Blogging: Quality vs. Quantity

The challenge:

Have you ever scrolled through what seemed like a million blogs before you managed to come up with one that seemed worth reading? Have your various feeds been bombarded with numerous posts so that you have wondered if you needed to “unfollow” or “unfriend” someone while the whole time being aware of an uncomfortable feeling that you might be missing out on a few good posts by removing the blogger completely from your feed?

There are bloggers who post too much. We simply don’t feel like seeing them again. And there are bloggers who post too little. They get buried  in the avalanche of the prolific post-ers.

It’s not the blogger’s fault. My limited experience with blogging has revealed an inherent contradiction embedded in the very genre of the blog .

The blogger’s dilemma:

The dilemma for us is this: A blogger needs to keep producing blog posts at periodic intervals while also maintaining quality.

  • If the quality falls below a certain level, readers will inevitably lose interest. While they may not “unfollow” the blog itself, they will simply stop clicking on the titles, put off by the mere garrulity of the blogs, full of just words and nothing much to say.
  • If the blogger decides to post infrequently aiming for high quality, s/he may soon realize that in the blogosphere, absence does not make the heart grow fonder although over-familiarity might breed contempt.
The challenges of the blog form:

Since blogging as a genre does not allow for much in-depth analysis simply because blogs need to remain fairly short, they need to be frequent enough to become  a household voice to the reader. Blogs tend to tickle the thought process of the reader periodically, leaving the rest to the imagination, sometimes pointing to longer works by the author where there is more in-depth treatment.

Besides, the content in focus in a blog is not constant. Even the super-good post gets pushed down as new posts come up because of  the chronological setup. Putting all your good ideas in a single blog might ensure that people forget about it in a week when new posts come up.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. They will  simply not hatch in a blog.

At the same time, a blog post has to be  complete, coherent and engaging in itself without depending on what came before or what will come after. Therefore, although it’s similar in some ways to serial publications, it cannot hope to succeed based on suspence value. It is a finished product unlike serialized work (unless you are specifically using the medium of the blog to serialize a longer work).

Yet, a blog is similar to serialized work in that the average quality of the posts matter more  than the sporadic excellent one. Therefore maintaining consistent quality is important. Being a quirky genius does not help much.

It is possible to produce quality material at frequent intervals but unless you have an exceptional gift, this will mean that all your other writing activities will suffer if you channel all your creative energy into the blog. For while we writers can write an enormous number of grammatically coherent sentences if we’re made to, we all have a limit to how much quality work we can produce in a day or a week. If we have chosen to become full-time bloggers it might still be possible to keep producing good work several times a day but that kind of productivity will burn anyone out soon.

Dealing with the challenge:

So how can we deal with this issue of producing blogs at regular intervals while maintaining a minimum level of quality below which we swear, at the time of starting a blog, that we will not fall?

Weekly goals help.

Weekly goals are important not only because they ensure that a certain amount of writing is produced at intervals but also, for the blog addicts, they ensure that we’re not overdoing the posts so that it’s becoming a time-suck for us and putting off our readers with too many posts. It’s a temptation, to blog too much, because it provides instant gratification unlike other forms of writing but we can temper this desire if we’re careful.

However, just coming up with a number that we can handle (say two posts a week or 5 posts a week) is not enough.

Defining our goals:

We might need to ask ourselves the following questions to define our goals a bit more clearly:

  • What kind of blogs will I publish each week? Two fun posts and one serious? One informational post and one memoir-style? This will depend on what my blog is about and who my audience is of course.
  • How many words will I devote to the blog per week so that it doesn’t become a huge drain on my other activities and yet keep me writing?
  • Will all my blogs be in-depth treatments of subject matter or will they  remain short and sweet or will I combine these types producing a certain number of longer blogs a month out of the total so that I can continue to do both yet publish frequently?
  • How much effort will I devote to my blogs per week in addition to writing them such as working on pictures and multimedia or even research? The answer would depend on what the blog means to me and what my end goal is.
  • Am I blogging to become a full-time blogger? Am I blogging to create a platform ultimately for some longer creative work? Am I blogging as a supplement to some larger, ongoing, complex project? Am I blogging to instruct or using the blog just as a journal?

