This question stemmed from a conversation I had with Leanne Cole, a blogging friend from Australia. We both scheduled posts and compared. Her audience grew and mine did not. I wrote about it in August 2013, and that article drew a large audience. I thought I would repost it, but it rambled. Looking back over the history of my blog gives this post a different perspective.
Over a three-year period my statistics remained consistent when I posted regularly. “How to” commentaries got the most traffic. However, when I experimented briefly with scheduling columns, the number of visitors dropped. In spite of the brevity of the trial, there are lessons to learn from my failure to increase traffic.
- Weather – I blamed decreased traffic on the weather. Why not?
- In Northern Hemisphere summers people have time off and are active outside and traveling.
- In the winter and spring they are busy with holidays.
- That just left the fall. I am a teacher. School starts in the fall. Teachers look for new ideas. My advice is to schedule topics in the fall.
- Consistency – Consistency means that week in and week out the scheduled column appears. Forget what you read in #1, and don’t blame the weather.
- Realistically scheduled pieces extend beyond a season, and seasons differ with international audiences.
- Historically newspapers set the journalistic standard when they featured columns each week. Readers came to expect a certain type of writing, humor, or information from a columnist. Click here for a world-wide list of columnists.
- Consistent blogging about topics requires knowledge, research, and interest. Readers look for fresh information on a topic of interest.
- Topics – Topics must interest others as much as they do the writer to increase traffic.
- Topics that work best stay within subgenres of the blog’s emphasis. In order for one writer to cover five topics credibly, they should relate their column to a theme: travel, photography, writing, book reviews.
- Column titles need to hook readers yet be reliable and generic. Post titles with a surprise element generate readers. But with continuing material readers want to know what to expect such as “Dear Abby” or “The Rest of the Story.”
- Writing quality – Writers have one shot at building a lasting audience per reader.
- Quality writing takes time for 99.9% of writers. Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird gave me courage to fail at writing, and rewriting. Writers need to count in failure time, and match the number of columns they write to the amount of available time they allot to the project.
- Poor quality writing repels readers, creating long-lasting effects on a blogger’s statistics.
- It is harder recapture a reader’s interest with the same weekly column if the first one they read was poor. Posts are more forgiving.
- Interaction with other blogs – This a necessary element for unknown bloggers, and most of us are unknown.
- Blogging columns today have a different purpose than newspaper columns used to have because of the writer’s ability to interact with readers. It takes time to comment to readers who visit your blog. It takes more time to reciprocate and visit their blog and respond to their piece.
- Writers who fail to connect with readers, will get few return visitors unless they are already famous.
- Return visitors create the genre of blogging, and without them, why blog?
My 2013 conclusions:
“The moral of this post is that I will get around to changing my schedule eventually, or rearranging it, but I’m going to keep on and try to lose a few more viewers for a little longer. Then I’m going on a real push to get serious about blogging, and bring my followers up to at least 5,000, and my total views per month to at least 20,000.
However, before I do that, I’ve got to get my best-selling book written and published, and have a showing of my photography at a famous California art gallery. I’m also thinking about becoming a body-builder and I’m definitely going to start taking Yoga, so I can teach it until I’m 95 years old.
Gosh, I have so much to do before I retire for good. I’d better get going. First, I’m going out to lunch and shopping with Paula…”
My 2015 Conclusions:
- My experiment failed because I did not know enough about five different topics to write off the cuff about them every week. I was unrealistic and narcissistic to think I could do justice to multiple unrelated topics.
- My titles were not clear: “Sordid Stories.” The title had alliteration, but it portrayed a foggy idea. Sexy, Criminal, Gossip? My intentions were unclear. I tried to be funny, which did not work over the course of my experiment.
- Be happy with the successful goal of going to lunch with Paula, or change your tactics.
Thanks for the images, Google.
What are your conclusions?