Is Your Blog Being Hurt by Your Obsession to Create New Content?
Today, I want to talk about an obsession that many bloggers have – an obsession with creating NEW content and want to suggest that we all take a little step back from spending quite so much time on that task and pay attention to something that might have a better payoff for us.
I’m going to share with you a practice that I’ve build into my daily rhythm.
You can listen to this episode in the player above or here on iTunes.
But before I do – a couple of quick pieces of house keeping.
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A simple daily practice that I do:
Every day we publish new content on dPS – two posts a day.
We work on making the content as good as it can be. Useful, practical, well laid out, as few grammatical errors as possible, well illustrated, optimised for SEO, good headline, great CTA etc.
We then think about how we share it – visual content, timing on social, craft the descriptions, get it into the newsletter etc.
Our authors are then thinking about engaging with readers who come – trying to get good discussions going, watching social comments etc.
A lot of effort goes into these things in the lead up to and for the days after a post gets published.
This is all pretty normal – most bloggers do that.
But here’s the thing – your blog post is on the web for a lot longer than that first week. That first week can definitely bring you a spike in traffic – but it’s just the beginning of the content’s life.
I touched on this in episode 136 where I gave tips for creating Evergreen content for your blog – but today I want to share with you a daily practice that I’ve developed over the last 5-6 years that helps me to stay in touch with my archives.
Your archives quite likely contain a lot of really useful content that your readers have probably not read – particularly your newer readers.
If your blog is anything like mine your archives are what gets most of the eyeballs on your blog on any given day – not the new posts.
I just looked at Google Analytics for today’s traffic on dPS – we’ve published 14 posts in the last 7 days and as I look at today’s traffic – those 14 posts got around 15% of my site’s traffic. 85% of my traffic was hitting my archives.
I suspect most blogs are similar – yet most of us spend most of our effort focusing upon our new posts.
Most bloggers spend 99% of their time focused upon their fresh content but their readers spend most of their time focused upon the archives.
I think bloggers should allocate time to focusing upon their archives too. The daily practice that I do does just that.
In Today’s Episode The Daily Practice I Have Built Into My Blogging Rhythm
- It happens at the end of my day (late afternoon or early evening) when I’m sitting down to schedule my FB updates for the next day.
- I first schedule the new posts we’ve published that day.
- Once the two new posts are scheduled for FB and added to my Meet Edgar library (see this post for how I use Meet Edgar) I then turn my attention to my archives.
- I look back at what I published this day 6 months ago. So today is 9 August – I look back at what we published on 9 February. We publish two posts every day of the year (except the week after Christmas) so there will always be two posts published on that day.
- The first thing I’m looking at is whether the content was evergreen and could be reshared. If it is I will schedule it to be published on Facebook tomorrow.
- Then I’m looking at other things:
- Are there any errors? Factual, spelling, broken images, broken links etc
- Could it be improved visually? Images, layout, headlines/sub headings?
- Could the post be updated? Is it dated? Is there a new technique/gear etc that has come out since that makes it look old fashioned?
- Have we published anything since that this old post could link to?
- Have we published anything since that could link to this old post?
- Could I update the visuals of this post? Social media graphics – pinnable images?
- Can I do anything to optimise it for SEO? Titles, keywords, alt tags in images etc
- Could we do a followup post?
- Could the post be repurposed into another medium?
- Could we add a CTA? Eg – a link to one of our products or an affiliate link.
- Were there any comments in the post that slipped through our moderation (spam, unanswered questions etc)?
- Is the post obsolete – should it be retired?
- Sometimes I dig into Google Analytics and see how the post has performed traffic wise. If it’s getting decent traffic I pay it more attention particularly for resharing, SEO, followup content.
- Not every post needs major updating – in fact most are ok. But even simply by eyeballing that post it puts it to the front of my mind and helps me to know its there which is useful for linking to it from new posts.
- Once I’ve done this for 6 months ago I do the same thing for 12 months ago. So I’m looking next at August 9 2015. I do the same process. Share it if it is evergreen but also look for any opportunities to update, optimise it.
