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Blogging Pitfalls: Out of Schedule

Quickly, how often should you update your blog? Several times a day? Daily? Several times a week? Weekly? Monthly?

The answer is that it isn’t terribly important. There are successful blogs that update dozens of times of day and successful blogs that update weekly or even less. Though you should probably try to keep a weekly schedule at least, what is much more important than the exact schedule you keep is that you actually keep it.

Getting off your blogging schedule is an easy pitfall that bloggers face and, in truth, is one that pretty much every blogger will fall into at some point. After all, we are only human.

However, avoiding this pitfall and recovering from it is essential because one of the most sure-fire ways to prevent your blog from being successful, or existing at all, is getting off your blogging rhythm and letting both yourself and your readers down.

The Pitfall

It will happen to virtually every blogger at some point. You are plugging along with a nice, comfortable blogging schedule and life happens. You go on vacation, you have an emergency, you make a trip or otherwise do something that throws you off that rhythm.

However, you quickly learn that the world doesn’t end when you don’t blog for a week nor does your site die off. Sure, traffic goes down some, but not too bad and subscribers are likely actually up. Best of all, you are still doing as well with the search engines so it seems to be business as usual upon your return.

Unfortunately, sometimes this “I can skip a while” mentality sometimes sinks in a bit too deep and bloggers begin to slack off on producing new material. Soon, the schedule is hit or miss at best and, eventually, blown completely.

Once that happens, things usually begin to go awry.

The Danger

There are three key reasons for avoiding losing your rhythm. Though breaks are ok, routinely missing posts or adopting an erratic pattern can have a some serious negative impacts.

  1. Reader Expectations: Whenever you get subscribers to your site, they have an expectation as to how your site will fit in to their lives. Yes, it’s a minor role, but when they don’t their regular Monday update or it comes on another day, those expectations are ripped apart and that forces them to reevaluate. If your readers don’t know what to expect, they don’t know where you fit in and are likely to bail on you eventually.
  2. SEO Issues: Google and other search engines value fresh content. If you start routinely slacking off and not posting new material, you’ll find, over time, that those same search engines put less and less value on your work.
  3. Blog Abandonment: Losing your rhythm and not being able to get it back is one of the key causes of blog abandonment. In short, when you get off your own rhythm, much like your readers, it becomes harder and harder to see exactly how blogging fits into your life and that makes walking away from it easier and easier.

In short, at the very least, ignoring your schedule will frustrate your readers but it can also hinder your performance in the search engines and, depending on your determination, turn you away from it as well. This is certainly not what anyone wants to have happen with their blog so the question becomes what one can do to avoid it.

How to Avoid It

Technically, this is an impossible pitfall to completely avoid. If you are human, you’re going to miss a few days of blogging here and there. You are not and have never been a blog posting machine and life has to come before blogging. As a result, you’ll miss a few days here and there.

However, that doesn’t mean your site has to suffer, it just means you have to plan for it.

  1. Set a Reasonable Schedule: When starting a site, it’s a good idea to set a schedule for yourself that is roughly half of what you think the most you can do is. This prevents burnout and makes it easier to follow the schedule over the long run. If desired, you can up the number of posts later as it is much easier to increase the load than to slow down.
  2. Write Backup Posts: It is often a good idea to write and save a week’s worth of non-time-sensitive posts to have them “in the can” should you need them. This way, if you go on a sudden trip or have some other crisis, your site can live on.
  3. Turn to Guest Bloggers: If you can’t post for some reason and have enough time to prepare, consider bringing on some guest bloggers to take the load during that time, a friend you trust can be a great asset in these times.
  4. Warn Readers of Downtime: If you know you’re going to miss a few posts and it is unavoidable, warn your readers before doing so. You don’t have to do this on your blog as you can also use Twitter or other means if you you know your readers will likely see it.
  5. Return to Form ASAP: Once any downtime is done, get back on track as soon as possible. It can be very tempting to slack off for a week or two after any extended outage but the quicker one returns to form, the better their site will do.

In short, the key is to prepare as much as possible for the inevitable missed posts and return to form as soon as possible after the time away is done. It might seem simple, but most people get so caught up in the day-to-day posting grind that they forget that eventually they’ll want time away, making those times stumbling blocks they easily trip over.

Bottom Line

Since we’re all human we’re going to miss posts, no matter how well we plan. Everything from power outages to vacations can keep us from our blogs. However, the key is to prepare for those downtimes the best we can and then recover from them quickly.

The fact that we’re human is what makes our blogs interesting and exciting. We call blogs created by machines spam blogs and with good reason. However, there are limitations to being a human and we have to accept them.

As such, life trumps blogging and sometimes you have to take some unplanned time away. However, this doesn’t mean that life has to kill blogging, only that we have to plan ahead and remember no one is perfect and no schedule infallible.

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Comments

  1. Everett Patterson ) says: 8/12/2010

    Thanks for the reminder. Keeping a schedule is critical to all aspects of life and blogging could be included in that. Your priorities of reader abandonment, search engine drops and then blog abandonment are well put.

    Reply

  2. Charlie Ahern ) says: 11/30/2010

    Thanks for making the point that routine and rhythm give blog readers a reliable communications channel. I’ve been researching editorial calendering as a tool to help me become a more consistent blogger. I also plan to schedule a post in the pipeline to automatically post in case I get out of synch. Sort of a ‘dead man’s switch’ post.

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