Does Your Publishing Schedule Match Your Readers Habits

In old days newspapers and magazine figured out there where optimal times for publishing certain types of stories, example Tuesday was traditionally “Science Times Tuesday”. As old world publishers transitioned to online publishers those rules probably don’t apply anymore and just might be working against them.
In the interest of disclosure I feel it’s important to say I have had travel clients in the past in still do some work in the travel sector today. That’s one of the reasons I have a scan feed folder set up for travel news, which is what led to this post. As long as I can remember one of the key features of the New York Times was the Friday “weekender” and “travel” sections, which where packed with things to do and places to go. Some newspapers operated slightly differently having the travel section on Sunday, but the prevailing logic was travel was part of the “weekend” section in newspaper world. This mentality continues to this day, as you can see in the graphs below which show publishing volume via RSS for the New York Times travel section:

nyt-travel-may

nyt-day-of-the-week

The vast majority of the stories published under this feed are published on Saturday. I’d estimate about 75%-80%, and I wonder if they aren’t doing themselves a disservice sticking to this antiquated rule of Weekend = Travel. I’ve seen thousands of analytics profiles over the years, and I can only recall a handfull who as a rule had higher than average traffic on the weekend as a typical behavior. Most sites are busy during the week (and working hours) and have traffic patterns that look similar to the one shown below.

5302009_94856-am

Truth be told exceptional content will make it’s way to the top even if it’s published on a holiday weekend on a saturday night at 2 AM, but let’s be honest even the best of writers can turn out mostly good, some excellent, and a few exceptional posts per month, and fighting with the calender and your readers habits isn’t helping you, so when you publish that post is important. Here are my tips for making the calendar work for you and not against you:

  • Develop an editorial calendar – it makes sure you don’t miss things and minimizes the day to day pressure of “I have to blog today and have nothing to write about” .
  • Avoid conflicting with conferences and big news stories – Unless you are writing about the conference or news event, don’t compete with it for attention, wait for it to be over, and don’t let people steal your thunder.
  • Don’t publish when no one is reading – unless you are trying to fly under the radar and avoid detection, publish when people are more likely to read not when they aren’t.
  • It’s a Global Web not a Local One – Where are the majority of your followers based, schedule your publishing times to accommodate the majority of them, but don’t neglect the others.

photo credit: ptL2007

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