- Then I look at 18 months ago – Feb 9 2015. Then I do the same for 24 months ago – August 9 2014. Then 2.5 years ago.
- I go right back to the beginning of the blog (2006).
This way I know that every single post in our archives currently over 6200 of them gets my eyeballs on it twice per year. Every single post gets looked at every year twice and many of them get tweaks.
Now I look back at 6 month intervals but when I started this practice I was only looking at 12 month intervals and that may be more manageable if you have a big archive and have limited time.
The interval or the system you use doesn’t really matter – the key is to pay your archives some attention on a regular basis.
By paying attention to my archives I’m:
- Improving them – making them more useful to readers
- Resurfacing them in social – driving traffic
- By driving this traffic we often see spikes of people resharing that content
- Optimising them for SEO
- Getting ideas for future content
- Have finger on the pulse of what is and isn’t working in terms of topics but also styles of posts etc
- Getting ideas for products and improving long tail sales of new products
- Getting ideas for which older posts we could drive people to from our newsletter/auto-responders
- Keeping our archives from looking really dated and out of touch
Hey there, it’s Darren from ProBlogger here and welcome to Episode 145 of the ProBlogger podcast. Today, I want to talk a little bit about what I would call an obsession that many of us have as bloggers, an obsession with creating new content. I actually want to put forward an argument today that perhaps it would be in many bloggers’ best interest if we step back a little bit from spending quite so much time on the task of creating new content and pay attention to something that may have a bigger pay off for us as bloggers.
I’m going to suggest to you today that you do a little practice that I’ve been doing over the last few years everyday to get the balance back in order. Before I give you the exercise and talk about what I’m suggesting today, I want to do a couple of couple of quick pieces of housekeeping. Most of you who’ve been following this podcast and subscribed to it know that the last seven episodes come out in seven days, we did the Blogging Groove challenge where I suggested a whole heap of different types of content for you to create on your blog over a week. I want to thank those of you who participated in that, we had over 1400 bloggers participate over the week and many of you are still working through those challenges, but anyone who is participating I want to say thank you. It’s been a challenging week for many of you, it’s been a challenging week for me as well to produce so much content and to manage the Facebook group but it’s been well worthwhile thing for us to do.
I just want to let you know that the Facebook group that we’ve had going will remain live, we are going to do some ongoing challenges. I just need a week or so to be able to work out how often we’ll do that is and whether we do them on the podcast or on the blog. For those of you who haven’t taken part in it, you can continue to use those episodes and go back to those episodes and take the challenges at your own pace.
The last thing I’ll say is if you have enjoyed the Blogging Groove challenge that was done over the last week, I really encourage you to head over to iTunes and to leave a review for us. It does help us to get a feel for what you like about the podcast but also does help us to grow and spread the news further. That’s the Blogging Groove challenge update.
The other thing I did want to mention as I have over the last three episodes is that our virtual ticket for the ProBlogger event now is live. If you head to problogger.net/virtualticket, you will see all the details of our virtual ticket. It will go live in mid-September, it’s $229 dollars U.S. That’s around $299 dollars Australian. That gets you Access to 50 sessions that will be recorded in this year’s ProBlogger Event. Six keynotes, 24 breakout training sessions and 20 workshops.
We’ve got some great speakers this year including Brian Fanzo who is speaking about live streaming. Nathan Chan from Founder and who will be talking about growing your email list. Natalie Sisson who is speaking about sales funnels. Nicole Avery who will be talking about starting a blog. We’ve got many, many speakers and you could check out all of the speakers and the sessions othat they are planning to produce this year over at problogger.net/virtualticket.
Topics, beginner right through to advanced. We’re talking about creating content, building your readership, monetizing your blog, we’re talking about blogging, podcasting, YouTube, social media both paid and organic. You’ll also this year with our virtual ticket get access to an exclusive event networking and accountability group on Facebook as well. We’re bundling this in, you’ll get immediate access to all the recordings and slides from 2015’s event which is another 23 sessions.
