"Thou shall post every day" is the most fundamental and most well known principle of blogging....
Every new blogger is warned about "the" ultimate rule and is confronted with the pressure of a day going by with no new post. Every one has in mind the examples of successful bloggers, like Robert Scoble at Microsoft, who post several times a day. Daily posting shows that you are serious about blogging, generates traffic and drives reader loyalty, as readers come back daily to check your new posts. You cannot be successful if you do not go by the rule, right? RIGHT?
Wrong. Daily posts are a legacy of a Web 1.0 mindset and early Web 2.0 days (meaning 12 months ago!). The pressure around posting frequency will ultimately become a significant barrier to the maturity of blogging. Here are 10 reasons why.
#1- Traffic is generated by participating in the community; not daily posting .... The blogosphere doubles in size every 6 months and cutting through the clutter will become ever more difficult with a new blog emerging every second. Daily posting deals with the clutter by adding more clutter.
Although this strategy made sense 12 months ago and still makes sense for the top bloggers, its effectiveness diminishes with every new blog created. Traffic is generated by successful bloggers linking to you either in their posts or in their blogroll. Mack at Viral Garden has a series of great posts on the importance of joining the community.
#2 .... Traffic is irrelevant to your blog's success anyway .... Unless you specifically target bloggers like Bruce, are a blogging consultant or blog about your latest book, traffic is irrelevant to you. What matters most is whether you are reaching your target audience (which may be narrow and focused), not necessarily how many people read your posts. Engaging with the audience you want to have a relationship with is a much smarter strategy than posting frequently
#3- Loyal readers coming back daily to check your posts is so Web 1.0 .... As the blogosphere matures, the number of new readers and bloggers will decrease and loyal readers are going to matter more. I have heard many bloggers tell me that they will lose reader loyalty if these readers come back daily and do not see any new posts. This perception is still very strong although irrelevant. Loyal readers subscribe to your blog via RSS feeds and have new content pushed to them. They will remain loyal because they have subscribed, not because you post frequently.
#4 - Frequent posting is actually starting to have a negative impact on loyalty: Seth Godin (a frequent blogger) has a very interesting theory. According to him, RSS fatigue is already setting in. With too many posts, you run the risk of losing loyal readers, overwhelmed by the clutter you generate. Readers will start to tune off if your blog takes up too much of their time
#5: Frequent posting keeps key senior executives and thought leaders out of the blogosphere .... My colleagues and industry peers cite bandwidth constraints as the number one reason for not blogging. They are absolutely right: frequent posting is not very compatible with a high pressure job. As an example, not one single blog is authored by a senior corporate marketing blogger in the top 25 marketing blogs listed by Mack. Not only does the blogosphere lose valuable thought leadership, it runs the risk of being overlooked by these very same marketers.
A recent study by Forrester found a reluctance among marketers to shift from more tried-and-true online channels like search and e-mail marketing. Just 13 percent reported using blogs or social networks in marketing, and 49 percent said they had no plans to do so in the next year. If the blogosphere wants to become more mainstream (vs. being the latest hype), frequent posting and required bandwidth are undoubtedly a major barrier to adoption.
#6: Frequent posting drives poor content quality .... The pressure of daily posting drives many bloggers to re-purpose other bloggers' content or give quick un-insightful comments on the news. Few bloggers have enough time (or expertise) to write daily thought leadership pieces, thus adding to the clutter. Ben at the Church of the Customer Blog explores the 1% rule and cites the Wikipedia example: 25 million readers visit Wikipedia every month, but the number of people who actually contribute content to Wikipedia is about 1-2 percent of total site visitors. I would argue that the same is valid for the blogosphere as a whole where most of the original high value content is driven by 1% of the bloggers. Some of the most insightful ... and most quoted- marketing thought blogging leaders are actually infrequent posters, from Sam Decker to Charlene Li or Randi Baseler.
#7: Frequent posting threatens the credibility of the blogosphere .... as many bloggers re-purpose existing content under the pressure of daily posting, they do not take the time to do any sort of due diligence and conduct effective research. Errors snowball in the blogosphere as they spread from one blogger to the other. The collective wisdom of user generated content was supposed to provide an alternative to biased traditional media content .... it is instead echoing the thoughts and biases of a few.
#8 - Frequent posting will push corporate bloggers into the hands of PR agencies .... As they struggle with bandwidth constraints as well as peer pressure to join the blogosphere, more and more companies will resort to partnering with their PR agencies to create blogs. The blogosphere will in turn lose some of its effectiveness and value.
#9 - Frequent posting creates the equivalent of a blogging landfill .... According to Technorati, only 55% of bloggers post after 3 months of existence. The pressure of the first months to write frequently certainly contributes to people abandoning their blogs. Is that in the blogosphere's best interest to have a third of its participants frustrated by their initial efforts?
#10 - I love my family too much - Ann pointed out to me this cool blog that highlights the challenges of blogging addiction .... Bloggers Anonymous. Very funny–..
If you want to be a top 50 Technorati blogger, you will most probably still need to post several times a day. But for the rest of us, we should think seriously about the added value of frequent blogging. Actually, according to Technorati, only 11% of all blogs update weekly or more. What will matter more and more is what you write and how you engage, not how often you write.
As the blogosphere matures, the measure of success will shift from traffic to reader loyalty. As Seth Godin says in his post, "blogging with restraint, selectivity, cogency and brevity (okay, that's a long way of saying "making every word count") will use attention more efficiently and ought to win."
As for me, I will continue to post only when I have something to say.
Eric Kintz is VP Global Marketing Strategy & Excellence for Hewlett-Packard. Read his blog here.
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