On Blogging And Not Keeping Up

Amidst the strangeness of the past 15 months or so, I’ve been struggling to maintain a consistent approach both with publishing new blog posts, and responding to comments.

As the archive numbers at the foot of the page attest, during the first two thirds of 2019 I was posting every 36 hours, so around 20 posts a month.

This was partly an experiment to see if I could, and partly to see if it increased readership and engagement, and at the time it wasn’t a frequency I had any great difficulty in maintaining.

It didn’t particularly impact readership either way though – and indeed sometimes I felt the conversation was just getting warmed up around one post, when a new one came along and re-directed some of that energy and impetus.

So I dropped down to every two days, around 15 posts a month, for the next year.

Which took us into October last year.

At which point I eased back to a post every three days, around 10 per month, after we talked in July about blogging from hand to mouth, with rarely more than one (or none) new posts queued up to be published, rather than the three to six I used to have.

Despite only setting myself a target of a new post every three days, little has changed since then, and I still feel most of the time I’m scrabbling to have a new post ready in time.

Whilst in our family, and in my team and organisation at work, we’ve found many new routines by necessity, to adapt to the forced changes brought on by a global pandemic, blogging (and to some extent photography as a whole) hasn’t really adapted.

In short, I just feel like I’m not keeping up with the pace.

Now, it’s important to note that the only one who ultimately sets the pace of a personal blog, is its owner.

The posting schedule is entirely up to me, whether that’s once a day, once a month, or simply as and when the wind blows.

So to say I’m not keeping up is something of an illusion, because I don’t have anyone dictating how often I should post, or any external pressure to post at all.

Another element I mentioned above is responding to comments.

I’m sure we all have expectations when it comes to blogging as to what’s a reasonable period in which to expect a response to a comment you leave on someone’s blog.

For me as a blog reader, a day or two is a fantastic response, and a few days is acceptable and short enough that the energy of the post and subsequent conversation is still fresh.

The momentum – and the good will between the blogger and commenter – is maintained.

Beyond this, if I have a follow up comment notification, I usually have to think twice about the original post, perhaps re-read it (or at least my original comment) to familiarise myself again, and without doubt some of that conversation flow is lost.

But, hypocritical of me, whilst I try to respond to comments on 35hunter within a couple of days, I know sometimes in the last year it’s been five days, or even more.

I imagine when I have responded, that person (perhaps you) who’s been kind enough to comment in the first place, feels the moment is gone, and they may be less inclined to bother commenting again in the future, given such a casual response time by the author, ie me.

The challenge for me is having a certain amount of time committed to 35hunter each week, and how to split this between responding to comments on existing posts, and writing and publishing new ones.

Now I fully admit this is all a very insignificant problem when measured against all the various problems one can have in life.

I’m in a highly privileged (and grateful) position to be able to have such a platform for my thoughts and ramblings around photography at all, let alone a decent and engaging audience like you too.

Nevertheless, it still bothers me why I can’t quite adapt my blogging approach to fit in with the other, much more substantial changes, we’ve evolved into dealing with in the last 15 months.

Maybe I should ease off the publishing schedule even further, publish only every four or five days, or once a week.

This would (should!) give me plenty of time to devote to the subsequent comments on the posts.

However, then the dilemma is, if I publish less, would readers lose interest and drift away anyway, so there’d be a dwindling amount of comments anyway?

The only way to find out is to try!

I’ll keep you posted as to what I decide, but in the meantime, what are your thoughts?

As a blog reader, how often do you like to see new posts? Ideally, how quick a response do you expect from a blogger when you comment on one of their posts?

If you’re a blogger yourself, how do you decide your publishing frequency? How quickly do you aim to respond to readers’ comments?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking.