This ticket is available for $229 US up for a limited time, it’s not an indefinite thing. It will give you access to 50 sessions from this year and 23 from last year that you can refer back to again and again. I think that’s great value. Hopefully, we’ll set you up for a great second half of 2016 and into 2017 with your blog training. Head over to problogger.net/virtualticket for all the information and to secure your ticket for this year’s event.
As I said in my introduction today, I want to talk about the obsession that we have many times as bloggers with creating new content for our blogs. Now, I want to say right up front it might be a bit of a controversial thing to say particularly after we’ve just had seven days focused on creating content for our blogs for me to say that we’re obsessed with that because perhaps I’ve fed that obsession a little. Bear with me for a moment.
Everyday on Digital Photography School, we publish two blog posts. I think it’s important that we invest time and effort into creating new content for our blog. I think it’s worth paying attention to making those posts as good as we can make them. Over on DBS, we put a lot of time aside. Our writers put a lot of time aside to come out with good ideas to write about making our content useful, practical, making sure our posts are well laid out, that there’s as few grammatical errors as possible, that we have great illustrations and images, that we optimize our posts for search engines, that we think about our headlines. All those things are good.
I’m not saying today that we shouldn’t put time aside for that. I also think it’s good that we think about sharing our content, this new content that we have. At Digital Photography School again, we think about how we’ll share that, what social networks we’ll put it in, how will we get it into our newsletter, how will we craft the descriptions in our social medias to get people to read that. And we also put time and effort into thinking about engaging with our readers who do come and read the post. We try to add questions to our posts to get people leaving a comment, to get discussions going. We want the comments to come in on social media and try to engage with those things. These are things that we put a lot of effort into, the lead-up to publishing a post, the sharing of that post, and then the engagement around that post. All those things are pretty normal, most bloggers do that.
But here’s the thing that I’ve realized over the last few years. Getting a post up onto the blog should take a lot of effort but it’s only the beginning of the life of that post. The first few days of your blog post being live can definitely bring you a spike in traffic. But when you think about it, it’s just the beginning of that content’s life. What happens in the months, the years and potentially even the decades after you hit publish on a blog post can completely dwarf that first few days of that content’s life.
I spoke about this back in Episode 136 where I gave some tips for creating evergreen content on your blog. I don’t really want to rehash that idea of evergreen content. Today, I want to share with you a daily practice that I’ve developed over the last five to six years that helps me to pay attention to my archives, to help me to pay attention to the older content on my blog.
Here’s the thing. If you’ve been blogging for a year now or a few years now, what you’ve got in your archives is an amazing asset. Your archives quite likely contain a lot of really useful content that can really help your readers. Most of your readers probably never read what is in your archives, particularly your new readers. If your blog is anything like mine, your archives are probably what gets the most eyeballs on your blog on any given day. It’s not the new posts that are probably getting most of your traffic.
I just looked at my Google Analytics for today’s traffic, the last 24 hours traffic on Digital Photography School. We’ve published 14 new posts over the last 7 Days. As I look at today’s traffic, those 14 posts get around 15% of my overall site’s traffic. 85% of my traffic was arriving on my site hitting one of my archive posts, one of my posts that is more than seven days old. I suspect most blogs are similar, yet most of us spend most of our time focusing upon our new posts while our readers are spending most of their time focusing upon our old posts. To put it in a different way, most bloggers probably spend 99% of their time focusing upon their fresh content, the new content but their readers are spending 90% of the time focusing upon their archives.
It struck me today that maybe our obsession with our new content, getting that new content ready, getting it published, getting it shared, getting engagement around it, maybe we’re slightly out of balance with that. I want to say right upfront, I’m not saying today that you shouldn’t be producing new content, that you shouldn’t be putting time aside to that. But today I want to suggest to you a practice that can help you to pay attention to your archives and can bring many good things from doing that. The practice that I want to talk about today I have touched on in passing in a number of episodes in the past but I want to get a little bit more explicit about it, I want to get a little bit more detailed about exactly what I do.
