Hitting the Reset Button

August 22nd, 2011 | Shonali Burke | 81 Comments

hitting the reset buttonGood morning and happy Monday (or good evening or good night and here’s to a great Tuesday for you, depending on where you are as you read this).

You may not have noticed, but for the last couple of weeks, Waxing UnLyrical has not been publishing over the weekend.

The three main reasons for this are:

1. While I love blogging, the blog community, social media, etc., more and more I’ve been feeling the need to decompress and stay offline as much as possible during the weekend (just as I’ve been trying to do on vacation). Now, when it comes to blogging, you could certainly tell me that I can schedule posts ahead of time and do just that.

That is true. But then, if the weekend posts got comments (which they didn’t always, but sometimes they would), I’d feel terribly conflicted as I had to choose between replying to those comments immediately and doing boring offline married people stuff with my husband (not to mention paying a little more attention to my dogs).

2. Recently, while looking at Waxing UnLyrical’s analytics, I found that over the last year, visits to the blog have increased dramatically. But pages per visit and the average time on the site have fallen; not dramatically, but enough to make me sit up and go, “Eh? They’re not liking what they’re seeing here enough to stick around for a while?”

3 . A few weeks ago, I got an email from one of my readers asking me to take her unsubscribe her from the email subscription list. Why? She likes the blog, but was doing a general cleaning up and there was “too much” coming over the transom from WUL.

Ouch.

Quality and consistency

I know we have this “quantity v. quality” debate over and over again. Most recently, Erica Allison talked about it. For me, it’s not so much “quantity” as “quality and consistency,” because all said and done, there is comfort in consistency, both from the publisher’s point of view as well as that of the reader.

In publishing a post every day (whether it’s written by me or by a guest blogger), I’ve been aiming for consistency. But quality is really really important to me too. I’d like to think that the quality of WUL posts is consistently good-to-very-good, with occasional excellence.

And I’ve been learning that I can’t sustain that (because even when I don’t write the posts, I do edit them) if I publish over the weekend as well. Because I would feel pressure to publish something, anything, just to get it out. And that is the surest sign – to me, at least – that I’m giving in to quantity instead of quality.

So while I want to continue to build blog readership to WUL as much as I did before, a couple of weeks ago I decided to hit the “reset” button on WUL and stop publishing over the weekend. My goal is to maintain consistency by publishing one post Monday through Friday, and hopefully they will be good ones.

While it’s too soon to draw any definitive conclusions, I’ve noticed that visits are still coming in over the weekend, posts published during the week still get comments (assuming they’re good) and I’m a little less stressed.

Hitting the reset button has, so far at least, been a good thing, as far as I can tell (please tell me if I’m wrong and you’re desperate for the weekend posts, because then I’ll bring them back!).

Given that WUL is slightly over two and a half years old (who woulda thunk it?!), I imagine this is something I’ll do periodically. I imagine you will too, if you’re a blogging grasshopper like me.

And it’s a good thing, because if we kept doing the same things, over and over and over again, without stopping to evaluate them and see how they were working, I don’t think we’d get anywhere. Whether it’s in our personal lives, work, or blogging.

Repetition without evaluation leads to stagnation.

What do you think: good move/bad move? And what about you? What have your experiences been in hitting the reset button? Did you learn something new? Find a new lease on life?

Do share, you know the comment section is yours.

Image: cosmocatalano via Flickr, CC 2.0

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Shonali Burke
Head honcho of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke is President & CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. Based in the Washington, D.C., area, she loves helping for- and non-profit clients, both small and large, turn corporate codswallop into community cool™. She also loves ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
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Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke

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79 comments
ThomHolland
ThomHolland

I would consider this "testing" a hypothesis.

Quantity is typically a good thing at first because it helps you build a solid index in the search engines. However, once you've reached a certain level, other strategies become more effective.

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

Reset, just like measuring and tracking, has to be done (and we all need a break at times). Gotta go w/ what works and change what isn't. I'm another one who doesn't subscribe to the 'must post daily' edict; think if you produce quality posts with a decent structured frequency, readers will come, enjoy, comment, RT, maybe share a few posts at parties. :) FWIW.

SushilPandit
SushilPandit

i read your article & you have given some resin on " UnLyrical has not been publishing over the weekend".

i hope soon i will see it . i would say really you have wrote wonderful article which helped me same times . i hope to get some more article . Thanks publish great article .

John@ Forex Trading System
John@ Forex Trading System

Have you ever thought about writing an ebook or guest authoring on other blogs? I have a blog centered on the same subjects you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my viewers would value your work. If you're even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an email.

http://www.forextradingsystemtool.com

bdorman264
bdorman264

Hey, being a not pay attention to most things important kind of guy I might not be the guy to ask. I'm going to stop by because it's your site so you can call it anything you want to. What I do have a difficulty in doing is coming by every day, so whereas I take the chance of missing that really great post, I just have to pot luck it at times.

