Monthly Mash and How Often Should We Blog?

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Welcome to the Monthly Mash, a mashup of tools, tales and tips on customer service and the customer experience from around the blogosphere.

Volume 13: November 2012

Thoughts On The Customer: Reflections on 100 Blog Posts and Posting Frequency

This Monthly Mash is our 100th blog post, and I thought it would be a good time to discuss the concept of posting frequency. Currently, we publish twice a week here at CTS, and with a few minor hiccups, have consistently delivered a post every Monday and Thursday for awhile now.

However, 100 blog posts is a relative milestone, and even for a single author blog like CTS, it seems fairly insubstantial.

So, this 100th post has sparked some strategic analysis about a topic that many blogs struggle with: what is the optimal frequency of content delivery?

To begin, let’s look at the numbers.

At 2 posts per week, it takes Customers That Stick almost a full year to produce 100 posts.

How Often Should We Post | Blog Posting Frequency GridIf we move to 3 posts per week, which we are considering for 2013, that’s 150 posts a year. Over 5 years, that equates to over 250 more pieces of content.

As you can see, an incremental weekly increase adds up fast.

When evaluating this change, we also have to consider our niche. In the customer service/customer experience field, the content production per blog is much less on average (at least as far as I can tell) than it is in other fields such as marketing, social media or blogging.

Very few blogs, and no single author blogs, that I read in the custserv/custexp field clock in more than 3 times a week. In fact, most blogs, (ironically, considering what most preach about consistency in service) seem to be fairly inconsistent with content production.

Of course, the reason is obvious. In most cases, the blogs in the customer service sphere are more disconnected from the real world economic drivers of their authors than say those in marketing and social media.

In fact, the most consistently prolific blog I read regularly is not from the custserv /custexp field but from the public relations field, Gini Dietrich’s Spin Sucks. Gini and her team produce 11 posts a week. That’s 100 posts every 9 weeks. That’s over 500 posts a year. (I got tired just writing that.)

In general, Gini writes 6.33 of those 11 posts, and 4.66 are written by others. However, the fact that nearly half the content is produced by others is not a magic bullet. Managing guest posters can be as resource consuming as producing content, if not more so.

Also, the team at Spin Sucks facilitates this volume by covering many topics outside of the PR field, and they manage to do so without losing their PR base and without sacrificing quality.

And it is that last phrase, “without sacrificing quality,” that rings loudest. To me, the most important part of increasing posting frequency is understanding that additional content must create additional value.

To that end, I think any single author blog looking to increase its content production should answer 3 crucial questions:

#1: Will more content add value to our readers?

Do readers really want more? Almost everyone is overwhelmed with content nowadays. Personally, I never make it to any blog consistently, even people I consider friends. Will more content add value to existing readers? Will it add value to new readers without negatively affecting existing readers?

Sure, more content generally generates increased traffic and readers, but at what cost if the quality deteriorates?

#2: Can we consistently deliver on our brand promise?

If we set the expectation that we will deliver 3, 4 or 5 posts a week, can we deliver on that promise consistently? Since committing to a Mon/Thu schedule, I’ve only been late once, and I haven’t missed a publication day with the exception of vacation/holidays.

However, with the demands from my offline businesses, it has been extremely challenging, and I’ve barely made it on a number of occasions. Can we deliver more times a week consistently and maintain quality?

In customer service, we preach the concept of under-promising and over-delivering. Would we be doing the opposite?

#3: Will I personally enjoy it as much?

Coming from a business background, I don’t expect to enjoy what I do every minute of each day. Sometimes, work actually feels like work. However, I do believe that you will never truly succeed at something you do not fundamentally enjoy.

With blogging, it matters more because the payoff is never immediate. Blogging takes time and patience, as Mark Schaefer eloquently pointed out last week. Your rewards for doing the work need to be intrinsic early on — you need to enjoy it — because other than some positive reinforcement, most of the rewards from blogging are not fast in coming.

Will a higher content production schedule turn CTS into a grind instead of the excellent and challenging adventure it has been thus far?

_________________

We will focus on the three questions above as we head into 2013 and try to determine if more will actually equate to better here at CTS. In the meantime, we would love to know your thoughts on more content. We have already committed to adding more diverse voices with our guest post program; should our frequency increase also?

In closing, I would just like to say that the most important part of hitting 100 posts is having gratitude for those who have traveled the path with us up until now. I entered this discussion in our Thoughts On The Customer section, because I do consider our readers to be our customers. We appreciate you, and thank you all for taking part in the journey!

See you at 200 posts… whenever that might be!

The Month in Customer Service Blogging:

A collection of the best posts about customer service and the customer experience I read this past month.

Someone Was Listening

Sometimes the most popular post from the previous month; sometimes just the one I liked best.

  • What Is Customer Experience Enhancement and Why It Matters. Perhaps one of the most important shifts in customer service in the past few decades has been a focus on the total customer experience. This post introduces the concept of enhancing that experience and shows how it can make a difference to organizations that approach it strategically.

 

About 

By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is a Customer Experience Strategist, franchise developer, and small business owner who runs the popular blog Customers That Stick. He is a customer experience speaker and the author of a forthcoming book on frontline customer service (AMACOM, Spring 2015). Adam’s ebook 7 Secret Customer Service Techniques Every Expert Knows has been downloaded in over 100 countries.

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20 Comments

  1. Tons of good thinking here. Specifically, the post frequency question is something I get asked every day. Probably time to blog about it!

    I think it starts with strategy. Are you doing it for pleasure? To make money? To build a voice of authority? For SEO? For political gain?

