Survey: 3 crucial questions can help forge great blogging habits

The results reveal prominent writers’ and marketers’ secrets to success. Frequency matters, as does length—as long as you’re providing useful information and not just meeting a word count.

What separates successful bloggers from those who flounder?

It comes down to three habits:

  • They invest time.
  • They write high-quality posts.
  • They do so consistently.

That’s according to a survey of 1,377 bloggers conducted by Orbit Media. Certainly, there’s an art and science to attracting and building an audience, but grit and determination also play a key role. The Orbit survey provides useful benchmarks for unlocking a winning blog formula. Here are a few takeaways:

1. How long does it take to write a blog post?

How long does it take to write a blog post

The average time spent composing a blog post in 2017 was three hours and 20 minutes. That’s up by four minutes from the previous year, but the trendline points to greater investments of time.

For example, 39 percent of bloggers spent more time on a routine post than they did in 2014, and some are spending significantly more time:

  • Seventeen percent of bloggers say they spend three to four hours on a blog post.
  • Fifteen percent of bloggers say they spend four to six hours on a blog post.
  • Twelve percent of bloggers say they spend more than six hours on a blog post.

How much time you spend on a post may vary, depending on topic familiarity and deadlines. However, there is a correlation between the time invested in blogging and the results earned. As Orbit writes: “Forty-nine percent of bloggers who spend more than six hours on each article report ‘strong results’ from blogging.”

Successful bloggers invest significant time in their trade.

2. How long should a blog post be?

How long should a blog post be

The average post today is 1,142 words, but it’s clear that blog posts are getting longer. Orbit’s survey revealed that posts today are 41 percent longer than the typical 2014 post. The number of bloggers writing shorter posts (from 500 to 1,000 words) is down, and the number of those writing posts with more than 1,000 words continues to rise.

The study is careful to point out that longer posts are not always better. However, there is an unmistakable relationship between the length of blog posts and results: “Bloggers who write big posts are twice as likely to report strong results.”

Does that mean every post should be longform? Not necessarily. Blog posts should be as long as is required to communicate an idea effectively. If you’re just filling a page with fluff to hit a word count, you’re wasting everyone’s time.

However, if it takes 1,000 or more words to thoroughly examine a topic that is useful, educational and relevant to your target audience, then you’re on your way to successful blogging.

It’s about quality, not word quantity.

3. How often should you publish posts?

How often should blogs publish posts

Most bloggers publish somewhere between a few posts a week and several posts a month. The survey found the following:

  • Three percent publish posts daily.
  • Eighteen published two to six posts per week.
  • Twenty-two percent publish weekly.
  • Twenty-three percent publish several posts per month.
  • Thirteen percent publish monthly.
  • Sixteen percent publish irregularly.

The data also showed a relationship between posting frequency and results. As Orbit Media stated: “Bloggers who publish more often are far more likely to get results.”

Generally, publishing several times a month is good, weekly is better, and daily is best. There are exceptions, but the more useful content you crank out, the more likely it is you can hook and maintain an audience. Here are four more reasons to consider frequent blogging:

  • Writing blogs is like exercise: You get better and stronger with frequent workouts.
  • Writing blogs at a steady clip forces you to develop skills and improve your process.
  • Writing more blogs means more chances of a post catching on and resonating.
  • Writing blogs consistency shapes audience anticipation and expectations.

Advanced habits of successful bloggers

The three habits above are the foundations of a successful blog, but the study also references more advanced tips:

  • Successful bloggers use multimedia. Using stunning images, graphics and video is essential. Text-only content just doesn’t cut it anymore. However, multimedia assets must be optimized and sized properly. If your files load slowly, or if they do anything to disturb user experience, then it’s all for naught.
  • Successful bloggers use analytics. More than 80 percent of bloggers check analytics frequently. About one-third “always” check analytics. As the study says: “Bloggers who measure results get better results.”
  • Successful bloggers update older blog posts. The study found: “Bloggers who update older content are 74 percent more likely to report strong results.”

What the study did not mention is that updating older content can be tedious. To ease the process, try using the Search Console (by Google) and analytics to find your strongest material.

The Search Console shows you how Google views and indexes your site. Look at crawl errors and content with backlinks to develop a short list of posts worth updating. With analytics, filter results by year and look for posts that are still pulling traffic.

The real secret isn’t just polishing old content; it’s finding and updating posts that have stood the test of time.

A version of this post first appeared on Sword and the Script.

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