You have a blog, you create projects, and you write your posts. Seems simple enough, right? Depends. Angela from Big Bear’s Wife asks “When is the best time to post on my blog? Midnight, 6am, 9am, noon, in the afternoon, or whenever I’m done writing it?” It’s actually a common question among all types of bloggers, not just crafts, DIY and food. The answer isn’t as cut and dry as you might hope.
There are several factors involved that might help you answer this question, and the answer may be different for a newer blog as opposed to a more established blog. Let me explain:
Traffic Logs – First and Foremost
First let’s establish that you are using Google Analytics to track the visitors on your blog. If you aren’t, that needs to be something that you do right now. Google Analytics, while not the only traffic tracking program available, is the one most requested by brands, PR companies, and sponsors. It is said to be the most dependable traffic log out there and is considered the industry standard. In order to figure out when you should post, you first need to be able to establish when your traffic spikes occur and why.
New Blogs vs Established Blogs
A newer blog may not have a lot of followers yet, maybe they aren’t receiving a slew of search engine traffic, and their fan and subscriber base may just be in the beginning stages. A more established blog probably receives a lot of their traffic from referrals such as Stumble Upon, Facebook and Pinterest. Established blogs also benefit from loyal followings, a fan and subscriber base, and search engine results. These major differences can really help determine when the best time to post will be. This tends to be more critical for a new blog as opposed to an older more established blog as you need to reach as many as possible at peak times.
Determining Your Peak Time
Get to know Google Analytics, how to use it and how to find your traffic sources. The default page you will see when entering Analytics is the “Standard Reporting” tab which displays the “Visitors Overview” for the last 30 days. First let’s change that date range to one week’s worth of data. Click on the date range box and from the displayed calendar, choose one week. This will display that particular week in your graph. Now from the right hand side of your screen choose the box that says “Hourly”. Your graph will now display a number of spikes for the week. Hover your mouse over the high peaks to see what time of day your traffic is spiking.
Determining the Source(s)
Great! Now you’ve established that for the most part your blog traffic seems to blossom at 8:00 PM or 11:00 AM for example, or maybe a combination of the two. now it’s time to find out why. From the sidebar menu on the left, click on Traffic Sources, then choose Overview. Scroll down the page and you will see a pie graph that breaks out the type of traffic you receive and how much you receive from each one. Select Sources from the left sidebar and that will give you the option to view statistics from each area of that pie graph.
Let’s tackle the ugliest one first. The Direct Traffic category is pretty much a “miscellaneous” file for Analytics to dump things into when they can’t accurately determine where that traffic stemmed from. Some examples might be if someone followed your link from inside an eBook (PDF file) or maybe they just typed your url into their browser. There are several scenarios that can cause incoming traffic to fall into this annoying category. it’s annoying because other than providing you with a number, it’s analytically useless. If you would like to decrease that Direct Traffic number, google has a URL Builder tool that is explained here. However, if you are a new blogger I wouldn’t suggest diving that far in just yet!
If you have a piece of the pie graph in this category then hoorah! Even a small amount of search engine traffic will help you measure what people are looking for and will help you determine when they are looking.
This is usually the largest piece of the pie for a newer blogger, and often times it can be for an established blog as well! This will include any websites that are linked to you, including large sources of traffic such as Stumble Upon, Facebook, Pinterest and large feature blogs that have linked to your projects.
These are your feeds and any sites you have allowed to use your feed (Crowd Ignite is a good example).
Where are they going?
Finding out where your traffic comes from is the first step, finding out where they are actually going is the next. There’s an easy way to find out what pages your visitors are hitting. From the left sidebar choose Traffic Sources > Sources > Referrals. Scroll down the page and you will see a list of the top ten referring websites to your blog. There is a drop down menu directly above that list called Secondary Dimension. From that menu choose Traffic Sources > Landing Page. This will display the posts that are being viewed and by how many.
So when to post?
This really is going to be different for everyone. There isn’t a set time that’s perfect for posting, though it is commonly said that Tuesdays and Thursdays seem to be ideal posting days. Let’s go over why that might be. Imagine yourself on…
- Monday morning – rushing to get kids to school, or perhaps you are heading to work. You arrive and there’s a big stack of work in your inbox. You open your email and are overwhelmed by all of the weekend mail that has piled up. Click. Delete. Click. Delete. You get the picture.
- Tuesday – Monday is over. Thank goodness! You’re calmer, more settled in and take some extra time to peruse your favorite blogs. Cha ching!
- Wednesday - Ouch. You spent a bit too much time on blogs yesterday. Better get back to work.
- Thursday – All caught up from busting your hump on Wednesday, and hey, it’s almost the weekend! You deserve a break and some blog reading. Yay!
- Friday – Oh my gosh, my deadlines! I have to get this on the boss’ desk before 5:00, and the last thing I want is a bunch of emails waiting for me on Monday. Click. Delete. Rinse. Repeat.
- Saturday and Sunday - Family time, laundry, house cleaning, church, etc.
Get to Know Your Audience
Now that doesn’t mean that everyone should be posting on Tuesdays and Thursdays and ignoring all the other days of the week! That’s why it’s best to interact with people on Facebook and Twitter, watch your blog traffic, see when those time spikes are occurring. All of these things combined will help you determine when is best for your blog. If your visitors tend to respond more on Facebook at 6:00 PM than any other time, then you should definitely be posting your links to Facebook then! If you find that your Twitter followers respond more in the morning as opposed to the afternoon, then you should be sharing your links in the morning!
When to Push Publish
You can post to your blog any time that you want to. The link will always be there. The key is how you share it, how you market yourself. Share the link on your Facebook fan page, tweet it to your followers, and share it in link parties and any other acceptable networking circles you may belong to. Set your Feedburner delivery time and watch the stats for a couple of weeks. You can always change it later. The key here is that just because you post at noon, doesn’t mean you can’t save the link until 6:00 pm for Facebook, or 8:00 am the next day for Twitter.
The key factor is not when to hit publish, but getting to know your audience, where they come from, why and when they respond best. Your post will always be there, it’s up to you when you get the word out.
Oh, and in case anyone is wondering… I hit publish whenever I’m done writing. Doesn’t matter what day or time it is.