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28 thoughts on “On Blogging And Not Keeping Up”

  1. Blogging is a marathon. Take small steps at a time. Sometimes, when I feel better focused, I’ll write a blog post. Other days, when I’m tired, I will just give myself a break. Don’t be too hard on yourself 🙂

    1. Thanks for commenting, and the encouragement. I’ve been blogging a while (over five years with 35hunter and about 17 years now in some form) so I know about it being slow and steady, and this is one of the things I like about it compared with more immediate and frantic pace of social media. You’re right though I think, I need to be less hard on myself.

  2. As a blogger I tend to publish most days. This is partly because it’s easier for me to keep up with a daily habit than an irregular one. The other reason is that I tend to write for myself rather than the reader and I just want to do it every day.

    However, that’s the season of life I’m in and that could change someday. It’s best that you find a rhythm that’s manageable for your own lifestyle so that it doesn’t feel like work. Best of luck to you as you figure it out!

    1. Thanks Brandi, this is really helpful. I would say I write for myself in that it helps me clarify and organise my thinking, but I also write with one eye on making it useful or at least interesting to others too. And as a starting point for further discussions and sharing of experiences around a particular area.

      I do agree about daily habits, I have a number of these and they’re virtually indestructible. For example I’ve had a daily yoga/exercise routine for over a decade and only missed a tiny handful of sessions over the years when I was too poorly to do much.

      But for blogging I know daily is too much for me personally, and it would feel like I was doing it for the sake of getting something published every day, however good (or not) the post was, which for me would dilute the quality of the blog. Plus yes, as you said, it would feel like work, not in the good sense, but in the sense of a chore you do begrudgingly, not for the enjoyment and growth and connection and reward work can bring.

      I think I just need to try blogging less often, focusing more on responding to comments, and lightening up a little about the whole thing. 🙂

      1. Going back to the subject of habits, perhaps you just need to find a rhythm that feels comfortable or some cue that makes you look forward to blogging. I don’t know what will be best for you but am certain you’ll find the right process. The fact you’re talking about it means you’re on the right track.

      2. Thanks Brandi, you’re on to something with the idea of looking forward to blogging. I still do, very much, but sometimes the pressure of publishing something new (or catching up with comments) overwhelms that core enjoyment. I need to create more space and less pressure.

  3. It’s different for me, my current blog is all about (mobile) photos – I don’t have to write anything or reply to comments.

    But I don’t like to work with a schedule, I don’t want my photography (and blogging) to feel like work. After some experimentation, I know that posts with three (or sometimes five) photos work best for me. So when I have three matching photos, it’s time for a new post. It’s that easy. For the past 10 days I was not motivated at all (and also still suffering from the aftermath of COVID-19 contamination a few weeks ago) – so there were no posts. And the world is still turning.

    If I were you, I’d let go of the tight schedule. Just post something when you have something to say or show. The people who are really interested will follow you anyway.

    1. Thanks Robert. I have considered picture only posts, and indeed I’ve experimented (a long time ago) with blogs that were just about presenting the art – photos, poems, haiku, short stories – and nothing else to support them or derail them. I’ve had multiple blogs on Tumblr, which was a lovely, simple platform for such blogs.

      But 35hunter has always been about my explorations in and around photography, with the photos themselves to add some colour (or b/w!) and visual interest in conjunction with the core words/thoughts. And I’ve always wanted a two-way blog, a place others can hang out and chat about shared interests and passions in a safe and respectful place. This is increasingly valuable as large parts of the internet seemed to become more toxic, ruthless, and unkind.

      That said, I could still follow a similar ethos as you Robert, and only share something when I have something I think is worth sharing.

      I love the routine and discipline of a schedule, but the danger is always blogging by numbers, going through the motions, just to meet an arbitrary publishing deadline or frequency, which perhaps I’ve slipped into.

      Thanks for your thoughts and encouragement.

  4. Did you ever think you might be cooling off on blogging, that it might not be as interesting or compelling of a thing for you to do anymore?

    As for me, I’m still doing six a week. I’m not sure why anymore. Inertia I guess. I love blogging but I would like to devote more time to other side projects and it’s hard to do that when the blog beast needs fed.

