Pros and Cons of a regular schedule for a side-project blog

What I've learned after trying to keep up a video game/design blog on a regular schedule.

This is a repost from my personal blog.

For a long time I wanted to try and make it so posts on my personal blog would arrive on a regular schedule. At first I had very rare articles. Last year, though, I managed to post periodically (32 posts published in total), while this year, for the past month and a half, I published regularly 2 posts per week. Here’s what I learned and why I’m going to change the paradigm to publishing blogs without a schedule.

Let’s first start with context why I blog. I have a full-time Game Design job, so this is not a means to an end, and the blog is essentially a side project. My primary goal with it is more altruistic one could say – I want to share knowledge and promote conversation. However there’s also secondary more material goals – making myself more known in the gamedev and enthusiast community, with the possibility of maybe transforming that one day into revenue – let’s say ad money from blog views. Not meeting the secondary goals won’t stop me from blogging, but it would be a nice bonus – I am human after all with material wants as well.

With that explained, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of blogging on a regular schedule as a side-activity.

Better visit rate

The first thing I’ve noticed is that with regular schedule I have more visitors between the publishing day of each post (even considering that I post all the analytical posts on Gamasutra as well, where I presume they have a bigger audience most of which won’t enter my personal site). That makes sense – people seeing regular content are more likely to get back later themselves and also share posts with others.

Better online visibility
Not only are my posts shared more often online, I’ve seen more things like translations of my posts into different languages (predominantly Russian and Chinese) pop-up more when I posted regularly. These two pros certainly play a big part in moving forward towards that secondary goal that I’ve mentioned, if I keep up the pace.

It’s a good training for creating plans
Because of a schedule, what I need to do is to plan everything, not just a release date of each post, but things like which games to play in what order, how much time to allocate to write about a selected topic, what is the cutout point for playing a game or working on an article, etc. And I see it as very good exercise that can directly help in my primary work environment as well.

Quality can suffer sometimes

With a regular schedule, sometimes I don’t have enough time to properly write a post (since I need to be sure that I can upload it on time), or I don’t have enough time to play through a game. Both can lead to a decrease in post quality. I don’t think this or last year I’ve written any posts that are bad, but I certainly have some articles that I’m not entirely happy about. The one I’m dissatisfied the most is one of my latest ones: Video Games need to stop HAVING to be fun.

Because of the discussion gathered around the post in different online outlets in different languages, with people engaging in conversation on the topic, I think I wrote that article well enough. However, after posting it and looking at some of the discussion points I see things that I thought about but didn’t add, or things that I’ve missed that would come up if I didn’t hurry so much, or some points that I should’ve clarified more – which I would’ve noticed upon multiple rereadings of the piece before posting. The particular example I wrote in a week’s time, and I think it would’ve benefited a lot from more time spent. The fact that I consider this an important topic only adds to my dissatisfaction (even though I still think that the article is pretty good in the end).

Leisure time becomes harmful for the site
Because the blog is a side project, most of the time on it is spent outside of full-time working hours. With a regular schedule, though, this leads to free time becoming work time as well, and if I decide to relax, spend time with my fiancee without thinking about anything else, just watch a TV show or simply play a game that I’ve already played, that harms the schedule, which means that at a later day I need to work at a quicker pace to keep it up which leads to the point I’ve mentioned above. And as personal life for me is important above all else, especially outside of working hours, over time this lack of work starts to accumulate (just like it does on a regular job, I suppose)

I did try to alleviate this problem by first preparing a bunch of blog posts in advance before beginning a regular schedule, but this quickly ceases to become an advantage if I try to spend more than a week on a particular post.

Not enough time for other side projects
Outside of the blog itself, there are two things that I want to work on:
– YouTube videos based on my blog posts.
– A project I call ‘3, 2, 1, Continue’ which is a memorial for shutdown online-based games.
With the constant focus on the blog, I don’t have enough free time and energy left for the other two things that I really want to do and push.

In the end I’ve concluded that a regular blog schedule is needed only if a blog or website is your main activity. If it’s not, the benefits don’t outweigh the drawbacks. So now I’m just going to post whenever I feel like there’s an article ready to be published. I most likely won’t ever meet my secondary goals this way, but – I’ll be able to spend my free time the way I want without feeling guilty over anything, I’ll be able to focus on more side projects even if at a slower pace, and the quality of content will be higher, which ultimately is what I want to provide – high quality content that people will find useful and interesting to discuss.

And maybe the pros and cons mentioned above seem really obvious, but sometimes things aren’t so obvious unless you try it, and I hope this post is going to be insightful for people who are in a similar situation or consider to start blogging.

Thank you all for reading. Feel free to leave any comments below. If you’d like to keep an eye on my future blog posts, feel free to follow me on Twitter @farlander1991 :)

And if you’d like, consider supporting my work on Patreon! Thank you very much!


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