I know that some of us will respond to this last question and say, “Oh, but I thought my blog was the only space where I didn’t have to think about goals or audience. I just put my thoughts in here as they come.”

I’d agree completely with this use of the blog. But I’d also suppose that such blogs would be kept completely private to maximize private expression.

The blogger as writer:

The moment we make a blog public, we admit to the desire of it being read by someone other than ourselves and then we become aware of a context (and maybe a certain amount of responsibility towards the person who is taking out time to click on our title)!

So that we *have* to worry about quality.

I think practicing writing by blogging, a goal of many bloggers who write “as it comes,” also develops our sense of looking at our world with a more critical eye.

Being simultaneously aware of more than one objective (catering to an audience, being aware of a context and having some end goals in mind in addition to the free-flow of creative spirit ) can only help, not hinder our writing process.

So what is your big challenge while blogging and how do you deal with it?

131 thoughts on “Blogging: Quality vs. Quantity”

  1. Great post. Well, imho, some bloggers or at least me, just trying to write some words of mind I guess, err basically for ourself. If someone else stop by, it would be a bonus hehe. Hopefully they have a trade off with their time invested to read my words.

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  2. UGh. Agreed agreed agreed. Such is the burden of trying to Postaday. I want my entries to be fun and entertaining, and I know full well that not all my stories will be fun. I have to keep telling myself that the writing practice comes first, but that writing quality has to be a -very- close second. I don’t want others to have to slog through tales that were obviously phoned in. You hit the nail right on the head, sir.

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  3. I love this post! I have left it open on my desk for several days trying to make it through without interruption. I see a lot of my weaknesses in here and feel validated in my strengths, too~ Thanks for capturing the simple concepts of such a complex topic.

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  4. First, thanks for “liking” my post on The Flowered Cow today. Second, thanks for this great post about blogging. I’m new to it and realized a few days into it, that after putting this off so long, I needed two blogs instead of one in order to keep the focus I was after. I’ve published an e-newsletter for about three years now and folks kept telling me I should have a blog. So I started the first blog, Good Golly Miss Molly, to publish general news, thoughts, ideas, book recommends, and the occasional rant. But I also write and teach creative writing, and I wanted a place to focus on that, hence The Flowered Cow. The questions of how much is enough and how much is too much and how much is not enough are important questions. It’s great to read not only your post, but also the thoughtful comments. I guess we’re all learning to use the new media responsibly while having some fun with it, too.

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  5. Great post! I think the question of audience, or perhaps what one wants to give the audience, is a big one – even for those starting out. A blog can certainly evolve as one does it (and as one sees what garners “likes”) but I think there’s an initial impulse that broadly falls into either being a public person or a public thinker. A public person blogs life details, such as a celebrity or someone struggling with cancer; a public thinker wants to explain or discuss a thing outside themselves, from pop culture to woodworking. Some public thinkers masquerade as public persons — stories of daily life that have a point about human nature, for example — and public persons will certainly post rants and raves about a cause dear to the heart. And no one is above a pet picture. It’s a fuzzy line but that’s where I see it.

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  6. “So what is your big challenge while blogging and how do you deal with it?”

    Superb blog, as always. Thank you for the insights and great material to ponder before I post my next piece of prose.

    Before embarking upon writing for my work-in-progress, I like to get the juices flowing by accessing other blogs, such as your fine post. Reading other fellow writers, as I sip my fifth cup o’ joe, allows my creative side to wake up. Once I read a selection of blogs, I’ll compose a few emails, just to jump-start the writing process itself.

    It is then that I delve into my own writing, my own compositions, wholly immersed in my craft without distraction. But there never–ever–seems to be enough time in the day to write as much as one would like to. The usual obstacles appear; chores, cleaning, shopping, family (although I’m quite certain that my lovely wife would not want to be labeled an obstacle.)

    It’s nice to balance my personal writing with sharing a blog now and then, as by composing a blog that at least constitutes a semblance of writing for the day, if perchance my WIP muse has remained incommunicado.

    Thanks again for the wonderful post, and it’s a pleasure following your blog and reading your words.
    Take care,
    Paul

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  7. Thanks for stopping by to read my poetry. I have struggled with this subject since I started my blog (which has changed in focus – hmmm – I think three times since I started!). My goal is to publish a poem every week. This is fine and even helps me keep writing when I don’t feel like it. Sometimes I’ve resorted to re-posting poems to keep up the flow and even that seems to help with my commitment. Recently, I had a bad month – a lot of personal things that made me not want to write. But – here I am back again because of the commitment I made to myself. Thanks again for the great article and here’s to all of us – keep writing!!