    I follow a few blogs that post once in a blue moon and they somehow get 50 comments each time. So it’s possible.

    1. Jim, yes I certainly have had those thoughts, and it sounds like you might have too? Thanks for raising the question.

      It is something of an underlying fear I guess, as I can’t really imagine not having a blog – the twin benefits of a creative outlet to get my thoughts in order, and a place to converse with others are such fundamental things for me, and have been in my life since around 2004 when I first started a blog. What would happen if I didn’t have them?

      This does without doubt also tie in with photography and how that has plateaued for me in some ways. I don’t have the same urges to buy a new lens or camera every week, I’ve done that so many times it holds very little interest anymore. I have all the cameras I need, and any further looking is really just a way to avoid facing shortcomings as a photographer. That new gear and those experiments did feed many/most blog posts in the past.

      The idea of a beast that needs feeding is excellent, yes it does feel like that sometimes. I really don’t know how you manage six posts a week when you have so much other stuff going on. I know there are a few approaches you use that means not every post has to be 100% fresh and lengthy, like re-sharing old posts, having shorter single frame posts, your Saturday recommend reading and so on.

      Personally I’d rather blog less often and make each post new and original, which I think I’ve managed with 35hunter. I don’t want the beast to dictate feeding times, as the blogger I should be in control of that! Nor do I want to get into the realms of throwing the beast a ready meal or some fast food, just to give it something that vaguely resembles sustenance, just because it needs something, and I don’t have the time or inclination to prepare a more wholesome and nutritious meal by hand. Feed it less, but feed it better, I guess I’m saying.

      I think if I was posting less than say once a month, I’d think I might as well stop. I recall numerous posts on blogs where the writer disappears for months, then comes back with a post apologising for being away so long, and promising to post more frequently… Then disappearing for months again. I don’t want to be like that, if it’s not sustainable on a regular (a few times a month) basis, I’d think I should be taking heed of the message and give it up.

  5. Goals and structure, Dan. Is it your goal to publish once a month/week/day to tell people how things are going in the field? Or are you bringing the news flashes when they happen? (Metaphorical, of course.) What’s more, what is your reward? If you were being paid to publish then a regular schedule would be a necessity. If the only compensation you receive is the satisfaction of engagement, then it’s entirely up to you how consistent your posts are.
    Personally I take a more relaxed attitude with a modicum of indifference as to whether or not anyone looks at what I post. If they do and enjoy it, fine. If they don’t it’s not my loss because I haven’t invested a large amount of effort into it. Besides I know that ultimately it doesn’t matter as everything is temporary, even the entire universe. It’s just a matter of time scale.

    1. Thanks for your views Marc. Good questions. My reward is having people read, enjoy and converse around the posts I share. I think if I went say half a dozen posts with no or hardly any comments, I would think long and hard about continuing.

      That said, I like your idea of “a modicum of indifference”, I think that’s healthy, and stops us getting too precious or self important about what we’re sharing perhaps.

      I think it’s because everything is so fleeting, that these meaningful conversations along the way make it worthwhile.

  6. Interesting thoughts and I can relate. I’ve become the “when the wind blows” type, posting maybe twice a month, and I’m getting less engagement (and commenting less myself, too). When I first started blogging, years ago, I read that it was important to keep to a schedule so your readers know when to expect a post from you, but I don’t believe that personally. I believe that if you comment a lot, you’ll get a lot of comments. But is that what I want? People just reciprocating? Being polite? Or worse, comment-hunting? I don’t know, and the more I think of it, the more confusing it gets! Anyway, what do I think is a good blogging pace? Whatever the blogger feels like. Or, let’s say, more often than every two months. If a blogger is gone for half a year, they just disappear and I wonder if they are alive anymore. But if someone posts every single day., I might unfollow because it fills up my feed (unless it’s one of my very favourite blogs, in which case I’m happy).

