Blog Hygiene

A friend I’ve known since college has a very strict bedtime preparation routine that he’s followed for many years to help him manage his chronic insomnia. He calls these rituals “sleep hygiene” — hygiene in the sense of consistent practices conducive to health.

“Blog hygiene” is never going to catch on as a social media meme — though heaven knows I’ve tried — but the metaphor is still useful. A few simple blog maintenance measures practiced consistently can make the difference between hosting a vibrant hub of ideas, or a dark and lonely terminus.

The basic components are simple:

  1. A regular rhythm of posts. Daily, twice daily (a.m./p.m), weekdays only — more is not better if it impacts the quality of the content or interferes with higher priorities.
  2. An editorial calendar. Unless you are a professional blogger or community manager whose job it is to ride the “trending topic” wave, focusing on real-time, same-day turnaround posts is too onerous and disruptive. That’s what Twitter is good for. Planning a week’s or a month’s worth of blog post topics, plotting them into an editorial calendar and maintaining that lead time keeps you focused and ensures you have solid, thought-through anchors. You can always add impromptu topics interstitially.
  3. An inventory of completed posts. Time is a tyrant if you’re continually writing for a deadline, or missing one because you don’t have anything in the hopper. Make sure you have three or four “anchor” posts from your editorial calendar queued up at all times. That way if you’re traveling, ill or just too busy to write, you don’t get in the weeds.
  4. Keyword performance monitoring. SEO hygiene warrants its own full discussion, but for the purposes of this post suffice it to say that regular checkups on your keyword performance, then adding, deleting and modifying accordingly, helps keep your SEO humming in the background while you focus on content development.
  5. Brevity. Confining your posts to a few key ideas makes them easier to write and easier to read. If you have a complex topic, or a lot to say on the subject, break it into a series.

Healthy blogs are happy blogs.

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