Lessons Learned After Running a 30-Day Blog Series
I’ve done series before and they did a lot better. I ran one on membership sites that did far better. I ran another on the future of blog monetization which led up to a product launch and that series absolutely crushed it. But, this most recent 30 day series didn’t crush it.
What follows is a little Monday morning quarterbacking. A little look in the rear-view mirror to see what went right and what went wrong.
See, I have just wrapped up the 30-day series on this blog: 30 Days, 30 Killer Wordpress Plug-ins. For 30 straight days, I featured one Wordpress plug-in per day.
This was something I had the idea for a couple months ago and was on my quarterly editorial calendar for this site. All 30 days were planned in advance and, for those 30 days, that’s all I did.
Now that its over, would I do it again? Well, let’s see…
The Benefits Of A Series
Running a related series of posts on your blog – especially when you pre-announce that it is going to happen – can be a very helpful thing for engaging existing readers as well as attracting new ones. It comes down to two human tendencies:
- People like consistency.
- People like to finish things they’ve started.
So, if you get them involved – AND you structure the series so that one post leads into the next, it can work. Better yet, learn to leave a cliff-hanger at the end of each part of the series getting them to anticipate what’s coming.
When you structure it right and back it up with some elements rigged to go viral on social media, you can get a nice traffic boost from it.
So, I Knocked It Out Of The Park, Right?
So, do I hold what I just did up as an example to follow? 🙂
Well, no, I don’t. For a few reasons.
I’ve done series before and they did a lot better. I ran one on membership sites that did far better. I ran another on the future of blog monetization which led up to a product launch and that series absolutely crushed it.
But, this most recent 30 day series didn’t crush it.
In fact, while I got a few nice little traffic spikes, on the average my traffic stayed roughly the same.
The chief benefit for me of the series was that it provided a ton of predictability for me in terms of content for this blog.
As I said, I had the whole thing outlined before the month even began. There was no questioning of what I should write. On Mondays, I would just sit down and jam out 7 blog posts for the upcoming week. Schedule them in advance and I was done.
Cool, right? Well…
High Volume Exposes System Constraints
Now, this is something I go into a lot more inside the core Academy training (Academy PRO membership required). But, I approach blogging and business as a system.
A system is a series of steps which are supposed to bring about a predictable result. Input goes in, certain things happen, and output comes out.
In my case, I had a system when it came to the creation and release of blog content. There are certain things I do internally before I publish, and there are certain things which come after we hit the Publish button.
At the usual posting frequency (which is once or twice a week, maybe), it works fine. But, once you throw extremely high volume through the system, it fell apart.
The system was (and is) too reliant on me. I am a constraint on the system. Why? Because, I only have so much throughput.
See, for any series to run well, most of your time should go into the promotion of it, not simply content creation. And, since all that promotion fell to me, I dropped the ball.
I mean, running the Academy isn’t the only thing I do. 🙂 Couple on that the fact that my wife and I were shopping for RVs over the course of several weekends during August – all while posts were going live on the blog – and I just didn’t have the time for it.
30 Days Is Too Damn Long
In retrospect, this series was almost designed to overrun my system (as it did). 30 days? On a daily basis?
But, the other thing is that 30 days at that kind of rate is way too long. There were several ideas and potential campaigns that came up during August that I had to delay and put on the back burner because my content channels were all clogged up with this 30 day series.
I’ll tell you one thing, any blogger who truly feels it is necessary to post every day in order to gain any traction – THINK AGAIN.
Most likely, you will just do what I just did and gain no traction at all. 🙂
Everything is a learning experience – and never think that those of us who have been doing this for awhile are immune. I’ve been in this business for a long time (longer than most, actually) and I still handled this thing wrong in retrospect.
The “trick” is to apply the lessons learned to make the system run better. To detect the constraints and re-design and re-organize the system so that the constraint is handled.
So, the first new rule: I will not run a daily 30-day series ever again. 🙂 It is just too damn long.
But, even more importantly…
The high volume through the system I had made the constraints easy to see. The constraint wasn’t on the content creation side of things… it was on the content promotion side of things.
So, a system re-design is in order – most likely involving the creation of a full social media promotional plan on each post which my virtual assistant can then go in and execute on my behalf. If that procedure had been in place for this series, then she would have been executing all of that for me. Whenever a pre-scheduled post went live, she would buckle down and execute the checklist.
Overall, I’m glad I ran the series. But, would I do it again?
No, not like that. It’ll look different next time. 🙂
Have you ever run a blog series on your blog? What happened for you?
A 30 day blog series sounds fun and all but I have one question concerning guest bloggers. Let’s say while you are in the middle of the 30 day series, a guest blogger wants to post on your blog. Do you interrupt your series to make it happen? Do you post more than one post that day? Or do you tell them they will have to wait? Great post by the way!
There is a lot of stuff I gained in that 30 days…it was pretty long but then, for me push came to shove. I am still working on the changes that are needed, it just may take more time than I thought.
