A couple of weeks ago, I asked readers to share their views about SL Blogger Support. 131 respondents answered the survey. 50% live in the United States, 9% in the UK, 7% in Australia, 5% in Canada and the remaining from Europe. We even received responses from bloggers as far-flung as South Africa, Japan, Ecuador and India. The survey results show many interesting findings, however the top 12 results are…
- Most bloggers found SL Blogger Support through word of mouth
- SL Blogger Support is growing in new readership while retaining long-term readers
- Most readers enjoy early access to events and information about destinations in Second Life
- Most readers want to see more posts about photography
- Most readers enjoy the helpful information and the support they get in the in world group
- Many readers like SL Blogger Support as it is, and have a lot of other things they would like from the group/site
- Readers feel helped the most by getting into events before they go public, among other things too
- Readers feel not getting enough traffic to their blog is their biggest challenge now
- Most or our readers prefer to learn by reading
- Most of our readers use WordPress.com as their blogging platform
- Most readers are most active on Facebook
- Almost all readers are happy to use email for their Second Life activities
Read more for details and interpretations. If you want to see a chart bigger, just click it.
1. Most bloggers found SL Blogger Support through word of mouth
38.7% of survey respondents reported being told about SL Blogger Support by someone else. That’s a brilliant result because it shows that we’re enjoying great word of mouth. I’d say that fewer people chose “links on another website” than would have, because many people choosing “Other” commented they saw it on Facebook, Flickr, Blogging Second Life, and Plurk – to me these are “links on another website”. Looking at our stats which show how people get to the SL Blogger Support website, search engines are the largest sole source, accounting for nearly 20% of views. Plurk and Facebook follow.
2. SL Blogger Support is growing in new readership while retaining long-term readers
Most (38%) of survey respondents reported they had read SL Blogger Support between 0 to 6 months. This suggests that we’re growing among new readers, while still staying attractive to longer term readers (44% – 1 to 3 years).
3. Most readers enjoy early access to events and information about destinations in Second Life
The numbers were so close here, the main take away message is that people are enjoying the wide variety of content we’re offering.
4. Most readers want to see more posts about photography
Apart from photography, people also want to see more post about destinations in Second Life, which aligns with Question 3’s answers (what do you most enjoy). This interest area tied with posts about promoting your blog, and followed closely by an interest in posts about social media. In general, people want us to share places to take pictures, and then help promote their blog posts.
5. Most readers enjoy the helpful information and the support they get in the in world group
I’ve selected a few of the 94 comments to represent the the rest (you can see a full answer set here: Question 5 Answer Detail):
“The group is very helpful if there’s anything you can’t find or something you not to sure about the group helps”
“I like that people talk in the chat, help each other out and the articles on here are really enlightening and educational”
“I loved the content (posts) this year the best. The different contributors have put out so much information. I wish it was like that when I first began blogging.”
“I do look at the resources/information it provides and welcome it as a learning tool despite just blogging for fun and an outlet. I’m not sure there is anything I like most, outside of group chat when I have wanted to find something or needed help with say my word press blog, and finding someone who has knowledge in the group chat can be very helpful for some of us who are not technically savvy.”
“The information and the way you help me think new about things I have been doing but can get better in. Helping me understand what to expect in different events and the early access is so appreciated!”
“I love that SL Blogger Support keeps me in the loop, from new fresh events, to new rounds at another event. I love the new releases the early accesses and the community that’s created where bloggers are helping bloggers out. I’ve shot photos on amazing sims as well that I heard about from SL Blogger Support. So really useful, really helpful and great people.”
“I love it as a source of information. When I need to know – I come to Blogger Support in the first instance ALWAYS. Its a wealth of information whether you are new to blogging or more established, like myself.”
“The most helpful on this site was photography tools. There are so many things that could be added that are not there, but maybe someone has not had the time to do them which is understandable.. But I got my start in learning from this site and I love that its a great tool for others to learn from. I always resort to this page first to find out if I can do things better.”
