure? (Guest bloggers? Editorial calendar? Working ahead?)
- What do my colleagues or friends in the blog community suggest?
- What does my gut tell me?
How often do you post on your blog? Why? We’d love to hear from you!
Shanna Mallon is a writer for Straight North, a Chicago Internet marketing agency specializing in blog marketing services.