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  8. Great post! And like one of your commentators , I too feel like it was written for me! Last week, I posted every single day and I suddenly realised that some were almost pointless and meaningless. So I took a break trying to figure out exactly what my blooging goals should be. This post was bang-on, resonated with some of my thoughts.

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  9. Its a lie to say we write for ourselves solely. If that was the case, why not keep a private journal. I have a paperback journal. But, there is a difference in blogging to blog for the fun of it and blogging for an audience. I believe in blogging because you feel you have something important to say- not a grand audience, but to that one lonely person somewhere in the world that NEEDS to read what you wrote. I recently made my blog public just for that reason. I believe somewhere out in the world someone is feeling and going through what I am …and they need to know they are not alone. The only thing that gets me mad with blogging is sometimes my posts show up when searching for tags, and sometimes they dont. When i post a really meaningful good entry, of course thats when it doesnt show up.

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  10. Once again I am reading my thoughts in someone else’s blog. Seems like a lot of us are in the same place right now. I was trying for much more in the beginning, but I’ve decided for once a week. One reason is that I am enjoying reading several blogs–one of them being yours–and am learning a lot by doing that each day. Thanks for all the thought you put into this entry. Will read it several more times to soak up your wisdom!

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  11. This is such a great post and it is indeed very true: there needs to be a good balance between quantity and quality! Great advise too 🙂
    Also, absolutely love the ‘bottled worder’ thing, it’s what grabbed me to come see your blog and I’m really enjoying it thus far 🙂

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  12. After reading this post, I’m honored that you ran across my blog and even “liked” it! I started writing my blog to allow the world to catch a small view of a custom harvester and I think it’s become more than that to me. It’s a great way to write, which I thoroughly have a passion for doing – especially when something good comes to mind. Thanks again for stopping by! Hope to see you again!!

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  13. I started blogging for one reason and it’s evolved. I don’t think many new faces drop by, but it’s a great way to keep myself accountable and communicate with other writers. Thanks for stopping by my blog, btw 🙂 You’ve got some great content here.

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  14. writing is about letting go, so many people at so many levels write to free themselves of conventional wisdom, peeling away the accumulated layers, with the hope that they may find their voice. I tried having more blogs but always found myself back at tocksin, some of us are destine for one horse shows

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  15. Great post. My challenge is consistency. I began the blog to have a space to be honest, to hopefully reach out to others who live a crazy balancing act of a life. The tricky part is the fact that mine is a crazy, balancing act of a life, 🙂

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  16. When I started my blog, I posted four days a week, and I wrote my posts two weeks in advance. It became clear to me that I would not be able to keep up this pace and discipline. I am not a fast writer, and in addition to writing for the blog, I write music, and I’m working on a book. It became too much – probably for the reader(s) as well.

    I appreciate your thoughts. This was a post definitely worth reading. Thank you for stopping by my blog.

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  17. Great article! I find it really tough to reconcile the whole quantity and quality. I want to post enough so that people always have something to keep them interested, but do not want to annoy them with constant posts! Its definitely a struggle 🙂

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  18. This post was great for me – made me suddenly stop worrying about trying to post daily, and I realized that the blog writers I’m most likely to read whenever they post, are those who don’t do so as often. Lots of good points. Personally, I blog to change the world. 🙂

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  19. Thanks for helping me solidify some of these quandaries. I post once a week and I do aim for quality. I notice the people who blog several times a week often post weak, almost pointless posts. I always wanted to stay away from that. However, I am looking to do what you suggested…one day a week will be my big post, and another day could be my less serious post.

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  20. This has been a great thought-provoking ‘blog’ and made me wonder why I/we blog, and how often, for what effect? I think I blog to express visual and literary ideas to a global market, with the intent to learn from others with the same interests and experiences. How often you blog has so many variables, but if you’re not out there, you won’t be heard. Personally, what I gain is a bonus.