6. Many readers like SL Blogger Support as it is, and…
Some suggested a blogger event. Others suggested contributors pay more attention to non-fashion blogs, and some called for more varied participation from contributors / moderators in both posts and in the group. 79 respondents answered this question, and I’ve included a PDF of their comments here: Question 6 Answer Detail. I’ve also included some interesting comments below:
“I don’t feel as though I can ask for support from the group when I’m inworld and facing a problem. SL generally is not kind to people who are not in the know.”
“I would love when new people come in you could be more friendly on a personal level, no one said hi to me, and no one has IM’d me. I am learning about this group, and maybe you could ask if people would like to be mentors for the group. If people coming into the group learn about this and if they feel like they need one it would be a very valuable thing, I know I would appreciate it. I don’t need hand holding, but sometimes I do need a little more in depth understanding of something.”
“It would be nice if everyone felt included.
Sometimes in the comments sections, or with events like Bloggers Challenges, only some people receive feedback or interaction. Not everyone is comfortable making the effort to participate and when they try, and are ignored, it can make it more difficult for them to try again. Some of these people are left feeling like they are not welcome or part of the group.”
“There is one thing that I wish was different. I’ve been inworld a few times, when others have trashed the personal choices that others have made for their blogs. For example, I wish so and so knew how annoying music is in a blog–especially when it plays right away. Unfortunately, this was a conversation that took place in group chat.”
“Having a panel that reviews content of SL blogs in an effort to point out likes and dislikes in a constructive manner that helps bloggers grow.”
“I guess for me it would be a better updating posts in Designer or Event areas that are looking for bloggers. There were a couple of times I came to check it out after getting ready to rotate sponsors or events, to better grow and a lot of the events were past the due date of applications having to be in. So it brought the search down to maybe 1 or 2 up to date. Other than that I love the communication, the articles are even better to see from someone else’s point of view, making some of us know that we’re not the only ones.”
“I like what you do thus far, I am sure there is only so much a person can do unless they are actively always on the site to updated it. I would love to see more support team members that are actively posting. I see the same ones over and over which is not a complaint, I just notice that you have a team of support that do not always contribute.”
“Maybe host an event that would benefit bloggers – like a bloggers’ convention.
People could give seminars on issues that are relevant to bloggers, both experiences and those who are new to blogging. There could be live entertainment where people can come out and dance (come as you are, formal attire, or themed). Merchants can sell/promote relevant items that benefit bloggers. A press package could be put together as part of the fee to attend composed of a variety of items from different merchants. Bloggers could blog them which would serve as promotion for the stores involved.”
“I’m a strong advocate of ‘lifestyle’ blogs. The SL blogosphere is very heavily weighted in favour of clothes/fashion/household items.”
7. Readers feel helped the most by getting into events before they go public, and…
They also enjoyed photography tutorials and posts about promoting their blog posts, and feeling like they are not alone. 82 respondents answered this question, and you can find all the answers here: Question 7 Answer Detail.
“In the beginning it was definitely the updates about events and designers looking for bloggers, however I have just realized I don’t visit those pages any longer (read as, my plate is full – not that the information is not useful.) I tend to use SL Blogger Support to keep abreast of new topics and new approaches to managing and maintaining my blog.”
“Inspiration, especially with the last couple of posts that I have read. I tend to be a solo person and do not have many if any blogger friends and it is nice to find that it’s not only me running into some issues out there! As well as listing which stores are currently looking for people :D”
“General writing skills, headline writing, inspiration from other bloggers and feeling like their is a community of bloggers that will help each other instead of fighting for sponsorships.”
“I can’t really say it’s helped me a lot in my blogging. It’s great to read the posts of how to increase traffic and using social media, for the most part in just staying up to date with events has been helpful.”
“It is nice feeling part of a group who have some of the same goals as I do.
I really felt a float out in the internet and this has really helped me with a lot of things, thank you so much for your hard work. The ones we know about and definitely the ones we do not!”
“Even though my computer is crap and I have to “fake it til I make it” with photoshop most of the time, the information on taking pictures and the windlights has truly been the greatest help. Finding the information I needed to help me use what I had to its fullest potential has made me a much better blogger and photographer.”
