Tips for Growing Your Blog’s Audience: Consistency

This is the last post of a three-part series (see here and here) that I’ve written based on the ideas of Amber Mac that details the key behaviors necessary for building your education blog’s audience.  Hope you dig it:

Perhaps the greatest challenge for edubloggers hoping to grow an audience is the reality that growing an audience requires consistent posting and participation. Writing every now and then is just not good enough in a world where instantaneous communication is the new normal.

Once you decide to participate in social media spaces, your audiences are going to expect you to be consistently present. Failing to share on a regular basis—or to respond when readers reach out to you—is a recipe for a small audience and a short career as an edublogger!

While there are no hard-and-fast rules for the number of posts that are required in order to satisfy readers, most successful bloggers—regardless of field—are creating new entries 2-3 times per week.

Doing so ensures that audiences have new content to consume every time that they start browsing blogs—something that 77% of online Americans report doing regularly (McLean, 2009).

Equally important is establishing a set routine for posting new content. If readers can identify a pattern to your posting habits—one long post every Saturday, one short post each Wednesday—they’ll start looking forward to visiting your blog on a regular basis.

Consistency in Action on The Tempered Radical:

That’s a pretty intimidating message, isn’t it? The thought of generating new posts 2-3 times every week is almost overwhelming for educators who are already overwhelmed by the daily responsibilities of their professional positions and personal lives.

The good news is that “generating new posts” doesn’t have to mean writing long-form selections on meaty educational topics every week. In fact, bloggers that write long-form entries all the time often leave their readers—who are also struggling with time constraints—mentally and physically exhausted.

That means developing a series of short-form blog entry styles is essential—both to surviving as an edublogger and to developing an audience. I rely on four primary styles of short-form entries to make consistent content generation on the Tempered Radical manageable:

Sharing Links to Interesting Articles and Other Bloggers

http://bit.ly/consistency1

One of my favorite short-form entry styles is a post type that I call “Read This.” In “Read This” entries—like this one spotlighting a post on technology leadership written by noted edublogger Scott McLeod—my goal is to simply point my readers to something interesting that I’ve read online.

Not only are “Read This” entries easy to write—I’m constantly bookmarking interesting content worth sharing and I consciously keep my summary of Read This bits to a few paragraphs—they help to build a sense of community between edubloggers and their regular readers.

When Scott finds out that I’ve spotlighted his work, he’s more likely to do the same for me.

Embedding Online Videos

http://bit.ly/consistency2

Similar to the “Read This” entries that have grown popular on the Tempered Radical, “Watch This” entries are designed to generate quick, engaging posts for my readers.

In “Watch This” entries—like this one spotlighting a Ted Talk on the political implications of a Web 2.0 world by former English Prime Minister Gordon Brown—I do little more than embed a provocative video from an online source like Ted (http://www.ted.com/) or YouTube (http://www.youtube.com) and ask a few interesting questions.

While “Watch This” entries don’t generate a ton of conversation, they provide readers with a new type of visual content to consume—and in a world where visual content is commanding more and more attention, that keeps my blog relevant and interesting.

Creating PowerPoint Slides

http://bit.ly/consistency3

Another type of visual content that I’ve tried to incorporate into short-form entries are PowerPoint slides that include little more than an interesting image—which I pick up from the Flickr Creative Commons (http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/) website—paired with a provocative quote that I either write on my own or pick up from something that I’m reading.

Not only are the images easy to create and interesting to view, they’re often a valuable take-away for my readers who can use the slides in their own presentations.

If you’re not sure about creating your own slides, consider using—with credit—the great slides already being shared by educators in Flickr, which can be found here: http://bit.ly/eduslidesonflickr)

Sharing Lessons, Materials, or Email Responses

http://bit.ly/consistency4

http://bit.ly/consistency5

Regardless of the role that you play in education, you’re already creating TONS of content. If you’re a teacher, you’ve probably crafted more than your fair share of interesting lessons, right?

If you’re a professional developer or a principal, you’ve probably got a few good staff training sessions floating around on your jump drive—and no matter who you are, you’re probably answering a ton of questions that your readers would be interested in via email.

Start to multipurpose this content by posting it on your blog, something I’ve done here with a great set of poetry lessons (http://bit.ly/consistency4) and a detailed response to a parent’s question about keeping her son safe in social media spaces (http://bit.ly/consistency5).

While you’ve got to remember to protect the privacy of parents and colleagues whose questions you’re answering and students whose materials you might be sharing, never underestimate the value that these kinds of materials may carry for your audience.

Not only are these kinds of sharing posts easy to create—you’re creating materials and responding to emails anyway, aren’t you?—they are the kinds of tangible products that can make the lives of your readers easier.

