What does Skrillex have to do with blogging? It took us awhile to put the pieces together ourselves.
We’ve been thinking a lot about the optimal way to produce content for the Buffer blog. We’ve pivoted the blog multiple times before—the latest came just in the past two months when we shifted from lifehacking and productivity to a purer focus on social media. The blog is both a huge driver of conversions for us and an ongoing experiment.
What kind of content works best on the blog? And, more just as important to us, how does our blog content make readers feel?
We think maybe Skrillex can help provide an answer, unlikely as that sounds.
Waiting for the drop
A hallmark of the Buffer blog is our emphasis on deeply-researched blog posts—complete guides, scientific guides, beginner’s guides, etc. We aim for thorough, complete coverage of each and every topic we write about.
Now let’s compare that to club music. (And you’ll have to bear with me on this one because my musical tastes hew less toward the club and more toward Austin City Limits.)
Dubstep is a genre of electronic music known for a steady build leading into a frenzied “drop.” (Remember Harlem Shake? That was a type of dubstep.) Skrillex is one of the most popular dubstep producers around.
Dubstep doesn’t work if it’s all build and no drop—listeners would end up wanting more and frustrated. Likewise, you’d probably grow weary of dubstep that’s all drop and no build.
There must be balance.
Do you see where I’m headed with this?
We’re beginning to put that same balance concept to work for the way we blog at Buffer. There should be a rhythm to the type of posts we publish. The blog should build and drop, ebb and flow.
A quality blog is a balanced blog.
Seeing things from a reader’s perspective
When I was a kid, I wanted Christmas to come every day. So my parents sat me down and read me a story about a girl whose Christmas-per-day wish came true. And would you believe that little girl grew tired of Christmas pretty quickly?
I can understand her plight now. You can have too much of a good thing.
Would you eat filet mignon every day of the week? For awhile maybe, but then …
Could you binge watch Mad Men every day for a month? Not likely.
How does it feel to come across a blog whose articles you want to read but you just can’t find the time?
When everything is amazing blog content, is anything amazing blog content?
We think that a Skrillex content strategy might be the optimum solution for our blog readers. Sure, it’s great to be able to produce amazing, all-consuming content four times a week, but perhaps there’s something to be said for taking your audience’s time and energy into consideration.
You may marvel at how a blog produces the amount of content it does. We marvel at how you make the time to read it all.
A better solution: Build and drop
OK, back to Skrillex.
The build and drop of dubstep, we think, is a great model to follow when it comes to planning the content we produce on the Buffer blog. Each dubstep song has a build and a drop. When you look at the waveform of a dubstep album—pictured below with Skrillex’s Recess album from Soundcloud—you can see a great snapshot of this ebb-and-flow balance that we’re aiming to achieve with our content. (Want to hear it? Click on the screenshot to go to Soundcloud and play the album.)
Does the waveform look familiar? It reminds me of ultradian rhythm.
We’ve written about ultradian rhythm before on the blog. It’s the biological rhythm for our body that helps guide our productivity. Our body thrives in complementary states of activity and rest. This rhythm is essential because our mind can focus on any given task for 90 to 120 minutes before requiring a break of 20 to 30 minutes.
Build and drop is hardwired into our genes.
Now, let’s apply ultradian rhythm to blogging. If our body works in cycles and we need periods of rest between periods of activity, then perhaps the same can be true for the content we produce on the blog. Readers may not be able to focus on a series of blog posts that all hit the same epic notes. Some restful, bite-sized posts could be key.
How we define Skrillex content: What constitutes good balance?
Of course, once the idea of Skrillex content is in place, there still comes the necessary element of applying the theory. What does a good balance of content really look like on a blog?
We’re still experimenting and thinking on the answer to this ourselves. Initially, the thought might be to track balance by analyzing the word count of our blog posts. Here is what the past three weeks of blog posts look like in terms of word count.
In terms of word count alone, it appears that our blog is on the upward trend toward higher word count (helped along by a recent 4,500-word blog post!). But is word count where we should be looking?
It’s possible that word count could be the right measure for well-balanced content; after all, we know that a 1,500-word blog post is ideal, if you can manage it. However, word count has never been a huge focus for the Buffer blog because of the types of research-heavy posts we write.
So let’s take blog balance one step further.
Perhaps it’s best to find your balance when you’re finding ideas. So instead of considering word count on each story, what if we considered the scope and breadth of the articles we’re writing?
Here’s how the past three weeks look like on the Buffer blog with scope in mind. I’ve highlighted the posts that have a “complete guide” feel or a “how to” aspect, as those tend to be the ones that readers might choose to save for later.
This feels like a better way of approaching Skrillex content. Now we have a way to seek ebbs and flows in the types of post we publish.
It would seem that the secret to finding good balance is to begin with ideas. Is our week ahead filled with back-to-back “complete guides to” or “everything you need to know about” posts? If so, we might need to throw in a “build” post so it’s not all “drop.”
All blog posts should be awesome. Not all can be epic.
We’re hoping to achieve this awesome-epic rhythm with a 70-30 split of all-encompassing social media content versus more introspective, micro content (like this post, for example).
Will science and club music really be good guides for what we write on our blog? We’re excited to find out. The in-depth, research-intense posts will remain a big part of the day-to-day content at Buffer, and we’re hoping these posts shine even brighter and appear all the more appetizing with a good balance of “build” content to balance them.
What do you think?
We’re excited to see where this idea takes us and how it might resonate with those of you who read and share our posts.
Do you feel the benefits of balanced blog content? How do your favorite blogs operate? I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice on the topic. It’d be awesome to hear from you in the comments!
P.S. If you liked this post, you might also like The Ideal Length of All Online Content and The Origin of the 8-Hour Workday and Why We Should Rethink It.