What I’m going to describe to you now happens usually at the end of the day for me. Usually, it’s late afternoon, just before I knock-off and have some dinner and spend some time with the family or just after the kids go to bed and it usually takes me about 45 minutes to an hour. I sit down at my computer and I look at what we published today on the blog. I usually schedule those two new posts that we publish on Digital Photography School onto social media. I schedule them on Facebook usually for early morning American time. And then, I also put them into Meet Edga which is a tool where we build a library of social media updates. I’ll link to a post in today’s show notes that talks more about Meet Edga.
I first look at the new stuff that we’ve done, it usually takes me about ten minutes to get those posts up on the social media, scheduled so that the next day they’ll go up onto Facebook and on to Twitter. Once those two new posts are schedule for Facebook and Meet Edga, I then turn my attention to the podcast. This is where I spend most of the rest of my time as I’m doing this particular exercise.
The first thing that I do is I look back at what I published on this day six months ago. As I’m recording this particular episode of the podcast, it is the 9th of August. It’s a Tuesday here in Australia. Tonight when I do this exercise, I will look back on the 9th of February, six months ago. I would have published two posts on Digital Photography School where we publish two post every single day of the year except the week after Christmas where we do things in a slightly different rhythm. I know that there will always be two posts that were published six months ago on the 9th of February.
I look back at those two posts. The first thing I’m looking for is to whether the content was evergreen in nature. This is what I’ve touched in the past. If it is evergreen, I then schedule those two posts to be published on Facebook tomorrow. That’s the first part of it and that’s what a lot of bloggers do, they kind of look back of their archives and they re-share some of that stuff but that’s the system that I use. Six months ago, what did we publish, I’m going to put that onto Facebook.
But then I start looking at other things. This is where I think we could really improve our archives. The first thing I’m asking is are there any errors in that post. While we do edit all the posts that go up live in Digital Photography School, it’s amazing how many little things slip through. Maybe there’s some factual errors, maybe there’s some spelling errors, maybe one of the images has for some reason broken, maybe we’ve used an embed from a photo and image sharing site, or maybe we’ve embedded a tweet or some other type of content and that has broken. That does happen from time to time. Are there any broken images?
I’m looking for errors, things that are broken on the on the page that I could fix. This of course improves the post if anyone comes to it. After our Facebook share, they’re going to see a better post.
I’m also asking could that post be visually improved in some way? Maybe a new image is something that we could add to it to make it a little bit better. Maybe some of the formatting is broken, maybe I could add some subheadings, maybe I could add a bullet list and change the formatting of the post and using some subheadings in some way. Could it be visually improved?
Could the post be updated in some way? Is that post dated? Right now, six months ago it probably hasn’t dated too much but maybe something has been released that is relevant to the post since it’s gone live. Maybe it was a camera review and maybe there’s an update to the camera or maybe it was about Lightroom and maybe there’s been an update to Lightroom and we need to just tweak the post so that it becomes relevant for today. Is it something that is looking dated? Maybe one of the images that we used is a little bit dated, a little bit of 2015 instead of a little bit 2016, we could make it a little bit fresher in some way.
A question I’m asking as I look at that piece of content that was published six months ago is have we published anything since that time that that old post could link to? Maybe we’ve published something else in the last week or two that we could link to from that old post. This helps to drive more page views around the site and also can help with search engine optimization a little bit. Google tends to like when you link your post from one to another.
Another similar question, is there something that you’ve published since that you could add a link to back to this old post. Maybe you published something in the last week and you can link back to this old post as well as further reading. The links can go both ways. Could you update the visuals of the post in some way? Maybe you could add a social media graphic so you might want to add something at the bottom of the post for people to pin and to share on Pinterest.