 

Works Cited:

Mac, A. (2010). Power friending: Demystifying social media to grow your business. New York, NY: Portfolio Hardcover.

McLean, J. (2009, October 19). Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere, 2009. Retrieved from http://technorati.com/blogging/article/state-of-the-blogosphere-2009-introduction/

8 thoughts on “Tips for Growing Your Blog’s Audience: Consistency

  1. Bill Ferriter

    Hey Ben,
    Thanks for stopping by—and for your kind words about my blog.
    As far as consistency as a tool for growing a blog audience goes, I agree that quality of content is always king. It doesn’t matter how short or long a post is, if it ain’t good, you can’t build an audience!
    That’s why my short posts focus on adding unique value to my entries. My favorite short posts are either PPT slides that readers can use in their work or links to other interesting pieces written by my peers.
    The advantage, I think, to consistency is not always in reaching your existing audience, but in building your audience—which is what the focus of this series it.
    The more that you write—and the more interesting content that you create across topics and domains—the more likely you are to appear in search results and to appeal to a wider group of potential readers.
    So while well established educational thinkers with broad audiences probably don’t need to write consistently—think about a guy like Bud Hunt—those of us who are just trying to establish a presence have a better chance of attracting eyes with each entry that we write.
    Does that make sense?
    Bill

  2. Ben Blum-Smith

    Hmmm… I don’t know about this. I used to think this was true for sure, just by common sense, but now that I’ve been blogging and following blogs for almost a year, I’m not sure anymore.
    As a consumer of blog content, it’s much more important to me that a writer bring her/his A-game in every post than that s/he post a lot. The folks in my Google Reader whom I don’t read consistently are exactly the ones who post a lot and don’t rock me every time. In other words, if you ever, ever post when you don’t really have something to say, then I’m likely to stop paying attention.
    On the other hand, folks who post rarely and inconsistently get read almost every time, because it’s a novelty.
    So, my personal experience directly contradicts the “consistency is important to audience” dogma. On the other hand, I know a lot of folks, like you here, say this with great authority, and it makes sense, especially for the portion of the audience not using an RSS feed. So now I’m wondering if anyone has studied this question systematically?

  3. Foleysquared

    Thanks for the encouragement, Bill, this is exactly what I’ve been grappling with. I stood on the blogging sidelines for a while until I found a perspective that I was really excited to write from, and am now going through just these types of growing pains. Gotta stick with it…

  4. Bill Ferriter

    There’s nothing wrong with the way that you’re consuming or creating blog content, Renee. In fact—like most things—there are an almost unlimited number of ways to make blogs work for you.
    But if you’re trying to grow your audience, consistency and regular posting does matter. As you create more content, you end up targeting different audiences and being seen by different people searching for different topics.
    If growing an audience isn’t a priority, these benefits don’t matter. Or if you’ve already got a large, well-established audience, these benefits don’t matter.
    But if you’re still in the building stages of getting people to consume your content, putting more food on the table works.
    Any of this make sense?
    Bill
    PS…I’m already planning on converting some of the comments here—and my replies—into a stand alone post. Multipurposing at it’s best.

  5. TeachMoore

    2-3 entries a week..hmmmm…
    Still trying to wrap my mind around that one. I like to browse only a few blogs at a time, really thinking about content and responding thoughtfully. Therefore, it sometimes takes me about 1-2 weeks to go through my bloglist. Maybe I’m just odd that way, but I’m open to posting more often than I do now.
    When I think about it,some of the best comments I’ve gotten on a blog may come days, weeks, even months after I posted it. I suppose those are the ones that could be used to generate a new post, re-starting the conversation.

  6. Bill Ferriter

    Too funny, Paul…
    The term “blogonoia” is one of my new favorites.
    The cool part is that once you start thinking about some of the short-form types that I’ve written about, generating more content for your blog doesn’t mean generating more work for you.
    We’re already generating tons of content—we just need to multipurpose it.
    Rock on,
    Bill

  7. Paul C

    Bill,
    Sometimes it feels like your blog posts are directed specifically at me. Let’s call it blogonoia. Just this morning I was looking over the archives of my blog and wondering what I needed to do to become more consistent in my posting. You’ve hit the nail on the head and your recommendation will be very helpful for me. I’ve already decided on a few smaller posts that I plan to implement in the next few weeks.
    Thanks (again),
    Paul

  8. gasstationwithoutpumps

    Actually, a lot of blog readers (like me) automatically skip any post with a video, at least if the video is over a minute long. Video is inherently a much slower medium than reading text, and so is only really an advantage when there is something that requires showing motion.

Comments are closed.