I recently read a post by a blogger who mentioned he had posts ready for publication and scheduled on his blog for several months ahead. The comments to this statement were mostly appreciative but is that really such a good idea? Should you really schedule WordPress posts?
I can see the appeal. After all, content plans are important. An organized blogger makes a plan and follows through. Writing and scheduling posts in advance, he now has the time to work on site promotion without worrying about content. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
There are pros and cons to writing your posts in advance and using WordPress to schedule publication. It’s a great feature to have but one that can be overused to the point of becoming counterproductive. Let me explain.
The benefits of writing posts in advance
Writing your posts in advance and setting them to publish on certain dates certainly has its advantages.
1. Generate content at regular intervals
Consistent posting in regular intervals is good for a blog. Your audience learns to expect a certain frequency of updates be it a daily, weekly or monthly installments. Providing that helps establish your blog as a dependable presence in their online lives.
Preparing your content in advance can help you provide that level of consistency. It won’t matter if you’re busy working on another project, have to travel or if you’re experiencing a temporary writers’ block. Your content is there and gets published on the day, according to your content plan.
2. Take a break from writing and focus on other projects
Some people like to work in “batches” that last several days or weeks. They dedicate one week for writing, filling up their post schedule for the coming weeks. Then they can take a break from writing and focus on design, promotion or writing their e-course. The blog still keeps on churning new content.
3. Go on vacation!
This is my favorite reason for using scheduled posts! If you’re away for several days or weeks that does not mean your blog should suffer. Schedule posts can keep your readers engaged while you’re away, sipping cocktails on the beach.
(Wait, isn’t that what all bloggers do all day anyway while their blogs keep making them money? No? Whew, so it’s not just me working here).
4. Just relax.
Writing can be stressful. If you blog, you probably enjoy writing but if you have to write on a deadline, the pressure can make it less fun. If you’re a prolific writer, you can prepare several posts in advance and always have something ready for the days the muse fail you.
The drawbacks of writing posts in advance
Writing posts in advance isn’t a bad thing in itself but it does have its drawbacks.
1. Content can get stale
This really depends on the topic of your post and on your niche. If you write about SEO, your content needs to be fresh and up-to-date. If you schedule a post for one month from today, you could have a Google update two weeks later which affect the accuracy of your post.
Sure, this can happen even if you post as soon as you write. Your post can become less relevant two weeks later. However, your readers assess your content based on its publication date. It’s not ok to post information that’s old and irrelevant to begin with.
In other niches, content may be more evergreen. You should still watch out for things like links which may change between the time you wrote the post and the date of publication.
2. You’re not around to promote each post
Once you post, you should promote that post. Sure, some of that can be automated but a hands-on approach is often more effective. Even if you auto-tweet, you should be around to reply and interact with your followers once the post is published.
When you schedule posts for future publication, it becomes much easier to forget about promoting each and every post.
3. Your content’s just lying there, doing nothing
I think this is the most important argument against scheduling posts for future publication.
You’ve already gathered your information and crafted your post. It’s there, all tingling and ready go get out into the world. Why let it wait?
It could be doing something today: Helping a reader, making a sale, getting linked to by other bloggers. If you wait, you’re missing out on something that could happen today, and possibly only today.
In a previous post I used the fishing lines analogy. It’s appropriate here too. You have your fishing rod ready and your bait is wriggling at the end of your hook (poor worm…) Why not throw it in the water? The longer you wait, the more fish pass you by and swim away never to return.
Finding your balance
I’m not saying you should not schedule WordPress posts. I think it’s a powerful tool that should be used in moderation. You shouldn’t let it take over your blog and you shouldn’t become a hoarder of unpublished posts.
I think it’s up to every blogger to find the right balance for his/her blog. It could mean scheduling posts for two months ahead, or it could mean never scheduling anything. It depends on your niche and your own work style.
I used to have content lined up for up to a month in advance but now I try to avoid scheduling posts for more than one week ahead. For me, this is a good balance between not getting stuck with zero updates and hoarding unpublished posts.
I know I’m going to use scheduled posts a lot more next summer. We have a big road trip planned and when that happens, I won’t be around to blog. That’s when WordPress’ ability to schedule posts in advance will become most useful.
How about you?
Do you schedule WordPress posts at all? How far ahead do you usually schedule your posts? I’d love to hear from you in a comment!