February 29, 2016 by Kenneth Fisher
What with the #sqlnewblogger effort we’ve been seeing a lot of new bloggers (and some old ones starting up again) and there is one thing that seems to come up over and over again.
How often should I blog?
Let’s start with how often I blog. I post twice a week every week. No more, no less. (With a very few exceptions when I’ll add one extra post about something I feel is important.) Notice I said I post twice a week. Some weeks I don’t write anything, sometimes I’ll manage 4 or 5 posts in just a couple of days.
How does that work? I schedule every post. (Except those few extras.) I try to keep around 5 posts in the schedule at any given point in time. That way if I am on vacation for a week there is no pressure. I just don’t write anything. I’m tired? I’m sick? No pressure. I can typically make up for those times with the odd week of inspiration where I’ll knock out several posts all at once. Other times I just put in some extra effort and write 3 posts a week for a couple of weeks.
Now on an average week I write two posts. I’ll admit sometimes it’s an effort. Frequently though it’s pretty much habit by now. Which is a nice segway into the fact that I’ve been doing this for 3.5 years now. I didn’t start out writing this much. I initially set myself a goal of one post a week. I found that after a few months that wasn’t too hard. I even had several weeks where I had two posts (note this is before I started scheduling). So after about 6 months I switched to my current two posts a week. That was HARD. At least at first. Once I got a rhythm down, and started scheduling my posts ahead of time, it got easier. And, as with anything, you practice something enough you are bound to get better.
Ok, so that’s me. How about you? How much should you blog?
Start by asking yourself a few questions.
- Do you have a lot to say?
- Do you want to accomplish something by your blogging?
- Promote your consulting company.
- Create an on-line body of work to help with future job hunting.
- You want to become an MVP.
- Is this just something you want to try out?
- Do you have strong writing skills?
First thing I want to point out is that nowhere in there did I say “How good at SQL Server (or whatever) are you?”. It doesn’t matter. You could be a rank beginner who wants to catalog their exploits or an expert who’s been doing this for 20+ years. Someone will want to read what you write. If no one else, you will. You’ll frequently find yourself writing posts just so you can reference them later. Yes really. Ask any blogger. We go back and read our own stuff all the time.
So next. If you have a goal to acomplish then you’ll want to blog more often. You’re going to be putting some effort into the process but that’s ok. You have a reason. These people are going to be writing the most often. I’ll be honest and say I fit in that catagory, or at least I did at first. You are going to want to set yourself a realistic goal given how busy you are in your life (say 1ce a week) and see if you can keep it up. Then raise or lower your expecations acordingly. Again, scheduling will be your friend. Post regularly and at pretty much the same time and people will get used to you being there.
But what if you don’t have a goal? You have a couple of options. You can still set yourself a writing goal. Or not. There is certainly no pressure. No one is going to judge you by how much you do or don’t blog other than maybe yourself.
Now let’s say this is just something you want to try out. Try joining in on #tsql2sday each month. That gives you a topic without any work on your part and you get to try something different each month.
But that’s just my opinion. Blogging is a very personal thing so I thought I would get some other opinions. I asked a handful of bloggers I know to give their opinion. Note: If I didn’t ask you it doesn’t mean anything, I just literally asked the first half dozen or so people that came to mind. So here is what they had to say:
How often should I blog? Oh man, that really depends. If you’re working hard to build up a brand, it’s a good idea to be pretty regularly: I believe once a week is the rule of thumb. If you’re new to blogging and you want to get into the habit, then set yourself to blog once every one or two weeks.
But let’s say you’ve already developed the blogging habit; when a cool thing happens or you find a bug or you want to rant, you already do have the urge to go write it down. So if you’ve got the habit down, and if you’re primarily blogging to improve your writing chops, document your technical journey, or build up a base of your reference articles for your own use, then the answer is “whenever you feel like it”. That’s where I am, and I do my best not to let a month go by without a blog.
