I’ll tell you now, you can ignore all of those articles that tell you when you should publish a blog post, send an email, or publish a tweet.
There is no best time to do any of those things.
That’s false thinking for a number of reasons:
- The articles are usually based on a single case study of one company, usually themselves. “We saw a 40% increase in open rates by sending our email newsletter at 8:37 am on the third Tuesday of every month.”
- It doesn’t take into account the quality of the content. Great content gets read, shitty gets ignored. You could scientifically determine the exact pinpoint moment to publish your post, but if it sucks, no one will read it.
- Even if this actually did work, it’s a floating target. If an article says Monday mornings are the best time to send e-newsletters, everyone will start sending theirs on Monday mornings, which will drive down everyone’s willingness to read them. Then someone will find they have good luck on Wednesday nights, which will drive everyone to send theirs on Wednesday nights.
The best time to send email newsletters is whatever works for you. The best time to post Twitter messages is whenever you feel like it. The best time to blog is any time.
But the big secret is to make it interesting, valuable, and well-written. Without that, no one will care.
Blogs are like DVRs
A blog post is not like live television. You don’t schedule a blog post because everyone is going to flock to it at that exact moment. A blog post is more like the show you DVRed. Better yet, it’s more like Netflix.
You record a show so you can watch it later. I’ve got DVRed shows that are 5 months old (last episode of 30 Rock anyone?), and I only watch them when I have time. I’ve got even older shows on Netflix. They’re there when I need them, and I can happily discover new ones.
While a lot of your blog traffic is going to come from that immediate discovery when you promote your posts via social media, don’t forget the search engine traffic and the readers who clicked on a “similar post” link at the bottom of your page. I’ve got several blog posts that get more traffic weeks after the publication date than I got on the day I hit “Publish.”
For example, one of my more popular blog posts, What Malcolm Gladwell REALLY Said About The 10,000 Hour Rule only received 79 views the first day I published it. As of today, it’s been viewed 24,694 times, but it was published on March 15, 2012 at 9:00 am.
So either 9:00 am is an absolutely terrible time to publish a post, or the thing really started picking up steam three months later when it hit the top 5 on Google for “10,000 hour rule.”
I think it’s the latter. I wrote something that managed to get some decent attention, and it wasn’t because of the time of day, or the day of the week, or whether I was wearing a big yellow hat. The time of day had nothing to do with the success of the blog post. It was the subject matter and the quality of the writing.
The myth of the ideal publishing time is just that: a myth. It’s either always changing, only works for a few people, or does not consider the context and quality. You need to pay attention to whether your content is well-written, well-produced, and is interesting to your readers. If it’s not, nothing else is going to save you.
Special hat tip to Scott Stratten and Alison Kramer’s Unmarketing Podcast for the idea.