Could you do anything to optimize that post for search engine optimization? You’ve probably already done some SEO on the post when you did publish it six months ago. How is it performing with SEOs? You might actually want to have a look on Google and see is this post ranking? Could you change the post in some way to optimize it better? Maybe tweaking the title, maybe adding some keywords, may be looking at something like the old tags in your images. There’s a number of things that you can do to make that post rank a place or two higher in Google.
Another question I’m asking as I’m looking at the post that we published six months ago. Could I do a follow up post on this? Maybe that was a post that got to a lot of discussion going. Maybe there was some questions in the comments, maybe as I’m rereading I start getting ideas for posts that could be done, that follow it up, that update the idea that could be a new post, so that I can feed back to our writing team and say, “Hey, we did this post six months ago. It did really well. Can anyone do a second the post that really follows up on that old one or that takes the opposite viewpoint in some way?”
Could the post be repurposed to another medium, maybe the post has done very well. We want to create an infographic version of it, or maybe the post did well but it could be repurposed into a Slideshare or maybe it could be done into a podcast or into a video in some way. Could it be repurposed into another medium?
Could we add a new call to action the end of the post? Maybe that post went live six months ago. In the meantime, we might have started a new Facebook group or we might have released a new ebook that we could add a link at the end of that post to promote this new thing that we’ve started. Is the call to action that we did six months ago still relevant for today? Maybe we were promoting something back then and it’s not really relevant today, maybe it was an affiliate link that we had in there that isn’t really relevant anymore. Maybe there’s something we could do to tweak the call to action.
I also look at the comments left on the post. Were there any that slipped through our moderation system? We try to get rid of all the spam but sometimes the spam slips through and maybe we can delete that. Or maybe there was a question that was asked by someone that we didn’t respond to. Actually paying some attention to the community aspect of that post, the engagement that was on that post could actually be a useful thing.
Another question I’m asking as I’m looking at that post six months ago, is this post obsolete? Should it be retired, should it be deleted? Maybe it was a promotion that we ran or competition that we ran. Or maybe, it’s about a very dated thing that’s no longer relevant to our audience. Maybe it’s got a factual error in it that’s just so bad that we knew it would be better to delete that post. It’s weird that I would delete that post, but sometimes it just needs to be retired.
Lastly, what I would do with some of the posts that I’m looking at from six months ago is ask the question how is this post performing? I actually will dig into Google Analytics and see how that post might have performed traffic wise. Don’t do this every single post. But sometimes if I see there’s a lot of comments or see that there’s regular comments overtime, that might give me a hint that maybe it’s attracting some ongoing search traffic. I might look into Google Analytics and see how well it is performing.
If it is performing well, that is a signal to me that I do need to pay some extra attention to it. Could I get it ranking even higher in Google? Could I develop a content in some way?
As I’m going through these 13 or so questions looking at the post from six months ago, in many cases the post doesn’t need too much updating. I would say the vast majority of the posts that I do this exercise with I might be only making very small tweaks. In fact, most of the posts are okay as far as they are. But simply by eyeballing that post even if I don’t make any updates, it puts it to the front of my mind. It helps me to know that it’s there which I think is really useful.
We’ve got over 6000 posts now on Digital Photography School. It’s very hard to remember every single post that has been written, particular because we have a writing team now. I didn’t write all of those posts. But by simply running my eye over each of those posts, it enables me to keep my finger on the pulse of what’s going on on the side. It gives all kinds of opportunities later on. I’ll talk a little bit about some of the benefits of doing this exercise in a moment.
Once I’ve done this, I’ve done this for the last posts from six months ago. I then do exactly the same thing for the posts that were written 12 months ago. So again, it’s the 9th of August 2016 as I’m recording this, I will have done the 9th of February 2016. Now, I go back to August 9, 201 and I do the same process. It probably sounds like I’m spending ten or fifteen minutes on every post that goes live. I have actually gotten so into the rhythm of doing this that I can do it quite quickly. It will take me a couple of minutes to look over a post to see if there’s anything that needs to be changed. I’m doing the same thing for two posts from 2015, August. And then I’ll look back six months before that so then I’ll look back to February 9, 2015. And then, I’ll go 24 months ago, August 9, 2014. And then, I go two and a half years ago, February 9, 2014.