    I do think that whatever your strategy, you need to be consistent so readers know what to expect. Thanks for the thought-provoking post and good luck as your strategy develops!
    Mark W Schaefer recently posted..Your 2013 Social Media Strategy: Grow a Pair.My Profile

    • Adam Toporek says:

      Thanks Mark! I like that you brought up strategy, as that is so huge. I’ve spoken with friends who’ve become disenchanted with blogging, etc. and the great majority who feel that way don’t have a defined goal. They don’t know why they are blogging. I’ve always felt lucky because for me it’s not a question of why but how. And that makes all the difference.

      Also, I was very inconsistent my first year of blogging, and the commitment to keeping a regular schedule since early this year has definitely had a positive impact. It’s a good reminder to hear it from you though, because, to me, it is really the most challenging aspect of blogging.

      And please write that post; I would love to read it!

  2. Gini Dietrich
    Twitter:
    says:

    Very, very, very good advice, Adam. When we added our Sunday post, I asked myself the three questions you’ve outlined. I don’t necessarily think more blog posts equals more traffic if your quality suffers or if you run out of things to say. We do A LOT of testing at Spin Sucks and may even consider dropping from 11 posts to eight or nine, just to see what happens. I would also advise bloggers to have a vision. If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, blogging becomes a lot more work.
    Gini Dietrich recently posted..Four Ways Leaders Can Integrate Social MediaMy Profile

    • Adam Toporek says:

      Thanks so much Gini! I think it’s no surprise that you and Mark both brought up a vision/strategy, as I don’t think anyone can create a Spin Sucks or {Grow} without it. For me, knowing the end game helps me stay focused and motivated.

      I would love to hear what “testing” consists of, and how you are making those decisions. It’s something I have not done here and probably should at some point.

  3. Thanks for including my Amazon post.

    I think Christopher Penn wrote a really good post on this last week which argued crap content to meet a rigid publishing schedule is killing the industry. While I appreciate the sentiment that more frequency is better, I often don’t read every post on blog sites that sacrifice quality to offer frequency.

    It’s also one of the reasons why I limit my blog to four posts a week. I’d rather commit to a quality post every time than drop something which offers little value to my readers.

    As always, there is no one right way.
    Geoff Livingston recently posted..24 Free Twitter Header ImagesMy Profile

    • Adam Toporek says:

      My pleasure Geoff.

      I’ll have to look up the Penn piece. There must be something in the water with the brainy folks, because as I was putting this piece to bed last night, I stumbled across a piece from Tom Webster called The Dark Side of Content Marketing. http://tomwebster.posterous.com/the-dark-side-of-content-marketing Sounds like a similar premise to the piece you mentioned. Essentially, he posited that he only posts what he can be proud of and trashes a lot of posts that don’t rise to that level.

      I’m on the same page with you, I won’t increase my frequency unless I believe I can maintain quality, but the reality is quality and authorial pride are highly subjective. For me, I actually think the approach Webster speaks of is antithetical to my view of blogging, which is highly conversational and which derives its power from its immediacy and interaction. I guess I’m sort of in the middle. I don’t just let my every thought bleed out on the page unformed, as some bloggers obviously do; on the other hand, I also don’t apply the same rigor that I would to a published book or a formal whitepaper to my 2x week posts.

      As you say, there is no one right way. Part of it is topical. I am more careful and deliberate when discussing research and data (which is what Webster does almost exclusively); I am able to be less so when I am writing a customer service story about the waiter who drew a ketchup smiley face in my plate.

      Thanks for the great comment!

  4. Josh
    Twitter:
    says:

    I’ll echo those who came before and say quality, consistency and strategy are critical elements, not necessarily in that order.

    When you don’t know what your goals are or are why you are here it turns into a grind sooner than later.
    Josh recently posted..The Art Of CommentingMy Profile

    • Adam Toporek says:

      You’re so right Josh. The lack of concrete goals knocks a lot of talented people out of the game. After that, finding the frequency where you can consistently deliver quality, that is the magic intersection.

  5. Chase
    Twitter:
    says:

    Quality should always come first. The more I write and produce podcasts, consistency is good as long as people know what to expect. It’s okay to have one post a week if there’s a ton of quality in that post.

    Personally, I find myself skipping over blogs with tons of articles each week. It’s easier for me to just clear those out of my Reeder app than actually go back and catch up.
    Chase recently posted..On the Customer Being RightMy Profile

    • Adam Toporek says:

      It’s funny you mention the blogs with tons of articles Chase. I’m in a few large Triberr tribes with some blogs that post multiple times a day. They are almost all low quality posts (IMHO). Usually, they are quick 1-3 paragraph posts, often keyword targeted to the point of hurting the writing. I don’t mind short, pithy posts (look at Seth Godin), but when you’re just doing that to facilitate a constant stream of content, the quality goes downhill fast!

  6. Laura Click
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience and an excellent analysis of what businesses should consider as they look at their blogs going into next year.

    I talk a lot about quality vs. quantity. I think that it’s a balance and as others have said, it all boils down to what you want to get out of it. Increasing your frequency is definitely a way to gain traction faster, but you still need to have focus behind your efforts.

    Congrats on your 100th post!
    Laura Click recently posted..7 Tips to Help You Grow Your Blog in 2013My Profile

    • Adam Toporek says:

      Thanks Laura! It’s a tricky balance for sure. I’ve found the forced consistency has been a positive overall, so making sure we can sustain focus/quality while increasing frequency on a fixed schedule — that is the big question.

  7. Tiana Kai
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thank you, these are all great takeaways and great to add to my list of goals for 2013… consistency and value added!

  8. Ashlee Anderson
    Twitter:
    says:

    Lot of good points and I agree if you’re not really adding value to your customers, the quality of your writing is diminished, or if you can’t spare the time to give something quality, you really should scale it back.
    Ashlee Anderson recently posted..Chattanooga Bank Owned Homes & REO PropertiesMy Profile

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