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  21. Hi Bottled – Thank you for liking some of my poetry. I started (just!) my blog because I have a fertile brain but a lazy one. I want to practice writing and I hope the blog and it’s potential for feedback will provide some inspiration.
    It’s also a good litmus test for which writing / what style/form/content will succeed.
    Your post was interesting, good food for thought especially for a newbie.
    ROS

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  22. Hello! Thank you for dropping by my blog and liking my posts! Really liked this article. For me my blog serves the purpose of practicing my writing skills, sharing my thoughts and just recently putting up little art pieces of mine. What I get from your article though is that like anything that we do…it’s got to have balance…something that I am learning to do.

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  23. I found this really interesting, as in the time I’ve been blogging – four months – I feel it’s taken up much more of my life and time than I’d intended, or really want. It’s pushing other things out of my life, and actually changing my life. Which I’m not sure that I want. The writing is the easy part, it’s the housework that comes with the blogging, that takes the time… does one lose one’s readers by omitting the regular and constant housework, or do they stick with you if they enjoy your blog?
    It’s not an experiment one wants to make, having patiently built up a little circle of faithful readers…And answering comments is of course an integral part of some blogs – like mine – so blogging is a conversation as well as a writing assignment…..still looking for a balance…

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    1. Yes, I’ve found some good advice in some of the blogs that have been successfully around for a long time. Many of them have helpful advice about time management. I’ve been dealing with some of these issues too since I’m new. . .

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  24. What a great post; I love your insight!

    Let’s see, my biggest challenge as a blogger is… hm.. Knowing when to post. Because my posts are based around a work of fiction, and I would like to keep it in order chronologically for my readers, if I am lacking inspiration for the series, I have little to write about.

    Mostly my posts come from feeling excited about a passage or something of the sort, but I have no real schedule. It’s definitely something I need to consider doing so I don’t bombard people’s feed or fall of the internet completely when I’m in a slump.

    Like I said, great post! You made a lot of really great points. 🙂

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  25. My business partner and I have a professional blog for our company, and I have a professional website/blog in addition to my “for fun” blog (thereby violating the opinion of the blog post you link to in the above comment). The goal of the company blog is archival — it’s good to get readers immediately, but we also want the posts to be information sources that we can point clients (and prospective clients) to later. So quality trumps quantity (we aim for once a month), and the posts tend to have a long shelf life.

    The posts on the personal (fun) blog have shorter shelf lives, which is too bad, because I still write with “posterity” in mind. That also means my posts are sometimes too long, which is a separate, but related, issue. I post when I can, and I’ve definitely noticed that long dry spells without a post hurt readership. I suspect the main thing that limits my readership is that my blog has a fairly loose theme: sometimes book reviews, sometimes folklore posts, sometimes just ramblings. But I know I have a few regular readers, and I just trust that eventually other like-minded people will find the blog, too. Naive, perhaps…

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    1. Thanks for sharing your experience. I think such variety of subject matter justifies the use of multiple blogs. At the same time it must be difficult to produce so many different *kinds* of writing simultaneously. I admire you.

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  26. Good analysis, you captured the dilemma all right. Ever thought about titles? Supposedly for SEO you need descriptive titles, but long titles don’t look good on the blogroll, and I prefer something short and punchy. I spent a few days researching SEO and I still don’t get it, mostly because it got too technical and I got bored. Plenty of spammers wanting to SEO for me though.

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  27. This is a very good post. I’m going to have to save it so I can come back and read it again later. For me as a writer, it’s knowing my audience. I dabble in so many different genres that I have a hard time focusing my attention on just one thing. I know that if I could just make a decision I could better focus my writing and my blogging, but until that day comes I’m left floundering.

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  28. I started blogging daily and a month in felt under pressure to deliver. I was refusing or cutting short social events because I needed to get home to blog! Blogging for me is an opportunity to explore the creative process and make myself question what I think. It is my least lazy piece of writing. I found tremendous relief in committing to a weekly post rather than daily. It means going for quality every time.

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  29. I’m a blogger who blogs daily. I’m sure my daily posts annoy some people, but my experience has been if I don’t write daily my skills suffer. Sure. Sometimes I write a post that’s weaker than other posts, but I’m sure that even F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway had their off days. I write for myself. If people choose not to read daily, that’s their prerogative. I do keep audience in mind, but sometimes I just do what I want because I have that freedom.

