There’s a lot to be said about doing the same thing every day at the same time. Or, if daily updates aren’t your thing, every week. Or every couple of days. Whatever your schedule allows for, make sure you keep it consistent.
In an ideal world, my schedule would allow for a weekly video, and weekly blog posts across my various sites. When I do manage to stick to my schedule, one thing remains the same: I use different platforms for different types of content (consistently), and I upload/publish content at the same time in the day.
Keeping your upload time consistent has been shown to improve audience interaction and development. When readers and viewers know when they’ll hear from you, they’re more likely to go looking for a new blog post or video. YouTube, Blogger and WordPress all allow for scheduled posting for when you’ll be away from the computer. Even Twitter and Facebook pages allow for posts to be scheduled (though it’s been recommended to limit the use of these features for general posts). There are obvious pros to this sort of scheduling.
1. You can write several blog posts in advance of a busy week and have them upload whenever you’re away. This is an old trick done by YouTubers and Bloggers when they head to events: prepare material for future use, to schedule an upload while they’re on-stage at an event talking about how they keep to consistent and busy upload schedules.
2. You can post something at a time that best suits your audience, even if you shouldn’t be at a computer. My branding posts, for instance, are scheduled to publish at lunch time, while I’m on my way to the canteen in work for a cup of tea. I don’t need to be at the computer (nor am I capable of being at one during the day aside from my work duties.) Similarly, if you’re audience is largely in another time zone, then you’ll find it better to post while they’re awake – even if you’re not.
3. You don’t have to worry about accidentally missing a publishing deadline for something you already have written or edited. Too often I’ve been called away at the last minute while writing a blog post or editing a video. Sometimes, I’m literally called away. Other times, I need to run an errand. Or respond to a query online. Or, simply, I’ve been sitting at my laptop for hours and need a break. Scheduling updates the day before, for whenever you want your readers or viewers to see it, means you don’t need to be sitting there waiting for the clock to tick over to hit publish. You’re also less likely to suffer a Murphy’s-Law-tragedy with a sudden Internet outage just as you’re about to put something public. (Been there – it’s not fun!)
There are, of course, cons to scheduling. Most importantly, you’re not necessarily going to be present to respond to comments, which can drive engagement down. This is why, by and large, scheduling posts for social media is considered a faux pas. I once gave it a shot, and while the tweets I sent did gather some traction, my inability to respond to replies meant there were no conversations started. If you choose to schedule something on social media, be sure you’ll be able to respond hastily to anything someone might say to you.
Posting, of course, is just one thing. Consistency in timing should take another matter into account: responding to emails or messages. Aside from responding to comments on scheduled posts, you should aim to respond to some messages online quickly. If you’re an avid Facebook user, you’ll notice that some Pages have a button to indicate that they respond quickly. That’s the target for page administrators, to drive down the amount of time it takes to respond, on average, to a message to the page. Other emails should otherwise be responded to only at certain times in the day, when you aren’t about to start a day’s work, for example.
How do you fit all of this in? This is the beauty of staying consistent in your online timing: if you use scheduling features, you can work on something a week in advance and not have to worry about it then. Once, while preparing for a holiday (or possibly an exam season…) I wrote up and scheduled a few blog posts to go live while I was too busy to write anything. The end result was an attended to audience, no missed opportunities to stick to my schedule, and an enjoyable (or, in the case of the exams, painful but less stressful) holiday.
My advice for building a publishing schedule is to start small, and build up from there. One post a week. Or two. Then update it for longer-term online content creation. Put in an hour a day, and it becomes easier to keep a schedule, to make it consistent, and to build an audience out of it. Most importantly, make sure everyone knows when you’re posting, and where, and be sure to shout about it on social media once it goes live. Your statistics will thank you.
Tomorrow, we’ll deal with face-to-face networking, which can be a challenge for Internet natives (and I’m saying that from personal experience.)