I know it would be selfish on my part, but I don't mind being mentioned in a comment especially if you think it's a post that will resonate. I try to stay organized but sometimes it doesn't work so well. And like you, I am limiting my weekend activities quite a bit.

Probably no right way or wrong way, but you still have a life to live, huh?

Al Smith
Al Smith

More power to you, Shonali. I say, whatever works for you. And to me, it's working.

Al

Marcus_Sheridan
Marcus_Sheridan

Such an interesting conversation Shonali-- this idea of 'what is too much'?

Here is the thing about blogging 7 days a week: To me, that almost feels 'over-committal'. Kinda like dating a girl/guy you really like but they want to spend 24/7 with you, and because you're not allowed room to breath, it becomes too much.

You mentioned your time on site has gone down. Could that have something to do with Livefyre? I say this because livefyre leads to people jumping back on your site to leave a comment/reply, and then jumping off quickly again. Thus, the 'time on site' and 'page views per visit' are significantly less.

For me, I write two days a week. I've got plenty of reasons, but I've never wanted to feel like there was a gun to my head with writing. Plus, my posts get to simmer, which my readers have come to understand. This means many quality comments day 2 and 3.

Just my thoughts though. This is one of those subjects that is completely debateable.

Thanks so much,

Marcus

FrankDickinson
FrankDickinson

This says it all for me:

"Repetition without evaluation leads to stagnation."

You have evaluated and discovered a different path - one that is effective and allows you a certain, needed, freedom.

You have avioded stagnation.

barryrsilver
barryrsilver

S,

WUL does come in over the transom a lot. Sometimes I have to just let it pile up and then sweep it out, unlooked at, because that's what my week(s) has been like. Anyone that unsubscribes because WUL comes in too often merely needs to be comfortable with their own priorities. Taking Sat and Sun off and unplugged is a good idea. The blog is supposed to work for you, not the other way around. Makes it easier for those of us falling behind, too. BTW, if you're unplugged on the weekend, why not auto response a comment about getting back in detail during the week? Allows you to live up to responding but lets you be with family.

marianne.worley
marianne.worley

Publishing less may also increase commenting activity. As a reader, I find that it's difficult to join every conversation when new content is posted 7 days a week. Like @MattLaCasse I often use the weekends to catch up on blog post reading, and it's much easier to do this when the flow of new posts is on pause.

TheJackB
TheJackB

If it impacts quality of life and hurts your relationships than don't do it. My philosophy with blogging is different than most. I don't do this for traffic, accolades or fame. Sure, I am lucky because all of these things happen naturally.

It is a burden sometimes, the thousands of fan emails, publishers banging on my door begging me to write a book for them, brands showering me with free products. I even had one of my blog groupies touch my blog in a most suggestive manner- it is really embarrassing when they get a rise of out your 'e' key.

To me it boils down to fun. If it isn't fun than it is too much work and I just don't do it.

Latest blog post: Trust Me

ryanknapp
ryanknapp

Once a year I hit the complete reset button and delete all of my RSS feeds (minus ones I monitor from work), unsubscribe from everything and start from zero. This lets me find new, fresh ideas and perspectives.

One comment: I see everyone talk about 'balance' but IMO it's not balance, it's really what works for you. Balance implies there actually is one side which weighs the same as the other. Let's face it, our lives are completely unbalanced, but if we find the point in which our unbalanced lives work for us, we have found what we are looking for.

Latest blog post: #runfordad - a recap

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@bdorman264 I know it's tough to get here every day and I absolutely don't hold that against anyone! I don't even get to all the sites I want to every day. And I don't think it's selfish at all to being open to being mentioned in a comment... that's why I love @livefyre so much, and I use the "mention" feature sparingly, when I think the person(s) I'm tagging will be interested in the conversation.

And YES to living life! Btw - I *did* do #mybootcamp today. It was so great!

Latest blog post: Are You Really My Friend?

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@Marcus_Sheridan I love that dating analogy. I suspect we all have tales to tell along those lines. :p

That's a very interesting point about Livefyre, Marcus. Hmm... maybe, though I don't know. @ginidietrich @KenMueller have you noticed a correlation between Livefyre and time on site? I do know that the comment count has increased significantly, and I'm very happy about that.

Marcus, you write KILLER posts. And you know I mean that in a good way. I literally have to stop and take a deep breath as I read through your posts, to absorb what I've read so far, and then carry on.

