Plan a publishing schedule that matches your goals.
When the Huffington Post was first starting out, they posted an average of one post on their blog every 58 seconds. James Clear, one of the most popular bloggers on the internet, published twice a week on his blog for many years. Now he’s down to once a week.
Your answer is probably somewhere in between.
Do You Know Your Content Marketing Goals?
Publishing content has a purpose. If you don’t know that purpose, it’s going to be difficult to find the right cadence for your publishing. Typical goals for content marketing include:
- Publishing content to build brand awareness
- Publishing content to generate new leads
- Publishing content to nurture your relationship with your audience
- Publishing content to sell your products or services
These 4 goals follow the 4-Step Marketing Cycle of Know, Like, Trust, and Buy. You may want to focus on one of these four goals more than the others, depending on your current goals this year. So, to answer the question, ‘How often should I publish?’ first pick one of the 4 goals above.
After you have picked one of those 4 goals, answer this question:
How often do you like to publish?
Are you a daily poster? A weekly sender? A monthly writer? Do you feel like you show up too much, or too little? Your personal preferences are an important factor. If you can weigh your own preferences against those of your audience, you will find a point of balance.
“If you post too infrequently, your audience will forget that you exist and you will quickly fade into the deep dark recesses of their minds. However, if you are posting too often, you will become a complete nuisance and they will dread seeing your posts overcrowding their feed.”
– Neil Patel on Forbes
Websites like Groupon can email their audience every single day. But a local auto mechanic would be hard-pressed to produce daily content. Posting too frequently can increase unsubscribes in your newsletter. People will unfollow you on social media if you post too regularly. Hubspot discovered that Facebook pages with less than 10,000 fans had a 50% drop in engagement (per post) when posting more than once per day.
Here's a good rule of thumb: publish once a day on social
media, and once a week in your newsletter.
If you like to write more than that (or less than that), find the cadence that works best for you. Your audience will tell you (through their engagement, or the lack of it) if it’s working.
Decide On Your Publishing Style
The greatest thing about being an entrepreneur is that you get to decide how often you will show up to your audience. You can suddenly show up, when the mood and the moment strikes you. Or, you could consider what you will say, and when you will say it.
When you consider in advance what you will say, and when you will say it, then your publishing style can be planned, prepared, and predictable.
If you suddenly publish because something compels you to respond or react in the moment, you will not be nearly as effective. Your audience won’t know what to expect from you. Anytime you do post, it will be a surprise.
Posting reliably on social media creates ongoing brand awareness.
Your content publishing schedule helps people know you, then like you, and then trust you. Over time, your customers will develop an expectation to see you sharing the same things, in the same way. It may take some trial and error to discover the right cadence and the right content. Once you have a rhythm that you like (and your audience likes), reliably publishing on a set schedule creates trust.
If your audience can predict how you will post, and you
continue to stay interesting, you will achieve brand
Having a weekly newsletter is an example of a reliable pulse your audience can count on. A short, weekly message (that encourages your audience to reply, if they want your services) is enough to stay top-of-mind. You may not know that this is the specific week when they face the problem that you solve.
Here’s a secret about email newsletters: open rates do not equal results. Just by sending a newsletter, you inserting your name in someone’s inbox. They don’t have to open it. Reading your subject line is enough for them to briefly recall who you are, and what you do (if your elevator pitch is sticky).
Separate Writing Time From Posting Time
When I am in writing mode, I spend a lot of time generating new content. That mindset is very different than the mechanical mindset that makes posts and sends newsletters. Posting requires lots of small decisions. You have to decide where to post, what time to post, if it needs an image, how to get that image to display, how to get the right tracking parameters on the link….
There are so many mechanics involved in how you post. It’s most efficient to separate that activity from deciding what you post. Set aside time to write a lot of ideas your ideal customer would find valuable. Collect a bunch of snippets, passages, and thoughts into a single document. Then, using an automated posting tool like Buffer, edit and schedule these posts to go out in the future.
Two great things about auto-posting tools:
- they let you modify the frequency of how often you post, and
- they also analyse your previous activity.
Spend a week posting 3 times a day on Twitter, and then another week posting once per day. Comparing the two experiments will reveal what works best for your audience.
Only testing will tell.
“As a reader, I much prefer blogs that post once a week or even once every two weeks - but always say something genuinely useful - than blogs that post every day just for the sake of it. If you look at the blogs you read in depth versus the ones you skim, you’ll probably realize that you feel the same way.
As a blogger, posting once or twice a week lets me write in-depth, carefully constructed posts - ones that are more likely to get links and tweets. I also get more comments per post this way, and have the time to engage with readers over several days of commenting.”
– Ali Luke on Problogger
The Long-term benefits of publishing content regularly
I’ve had people book marketing consultations with me (seemingly out of the blue) because they started following me on Twitter six years ago. I post frequently on social media, and it’s a business strategy. When people need to hire (or refer) someone like me, I’m the first one they think of, because they saw me post a funny picture of my dog.
According to LinkedIn, an average of 11.4 pieces of content needs to be consumed before someone makes a purchase. Wouldn’t it be easy to automate a lot of those points of contact through Buffer? You don’t need to send a dozen thoughtful, well-written posts to every single person, individually. Automation tools allow us to compose all of our content in advance, and have it dripped out over time.
Talk to your audience as a general group. Compose the type of message that many of them would find useful, relevant, or interesting. According to Sprout Social, most brands post on social media an average of 0.97 times per day, and they have an engagement level of .09%. That’s a lot of activity. Can you post every single day, on every single social media platform? How much time do you want to take away from your core work, just to publish content that may not give you an ROI?
In 2018 there was a survey by Social Media Examiner. They found that by automating their posts and ads, professional marketers saved an average of six hours per week. Creating and sharing your content should not take all of your time. Marketing yourself should be a key component of your regular workflow. But you don’t want to fall down one rabbit hole after another, chasing the next shiny thing.
B2B businesses spend an average of 28% of their marketing budget on content marketing. If you spend 1/4 to 1/3 of your marketing time in creating and publishing new content, you’re in the right range of effort and time spent.
Simple Content Marketing Strategy Template
- Publish once per day on social media
- Publish once per week on your email newsletter
- Publish once per month on your blog
You can modify this schedule to better match your audience, or your capacity. Review the 4 goals at the top of this article, and decide why you are publishing.
To get more specific about what you post and when, use my Content Calendar Workbook to make a custom plan that works well for you. This document has fill-in-the-blank templates that I use with my own clients.
This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, ‘Marketing Yourself.’ To get notified when the book is released, sign up for the waitlist.