“SL Blogger support has helped me with marketing my blog more than anything. I have found Becky’s articles to be invaluable with getting my blog off the ground and evolving it into something that I’m hoping to be successful in the future.”
“I’ve been very lucky. Others have given me advice on how to link a picture to my blog, so the picture isn’t small. Word press has small pictures,as opposed to linking them with Flickr. I’ve been taught so many skills with the help from others. I’ve read articles that helped to increase my blog traffic and even inspired me to keep going–and appreciate the journey. I’m a better blogger because of SL Blog Support. I hope that it keeps growing and improving.”
“The tutorials is where I first landed. At the time, it was the most complete area of the site and where this group really shines. Also, tuning into group chat every now and then reminded me that I wasn’t alone in this thing.”
8. Readers feel not getting enough traffic to their blog is their biggest challenge now
Apart from the obvious, it’s also clear that bloggers are pressed for time (24%) citing it as their 2nd biggest challenge. This finding, along with answers to the other questions in the survey, suggest that readers want to learn more about promoting their blogs, and potentially, time saving tips and tricks. I pivoted this answer by different the longevity of readers and found that 29% of bloggers reading us for 1-6 months cite this as their biggest challenge). When I looked specifically at respondents reading us for 2-3 years, I found that the greatest (33%) cited not enough time to post as their biggest challenge (followed by not enough traffic – 23%) Clearly, these challenges don’t get much easier as time goes on.
9. Most or our readers prefer to learn by reading
I asked this question to see if we needed to do more multimedia. To my surprise, most people just want to read. People also want video but not as much as I had assumed. What was very interesting to me, and this was also mentioned in several comments to the other questions, is that many readers (22%) want to learn in an event setting.
10. Most respondents use WordPress.com as their blogging platform
This answer surprised me, not because I don’t think WordPress.com is awesome, but because my analysis of blogs listed with Blogging Second Life show that most bloggers listed use Blogger. Most of our readers use WordPress.com, which makes writing technical articles easier. With that said, 23% of readers said they used Blogger, so this will remain an area we’ll be conscious of.
11. Most readers are most active on Facebook
This finding came as no surprise – Facebook, among our readers at least, is king. What really surprised me, given that Plurk is our 3rd biggest all-time referrer (after search and Facebook), that more people are active on Twitter and Google+! Reddit, was a clear loser in this race. One significant oversight (my fault) was that I didn’t include Flickr as a social network, which respondents mentioned 25 times (out of the 42) in the “Other” replies. Another strange finding to me, was that more people chose Pinterest. Perhaps many just forgot about Flickr because I didn’t list it? I’ll include it next time I run the survey.
12. Almost all readers are happy to use email for their Second Life activities
Some respondents might have found this question surprising. Why would I want to know if they used an email address? Well, a very big trend in blogging is mailing list generation (direct-to-email). I’ve always suspected that most people create and use email addresses for their avatars that they might exchange for exclusive content, and now we have our answer, only 2% did not use email for their SL activities.
The inspiration to survey SL Blogger Support readers arose from a conversation I had with our founder, Katya Valeska. She asked me what kind of resources (contributors) we might recruit or reenergize to keep building SL Blogger Support. I said to her, if we really want to know who to get on the team, we need to understand more about our readers, what they like, and what they want from SL Blogger Support. Now, we have the answers we need to not only reenergize the contributor team, but to also recruit new contributors who might be able to offer the talents our readers most want access to.
First of all, SL Blogger Support, while not perfect, is in excellent health and growing faster and faster among new and more seasoned bloggers alike.
Clearly, members love getting early access to events – long may that continue!
Further, I think a few obvious to-dos include finding
- people to help write more photography tutorials – many people want this so quality posts on the subject will no doubt have a very receptive audience
- a more varied slate of writers writing about promoting your blog – readers consider this their number one challenge, so we’ll definitely keep sharing our ideas on how to face that challenge as effectively as possible
- more help around writing more up to date coverage of destinations that bloggers might enjoy learning about – again, a big area we could do better with, which is something I’d love to see improve in the future
It’s wonderful to see how much people value the in world group too. With that said, it’s clear that we could do a better job at welcoming and helping (i.e. supporting) those bloggers who are new to blogging and might not know as much as more seasoned bloggers do.
