Organizing a sustainable publishing schedule is no easy matter. Most larger blogs have teams of writers that are managed and scheduled by editors. But when first launching your own blog there’s probably not going to be any team of people.
Being your own editor can get stressful at times – but it’s also a blessing in disguise. Managing a blog on your own requires careful attention to detail and serious responsibility. This is a great way to improve self-control and build confidence in your writing ability.
But the problem always returns to determining a schedule. How often should new content be published onto a blog? Which days of the week are best for publishing? And is there a specific time that draws the most attention? This article offers some detailed answers to these very important questions.
Let’s start with the topic of how frequently to post.
Consistency over Irregularity
When you’re the only person writing and scheduling blog posts it can become a tedious chore. Many bloggers launch their new site with a burst of energy. At first it feels great to push out content!
Then after a few months writing becomes difficult, and the volume of new content starts to wane.
Your goal should be to avoid this rut by any means necessary. Posting frequency should be driven by consistency, not passion. If you only feel comfortable publishing new content twice a month then do that and stick with it.
Just because you write 5 posts in a week doesn’t mean they all need to be published right away. It’s actually smarter to space them out over a few weeks. This way you can take a break from writing and still have content waiting in the wings.
Consistent publishing is vastly greater than irregular publishing.
Smaller blogs may not be as concerned about publishing frequency. If the blog is mostly personal then you may not be chasing a wide audience of readers. In this case you might only publish once a month, or every-so-often as needed.
But for bloggers who wish to gain a high level of trust and readership, consistency is absolutely essential to success.
Another point is that search engines like consistency for their crawling algorithms. If Google recognizes that Mashable consistently publishes three posts a day, their crawler will hit the site multiple times in 24 hours.
The same goes for smaller blogs that publish once a week or twice a month. Consistency will help your posts index and rank faster in every major search engine. This is just one more reason to create a schedule and really stick with it.
If you have the energy to publish more than once a week definitely give it a try. It’s always worth pushing your creative boundaries, and even if you have to drop it down to once a week it’ll be a positive learning experience.
Just avoid letting your blog go completely off-schedule by skipping weeks or months at a time. This is when readers might stop checking for new posts & assume the blog has been abandoned.
Maintain a Pool of Topic Ideas
To prevent a dry spell of blog content it’s a good idea to keep a personal list of new ideas. Some writers think they’ll remember all of their ideas and don’t even bother to take down notes. But you’d be surprised how quickly a great idea can be forgotten or misremembered.
Inspiration can strike at any time so your topics list should be accessible from anywhere. If you have a smartphone try using the notes app for Android or iPhone. This works great because it can hold quick notes without much formatting.
But if you want to go the traditional route there’s nothing wrong with a pen & pad of paper.
Another good habit to develop is writing down tentative headlines for each idea. This practice will help you develop the skill of composing titles that draw curiosity or excitement from readers. And when going back through old notes you’ll be able to recognize ideas quicker if they have a conceptual title.
If posting inconsistently were considered a blogging disease, your list of new post ideas would be the remedy. Never underestimate the power of creativity. It’s easier to be honest and consistent with blogging when you know you have access to a list of cool ideas to write about.
Staying on a Post Schedule
Putting together a list of ideas won’t guarantee a solid post schedule. Writing takes work and in order to stay consistent you’ll need to put in the time. It’s a great idea to force yourself to write even when you don’t feel like it.
The easiest way to stay on a post schedule is to build up the willpower to write often. This willpower is strengthened by just writing. You’ll learn how to power through the down times and keep a level head during the high times.
Each blog’s content has different requirements based on the topic and posting schedule. Some posts will cover very detailed ideas, while others will end up much shorter. If you’re low on content you can try filling in a couple shorter posts using related media. For example, you may write a quick post sharing a cool infographic or some interesting videos from YouTube.
There is no special trick to stay on schedule other than just writing. If you fall behind try to make it up with a few extra days of work.
If you really need some help with new content try contacting a guest writer to see if they would want to submit anything. But don’t use guest writers as a crutch for putting off your own work.
When first getting into a writing schedule the process can feel weak or sluggish. But if you stick with it then over time it’ll grow into a reliable habit.
Best Days to Publish
Once you have a small body of content there’s the brief issue of publication dates. Which days of the week are best to publish? Which days produce the largest amount of attention for a new post?
The answer depends somewhat on the category and popularity of your blog. However there is a recurring theme which points towards middle of the week as the best time. This is when many people can feel agitated with work or school and may choose to browse the Internet.
So in general the best days for posting new content would be Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Friday can also be an option since many people see Friday as part of the weekend. Monday is when people often have the most work coming back after a weekend, so there’s less time for mindless web surfing.
It’s generally a good idea to completely avoid posting on the weekend. Although there are lots of people online during the weekend, many of them are just visiting their favorite websites or social networks.
Some people may stumble onto your blog – but during the weekend there’s less of a reason for these people to stick around unless they’re already fans of your website.
Also be sure to avoid publishing new content on major holidays. Very few people want to waste time on the Internet during Thanksgiving dinner or New Years Eve. If you write a holiday-themed post get it published a week in advance so that it has time to disseminate and catch attention before the holiday occurs.
