If..Else Log

Irregularity

If you were to take a random sample of successful blogs, you will find that, irrespective of their subject matter, country of origin or background, they are all likely to share a number of common characteristics. Good writing is easy enough to identify; whether it’s biting analysis, insightful discussion or just sheer wit, content is very much king. Other characteristics that would probably lay on this list would be the blogger themselves, whether it’s their personalities, depth of knowledge or background as would the topics that are being discussed.

Yet, whilst the writing and the writer are by far the most significant factors, what is often overlooked is that the regularity of the posts themselves is of substantial import. Whilst quantity rarely makes up for quality, all the blogs that I read have a(n approximate) consistent posting patternNote that I used the word consistency. Different blogs succeed with widely different posting patterns. Some like 37SvN and Kottke manage to deliver on a daily basis whilst others have a less vigorous routine. What’s important is a predictable pattern and not the specifics of the pattern itself, though there would be a strong correlation between post frequency and readership.. Without trying to sound too tautological, a predictable routine results in regular reads; expectation is a useful tool in hooking readers. Imagine the impact of a missed publication of a daily newspaper or the Olympic games being delayed by a 6 months or so. Or to continue to stretch the realms of believability, what if you couldn’t rely on their regularity? Suffice to say, their popularity would suffer somewhat.

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So if a regular posting pattern is so important, how do I explain my utter failure at adhering to my own advice?

Procrastination defined

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, I enjoy blogging. I enjoy writing and enjoy having a platform to talk from. And yet, my last few main posts are about or have accompanied site redesigns rather than being more interesting fare.

The problem is that when it comes to blogging, the decision involves more than deciding what to write (about). As with all things in lifeAs Netscape found out, simply being on the internet doesn’t make you magically exempt., there’s a cost as you have to weigh up what the benefits of writing that blog entry are against what you’re giving up to do so. The time it takes to write that post on “Why Google bought YouTube” is time that could have been spent on development, watching a movie, spending time with family and friends or rather amusingly, reading someone else’ blog post.

It’s partly for this reason why I find “services” such as PayPerPost so unconvincing. Why would you want to give up your valuable time, not to mention your credibility, for a meagre 10 dollars?

Getting back on track

What makes procrastination so tempting is the way I write posts. I probably spend far longer on blog posts than many; I admire people who write off-the-cuff as it were but my style is more deliberate. The other factor is that I write as much for myself as for anyone else. That this blog is read by others is a nice side effect but, strictly speaking, not the main driver. The problem is that often, I would start writing a post on a topic, gathering up information and evidence for and against a given point, writing the introduction, bits of the middle and the end and then, having been satisfied with the process, leave it there. Definite room for improvement there.

Heading forward

One possible solution may be to tie your hands. Making a public commitment, that is removing options or at least removing some of the incentives, can make decisions easier. So here’s mine; I’m going to write at least on a bimonthly basis. I’ll try to aim to better that but at the least, there’ll be a post every two weeks.

Let’s see how this plays out…

-30-

19 Responses to “Irregularity”

  1. Gravatar Ethan Neuenswander

    Looking forward to you bimonthly posts.

  2. Gravatar Michael

    If I got your statement right — posting should be done somehow regularly — I just wanted to add this statement: I do not know whether you are really right with this point when it comes to people who really search for content, because I think that they prefer to receive content via rss (etc.). And in this case, it makes no difference whether you post regularly or not and also the expectation of you posting at a specific time does not matter since one website is just part of the whole content-consumption of a rss reader (the human)…

    I went throught my 50+ articles today and there was one of yours. It caught my interest and the comment you can read here is the result of my content-participation. To be honest, I did not have a look at your site, when the content I got through the reader did not catch my interest and I also did not come here just to check whether you posted something or not.

    So perhaps your point is okay for people not using feeds, but for rss-junkies, I think this is not valid.

  3. Gravatar Ron Domingue

    Procrastination is the roots of all kinds of evil.

    I’ve also been self-analyzing reasons to blog and whether my intentions are rooted in something credible or I’m just wasting people’s time in the blogsphere. Because of this uncertainty my irregularity in posting has resulted.

    However to maintain an audience of any substance I do realize that I need to post regularly so I’m guilty of posting fluff. I’m inspired to dig deeper and try to narrow down the substance of my post and try to offer my audience something worthwhile. My only debate is what by definition “worthwhile” to post?

  4. Gravatar Phu

    “people who really search for content, because I think that they prefer to receive content via rss”

    I was more alluding to the difference between the expectation of regular updates rather than the mechanism by which updates are received.

    “And in this case, it makes no difference whether you post regularly or not [...] since consumption of a rss reader”

    True; you’re perfectly correct in saying that RSS readers help to mitigate the issue. That said, there are other factors which exist even when you’re consuming the content via the RSS feed.

    Is someone who hasn’t written a post recently just busy or is it something more? When will they write next? Is it worth staying subscribed? There’s also the positive side of regular posts as sites that are consistently updated exert greater mindshare; you remember (and look forward) to reading the site because you know there’ll be new content worth reading.

    I guess what it comes to is that time and attention continues to be a scarce resource whether you’re a reader or a writer.