I believe an exciting area we can look into is hosting an in world blogger event – bloggers clearly want to meet each other, extend the relationships they’ve formed in the group, and learn from each other in 1 to 1 and workshop style conversations. I can’t see why we might not start informally, and I’d be happy to offer my region (Basilique) as a meeting point should we wish to go in that direction.
Thanks to everyone who completed the survey and for helping shape the future of SL Blogger Support.
Like the sparks that light the forest ablaze in the dog days of summer – Second Life bloggers left, right and centre are finding the courage to step up and publicly air their frustrations with the Second Life Blogger – Designer Vicious Cycle. Today, Second Life blogger and SLBS member, Shae Marquis published a vehement post explaining why she’s opting out of this particular rat race, and choosing to “blog free”.
In a remarkably passionate post, Ms Marquis relates an appalling story of how her “sponsors” discarded her from their groups following her two-week break from Second Life, during which a medical crisis forced her to be hospitalised – despite immediately informing her “sponsors” of her absence from her hospital bed.
“This is where my happy-joy-joy blogger illusion bubble began to dissolve,” she said, “I just felt like blogger teams usually have 15-20+ bloggers, one taking sick leave would be ok for a relatively short time. Nope. I guess not.”
In her post, Ms Marquis relates her views on several points that have been covered in both my post and reader comments on this subject yesterday, and Lici Le’s post and reader comments several days ago.
Here’s one particular view that sticks with me: “If I’m only blogging items simply because they’ve been released, whether or not I actually love them, that means I’m not really blogging at all – I’m just a glorified sale flyer. I’m not ok with that.” (My emphasis).
After reading her post, I spoke to Ms Marquis in private, and asked her a pointed question:
Have you only felt brave enough to share your thoughts openly AFTER you felt you had nothing to lose (e.g. “sponsors”)?
“To be perfectly honest, yes… When it came to opinions the fear was real. Worrying if a ‘sponsor’ would drop me because I shared a public opinion on how things are done.”
Her answer didn’t surprise me, which is why I asked the question I did. What worried me more, was what she said next:
“You never know if you’re going to be nailed to the wall by other bloggers either. I’ve seen bloggers get simply ambushed by the cliques because of very valid opinions they held.”
Is there a conspiracy of silence among Second Life fashion bloggers, that by unspoken consensus they feel other bloggers can’t mention, discuss, or acknowledge the frustrations they might feel as a result of exceedingly demanding designer expectations? I’d be curious to hear your views on this in the comments.
Read Ms. Marquis full post here.
Photo credit – used with permission: Shae Marquis
In my blog post about driving more traffic to your archived content, I told you I’d be helping you stay organised with an editorial calendar. Well, for this post I’ve decided to change tack a little: I won’t be laying down specific recommendations about how frequent or how regular you should publish, because frankly, there is much more to the story – and it’s a story that strikes at the heart of what kind of blogger you choose to be. Before you can decide on what kind of posting schedule is right for you, you have to decide if you will be a blogger that prioritises quality or quantity.
First, let’s talk about blog post quantity
Should you post once or twice per day? Three times a week? Twice? Once a week? Less often than that?
Many Second Life bloggers wrestle with this question daily. Some I’ve spoken to tell me that they worry that if they don’t post enough, they’ll lose audience / traffic. I’m also aware that designers establish blogging expectations to which fashion bloggers agree, which is probably another reason bloggers might feel they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. I’m also aware that one of the commonest pieces of advice out that bloggers should blog consistently.
We’ve all likely seen (and perhaps even written) the first few lines of a blog post – after a break in posting – that sounds like: “I’m really sorry I’ve not posted in such a long time, but… [insert reason / excuse here].”
Personally, I don’t apologise for not posting on anyone’s schedule but my own, but that’s me. I’m realistic. Life happens. Things come up. And they don’t always fit into a neatly planned calendar around all of my other commitments.
Still, many bloggers worry that they simply don’t have the time to do what they want (or promised) to do.
Chances are that the person most worried about your posting frequency is you.