    1. Thanks Snow. I think the schedule does depend on the reader – or indeed the topic of the blog. If it’s a more business oriented tips/lessons kind of blog that promises a new post every Tuesday and Friday, say, then people get into that routine and it seems unusual and disappointing if the blog doesn’t deliver on that schedule. For more personal, less regimental blogs, I think readers are generally happy whenever a post they like comes along.

      I’ve never been into the whole game and charade of commenting on or “liking” other people’s blogs just to try to garner attention for my own. I comment on a blog post because I like it and think I have something to add, not to gain something for myself.

      Sort of similar with guest posts, I don’t like those blogs that ride on the past glories of their name and previous high quality, but now keep churning out largely substandard guest posts written by those who either don’t have their own blogs, or have one with a small audience because their writing perhaps isn’t that interesting to many. One well known photography blog I used to follow religiously fell into this pattern, sadly.

      I agree about posting too often too. There are blogs where I find maybe every third or fourth post really interesting, but I’ve unfollowed because they post so often it drowns out other blogs that are more consistent and I wouldn’t want to miss. I think the only blog I still follow which has a new post every day is Seth Godin, and I stick with him because 1. I find him very thought provoking and inspiring and 2. His posts are generally short and about one succinct idea.

      1. Oh, Seth Godin, yes. He is a marketing legend, and I recently heard him speak at an online event. His posts are thoughtfully crafted and to the point, as you said. In general, I’ve found that to be a working recipe for blogging, now that so many things are competing for our attention online. If a post is long, it must truly captivate me for me to finish it. And I only comment when it provoked thoughts – but when I first started blogging, I did try to network through commenting (and it worked, but I wouldn’t do it anymore. I was testing different approaches and also genuinely curious about what other people were blogging about. Maybe it was a kind of benchmarking process, though I didn’t think of it that way.)

        And I agree with the guest posting (and reblogging), also I don’t like sponsored posts because that is just advertising! I do advertising for a living but I wouldn’t read a blog that presents random products they were sent for free, or promotes hotels and restaurants. Especially if they use their kids as models (who don’t get pay or whose permission isn’t asked.)

        As for daily posting, one of my favourite blogs to follow is Graham’s Island. Graham posts nature photos from beautiful Hawaii on pretty much a daily basis, with short text, and I would miss his posts if they suddenly stopped. It’s just a concept that works.

      2. I often wonder how long Seth takes with his posts, whether they just tumble out almost fully formed, or he spends ages finely crafting them so every word counts – which is how it appears.

        Yes, I think the topic of the blog, and the format of the posts (pictures only, pictures and a few words, a few words only, long posts etc) are major factors in what kind of blogging frequency works best, both for the blogger and the readers.

    1. Thanks Ray, I really appreciate your comments and encouragement. (I wanted to comment on your blog but couldn’t work out how, when I clicked on Join The Discussion it took me to another site (commentari.io) as asked me to register or log in.)

      1. Sorry about that, Dan! I had them temporarily disabled to try the forum feature (I operate Commentari also as a feeder for comments). Thanks for letting me know of the issue.

        Blog on!
        Ray

  7. I don’t ever expect replies to comments I leave on blogs, they’re nice of course, but not required. As for my own blogging, I write articles and create photo collections as the ideas occur to me, but I keep them in a folder and trickle them out once or twice a week, to avoid having longer breaks where I have nothing to post about for awhile. No one really reads my blog right now anyway, it just serves as a reason for me to get out and do more things and go more places, with the understanding that one day it might generate more interest (via search) by individual article rather than as a whole. Blogs of others I read, I dunno their schedule. I just click on my usual suspects during down times at work. Everyone’s schedule is different, I read my free entertainment at their pace.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts. Why don’t you just schedule the posts instead of manually publishing once or twice a week?

