So, I am making my New Year resolutions again, and one that I keep adding in is to blog smarter – blog better. It’s a great goal I’m sure you’ll agree, but where do we start?
What is the best practice? What works and what doesn’t work? If only someone published some useful stats that we could use? Oh, hang on…
Well, wouldn’t you know it, Orbit Media Studios have published their 2018 survey of blogging statistics and trends – how helpful is that? (Check out the link for the full research).
So here are eight actionable insights based on this latest research to make your blogging more effective in 2019.
1. Length of blog – longer is better…probably
One of the commonest questions I am asked about blogging is ‘How long should my post be?’ Some years ago, my answer would have been “long enough”. By which I meant it should be long enough to cover the essentials of your topic, but not too long that you start to bore people.
Today, we have the benefits of analytics, surveys and statistics so we can be more scientific about it. For some time, we have seen a trend to longer form content with the average post length rising from just over 800 words in 2014 to around 1,150 in 2018.
Orbit’s survey looked at the percentage of bloggers who reported strong results by word count – the results seem to indicate that the longer the post, the better the reported results, with no particular length being optimum – just the longer the better.
While we do know there is a clear trend to longer 1000+ word posts from other surveys and statistics, these bare figures don’t take into account audiences, subject matter and other important factors that might vary in your world. Very long technical articles may get good results when selling complex services, equipment or software that require plenty of user education and explanation but might not fare quite so well with simpler products or services.
So use the ‘longer is better’ rule as a guideline only and check your own analytics to see the effect writing longer posts has on your result.
2. Blog as often as possible
Probably the second most common question is ‘How often should we blog?’ On average the majority of bloggers are posting between 2-6 posts a week and several per month.
However, looking at the stats from the survey we see that there is a clear correlation between frequency of posts and strong results, with the best results coming from those that post ‘more than daily’.
So the more posts you can produce, the better your results are likely to be. Just be aware that quality always trumps quantity when it comes to blogging, so it’s always better to post fewer good quality, well-researched, targeted posts than a whole bunch of quick, lazy, shallow posts.
Bloggers who publish weekly or more are nearly 2.5x more likely to report strong results than bloggers who publish an hour or less.
3. Time spent on blog – the longer the better
There are clear indications from the survey that bloggers are spending a lot more time on their posts than they used to.
The numbers spending up to two hours per post have decreased significantly and the numbers spending more than two hours have increased. In fact, 36% are now spending between three and six hours and a further 13% spending six hours or over on a single post. That’s a quite significant investment of time – especially if you are looking at publishing once a day.
With a big content creation team these upper limits may be achievable, but for most marketing teams time will be the biggest constraint on blogging frequency and creation time. The key is to create useful, quality, relevant content – but the more efficiently you can do that the better.
It would be easy to recommend you spend up to six hours on a post, but in real life that’s probably going to be a major challenge, so let’s look at it another way – if you are spending less than two hours on a post you are probably not going to get the best results.
And just to make you feel better, the percentage of bloggers who reported good results by time invested remains constant for most lengths of time, until you reach six hours plus – when it increases dramatically.
Bloggers who spend six or more hours per post are 56% more likely to report strong results than those who don’t.
4. Check your analytics always
One of the clearest lessons from the research is that checking your analytics is crucial to success. Remarkably, around 6% of bloggers have no access to analytics and nearly 13% don’t know whether their blog delivers value or not.
Of course, just measuring a blog’s performance won’t improve it – it’s what you do with the information you collect that makes the difference. Take time to analyse the data and learn the lessons about what works and what doesn’t.
Bloggers who always measure the performance of their content are twice as likely to report strong results.
5. Update old posts
Our own results on this blog have shown us that updating old posts pays dividends and is a very efficient way of creating new posts from old material.
Surprisingly. 62% of bloggers who responded in the survey stated that updating old content was not part of their strategy, despite some clear evidence that this is a valid strategy.
Bloggers who do have a strategy of updating older content are twice as likely to report strong results.
6. The least common tactics are the most effective
This actually leads into an interesting discovery – that the least common blogging tactics are actually the most effective. So, although only a small proportion of bloggers update old content – it’s a very effective tactic.
Likewise, only 19% of bloggers used paid services to promote their posts, and only 20% of bloggers are using influencer outreach but both are surprisingly effective.
Bloggers who do influencer outreach are 87% more likely to report strong results. Bloggers who use paid promotion are 67% more likely to report strong results.
7. Undertake and publish original research
Another tactic that few bloggers use (25%) is that of conducting original research and publishing the results and analysis as a blog post or series of posts.
Original research is always a powerful draw and although this is probably well-known, it can be costly in time and money to undertake.
Bloggers who conduct original research are nearly three times more likely to report strong results than those who don’t.
8. Use uncommon content
Finally, let’s look at content type. Again, the least common types of content included in a blog are the ones that produce the strongest results.
So only 19% of blog posts include a video and a minuscule 4% include audio, and yet they are the two best media to include for good results with audio somewhat surprisingly beating video for the top spot.
So, if your resolution is to be a better blogger in 2019, these eight insights should be your guiding principles.