How Often Should I Publish Content? The Considerations of Publishing Frequency

“How often should I publish content?” It’s a question every brand, content marketer, and blogger wants the answer to. Publishing frequency is an inexact science—and despite blog posts that claim otherwise, it’s incredibly difficult to come up with the magic number of quality content pieces you should publish. It’s even harder to know when to publish them, and how this all relates to your bottom-line ROI. That’s why we created this post: to help you navigate what the market says you should do and understand how much you can actually afford to publish.

Publishing Frequency: What the Market Says You Should Do

There’s no shortage of blog posts, whitepapers, and ebooks that make claims about how often you should publish content and at what times. Here, we distilled the research so you don’t have to.

The big-picture view of publishing frequency: publishing content regularly and consistently generally leads to an increase in traffic and leads. It’s just a matter of how much. One thing is certain: publishing content every day is no longer the norm. A piece from SmartBlogger recommends that bloggers publish more sparingly, and plan and promote more than they publish. A first-hand account from CoSchedule found that publishing twice a week instead of three times a week on their blog resulted in more traffic and social shares. (The piece argues that brands should conduct their own studies to find the optimal number; however, their findings show that less is more.)

On the other hand, in a massive study, Hubspot found publishing more generally increased traffic. B2B brands that publish more than 16 blog posts per month receive 3.5 times the amount of traffic as companies that publish only four posts or less per month. They found similar results for B2C brands: those that publish more than 16 blog posts per month enjoy 4.5 times the amount of traffic as those that upload 0–4 posts.

Hubspot also found that publishing frequency is directly correlated to the size of the company:

  • Companies with 1–10 employees and 11–25 employees saw the highest return on leads when they blogged more than 10 times per month, or approximately two to three times per week.
  • When they published more than 11 blog posts per month, they generated almost twice as many leads as companies that published 6–10 blog posts per month.
  • Elsewhere, companies with more than 200 employees generated the most leads when publishing six or more posts per month.
  • The companies that published six or more monthly posts generated nearly twice as many leads as those that published less than six.

That’s a lot of information, but it’s not all that helpful. Every organization is different, so determining publishing frequency will depend on your company. That said, it’s good to have some industry-established sources as a reference when debating with your colleagues. You could take a stab in the dark to decide between publishing more or less. Or you could rely on some hard numbers, like your own budget and resources.

Publishing Frequency: What Your Budget Says You Should Do

The economics of publishing frequency is absent in many of the studies cited above, but there’s no greater tool to help you understand how often you should publish content than your own content marketing budget. If the budget and the resources are not there to create quality content, then you need to reevaluate working with your available resources.

In short, your budget is crucial in determining your publishing frequency, and this includes both hard and implicit costs. Hard costs vary by form, size, scope, etc. and can include:

  • Staff: This includes both full-time and freelance employees. You must determine each staff member’s rate for quality content production. For example, one full-time staff writer may be able to produce three shorter posts per day or maybe three long-form pieces a week. One part-time freelancer may be available to produce half as much (for a fraction of the price). For larger teams, calculate how many pieces of total output of content and divide by headcount and payroll. Simple, effective math—but make sure you account for things like editing, revising, and formatting, as well as sourcing images. You also want to consider other tasks they spend time on throughout the week unless 100% of their time is allocated to creating new content.
  • Licensed images fees: Visual content not produced by a photographer or a designer in-house is often bought. Unless it is a license-free resource, you will pay to use a service like Getty Images or Shutterstock to download images for a monthly fee.
  • Sponsored placement of content: This varies per channel, budget, and tools. There are tons of ways to promote content—those “Around the Web” posts from Outbrain and Taboola, Facebook ads, sponsored content on a trade publication, and more—and they all cost money.

In addition to these hard costs, there are other more implicit and internal costs to consider, including but not limited to:

  • Time spent: How much is time really worth? A lot. Whether it’s communications, strategy, or confirming a content objective, time spent on an action needs to be considered. In fact, it’s the most valuable consideration you make. (And spoiler—it’s present in every one of these implicit costs.)
  • Creation of internal documents: Though your audience won’t be able to see the behind-the-scenes documents, they are essential to keep your content machine running. Internal documents can include creative and publisher briefs, email chains, timetables, strategies, etc.—all of which keep your editorial calendar organized.
  • Editing content: Depending on how well the brief was expressed to a writer, the talent of the writer, and the scope of the piece, editing can take either a long time or not much time at all.
  • Formatting, proofreading, and publishing the work: Whether you are creating content for a blog, a newsletter, or a print magazine, formatting, and proofing the work for publication takes time.
  • Measuring and reporting the performance of content: This is another crucial consideration. Measuring and reporting the performance of content is necessary to track the successes and shortcomings of your strategy, creation, and distribution.

Of course, once you have numbers or resources associated with these hard and implicit costs, you’ll find what we’ve been saying all along: it’s actually very difficult to come up with a magical number that answers all of your publishing frequency prayers. The best bet is to find that number through trial and error, or better yet, work with a content marketing partner to help determine the correct publishing frequency for your brand.

Image Credit: Shutterstock/toeytoey

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