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  30. I’ve certainly bombed in a number of the areas mentioned: too many things in one. And with my “neuroses,” I’d think I’d just add another tag for that extra thing…and create something that causes people to unfollow and unlike – well “too much,” and that horrid sense of humor that surfaces sometimes. I end up distracting myself!

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  31. Great blog. It’s made me think about my woeful attention to my own blog. I try to post as often as possible, but as I almost always post stories (flash fiction) there isn’t always one finished enough to publish. I think a mix of the fiction and pieces about writing would increase my blog output enough to create more interest. That’s what I’m going to try anyway.

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  32. This was good and written with the right balance between information and your own opinion of the blogosphere. Keep them coming, but not too many at once. Quality has its place, as you said.

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  33. I started my original blog, a food blog, because of a specific issue, which was wheat intolerance. I used to post every day for that blog, now I have it down to about 2x a week.
    About a month ago I started a second blog because I needed an outlet for just writing stories. On this blog I post every day but mostly because of a monthly challenge I am in for the month of Sept.
    In the end I will probably post on the food blog every other day or so and then on my writing blog the other days. As for writing too much I suppose that depends on the reader. How much is too much for them? Only they can decide. If I didn’t enjoy reading certain blogs every day then I would not be following them. Same for my readers I expect. It’s all up to the individual.

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  34. The goal is serial publication of a long historical fantasy, a chapter a week. So far, so good. However, I ran into one of the dilemmas you describe: absence promotes invisibility. So while the primary post, the story, goes up on Friday. I also put up a secondary post on Monday or Tuesday on some topic related to the story. As it turns out, this is good not just for the blog, but for me, because it gives me the chance to air out my thoughts on subjects connected to my writing. And we all know how much writing about something is different from just thinking about it!

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  35. Excellent post – I try to post something everyday- sometimes something as short as a quote I like–sometimes a haiku–and sometimes a full blown column that I write for the newspaper. I try to stay consistent in the quality of my work, but that is something to be judged by my readers. I do not use my blog as a journal, though some of the things I write are similar to a memoir.
    I do not generally read angst-ridden blogs, but I do like some of the more personal blogs – when I read a blog I judge by the topic and how it is being handled whether I stay with it. I try not to unfollow unless I really can no longer abide by most of what the blogger says.
    I enjoy you blog–you are thoughtful and entertaining.

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  36. Great post! Definitely makes me consider how I’ve approached my blogging so far. I’ve only been doing it for about a month, with the focus of the blog following my process of publishing one of my books on the Kindle. So basically my output has been directly related to when I’ve done something worth noting (like creating cover art), or when I reach a milestone (like copyrighting my final manuscript). Usually that amounts to 2-3 blog entries a week.

    I do have some concern that once my book is published, I will run out of fresh content to post on a routine basis. But maybe that just means the focus of my blog will shift to other new areas 😀

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  37. I am very new at this, but the idea of goals or objectives is important. Thanks for your thoughts on this. I wrote down goals when I started the blog a month ago. My two main goals are having the discipline to write regularly, and creating raw material and a platform for a larger work. The discipline part is working very well. Best tactic I’ve found for getting myself to put hands to keyboard every day (though I don’t post everyday – way too much, in my mind). However, creating a platform seems kind of distracting for me – checkinging out other blogs, commenting, researching audience outreach methods, etc. is fun and interesting, but there are only so many hours in the day. Hence, I’m not doing the research and organizing and reflecting I need to do to actually begin the larger work that’s supposed to stand on this mythical platform! So I guess if it were just a matter of coming up w/ ideas & writing the blog, it would be great. It’s the potential obsession w/ messing about online that’s my challenge. Discipline and focus are not my forte. Thanks, as always, for a thoughtful post.
    Melanie

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  38. Thanks for the tips, I am still getting used to blogging (and writing for that matter) but i like the idea of a weekly target. I currenlty blog from the point of view of my three year old, lots of fun but not exactly right for banging on about life topics such as politics, global warming or just having a general rant, do you think it is worth having two (or more) seperate blogs? or just to blog in one place,

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      1. Hi, thanks for that, yes one view but links to many more via the comments and feedback. I think, for now I will just use ‘pages’ to seperate my sons blog from the less rational rambling of his dad, thanks again for the help

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