Personal Musings

“Publish Every Day.” How Does Seth Godin Do It?

The world’s most prolific blogger breaks all the rules in the book, every single day, and so should you

With more than 8,000 posts to his credit, Seth Godin is perhaps the most prolific blogger on the Internet. He’s more than that of course. Godin is the author of over 20 bestselling books, an entrepreneur, and marketing wizard.

His philosophy is dead simple. Not only should you write every day, you should publish every day. Some days he publishes twice a day.

I made a decision, one time, to write every day and so I don’t have to revisit that decision. I don’t post a blog post because I feel like it and I don’t post a blog post because it’s perfect. I post a blog post because it’s tomorrow. And that idea helps the work move forward.

Seth Godin, Interview: Behind the Brand

How He Does It

So how does the Internet’s most prolific blogger do it? I write everyday. But I don’t publish everyday. While trying to wrap my head around how Seth Godin manages this feat, I realized a few things.

Seth Godin Seemingly Ignores All the ‘Rules’ of Blogging and SEO

Common advice abounds on the Internet about what makes a blog post successful, how to get picked up by search engines by optimizing your on-site SEO, pull in new traffic through social media shares, and on and on and on. If you’re a blogger, you’ve read it all at some point in time.

Interestingly, Godin seems to ignore every bit of it. Is this his key to success?

I. Post length

I’d estimate the typical length of Godin’s posts to be between 75-350 words, with the average word count coming in at 200 words. According to the research, that gives you about a snowball’s chance in hell of getting picked up by Google. It’s not that you can’t write a post less than 1,000 words and get bumped to the front of the results, but the data is not on your side.

Common advice is to aim for 1,500-2,500 words with a focus on long-tail keywords. On my personal blog, my top performing posts all have one thing in common: they are 1,500+ words or more. In turn, Google has rewarded these posts with fairly consistent traffic over the years, even though a few were published ten years ago.

Does Godin care if he gets picked up by a search engine? At this point, he’s established. If you’re thinking, “If we could all be so lucky,” then you’re missing the point. Godin is relying on his ideas and writing and your word of mouth to push his blog in front of readers — not a search engine.

II. Descriptive titles

Visit Godin’s archive and you’ll see vague titles such as “Just looking,” “It goes without saying,” “Predictions,” and “Yesterday’s over.”

He rarely uses power words or numbers. His titles occasionally hit the recommended 60 character mark, but infrequently and inconsistently. Relevant keywords are non-existent. I typically have no idea what the post is going to be about judging by title alone, meaning: it’s not specific. As a good marketer, his titles are intriguing but nonetheless vague.

III. Use of images

If you read Seth Godin’s blog, you’re there for the text. And that’s what you’re going to get nine times out of ten. Relevant images, tagged properly including the alt tag, can generate more traffic to your blog by search engines. They also do better when shared on social media.

Godin doesn’t appear to waste any time at all searching for the perfect photo. He just doesn’t use one. Only the rare post gets a graphic of some sort — usually a chart or graph.

IV. Maximizing traffic by utilizing social media

This is one thing I love about Godin. He doesn’t use social media, at all. He’s stated time and again that when Twitter came along, he thought he could be pretty good at it. But if he got pretty good at Twitter, then he’d be stealing time from writing his blog, which he found was a better use of his time.

He does have a Twitter account his team uses to send out his new posts, but he doesn’t actually use it himself. And he’s stated he’s not against Twitter or social media, it’s just not for him. I’m the same way. I gave up all social media years ago. It hurts my blog’s traffic by not being able to promote my latest story. But I found social media to adversely affect my mental health so now it comes down to: did I write something worth sharing on social media? If I did, I hope a reader feels the same way. Whether they do or don’t is out of my control.

Cal Newport, another non-social media user and modern philosopher to boot, has an excellent article on this in reference to Godin: The Mona Lisa Doesn’t Tweet.

V. A defined niche

SEO experts aren’t wrong in stating you should have a defined niche when you blog. I can tell you from personal experience that I’d have higher, more quality traffic if I stuck to a specific niche. Audiences know exactly what to expect if you write about a specifically defined topic.

Me? I like the unexpected. I like many things. I never know what I’m going to write about from one day to the next — and that’s what I love about writing and blogging. It’s how my brain functions. I’m what is called a multipotentialite, meaning: my areas of interest span far and wide. I grow tired of one thing and move to the next only to revisit that one thing again two months later. My guess is most of my readers like this about my blog.

It’s like putting a quarter into one of those tiny toy dispensing machines that used to be commonplace in the 1980s and 90s. You have no idea what you’re about to get. This may be off-putting to some, but I won’t apologize for how my brain operates.

Godin’s blog could be placed in a box or niche. You could say it’s largely marketing-focused depending on who you are. You may say it’s meant to be inspirational or motivational. I don’t see it that way. If “curious” was a niche, that’s what you’d define Godin’s blog under. He seems genuinely interested and curious about the ways of the world. At times this is related to marketing, but another day it may be about how books are priced or trees or theory or something entirely different. The only way to know is to read the post. The title probably isn’t going to tell you.

Are You Still Reluctant to Take Seth’s Advice and Publish Every Day?

With all that said, I’ve visited the idea many times over my 25 years of blogging to post once a day. I never have. The main reason I don’t publish every day is my reluctance to inundate readers’ inboxes. I fear it will turn off my subscribers to see my name pop up in their email every single day.

Godin has been there. Early on in his blogging journey, Godin would post up to six times per day. Then he started hearing complaints that he posted too frequently. His response, “Don’t read them all.”

The response he received back: “But I want to read them all.”

Godin made a compromise then to post once a day with the occasional second post but no more.

Subscribers Can Manage Notifications, After All

On my personal blog where I use WordPress, and the same applies for Medium, subscribers have an option they can select within their email to manage the frequency of notifications they receive including a weekly digest. That way they get one email per week and if they see an article or two within the digest they’d like to read, they can do so.

So should I be as concerned as I am, and have been over the years, if the power to adjust the frequency is at their fingertips?

Time to Make Your Decision

Can I transition from writing daily to publishing daily? What about you: do you think it’s even possible for you to take on such a commitment?

For me, my aim is to continue to write daily and publish more frequently than I currently do. Daily seems out of my reach. I’m a parent, and what’s apparent as a parent is time and attention is not always on my side. Life gets in the way. When it does, I’ll write about it. I just may not publish it that day — maybe the next day 🙂

Thank you for reading.

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