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Three Things I’ve Learned About Blogging

September 6, 2004

There are a few things I’ve learned about blogging in the mere three months that I’ve been running this blog — things that are a bit different than those I learned about blogging from being on the outside, as a reader/commenter only. What follows is a little bit about the three most significant things I’ve managed to figure out – I’m sure as I continue, I’ll figure it out a bit at a time…

The Back Burner

If an idea strikes, write it down. It doesn’t matter if you finish it — just get it into a file. A time will come along, and you’ll see that it is the right time to pull that file out, refine it, polish it, and publish it.

Having the stash of articles means you can react quickly and refer to other people’s posts. Building on the momentum of others is a good tactic if you want to build blog traffic. It also means that you get the main idea down right away, and that you get to revisit the idea later to make sure it still makes sense. For what it’s worth, I have about 10 pieces all on the go right now that are waiting for more attention and the right time.

Keeping a Schedule

Keith wrote about his publishing schedule the other day, and I think he provides good advice. There are a couple of points that matter most to me right now, especially in the early going.

The first is to do with weekends: I can’t say for certain that this applies to all blogs, but this blog sees a drop in traffic over the weekend. It doesn’t matter how good your post is — if you publish it on Saturday, it might get missed. Even if a few people pick it up and post it in their link blogs, by the time everyone else publishes on Monday, your link is long gone off the list. You don’t want to be at the beginning of the Monday morning rush. You’ll drop off the list sooner rather than later.

(And yes, I realize I’ve just published this on a North American long weekend. However, the web is a global medium, and I needed to get a head start on the week.)

The second is to do with predictability: Your readers will become attuned to your publishing schedule. Over the past three months, my posts have been very sporadic, and I haven’t really stuck to a schedule. This means that two weeks ago, when I posted on Wednesday and Thursday, nobody expected it. If you aren’t publishing regularly, and then all of a sudden, you post
two days in a row, I think there is a pretty good chance the second post will get missed by a number of readers.

Just Post It

Two weeks ago, I pulled two pieces from my stash that were close to, but not quite, complete: My Favourite FireFox Keystrokes, and Tracking the Spread of Information. I had written both beforehand, but hadn’t finalized them. I had my doubts and wasn’t sure about either — I thought that nobody would care about the keystrokes one (apparently I was wrong), and I wondered about the Tracking one because it builds on some ideas I published a while ago that got very little reaction (apparently wrong again…)

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5 Responses

Pingback by Source linking <Anne's Weblog about Markup & Style> — Sep 06 2004 @ 6:19 pm

[…] idea from Derek in his post Tracking the Spread of Ideas. (I found that link after reading Three Things I’ve Learned About Blogging, which is also v […]

Pingback by rockspeak! » Blogging Schedules! — Sep 19 2004 @ 7:12 am

[…] ngs, Elsewhere @ late morning (11:12 am)

Gosh! Some people do take the blogging serious! I just blog whenever I feel like … highl […]

Comment by Lachlan Hunt — Sep 07 2004 @ 8:02 am

Thanks for the advice. I have been planning to start posting regularly, but usually, it takes all night just to get it written, checked for errors, posted, checked for errors one more time, fix up any remaining errors, and then I’ve basically missed out on doing anything else I’d been planning to do that day. (Of course, my writing speed will probably improve with experience, so it should always take all night)

I have started to find that articles I began a few weeks ago, that were just left unnattened due to other stuff I had to do, eventually do come back and get finished. I’m going to take you advice and keep a few ready to go for those busy days that I don’t have time for.

As for publishing on weekdays, instead of weekends, I had no idea about. I’d usally write on the weekend because that’s when I had the most time. But now, I think I’m going to hold off posting until Monday afternoon. However, I think I need to consider time zones to do that. It seems obvious that most bloggers are from the US, Canada or Europe, which is around 14-18 hours difference (I think) from here in Australia. Thus posting on Monday morning here, will likely beat the morning rush in the US by a long shot.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda — Sep 08 2004 @ 1:19 am

You are absolutely right about not posting on weekends. Don’t ever do it, not with anything but cat pictures.

That way, when I do post something, and it pops up as the only item in a bunch of RSS aggregators (because even though we’re all not posting, we’re all sitting around reading, because we’re allergic to the sun), a whole bunch of people who don’t post much on Sunday, but will post a little something, will have nothing but me to link to.

I just looked back through my calendar (first time it’s ever done me any good) for the last few months, and every single widely-linked post was on a Sunday, or very late Saturday night. I’m hoping that Movable Type’s new “scheduled posts” feature will mean that even more people who don’t have time to write any time other than the weekend will schedule their posts to appear during the week. All the more room for me ;)

Comment by Blair Millen — Sep 12 2004 @ 10:38 am

Hi Derek,

You’ve just hit the nail on the head. I’ve been reading blogs for the last couple of years and even had a type of blog in the form of doepud. (It wasn’t a real blog, more like a link blog, but it’s now my business site).

Anyway, I have arrived at the exact same point as yourself regarding how to go about writing a blog. I too have a bunch of topics/half-written posts up my sleeve ready to fall back on when required.