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@FrankDickinson Thank you! You know, I do feel much better having "said" that. Even writing this post made me feel much freer.

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@barryrsilver Did you feel the big bear hug I just gave you? Thank you!

I love the auto response idea - you mean for the blog, right? How would I set that up? Or do you mean for email?

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@marianne.worley That's a really good point about commenting; I've seen that my comment activity has definitely decreased, and I don't like that. One of the reasons for this is that I've been getting up early to exercise/work out, and that used to be the time I'd get online. But I've also been focused on getting my posts written/edited, which means I focus less on the commenting. And I don't like that, because it makes me feel selfish. People take so much time to come here and comment, I want to reciprocate. So the last few days, I've been trying to do more of that, until I get back into a "good" pattern... even if it's 2/3 comments a day.@MattLaCasse

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@TheJackB Well, hello there, Guy Noir. :p (re: "traffic, accolades & fame").

I think you're right about the fun bit. When it stops being fun, and starts being drudgery, that's when I have to do some serious reevaluating. Fortunately I'm not there yet.

KDillabough
KDillabough

@ryanknapp Oh my gosh, Ryan, you are a man after my own heart! @Shonali knows how much I do not believe in "balance", and I always speak in terms of ebb and flow, up and down...a perpetual state of adjustment and micro-adjustments (that's my kinesiology background speaking:)

I love the idea of starting from scratch periodically and I'm going to do just that, once a year. Thanks for the suggestion!

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@ryanknapp I've never had the guts to completely delete my RSS feeds, but maybe I should work on that in a few months. I do periodically go through them and unsubscribe from some that just don't work for me any more... like you said to @mdbarber , it's not because they're not good, they just deliver what I'm looking for at that point in time.

I really like your point about finding what works for you as opposed to balance... I suspect @KDillabough will too!

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

@Shonali I'm a little guilty of the crap, a silly iPad app post today just to have something .. and that's only posting twice a week. (Next week is a holiday, so I'll probably cheat and do only one post.) I know what you mean, the set schedule has forced me to write more, great for discipline and yet I do wonder as I review the drafts, what's really worth a read, what should I be writing instead.

bdorman264
bdorman264

@Shonali@livefyre You writing did seem nice, tight, and trim today; I thought you must have done something...........:)

barryrsilver
barryrsilver

@Shonali Okay maybe that hug shouldn't be quite so tight. I proposed something I know nothing about. I did mean an auto response for the blog. I figured there are 40 bazillion ways to auto follow auto find and auto respond on Twitter, there should be at least one bounce back mechanism for a blog. Off to the search engine, I'll let you know what I find.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@Shonali The people make it fun and when they don't I defenestrate them. Kind of an aggressive response, but I blame it on my Chicago roots.

Latest blog post: Trust Me

ryanknapp
ryanknapp

@mdbarber No need to feel guilty. People's habits change. The first blogs/websites I read on social media are no longer relevant for me, but that doesn't mean they are not relevant for others.

In fact, I love to find completely new topics to follow as it broadens my horizons.

Latest blog post: #runfordad - a recap

barryrsilver
barryrsilver

@Shonali@3HatsComm Hitting the Reset Button, Taking Tomorrow Off, Commenting fiend. One of these things is not like the other. I realize your commitment to reading and commenting on blogs is way beyond work but honor your down time as you honor your plugged in time. Not that you need another mother, I'm just sayin'

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

@Shonali I miss SO many posts, Reader is always 'marked as read' - I am out here, I do read a lot but just can't get to everything.

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@3HatsComm Confession: I saw your headline in my Reader, starred the post, and then haven't gotten to ANY of them yet. I'm taking tomorrow off, though, so might be a commenting fiend then, LOL.

Latest blog post: #MyBootcamp Update: Month One

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@KenMueller That's a very good point. Except that I do have a good reason to explore your site... to see what you've done with it, tips on making mine better etc. But I absolutely agree that the other kind of visitors are the ones who will likely result in business. Yet another great tip, Ken - thank you!@Marcus_Sheridan @ginidietrich

Latest blog post: Are You Really My Friend?

KenMueller
KenMueller

@Shonali@Marcus_Sheridan@ginidietrich I think bounce rate is overrated and deceptive. Why? I have two main audiences. There are those of you who are in the same field as I am. You come and read my blog regularly, but have no real reason to explore my site. You aren't going to hire me. Then there are the small business owners who come to me via search engines. THAT is the bounce rate you want to check. Search traffic vs. blog link traffic. I care more about the search traffic because they are more likely to be actual prospective customers.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@Shonali I like piffle. If I may be so bold I'll share a link to a post I wrote about vocabulary. Actually it is more of a list of words, but there are some good ones in it.

Latest blog post: The Naked Truth

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