      You’ve raised an excellent point that I entirely overlooked. That is, readers don’t necessarily read new blog posts at the same time or rate they are published. I know myself from the blogs I follow with Feedly, I don’t visit multiple times daily (and using Feedly began as I didn’t want so much popping up in my inbox), but dip in when I have some time, then read a handful of posts. And then not in the order they’ve been published.

      I’m sure others do this with my blog, read at their own pace and at their leisure, so in fact the publishing schedule is far less important than I’m thinking it is anyway. Thank you!

  8. I shouldn’t even be saying much since I never went through the effort of setting up a blog… but as a reader, I think I enjoyed the blog the most when it was a new post every couple of days. It seems like the posts were a bit shorter as well – not that it matters to me but I know some people lose attention after a few paragraphs. Shorter posts are also easier to write so it makes it easier to maintain that schedule. You can always return to that same topic and even make it “Part II” and “Part III”…
    Just my thoughts as a reader/commenter… the important thing is that you know what matters to you going forward in your journey. If the blog is serving its purpose of being a constant writing/creativity outlet, continue with the regular posts. If you are getting to express yourself somewhere else, focus on that. Remember the 80/20 principle…

    1. Chris, thanks for your useful comments.

      I think something that happens when you’re perhaps rushing a bit to get something out each time, is that a longer term plan, with a variety of kind of template posts falls by the wayside. I have various ongoing series like the Colour Quest and One Frame, and updating the About Now page, but there are many others that have not gained so much traction, like These Three Photographs, and Random Revisited. The latter is a potentially endless source of new posts – revisiting an old post randomly and updating on what’s changed between then and now. Especially as I have over 700 posts now. Another option is varying the length of posts, having some deliberately short, and others more open and stream of consciousness.

      I think by posting less and taking some pressure off myself with such a strict schedule, I can broaden the variety and interest of the posts.

      Blogging certainly still serves a purpose, and perhaps the simple fact of being able to have intelligent and stimulating conversation with fellow photographers like you regardless of our geography, profession, age etc, is the most valuable one for me.

      1. I find that slowing down also creates a momentum (for slowing down even further…)
        But you have a young family, a job and other interests, so while I also enjoy the interaction, you have to do what is best for yourself.
        How about adding non-topic posts, such as other forms of art? It seems to have worked well for Mike Johnston and kept his stamina (he writes on health, hi-fi sound systems, books and playing pool…)
        Perhaps with one post a week on photography, one on off topics, and one with no text (one shot, about now, etc) it might shake up things a little bit…

      2. Thanks Chris, what you said seems a contradiction (slowing down creates momentum for slowing down even further) but makes perfect sense. I’ve certainly experienced this in other parts of life, how you start to simplify and minimise, and it leads to more.

        I don’t know about diversifying too much. I follow other blogs like the one you mention and Jim Grey’s for example which are quite diverse (and work well), but personally I’d rather keep 35hunter centred on its “motto” – hunting for beauty and balance, camera in hand. This allows for some variation, whilst not being a complete random pick and mix of topics with just me as the common thread.

  9. One of the things I have noticed, Dan, is that you provide generous replies to your blog post comments. This I suspect is one reason your blog is so active. It also provides you the opportunity to add to the original post things you may not have included or thought. I’ve been blogging some twenty odd years, and found my sweet spot at one post a week, with responding to comments in-between. I think how busy people are today, this schedule allows followers to keep up, and the blogger as well. No?

    1. Thanks Frank, for getting my masterplan with the blog. Yes, the initial post is nearly always both a thinking out loud outpouring of my thoughts on a topic, plus a starting point for further thinking and conversation – between me and a reader, and between multiple readers. I do enjoy some blogs purely about one person’s thoughts and view (and with no comments activated/allowed) but for my own blog I’ve always favoured this collaborative and conversational approach.

      I would say most weeks I spend significantly more time in answering comments than writing new posts, so finding the time and the balance with this is a crucial factor in my expectations of how frequently I can publish new posts.

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