We as bloggers put a lot of pressure on ourselves to post often and consistently. Doing so creates undue stress that we could do without. Unfortunately, that stress sometimes compels bloggers to push out ‘ok’ content, instead of epic content.
The reality is – with all the content out there – it’s likely that most readers wouldn’t notice if you dropped from 3 to 2 posts a week. What they might notice more however, is when your quality increases or decreases.
The Beginner’s Guide to Social Media, published by the well-respected Moz.com says (and it’s good advice for people who blog for a living):
“The only thing worse than never blogging at all is starting to and not maintaining the effort… it is disheartening to see that the most recent post is from several months ago. This gives the visitor no reason to subscribe or take part. You certainly don’t need to blog every day, or even every week for that matter. Find an attainable cadence, set expectations with your audience, and stick to it. Perhaps you only do a monthly industry roundup. That’s cool. Just tell people in advance so they know what to expect.”
Most of us however, don’t blog for a living. We do it for fun – or at least, it sounded like fun before we might have turned it into a daily chore! Even WordPress.com – one of the champions of not-for-profit hobbyist blogging tell us that “when it comes to building a healthy following, nothing is more important than publishing quality content regularly”, in their Grow Your Traffic, Build Your Blog E-Book. As inspiration, they publish a blog called “The Daily Post”, designed to prompt us to write a new post every day.
There’s a well-known mantra thrown around by blogging traffic gurus: “post early, post often”. Indeed, research from HubSpot’s 13,500+ customers is hard to debate, when they report that these bloggers reported that “16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than bloggers that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts.”
Blogging traffic expert, Neil Patel, goes as far as saying “Quantity is king”, and shares his advice on how to grow a blog to over 100,000 visitors per month. At first, Mr. Patel saw slight gains from posting 2 pieces of content a week instead of 1. But then he really started to see “big traffic increases when (he) started to publish 5 pieces of content a week.”
Looking to see how far he could push things, Mr. Patel then published one more post per week – a total of 6 – which led to a traffic increase of 18.6%. Finally, he concludes: “My experience of working with 20 of the top 100 blogs showed that if we published 3 pieces of content each day (21 pieces a week), we could easily get our traffic to over a million visits a month over time.”
Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? Publishing more posts gets more views. You might have seen similar patterns yourself; I know I have.
However, Mr. Patel goes on to say:
“When posting in high frequency, make sure you are still maintaining the quality of your content. Writing a lot of blog posts that are low in quality won’t help you see a big increase in traffic.”
I’d add that you need to actually do more than simply keep up your quality. If your quality isn’t epic – then you need to make quality job number one.
Second, let’s talk about blog post quality
Quality content – in any genre – takes time. Unless you’ve got help, then you have to do all the conceptualising, research, set-up, writing, picture taking, editing, fact-checking / crediting and promoting entirely yourself.
Still, most bloggers attempt to do as much as they can in as little time as possible. This is not a generalisation, it’s a self-reported fact: According to survey results from Orbit Media Studios of a sample of over 1000 bloggers, 54% of bloggers spend fewer than 2 hours on a typical post. 5.5% spend over 6 hours per post.
If you’re curious, I spend about 5-7 hours to create a typical blog post (sometimes a lot more), and I spread that work over days. Am I just a slow writer? I wouldn’t say that, I just choose to prioritise my definition of quality over quantity. My posts tend to be over 2000 words, and I write about 2-3 posts a week. Your definition of quality may differ, and that’s up to you what that is, and the goals you’ve set out for your blog.
Because I often write about controversial subjects, I also get (read: hog-tie) my partner to proofread my posts. I even ask them to challenge my thinking on my posts before I publish them – sometimes resulting in complete rewrites or binning the post entirely. Not only that, but after a few lapses in judgement, I now impose The Rule of 24 on myself, which means that I allow at least 24 hours between my draft phase and my editing phase, when possible.
Despite not publishing everything I write, I’m confident that my quality is as good as I can make it, given the time I choose to spend.
