Hurdles to Blogging #13 – I have no idea when to publish my blogs?!
It is easy to get totally obsessed with ‘optimum’ time when it comes to publishing anything…and, in particular, anything digital, including social media posts and sending out marketing emails.
Do not let the thought of this put you off blogging, however! There is tons of research of the perfect time to post, but at the end of the day, it is not like you get one chance and one chance alone! Let me explain more…
Firstly, before we start discussing stats and research…remember that publishing your blog is completely different to when you actually write your blog. You could write in batches, you could write a certain blog months in advance! This is about when you publish a blog….when you (and your followers) actually see the blog appear on the website and get notified, for example, by an email, that it is there. On nearly every website platform, you can schedule this to happen, so you don’t have to physically be there ‘publishing’ your post at your chosen or ‘ideal’ time!
Making decisions about when to write blogs physically and how they fit in to your overall work schedule is another hurdle entirely…check out this post for some help.
Ready for this blog post, I did some research and I kept coming across the advice that “the best time to publish, for most blog is between 9.30am and 11.am USA East Coast Time”, considering I am based in the UK this wasn’t overly helpful, and furthermore, I couldn’t find much to explain why!
I did read that it is because more people are online or are about to come online…however, this seemed counter-intuitive to me! It may not be the best habit, but I check my phone and hence my social media and emails when I first wake up, around 7am. By 10am, I have done the school run and am settled in to work. Furthermore, even if I had a notification that a blog had been post between the hours on 9.30-11am, I am very unlikely to have a spare 10-20 minutes to read a 1000 word blog post.
So what does this tell us? Basically, that statistics are not everything and that what is far more important is the habits of your target audience. I am a bloggers target audience then my advice would be to publish a new blog around 6-8pm…it is when I am likely to notice the notification (once kids are in bed and I’m cooking dinner) and will have the time after 8pm and before I go to bed to read the post itself.
The best statistics to use therefore is those that you can garner from your own research and your own ‘usage’ statistics on your website and also on your social media. When do you get most visits or most engagement?
If you can come to a conclusion based on when you think would be the best time to publish a blog, then the next thing to do is to test it. I admit, it is easier with newsletters…you can segment your list and send the same newsletter at a different time to each half of the newsletter and see which gets more ‘opens’ and clicks.
With a blog, it is a bit harder, especially as in the long run consistency is more important for SEO and building a following. However, when you are just starting out it is a good idea to try and publish a couple of blogs on the same day of the week, but at different time, then change for a couple of weeks and see what happens.
Testing all seven days of the week and lots of different times of day would be incredibly time consuming and, if you are blogging monthly, you could be there for years trying out different dates of each month and never really coming to a logical conclusion! So, don’t get wrapped up in it. Make an educated guess, try a couple of options and then pick one! …and importantly, then stick to it! I publish my blog on a Thursday evening around 6pm!
Making an educated guess often comes from understanding your target audience.
Understanding your target audience
Deciding what time you are going to publish is best guided by the habits of your target audience. Consider:
- When are they ‘online’?
- When will they have time to read blogs?
- How often will they read blogs?
Consider time zones, traditional working times (i.e. Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm), as well as school hours (and holidays!), if this would affect your audience. Are they commuters? Are they at home in the evenings or the day time? What is their lifestyle like – pub on a Friday evening? Partying on a Saturday night? Or in most evenings?!
Whatever you decide, as mentioned above consistency in key for loyal followers. Once you get a number of followers they will get used to expecting your blog on a certain day at a certain time and may even ‘make time’ to read it once a new post is published.
Importantly with blogging, you get ‘more than one bite of the cherry’, as the saying goes. Most blog content is ‘ever green’. This means it can be read and very much of use, weeks, months, even years after publication. Once published, it doesn’t mean that is it…no one will ever see it after that day! …unlike a tweet! It has a much longer lifespan and you can tell people it is there over and over again.
I truly believe in ‘COPE’ – Create once, promote everywhere’. So with a blog post, don’t just publish, make sure you tell people about its publication on social media. This can be a few hours later (or even days later), capturing your target audience online at different times of day. You can also promote not only new posts but old posts. If you send out an email newsletter, tell people about your blog post there. Recommend your blog posts in comments and discussions.
When you consider this, the time of day you actually publish a post does become rather irrelevant…and hence, certainly not a barrier to starting a blog!
Want to start blogging?
I have now written 13 hurdles to blogging posts…trying to help people overcome the barriers they may face. See my summary of the first 10 here.