    “My only debate is what by definition “worthwhile” to post?”

    One way to answer this would be to ask yourself, if I was a newcomer and stumbled onto this post, would I enjoy reading it? If so, then it’s “worthwhile”. One of the downsides with “posting fluff” is that they can add noise and distract from the content which you wish to highlight. It’s also (and I’m speaking from experience here) all too easy to fall into a routine of taking the easy option by posting short throwaway posts instead of sitting down and focusing on writing a more substantial and valuable piece.

  5. Gravatar Khairudin Lee

    Haha, spot on. Exactly what i feel and intend to do as well. I recently started posting weekly (not that i’ve much interesting to write anyways) but i’m trying to narrow it down to posting on Sundays. However, for maximum readability, i’m not entirely sure if it’s a good day to post on. Perhaps Fridays is another good alternative but i’m usually out till late during weekends and the only free time i have is on Sundays! Oh the dilemma! Hehe. I hope you don’t get into my predicament!

  6. Gravatar Subject matter « Random musings of a manic world

    [...] While trying to determine a specific direction for content published here, I ran across a blog entry by Phu. [...]

  7. Gravatar Lawra

    It sounds to me like yak, yak, yak…everyone TRIES to be interresting. I’m boring, just like you, and I like that. I guess I belong- in a sense… but this is the very first time ever that I have read a blog, no shittin’. I typed in “blogs” on Google, it took me to a place to start a FREE BLOG, then I searched for life in their search box… and BLAM. I bet this is a typical occurance- dah…dah…dah…blam…hello!
    So, I decided not to start a blog, i’m sure someone else has one ditto.
    Thanks for letting me put my one-and-a-half cents in!

  8. Gravatar dirkhaim

    I love your design. I know it’s not a public theme, and I am not going to ask for it. But I just wanted to know if you know of any themes with a similar layout?
    Thanks.
    [Edit by Phu: This isn't really the right time nor place to ask for such. Have a browse through themes.wordpress.net]

  9. Gravatar bt

    Very insightful post. I admit, I post (reasonably) often, but not really consistently. I hate to post twice a day but I do because I have more than one inspiration. And then I also hate to wait two days to post next, but I resist because if I post when there’s nothing to talk about, I get a wet noodle of a blog.

  10. Gravatar Alex

    Blogging is not a race. When you have something in your mind, blog about it. If you don’t have time in that moment write it down in your pad and come back to it when you have the time. I prefer to post/read one quality post than 3 poor ones.
    From the little time spent on your blog I can conclude that you are a perfectionist – you care to prepare your posts in every detail.
    Good luck with your bimonthly post.

  11. Gravatar Zach Katkin

    I write both off the cuff as well as deliberately, taking a few months some times to author an epic post, both on my company blog as well as my personal blog. Your points are well noted, especially about the meagre $10. I would elect consistency of posts as the MOST IMPORTANT thing a blogger can do. Many bloggers are great writers, with wit and balanced prose, many are analytical with a lot of information and knowledge on a specific topic, but… if you aren’t consistently writing, consistently authoring posts then you will not gain a following or an audience.1

    1Now, this assumes that bloggers want an audience, this assumes that my definition of a successful blog matches yours, and we both agree that a successful blog has readers.

  12. Gravatar Adrienne Zurub

    Procrastination is a global problem with me. With blogging at least now, I find that my writing/posting is more consistent, succinct and progressively better. My style is off the cuff, yet I find the improvisation more authentic (I am a Stand Up Comedian/Actor)and commanding.

    Adrienne

  13. Gravatar Edward

    I really enjoyed this post, it was somewhat helpful to me in that I’ve always been interested in what makes a successful blog and have noticed some of the same things you mentioned.

    I also enjoy looking at your pages because they are very pleasing to the eye.

  14. Gravatar Adam

    Really good article.

    “Good writing is easy enough to identify; whether it’s biting analysis, insightful discussion or just sheer wit, content is very much king.”
    It descript everything ;)

  15. Gravatar Chris

    ::rolls the eyes::
    jeez, this statement, this post and most of the comments reek awesomely of people who need to exhale and chill a little. taking ourselves WAY too seriously. we’re talking blogs. bfd. write one, don’t write one, read one, don’t read one. post, don’t post. none of it matters. just take it easy and lighten up.

  16. Gravatar oszuczacze

    Procrastination is a global problem with me. With blogging at least now, I find that my writing/posting is more consistent, succinct and progressively better. My style is off the cuff, yet I find the improvisation more authentic (I am a Stand Up Comedian/Actor)and commanding. And i got to agree

  17. Gravatar Khushal

    ahh Procrastination! You know this habitual procrastination has had me far behind other people, in religion i always try my best to be late in prayers as possible, in blogging i get many ideas and many topics but when i don’t feel like i never will…I am trying to get rid of it though!

  18. Gravatar Artem

    It’s a very interesting thoughts… Can you tell me, is proofwriting important component in blog success?

  19. Gravatar Shaal

    Why are most good bloggers habitual Procrastinators? From the blog i see you are one smart Geek of Art Geekry but you blog too less~
    Procrastination emerged when Bloggers were born~