We work with a lot of different businesses.
One of the items that comes up fairly often is the concept of a timely post.
Maybe you’ve thought about doing it. Maybe you’ve done a few. Maybe you do a lot.
In our case we’ll usually hear something like:
“Let’s publish this post in August because people do this at the end of summer…”
You see it around the holidays. You see it around industry events. That kind of thing. The things that come around just once a year. And actually once a year is good for some timely posts.
Sometimes a post is about something in the news. By the time a post like that is published the news is on to the next item and the post is pretty irrelevant.
Maybe you’ve heard of evergreen content. It’s a term that’s been around for awhile. The basic idea is that evergreen content is content that’s meant to be relevant today, tomorrow and even decades from now.
There are questions your audience is asking that they have been asking for several years. They’re looking for an answer today. Similar people were looking for the same answer in the past. And new people will be looking for that answer in the future.
Let’s say you’re a psychologist. You have a private practice. You want to maintain a blog to attract new clients.
You can certainly write about the latest studies and news items. But throw in some evergreen content. Answer the question, “How do I figure out I want to do with my life?” or “Why am I sad all the time…” or “How do I find the right person to love?”.
Those questions are timeless. If you can write a great post that answers a question like that you have a chance to have a post that brings in eyeballs for years to come.
Writing a post on the news item of the month doesn’t stand a chance of doing that.
A Process For Brainstorming Topics
Coming up with ideas for blog posts is not easy in the long run. Usually what we see is a business will have a list of about 10-12 ideas for blog posts.
When you’re first starting out that feels like a lot. If you’re doing one a month that’s a year’s worth. Not too bad.
But eventually if you stick with it those topics run out. Then you have to come up with more. That’s where things can go sideways. You look at the news. You see what competitors are writing about. You start looking at what’s timely. You start chasing those trends and things that people seem to be talking about right now.
But that’s what we’re looking to avoid.
At GBW, we have a pretty good process for brainstorming topics. For ourselves and for clients we brainstorm topics every 1-2 months. We come up with about 10-12 ideas a time. And we really focus on the evergreen stuff. And as the idea list starts running low we do the process over again.
We do our best to try and think about what people would be interested in today and several years from now.
That may mean that a post may not do quite as well today, but over time in brings in more traffic. And we’ve found that some evergreen posts do better than timely posts even in the short run.
Rushing Blog Posts
Another little issue with timely blog posts is that we usually see companies rushing to get them out. When something is timely you want to get it out early enough so people can find it when they’re looking for it.
But when you rush a post you usually don’t do as well as you want. There isn’t time to set it aside for a minute and come back to it later and polish it. And usually even if you get a post out on the day it needs to be you still miss out.
Let’s say you’re writing a post for Halloween and you are able to publish it a few days ahead of time. Well, if you’re a retailer the odds are good that many customers have already bought their costumes and candy. They’re prepared. They’ve been reading evergreen content about Halloween for weeks already.
This is just something I see pretty often. You can certainly write about timely things, but don’t let it skew entirely that way. In fact, I would keep the timely stuff to a minimum. Maybe 5-10%. Even if you’re writing about holidays and annual things you’re limiting how relevant that post will be the rest of the year.
We have much better success writing about the things that have been interesting for years in the past, that are still relevant today and that will likely still be relevant in the future.
There are plenty of topics like that. Look for questions people are asking today that seem like people have been asking for a long time. Look for popular posts that were published several years ago. Those are topics that people will likely care about in the future.
Write the evergreen content. Set a regular schedule. Don’t worry so much about when a post is published. Evergreen content can be published on any day of the year. Because if you do a good job it will be relevant for a long, long time.