It’s highly unlikely that anyone spending 5 to 7 hours on a blog post is publishing every day. There are just too many other things to do. Research backs this up: Not only do a small proportion of bloggers spend the this kind of time on their posts, very few bloggers publish on a daily basis. The survey (referenced above) found that 54% of bloggers are publishing at least weekly, 32% published more than once per week, and 3.3% publish daily.
Bloggers that are producing high quality posts are likely not publishing the most frequently.
After digging deeper into the survey data, Sonia Simone at Copyblogger reported that only 4.3% of bloggers who publish weekly are spending 6+ hours per post. These bloggers make a choice to prioritise quality over quantity. Ironically, one of the biggest challenges for a Second Life blogger, according to our most recent readership survey is that they do not have enough time to post quality content.
Perhaps they would have the time, if they published fewer posts?
Clearly, you too need to make a choice: Quantity or quality. It’s rare to have both – especially if blogging in Second Life is not your full time job.
Quality versus quantity: How Second Life fashion blogging suffers from unrealistic expectations
If I had to guess: Second Life blogging mirrors other areas of blogging in that most bloggers choose quantity over quality. I’d even go as far as saying that Second Life blogging (which at least 90% is focused on fashion) suffers from a factor that isn’t as common in most blogging outside of Second Life: The Second Life Blogger – Designer Vicious Cycle:
I’m conscious that I might be coming across somewhat cynical in illustrating the process above. I am clearly aware that there are a lot of benefits arising from both the designer and the blogger’s participation. I’m also aware that everyone is participating voluntarily and most likely somewhat enjoying themselves while doing it. I’m not suggesting this is inherently a bad system in general; but it does have its drawbacks and unintended consequences when expectations are not aligned with each other. This happens on both sides of the fence, and I’m not the only one who has noticed.
“Blogging is a very different beast now to what it was when I started years ago,” says Kitty O’Toole in a comment thread to a blog post about a Second Life fashion blogger’s frustrations that I recently reblogged on SL Blogger Support. “Back then getting review packs was a rarity, but now we find creators advertising for bloggers to share their wares. It’s completely turned around. Fundamentally it’s about sales, and that’s something you have to take on board if you’re accepted to blog an event or a brand. There’s a lot to be said for keeping your circle tight and not actually being in blogger groups. You can actually properly review an item that way, something we don’t see much of these days.”
As creator/designer demands understandably get more and more stringent and exacting, it’s the fashion bloggers that agree to these requests that have the least time for each post. With only a finite amount of time available, most choose quantity over quality, sometimes leading to unsatisfactory emotional outcomes that many bloggers choose to reject.
Ms O’Toole says: “My lack of numerous ties and obligations means that I can take my time and ENJOY blogging, and this is the most fundamental point of all. If it reaches a point where blogging is your obligation and you get no joy, but just feel pressure, then why are you doing it?”
It’s a good question, and one I’ve heard many times. The problem is that many bloggers don’t realise they’re no longer blogging for the same reasons they started to blog (e.g. because it was fun), until after it’s too late and they are well over-committed.
One of Second Life’s most prolific bloggers, Chic Aeon, has published over 4000 posts in 7 years (which averages out to about 1.6 posts/ day). She suggests that the relatively recent role of the ‘blogger manager’ makes an impact on blogger / designer relations: “I have had issues when individual designers have gone to blogger managers. That cattle car mentality sets in. What one person does reflects on the others and I do not appreciate being yelled out in mass for something someone else has done. And sometimes — especially when they go to the blogger manager model — rules change to include things that I will not do (like linked icons of their brand on my home page — EVERY item blogged etc.). So, in those cases I have written a nice note to the designers telling them how much I have enjoyed blogging for them but this would not work for me. We DO need to be true to ourselves first.”
I hear that theme I over and over: Be true to yourself. Blog only what you love. Do it for the fun, and it’s good advice, but is it always practised?
A blogger for 5 years (and also a designer), Steffy Ghost offers advice on how she avoids overcommitment: “In order to not feel overwhelmed, I’ve set myself a limit of brands I will blog for. I have less than 10 brands and only one event. This way I am able to meet all the requirements of the brands I blog for, and sometimes even do way over that, and then I buy a lot of items. These items I buy I will decide how I want to blog them and if I want to credit them, and if I don’t blog them it is still a win-win situation. I find this way I can be stress free and if I am stress free I am able to create quality posts.”