Keep in mind that after launching a new blog your publication dates won’t make a huge impact right away. There’s a larger impact on blogs that already have steady traffic & many posts ranked in Google. But it doesn’t hurt to get into the habit of posting on certain days right from the get-go.
Try experimenting with different days to see which ones drive the most attention.
Best Times of Day to Publish
The subject of post timing is rather fluid but also consequential to the date. For example, when posting during mid-week it makes sense to have the post go up in the early morning. If you publish later in the evening the day is already close to done, so this later time won’t bring as much attention.
When considering a time to publish you’ll also need to take into account time zones. This is where traffic analytics really come in handy to analyze visitor locations. Google Analytics will track location data based on visitor’s countries that you can organize into similar time zones.
The majority of content flowing from the western world revolves around EST. This is because it’s smart to cater towards the earliest time zone and have the others catch up later.
By publishing at 9AM PST everyone on the east coast is already sitting down for lunch. However if you publish at 9AM EST that’s early enough for everyone – even those who wake up hours later on the opposite coast.
Some bloggers prefer to schedule content to publish in the wee hours of the morning(4AM-6AM) because then it has time to propagate.
If you have an auto-share feature then your new post can be automatically shared onto Twitter and Facebook. Lots of people check social media early in the morning so that’s a good time to have your post in the mix.
But it’s also fine to post later in the morning when people are already online(8AM-10AM). The benefit here is that many people are already surfing the Internet and may stop to check out your new post.
Truthfully there is no single best answer other than publishing at some point early in the day. For smaller blogs there is little difference between scheduling posts before sunrise or mid-morning. On larger blogs there can be a difference in traffic depending on the audience demographic.
Just be willing to experiment with different publishing times over a couple weeks. Track stats each day and see which times resonate best for your audience.
Cater to your Readers
Perhaps the most important detail about scheduling posts would be the readers. The absolute best results will be obtained by publishing in the time zones when your readers are most active.
A blog with primarily North American traffic should post at vastly different times than East Asian traffic.
Your goal should be publishing at times that hit the top 2-4 demographics of visitors. For example a blog written in English could have the majority of traffic coming through the US, Canada, England, and Australia. In this scenario it’s best to cater towards the #1 demographic, or stick with EST because that includes Canada & the US together.
Studying your audience is the most important reason to sign up for Google Analytics. Their service is completely free and offers in-depth details on every metric you could imagine. You can even track bounce rates on specific posts to see how long people are sticking around to read on the day of publication.
If you’re having trouble selecting a time you might try creating a poll for readers to answer. This can sit in the sidebar or header of your blog so that it appears on every page. After 2-4 weeks tally up the results and see if any particular timeslots are most preferred by the readerbase.
Publishing to Social Media
Another idea worthy of consideration is when to publish new content onto social media. While dedicated readers will undoubtedly check your blog for new posts, not everyone cares enough to do so.
However most people love to check social media whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit, StumbleUpon, or anything similar.
KISSmetrics published an infographic covering the science of social timing related to blogging. The results shouldn’t be worshipped as gospel, but there are some interesting metrics about sharing links on social media.
Since there’s less of a time zone barrier on social media it’s difficult to gauge the perfect time to publish based on followers. You never really know where followers are located or how often they check their account. But it’s generally wise to assume the majority of your followers are located in the same geographic location(s) as your traffic analytics.
Try to hit for the morning or early afternoon of your targeted timezone. Most people will check social media at some point throughout the day. But the closer you hit to a peak traffic time the more people will likely notice.
This can lead to retweets or reshares that get noticed by other users who don’t even follow your profile.
An interesting fact to note is that photos usually increase engagement on Facebook and Twitter. This hubspot infographic covers a few stats about social media sharing and how to increase clicks. Photos are just a little bit of icing on the delicious social media cake.
Your goal should be a snappy title that quickly draws attention. Use words and phrases that stick out among a sea of text. And if you can squeeze in a photo might as well try that too.
The more you try out different times the more you’ll learn which techniques work best.
Putting it all Together
When first launching your blog there doesn’t need to be a rhyme or reason to scheduling. Almost nobody will be checking your site daily until it gains a small reputation. So when first starting don’t sweat the publishing times all that much.
Just be sure to stay consistent and reliable, both for potential readers and search engine crawlers like Google.
As your blog gains some noticeable traffic it’s worth playing around with dates and times. Pay attention to your traffic stats and see which days often bring the most traffic.
The safest choice is to post during the week and keep it consistent on similar days. Avoid posting on weekends if possible because new content doesn’t perform as well on Saturday or Sunday.
But no matter which day you publish it’s always a good idea to get new content up in the morning or early afternoon. Schedule your posts so they go up at the best time related to your time zone. This same advice can be applied to sharing new posts on social media as well. Aim for very early in the morning or early afternoon(before 12PM).
Avoid publishing new content late in the day because this won’t leave many hours for people to find your post. Later afternoon & evening is also a less-trafficked time in general because people have moved on to checking their usual websites, or just signed off the Internet altogether.
Publish early, publish often, and publish consistently.
Over time a good publishing schedule generates trust among readers and your blog’s name will become synonymous with reliability.