Hi David. It was actually a great series and I read all of the articles. Three things on your exprerience:
1. In this blog post you don’t say anything about the benefit of affiliate earnings. Many of the links to plugins where affiliate links.
2. I would have guessed that you did not write a blog post every day during this series, instead you prepared most of them in advance and schedule them to be published. That tactic is basic for an experienced blogger.
3. Free basic membership is great, but the pages inside the academy are loading really slowly. Maybe you should consider doing something to speeding the academy up.
Hmmm… pages are loading up pretty snappy on this end. But, my integration with Office AutoPilot does mean that whenever their server acts a little wonky, so does mine. Unfortunately.
I loved the stories, read them every day. I signed in for all the free things you offer on your blog, signed in twice and never got any. Wrote you a mail about it, got no answer. So it seems your system is not working very well. You should pay some attention to it, because I was interested in buying your blogcourse, but I’m to busy to keep trying to get a member.
Hey David. Thanks for the frank introspective look at the series. I was curious to see how it would end up for you. From an end user’s perspective it was very beneficial for most people. I’m a WordPress ninja and I found a few nuggets in there that I wasn’t aware of. You might not have achieved traffic goals, but you did do some other things:
1) You further cemented your standing as an expert in blogging and WordPress
2) You provided “free” content that will result in future sales from prospective buyers
3) You’ve created content that will be linked to and provide SEO benefits for your site
I appreciate your efforts!
Great series! I’ve actually started a new wordpress site and wanted to use the bare minimum amount of plugins and found some true gems via your recommendations.
Interesting piece, David, thanks. I think kind of post makes for a good resource page post: a lead in post for more posts on the value of plugins, etc. I know Derek Halpern is big on Resource posts. How about you?
Also, perhaps one problem with posts on plugins is that plugins are confusing and baffle people as to why they should have them – probably why you created the series, right? But people who think this have generally had the problem of plugins crashing their site. This puts people off big time. Perhaps you could link this series to one on blog security. Or posts on Trouble-shooting.
Plus, committing to writing 7 posts in a day ready to go out in a series must be a tall order. Takes me a week or more just to write one post, including editing.
All in all, I think I’m going to find this post useful. I don’t have a blog yet, just an opt-in page. But when I do, plugins are going to be a big deal for me.
David, I just wanted to thank you for this 30 day blog series. It was definitly helpful for me and I read each of the posts. Trying out a few of the plugins is now on my todo list. Thanks!
Awesome. Thanks, Bernd. And, breakfast on me next time we’re in Vegas and both up early again. 😉
Just wanted to drop in and say THANK YOU for creating the excellent 30-day series. I owned about half of the plugins you highlighted, but the other half were new ones for me. Added a dozen new ones to my arsenal thanks to your great posts.
Thanks again – hope all is well, bud!
Hey dude, been awhile. Hope things are doing well for you. 🙂
And, thanks for the kind words.
Nice transparency David. And super good points about your constraints. That’s really important for growing a business. It’s good you were able to identify that now with this test to be able to plan for future capacity. I love how you’re always thinking about your output.
For what it’s worth man, I installed probably 7-8 of the plugins, especially the list building ones, but could have done without a lot of them as well. Overall I thought the series was really helpful, and it gave me a few ideas for content for Academy Success, including running a series for an upcoming launch. 😉
Thanks as always for the great info. You’re a rockstar my friend.
Thanks, dude. And, yeah, if you look back at a series of posts I did on this blog starting with talking about the future of blog monetization, you’ll see how I used it for a launch. It wasn’t my product… it was a product I promoted as an affiliate. But, the build-up of tension in that series worked like crazy.
Ironically, I didn’t start that series with a promotion in mind. It just kinda came up and the timing was perfect, so I re-arranged my plans slightly.
Thanks for publishing your results and the lessons learned. I really liked this article. Yes, the flow of daily posts were hard to keep up with but now I know I need to do a due diligence on my plugins. And yes, you were more than helpful.
Thanks, Suzanne. 🙂
David, what good lessons from the series, especially about marketing the individual posts. I couldn’t even get to read them all–had to file many! But now that you have the valuable (and helpful to your readers) content..you can remarket later!
Hell yeah! 🙂
David, I’d take a different view… If your aim was to get a boost in traffic, maybe you didn’t succeed, but in terms of delivering value to existing readers, or at least to me, it was great. I read most of the posts, and installed a few of the plugins which have made my life easier.
Thanks for running the series!
Thanks, James. Yeah, I’m definitely not looking at it as a negative. If done properly, any series should be an asset which can be used later or attract traffic later on. And, I believe I accomplished that.
I totally agree! I found a lot of value in it. And, have also incorporated some new plugins. I really appreciated a series that ran for 30 days. I felt that there was substance and I liked the idea of following a thread of content over time. That way I got a lot of useful information, but wasn’t overwhelmed with it all at once. I also like that you were able to go deeper than an average blog list. Cheers!