Lucie Bluebird draws some clear lines with regards to her blogging commitments: “I’m also not a “fast” blogger,” she says, “some people can set up intricate scenes, take incredible pics and turn around multiple blog posts a day! I’m awed by that, but it’s not me. It’s never been me, it never will be me. Though I try to blog a few times a week, on average, there are absolutely weeks when it’s just not possible for me. And so one thing I don’t do is apply when designers require a weekly post. I know that’s something I’m likely to fail at, so I avoid it. Three times a month? Sure. I can handle that. Every week? Not so much. Every release? Well, I don’t blog what doesn’t suit me, so no. I won’t commit to that, either.”
Lucie was a store owner before she was a blogger, so she also brings a perspective from the other side of the fence, which suggests that designers themselves also do not want bloggers to underachieve in the quality of their posting.
“I don’t want our bloggers to take pics with things they don’t like or that doesn’t suit their individual styles,” she says. “I want them to be inspired. I don’t feel like our product is going to be best represented by bloggers who aren’t “feeling” the item. And I think this is something not all designers consider… because if you don’t blog, you don’t “get” that part of the equation. I want to see the passion in the pics taken with our poses. I think uninspired blog posts are worse than no blog posts. But that’s just me, and I understand some people value quantity over quality. That’s a legitimate position, just not one I share. I’d rather be underexposed than get second rate exposure, and when you force (or try, because really forcing people to blog is like herding cats anyway) bloggers to blog EVERY release, you’re going to get some uninspired pics and uninspired posts.” (My emphasis)
This is what the The Second Life Blogger – Designer Virtuous Cycle looks like, if expectations are more realistic, on both sides of the equation:
The differences between the two cycles are obvious, but depend on two things:
- Bloggers keeping their expectations realistic about what they can reasonably agree to do while still maintaining epic quality
- Designers keeping their expectations realistic about what they can expect from bloggers and still get quality posts.
Clearly, many Second Life bloggers and designers alike would agree that quality is more important than quantity. Still, I’d say that they are in the vocal minority expressed mostly in blog comments, social media and the places where bloggers share views openly. In practice, the story is very different.
I’d further suggest, although I have very little research to back this up, that bloggers who comment on other people’s blogs tend to value quality over quantity as well. If they didn’t, how would they possibly have time to comment on other people’s blogs when they’re also posting 1-2 posts a day?
Kirsten Corleone, another veteran blogger (and ex-designer) raised the issue of the sheer number of commitments bloggers get into in a reply post by , when she wrote: “It seems like a lot to me and I have no idea how someone blogs for more than about 20 stores. I see some bloggers that have 50+ stores and I don’t know how they would blog that many stores in one month effectively. The ones that do seem to post 5+ posts a day and not only could I not do that because I physically could not process even the pictures that fast let alone all the other parts, I would never want to do that much volume. I blog because it is fun and that would make blogging lose all joy to me.”
The blogger behind the original post that kicked it all off, Lici Le, gets the last word, which I think drives at the main issue, which is “a wall between some designers and bloggers” that leads to unrealistic expectations on both sides of the fence.
You can choose your posting frequency based on how you measure success
Mr. Patel, guest posting for Moz wrote: “One blog post every two months is about as good as not blogging at all.”
If traffic is your only aim, then he might be right. It all depends on how you measure success though. Is it traffic? Is it engagement? Is it influence?
The fact is, if traffic is not your game, then it’s entirely possible to have a highly influential blog without posting every day. My favourite example of the infrequent yet invaluable blogger is Penny Patton, who has written under 45 blog posts in over four years, yet almost every one of them is worth the time to read (and re-read). You might not have ever read or heard about Ms Patton’s blog, but I’m confident you’ve experienced the rippling of her ideas. Let me tell you, when she publishes a post, I drop what I’m doing and read it, they’re that good.
