One thing six months of blogging has taught me is that, if your goal is to update a blog every day, you have to find ways to create posts that don’t take a lot of time. If you’re blogging to attract a readership (and not everyone is, but I am), you’re investing words and time in your blog and hoping for a return in reads and engagement. So when I talk about efficiency, I’m asking a question:
How can I produce a post that’s good — one people will actually like — and do it as quickly as possible?
Before I go any further, let me just say: I don’t believe it’s necessary to post every day to have a successful blog. It’s much more important to produce quality work, and to find ways of bringing it to the attention of people who are interested in whatever you’re blogging about. We don’t blog every day because we have to. We do it because we just like blogging that much.
Given where we started, we thought a year of everyday blogging was the quickest route to get where we want to go. And we have advantages that make it a good option. Diana and I are content producers much more than social media geeks. We have contributors. I’m good at music and photo-blogging, which means lots of easy posts. If it were just the two of us, we wouldn’t be updating Sourcerer every day. We’d be struggling to maintain Part Time Monster, and I doubt I’d be updating The Writing Catalog more than once a week.
We’ve been at it long enough now to look at what we’ve done and see what sorts of posts work. I’ve been thinking about that this week and planning to try and set up several regular features here at Sourcerer. When I talk about a regular feature, I’m talking about themed posts that run the same day every week. So here’s a list of the features I’m going to try and establish over the summer.
I’m not promising you’ll see them all in the next couple of weeks, but they all have real potential. They’re things that can be written ahead of time, and several are quick-and-easy posts that can be popular. The idea is to be able to sit down on Saturday and Sunday and lay out an entire week’s worth of content in advance. That will free up more time to network, and help me move away from writing late into the night during the week.
Mondays-Thursdays are consistently the best days for blogs. Tuesday seems to be the very best day for traffic, organically. Contributor posts always run on these days, unless we have some reason to do otherwise, like Feminist Friday guest posts or writing about something that breaks late in the week and starts trending on the weekend.
Monday – For the next little while, either a Penny Dreadful post from Diana, a post from me, or a contributor post. I’m hoping to give Diana Mondays until the Penny Dreadful season ends, but blogging being what it is, we may need to run these on Tuesdays.
Tuesday – I’m starting Top Ten Tuesdays as soon as possible. People love lists. The topics for these posts are announced well in advance, they should be easy to write, and The Broke and Bookish, who started this feature, provides a way to list your Top Ten Tuesday posts so other bloggers can find them. I also think Teaser Tuesdays have real potential, because they’re simple to write and look like something that could become very popular. Taylor Grace turned me on to this last week. It’s the brainchild of MizB of Should Be Reading. I don’t know if I’ll do it every week, but I’d like to do it frequently.
Wednesday – We’ll maintain our well-established comics posts for new book days whenever possible, and run the comics posts on Thursdays when we get off-schedule. I’ll also keep doing Wordless Wednesdays. The combination of Batman and Wordless Wednesdays have made this our best day for traffic on most weeks, and it’s also the easiest day to set up.
Thursday – Contributor posts when we have them, something from me when we don’t. Usually, something fun.
Friday – Friday mornings will continue to be reserved for Feminist Friday discussion threads, whether we host them here or whether I reblog a discussion post from one of our friends. We’ll also keep posting a Follow Friday featuring one blogger as often as we can. I’d like this to be a regular feature, but Fridays are busy, so we may miss a week from time to time.
Saturday – At some point, I’d like to start “If We were Having Coffee” on Saturdays either here or at the Writing Catalog. Diana’s started doing them at the Monster. I like them, they’re similar to some of the personal posts I write anyway, and they’ve been popular so far. Until I get the weekdays ironed out, I’ll post Weekend Music on Saturday mornings and perhaps a photo blog on Saturday afternoons.
Sunday – As you know, I love roundups, and I’d like to get back to doing more of them. At some point I want to add something similar to Taylor Grace’s “Posts I Liked This Week.” This is one of my favorite regular features on any blog, and I’ve found it consistently useful for finding good blogs and great articles for months now. Short-term, I’ll keep doing photo blogging and short posts on Sundays.
All this is not to suggest that we’re turning this into a rigidly-scheduled blog with a content formula. There’s plenty of room here for me to keep blogging about LGBTQ equality, keep posting random photo and music blogs, and to do lots of fun, original stuff. Now, back to efficiency. If you look at these features by type, here’s what you’ll find:
1. Contributor posts. I don’t write them, and really don’t edit them. Mostly I proofread and suggest art when necessary. Very efficient for me as an administrator.
2. Photo blogs. A 30-minute walk with my camera gets me photo blogs for 3 weeks, and I enjoy photography. They take 15 minutes, at most, to put together, and people love my photos. They aren’t good for comments, but they’re great for likes, views, and Twitter exposure. So, doubly-efficient. Music videos are in the same category, efficiency-wise. They aren’t as popular as photos, but consistent music blogging has gotten us a significant number of regular readers, and made me a lot of friends.
3. Lists and roundups. They take a bit longer than the photo blogs, but they’re quick to write, especially if you know the topic in advance, and people love lists. Some of our most popular posts are lists, and roundups are just lists that take a little more time. Again, very efficient.
Since we’re only trying to update once per day on most days, being able to schedule these types of features in advance should get me a lot more time for writing, networking, and blogging at The Writing Catalog than I’ve had lately. And they all have the potential to be popular. I’m an essayist, first and foremost, and I’ll still do plenty of essays here. But it doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend all my blogging time on that when a Top 10 list and a photo blog gets me twice the engagement.
Before I really get going on this, however, I’m re-starting my Tolkien series at Part Time Monster. Look for the next post in that series later this week. If you’d like to catch up before the next installment here’s a page I’ve created at The Writing Catalog that includes links to all my work on Tolkien so far.