Dec 03, 2009

Blog Early and Often

My blogging mantra has always been:

blog early and often.

Most commonly, it's the "often" component of this equation that generates the most discussion and debate.  For example, a recent Portfolio story on lawyer blogs pointed out that:

[...] many are finding that feeding the blog beast with fresh content is a legal challenge unto itself. Lawyers and blog specialists say the best legal blogs generate at least several posts per week.

While it's important to blog often, particularly when getting a blog off the ground, timing is equally, if not more important than frequency.  In other words, you don't need to blog often so much as you need to blog early.

First to press:  One component of blogging early involves reacting quickly to a big news story, getting a post up on breaking news or a recently issued decision before other bloggers come on the scene.  When you post about a new development early, you make your blog indispensable to readers; a go to source of up to date information.  In addition, an early post on a topic ensures that other bloggers or media sources will link to or comment on your blog, therefore giving you more exposure.  A couple of rules about posting early, however. 

First, if there's a hot news story or just-issued judicial decision, don't just throw out a link with a single line like "read this!" or "breaking news!"  To make your post valuable, you must offer some original insight or prediction, even if it's based on a quick first impression.  You can always update the post or write a follow up as events emerge.  Second, you don't need to be first to press with every single news item, or you run the risk of converting your blog into a news feed rather than a source of analysis and conversation.  If you enjoy providing rapid feed on new developments, share your blurbs on Twitter, which offers a  better platform for short form writing than a blog.

Early in the morning:   When I say that you should blog early, I also mean it literally, as in early in the morning.   Many heavy blog readers like newspaper reporters (who can give you more exposure) or other lawyers (who can generate referrals) tend to scroll through their news feeders first thing in the morning in search of fodder for their own blog posts and stories.  If you can get your posts up early in the morning, they're more likely to be read when fresh.  By contrast, if you post on a time-sensitive topic later in the day, by the time your post comes up on an aggregator, it may be yesterday's news.

Early in the week:  Posting early in the week is important for two reasons.  First, (and though the evidence is hardly scientific), based on my experience at several different blogs, readership is generally highest on Mondays or Tuesdays.  A  survey of various design blogs reached a similar conclusion, though Thursdays were a close second.  Tuesday is also the most popular activity day for Twitter, which can also be a source of traffic to your blog if you tweet links to your posts.   Statistics aside, there's a second reason to post early in the week: it will allow more time for conversation to brew throughout the week which will also generate more traffic.

Early adapter:  Finally, if you're just starting a blog, you gain a tremendous advantage if you can establish yourself as first to market on a particular topic.  Indeed, many of the earliest blogs, like Howard Bashman's appellate law blog,  How Appealing continue to dominate not just because of quality but also a strong first mover advantage that helps keep competitors at bay.  Even though blogging is more common than five years ago, there's still plenty of room for lawyers to establish a blog on a  topic that's not yet been covered and benefit from a first mover advantage from that  particular niche.

In short, I can't emphasize this point often enough:  blog early!

Here is another post on this topic (from last year) from Blog for Profit.