And that’s just the thing, isn’t it? If traffic isn’t your one and only goal, you could publish one post a month and still have an influence, as long as it’s awesome. I’ve always thought that if I needed to draw back my posting to one great post a month, it would still be more valuable than four weaker posts that same month. That great post will get a lot of views and comments, because people will like it, share it, and reblog it. And that’s why quality kicks ass.
On the flip-side, there are a lot of drawbacks when it comes to posting daily. Problogger, one of the most influential blogs about blogging on the internet lists several disadvantages of daily posting, including blogger burnout, reader burnout, and decreased reader engagement. Even Dries Cronje, blogger at “Boost Blog Traffic” says posting every day is a silly strategy, citing the following drawbacks of daily posting:
- Daily posting destroys social proof – “By posting too often, and thus continually replacing the latest post, you reduce the amount of social proof that each post will get. Few people will expend their present effort on yesterday’s conversations.”
- Daily posting destroys reader bonding – “If you post too regularly, your subscribers won’t get around to reading every post you write…As a result, you miss an opportunity to bond with them with each post they skip.”
- Daily posting destroys subscriber counts – “By sending out posts via email too often, you’ll force some of your subscribers to unsubscribe. This is particularly true for less-popular bloggers.”
So, if not daily, how often should you post?
Mr Cronje gives some excellent suggestions with regards to what to do instead of posting daily (I encourage you to read his epic post, published way back in 2012, which got over 229 comments), two of which I’ll emphasise here:
- Plan your posts wisely. I’ve given you plenty of ideas on how to bring more traffic to your hidden gems, I also recommend plotting out an editorial calendar in advance so that you can spend more time writing instead of trying to come up with ideas. It can be as simple as a list in a word document, or as visual as a Google Calendar. Just write it down so it’s real (not binding, but not solely in your head, either) Remarkable posts are created well before they are written – they started way back as kernels of ideas – planned out well in advance.
- Make every post count. Mr Cronje makes a bold claim that echoes my comments above with regards to writing more, but publishing less often: “If you post only once every two months, but the content is truly awesome, you will be much more successful than someone publishing crappy posts every day.”
If you follow these approaches, you’ll write better blog posts, and your blog will grow. Perhaps not as fast as other blogs that produce more “ok” material more frequently, but ask yourself – how much do those page views really mean if they don’t produce the feelings you are seeking when blogging in the first place?
Are you ready to be epic?
Here’s the good news. The internet is so full of “ok”, being epic can’t help but stand out.
Every once in a while, you’ll see a post that is really well written, or addresses a commonly-held but unspoken frustration, or teaches you something truly amazing, or inspires you to break the mould and raise your game.
You know the posts I’m talking about, because so many of us talk about them.
These are the epic posts. These are the posts that make you smile or make you cry. These are the posts that might change your mind about a long-standing belief, or that makes you respond emotionally – either positively or negatively.
These are the posts, written by bloggers who stood out on a limb and say: “I’m going to do things differently – come what may!”
These posts are written by bloggers that might not post that often – but when they do, you can’t help but perk up and pay attention, because they have something truly valuable to say and they say it epically well.
These are the posts that change the game – because it really needs changing.
And that’s my best posting frequency advice: It might be three times a week, it might be once a week, but I won’t publish a post unless I have something valuable to say and take the time to say it as well as I can. It doesn’t have to be game-changing every single time, but it had better be damn interesting – or else into the trash bin it goes!
How do I know when it’s good enough? When I get this feeling in my gut saying “I can’t wait to get this out there into the world!” Am I always right? Hell, no. Sometimes my would-be epic posts end up being flops. The thing is though, I will never be able to control whether someone likes my stuff or not, but I can control the effort I put into it.
When I stop having valuable stuff to say, that’s when I stop posting – even if my editorial calendar tells me to. It’s that simple. If you don’t hear from me for months, you might find me on some isolated piece of the Gobi desert trying to find the inspiration I lost along the way.
Want a have an epic blog? Reject: “ok”. Post better, but post less.
In closing, I’ll leave you with these last words, attributed to Dr. Steve Maraboli:
The wise will admire you.
The wishful will envy you.
The weak will hate you.
This is the reality for those
who dare to be epic.