As it happens Brent had already posted about this subject (told you it came up frequently) so here is a link to some posts he thought would be good to add here.
Sure! Check this out: http://www.brentozar.com/archive/2009/08/building-your-blogging-momentum/ … I don’t get into exactly how-often there, but just talk about what works for me.
I’m also a huuuuge fan of this post on how to schedule time to write: http://www.scriptmag.com/features/primetime-juggling-writing-and-a-job-figure-it-out …
Well, the ‘how often’ for me started out weekly (on the personal blog) as a way to decompress, think about life, and eventually process the thoughts rambling around in my head. Writing helped me make sense of it. Eventually it went to monthly, and that pace is okay for now.
The sql stuff I simply wait till I have something to say… and I often see other people posting on stuff as if it’s a brand new thing, and I realize, “Uh, I knew that… wonder why I didn’t write it… hmmm” – I have one I’ve been talking to Paul(Paul Randal(b/t)) about over the last year or so about a DPM bug that’s easy to fix – just haven’t written it yet. And anything I write of course can’t give away company secrets… So that, I think, hinders me a bit… Which is why the wording in the last post so strongly pointed out that it was just me editing existing code that already existed out in the real world…
So… I write to decompress from work… (Which is why my personal blog has more writing than the geeql one)
As for how often I actually write something on that blog, the trigger for me is when I hit a snag that’s so powerful that I really *have* to tell folks, then I work on it. Thing is, I write it so that the problem’s clear, so the readers are engaged, as well as begin to not only understand the problem, but also understand the thought process that was going on at the time of the problem and the reasons and limitations for how it was resolved, not just the Monday morning quarterbacking. Then I edit the heck out of it to make SURE someone can repro it, that it’s dead-on accurate, have a couple of people tech-edit it for me in case I missed something and if something’s not clear, and (maybe, if necessary) run it past legal and marketing (sigh) and THEN I can publish.
So it takes awhile to actually do this. Solve problems in an engaging way that people understand and that I can publish, and then be sure that the readers feel comfortable replicating the solution I write up in that blog post,
Thomas gave this brief but profound comment.
Simple: blog whenever you feel like blogging. Feed your soul by writing for yourself.
When I talk to people about building their brand and showcasing their talents, I suggest blogging as the best way to display their skills. However after they ask about finding topics, the next question is invariably about how often to blog. My answer? As often as is comfortable for you.
What I suggest to most people is that they set aside time for writing and then use Word, Notepad, or any editor to draft posts. Write ten posts on whatever topics you like, and see how long it takes to complete them. Get feedback from friends, re-read them a day or so later, and count them finished when you’d be comfortable to publish them. Then schedule the ten posts based on your pace of writing. Perhaps 10 posts takes you a month, maybe it takes you ten months, but whatever time required is your pace. It may change over time, but blog at whatever rate fits in your life.
Rather than tell you how often you should blog, or a formula for doing it, I’m going to give you my tips on how to have more blog posts. First, keep it simple. While an in-depth technical write-up with multiple screenshots and internals can be great once in a while, those are time-consuming to write, and you should have a technical editor. Follow Tim Ford’s #IWantToShare hashtag for examples. Second, keep your blog interesting with different types of posts – I refer to this list from ProBlogger.com if I need ideas. Blog as often as you want to, as often as you can, and as much as you need to!
Blogging frequency is tough question to answer because we all have different priorities around blogging. From my point of view, it’s less about a specific time frame and more about just doing it regularly. It could be once a week for some folks, once a month for others. What is important is that if you want to blog, you need to have a routine and stick to it.
My personal routine (which I’m trying to get back to) is to blog weekly. I spend 2-3 hours on a Saturday morning working on blog posts, which are usually the result of ideas I’ve put together during the week. These ideas can be anything. In fact, I find (at least when you’re starting) it’s not all that important what you write about, just that you write. If you write regularly, you’ll eventually find your writing “voice” and build up good habits to support your own blogging schedule.