Efficient Blogging: The Power of Features

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 goodwriter memepeople 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.

 

 

 

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20 thoughts on “Efficient Blogging: The Power of Features

  1. Sounds like a great plan! Good luck with continuing what is already going on and with starting the new features! It’s interesting to see what can actually catch interest when you don’t expect it. I tend to have a lot of reviews on my blog (way more than I first thought when I started it almost a year ago) but even all my children media ones seem to have good results, so I’m continuing them. I didn’t see this one coming. I enjoy posting up discussions/commentaries on certain topics that go beyond reviews, but I try to find the good balance as I admit that when I have ideas that can be turned into future papers, I tend not to post about them and prefer sitting on them until I get to write them.

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  2. Great minds think alike, I’ve been thinking about features/series/schedule for a while too, now that I’ve been blogging six months and have a better idea of what I can/like to write, how long different kinds of posts take, and what posts get the most traffic and engagement. I’ve been thinking I need a better schedule/organization system so it’s not so all over the place when people click in, and so I can more easily keep track of what and when I’m supposed to be writing. A blog update type post is supposed to go up tomorrow if I can actually get some kind of header slapped together before then (been meaning to do that since I started, geez, self) — so I’ll leave it at that before I end up putting the whole post here, heh.

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  3. Well this is a sound plan. I’ve been making one something like it, though because of my aversion for calendars and plans, I haven’t really been thinking of it as such. 🙂

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    • Fabulous! I’m always happy to talk about it.

      I was an everyday political blogger for years, and walked away from it. Committed online suicide, back when it was possible to actually remove oneself completely from the Internet.

      I’m here now because Diana talked me into helping her build a following, and because we solved the content problem by finding enough contributors to make it work.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I love regular features on blogs. I look forward to them especially because I know they’re coming. Thank you so much for mentioning me in your post. I look forward to your regular features. I’ll enjoy your blog that much more!

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    • I feel the same way. Features that I like make me happy. They add a little stability to my experience. I don’t mind if they’re a day late or miss a week sometime.

      When I tell people in private chats that I’m leaving Facebook, sometimes I say “I’ll see you in the wild.” By which I mean I’ll see them on WordPress and Twitter. These are two chaotic networks. That’s one of the things I love about them, but regular content you can count on makes the experience so much better.

      YW for the mentions 🙂

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  5. I learn so much from reading these things from you. It’s so generous of you to share your ideas! I had been thinking about a “loose” schedule. Maybe a music post once a week and I would love to dabble in a little bit of fiction… something I’ve never really done but feel like experimenting with. And then one day of course for my usual “whatever strikes my fancy or gets me fired up” long posts. And I love the lists! I think they’re a great way to get to know the blogger and see different sides of them.

    I’ve basically been doing a music post and one content post each week, but after reading this I’m thinking a set day for each would be a better strategy. Thanks for giving me something to ponder…

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    • YW! I share the ideas because I always hope one of my friends will find one useful, thing. And it helps me process them.

      If you’re thinking about doing specific days, I’d think about using days when people are already doing similar features. I saw #MusicalMonday hashtagged earlier this week, but haven’t had time to look into it and tell if it’s a thing or not. Wordless Wednesdays are getting me a lot of likes, because people who do photography look for them.

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  6. Pingback: Anyone know how to use StumbleUpon? | The Writing Catalog

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  8. Reblogged this on DBCII and commented:

    Doubling up today on Re-Blogs for reasons that will soon become apparent. This post has really inspired me, and I’ve been thinking about ways it applies. I think the answer is: it apples here on DBCII. Expect some features to come!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: If We Were Having Coffee: Sunday Edition | Part Time Monster

  10. Pingback: Look Upon My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair | Sourcerer

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