Darren Rowse posted an entry How to Launch a Blog and Have Fresh Content for Weeks where he gave advice on starting a blog and asked for reader comments.
I decided to respond here because my comments always seem to go in moderation, likely due to my choice of domain names, and because I've noticed that lately readers of that blog don't tend to read and reply to other comments and it's rare now that even Darren replies. The blog has great information and some of the comments are valuable but I decided that if anyone wanted to continue the conversation with me, it's easier to do it here. This is a new site with few comments so that may not happen.
Darren recommends you have the following to be able to get your blog up and running fast:
- 5-10 articles already published - Basically you don't want people coming to your site and it looks like you just wrote one post.
- 5 Draft posts written but held in reserve - To get the next few posts out in a timely manner while you're busy promoting the site and responding to comments and other things that need to be done when you launch a new site.
- 20 post ideas - If you can't come up with 20 ideas for more posts you're likely blogging on the wrong topic.
The two most important things I feel he recommends are the 20 post ideas and the following statement:
The numbers of posts that I’ve mentioned above will vary from person to person (and even for me I’ve not always exactly followed this formula) but I think it’s probably a pretty solid way forward.
In my experience, having posts already written or held in draft aren't important for me. I only have a handful of blogs and they're on subjects I'm very familiar with and I can easily sit down and write something quickly on them. The point about people coming to your site and only seeing one post is valid, but most people don't see a lot of traffic on their blogs right away.
It takes time for search engines to start indexing your site and buzz to start building. What I do is choose not to promote a blog until I have at least a half-dozen GOOD posts. It is essentially the same concept. Nobody is seeing the site anyway.
When I visit a blog, I sometimes look at their list of recent posts or if they have a blog archive, to get an indication on how old the blog is and the frequency of their posts. Others are likely to do the same. For that reason, I decided to take the blog archive widget off of this blog's layout. I have over 20 posts, but this site hasn't been around for a long time.
I also don't feel the need to post every day. This goes against what many people recommend but I haven't found it to be an issue on other sites. I saw no difference between posting every day and posting a couple of times per week. So I don't keep finished posts in reserve.
There are tons of topics I want to write about swimming in my head all the time. If there weren't, I wouldn't have started a blog on the subject. I try to commit a certain amount of time to each site each day. Even if I don't publish a post, I may have a couple in the works and devote my time to those. So the articles I do publish are as complete and useful as possible.
My opinion is that there might be too many bloggers now and if I blog, I prefer to spend more time with each post so that it's the best it can be rather than put myself on a schedule to post every day.
Though I do sometimes throw out shorter but useful posts from time to time. Especially on sites that follow news and trends. I guess I care more about my readers and not my readership. Having hundreds or thousands of people reading a post as soon as I write it isn't as important to me as having the same amount of people or more find it because they were searching for that information.
Even if just one person reads it and gets some sort of benefit from it, I'm happy. I blog for myself and hope others enjoy it and contribute and have meaningful discussions and in the end we all come away knowing more. If that happens, then I also hope to get some revenue to offset the time and costs involved with running a blog/website.
Some of my sites are in competitive niches. Some I've gotten in early and others late. This one is in a very overdone niche and I try to focus more on quality rather than quantity. I also try to spend little time on each blog each day because most blogs don't make much money so I want the time to be commensurate with the revenue. By focusing on having really good posts and not worrying about constantly publishing, just to keep on schedule, I've been able to get very good rankings on other sites where there is a lot of competition, and I hope to do the same here. But this blog is more of a way to share information with the people who ask me for it without having to repeat the same information.
Some of my best and most popular blog posts were written in less than 30 minutes. Others were written over the course of a few days in 30 minute increments while I was having my morning coffee and I wasn't publishing anything to fill up the blog calendar. Not everyone can do that, especially if they blog about things they don't really know about. You wind up spending more time researching than you do writing. In my opinion, you should have already done the research. For instance, one site I have is related to an offline business. The research I do helps make that business better and more profitable. I also choose to blog about it and the advertising revenue on that blog is a nice bonus compared to the rest of the business. If I had to do all that research just for the blog, it wouldn't be worth it.
Ultimately, the blog has to already be in you waiting to come out in order to be successful. This is why so many people seem to fail at making money from their blogs. What Darren recommends is a good formula for determining if it's in you or not. But most blogs don't become successful overnight and there are many free services you can use so there's no reason to not start blogging right away and keep an eye on your traffic sources and keywords used in searches to help you plot the course you should take.