I go right back, six months and 12 months, right back to the start of the blog in 2006. It takes me about an hour to do this exercise but it’s one of the most valuable things that I do everyday. I know that by doing this that every single post in our archive which is over 6000, every single one of them I will eyeball at least twice a year. Every single post gets looked at at least twice every year and many of them get little tweaks along the way.
I do this six months so I look at February and August. You might choose just to do 12 months ago or 6 months ago. It’s totally up to you what the intervals are and what the system is. I guess what I’m encouraging you today to do is to put regular time aside to pay attention to your archives in some way. By paying attention to my archives in this way, I know I’m improving them which makes them more useful to my readers. I’m resurfacing them in social which means I’m constantly driving traffic back to my older posts, posts that I’ve even forgotten that are there. This forces me to see those things and to be driving traffic back to them.
By driving traffic back to those posts on social media, I often then see other people re-sharing them as well and that can bring second waves of traffic beyond what I’m able to share. I’m also optimizing my posts for search engines. Over the years, the post potentially is being tweaked many times for searching engine optimization. Simply by updating the posts and adding new content to them, adding new visuals, changing the posts, that also can be a signal to search engines as well. Search engines tend to like dynamic content, content that is changing.
By doing this exercise, I’m getting ideas for future content which is really great when you have been blogging for so many years and you’re running out of things to say. By doing this exercise, I’ve got my finger on the pulse of what types of posts are working, what topics are working. That also informs future content but it also gives me ideas for new products that we get to be developing as well.
If I suddenly see that certain posts are doing really well on a certain topic. For example 6 to 12 months ago, we realized a lot of our posts that were about Adobe Lightroom were doing really well, that gave us the idea to create a course on Adobe Lightroom. By paying attention to how posts are performing in this way, you beginning to see opportunities to monetize your site as well. But getting ideas for what older posts are working, we can also start to think about how could we share those posts again via email. One of the things that I do if I see a post that did really well 12 months ago, I will consider putting that into our newsletter, not just on social media again but actually promoting it via email as well.
I guess the last thing that this whole process does is that it keeps your archives from looking dated and out of touch. If 85% of my traffic is hitting my archives, I shudder to think what would happen if 85% of my readers go to a post and go meh, this is dated, this is embarrassing, this is no good. By paying attention to your archives, you’re keeping them fresh, you’re keeping them up to date and you’re deleting the things that aren’t as good and that could actually be hurting your brand.
This is an exercise that I do everyday or at least every weekday. On Fridays I usually do it for the coming two days as well, for the weekend. It’s not something I tend to do on Saturday or Sundays, because Fridays I do an extra batch of this. It’s something that takes me an hour or so to do every time I do it. I’ve developed and gotten into the flow with doing it. I’ve gotten better at doing it.
It’s the type of thing that if you are doing it at least twice for every post every year, you will find that you don’t need to make as big of a change all the time. The first time that I started to do this, for that first year there was a lot of work to do everyday. But because I’m updating my posts and my archives regularly, that works isn’t as big because I’m kind of tweaking my posts every six or so months.
I hope that this has given you some ideas. Again, if 90% of your readers and you’re spending 90% of your time creating new content, is that balance right? Is it time for you to dedicate a little bit of time everyday even if it’s just 10 minutes a day to one post in your archives that has the potential to bring a lot of life into your blog.
I would love to hear what you do. Do you pay attention to your archives or are you a blogger that just pays attention to your new stuff? I’d love to hear what you do whether you agree with me or not.
I would love to hear from you to hear how you approach looking after your archives and keeping them in shape. Thanks for listening and I’ll chat with you in Episode 146 in a few days time.
How did you go with today’s episode?
I would love to hear what you do? Do you pay attention to your archives? I would love to hear it whether you agree with me or not.
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