Why Consistency Wins Online — How to Create a Cadence That Works for You
Consistency is the key to making noise on the internet.
Yet I watch as young writers, artists, musicians who create amazing content constantly struggle to keep a regular cadence when it comes to posting or publishing. They might write an engaging article one day only to go silent for weeks before publishing again.
I’m plenty guilty of this, too. But, having published 300+ articles over the past couple of years, I can promise you this:
If you want people to pay attention, you need to be consistent.
Whenever I got into the swing of publishing articles on a consistent basis over time—whether it was once a week, three times a week, once a day—I always saw higher engagement when I posted on a regular basis versus when I posted sporadically.
That is, whenever I didn’t have a content plan, I published randomly, less often, and spent more time deciding on what to write about instead of being able to jump right into it. As a result, my articles didn’t perform as well, and even if one did gain some traction, people would visit my profile to see the next most recent piece was published weeks—even months—prior.
With anything in life, staying consistent is hard.
Sticking to a schedule isn’t easy.
It’s tough to build a good habit, especially around creative tasks like publishing articles or creating podcasts episodes that require time, energy, research, on top of tons of practice.
But, as hard as it is to be consistent, it’s absolutely necessary if you want to attract more eyeballs—and regular eyeballs—to your content.
Luckily, there’s a way to make being consistent a lot easier for you to manage.
The secret lies in the preparation.
Preparing yourself for the road ahead is the key to mastering consistency.
Think about some of your favorite internet personalities.
Maybe you thought of your favorite writer here on Medium or your favorite fitness guru on Instagram. I’m willing to bet those people are always posting fresh, engaging content. They’re normally at the top of your feed, but even if they’re not, they’re engaging with you on some level on a weekly basis.
These people aren’t freaks of nature when it comes to content generation, nor do they have a cheat sheet they can refer to keep coming up with new material.
What they do—and do extremely well—is plan their content so when it comes time to create and publish, there’s no extra thinking involved. They know exactly what’s on their agenda, execute, and move on.
That’s how they stay top-of-mind and gain traction online: they master the art of consistency through planning.
Obviously volume is another important aspect, too, but high-volume only matters when you can be consistent with it. For example, being ‘consistent’ by posting once a month probably won’t move the needle very much. But, if once in a month is the cadence you need to start with in order to hold yourself accountable, so be it.
So, how do you pick a reasonable cadence that works for you? And how do you go about creating a content schedule to set yourself up for success?
Both are surprisingly easy.
Picking a cadence…
…is about finding a manageable pace for you to create and publish.
But just like filling up your plate at a buffet, it’s easy to overestimate how much you can reasonably handle.
For instance, I used to think publishing an article per day was a task I could tackle, no problem. I figured it’d take three or four hours per piece in-full, and so long as I blocked out the time I’d finish without any real hiccups.
Long story short, I bit off way more than I could chew.
I was successful in publishing once a day for a couple of weeks, but the quality of my pieces shot down significantly. Since I didn’t spend enough time mapping out what I’d write about, I wasted tons of time and energy trying to come up with ideas instead of using my energy towards an already planned-out idea I could jump right into.
Since I’ve been writing online for about three or four years, I can confidently say that three articles per week are my preferred cadence—so long as I plan out my content properly. For you, three pieces of content per week might be super easy, or it might be really difficult—finding what works best for you takes time.
Pick a starting number and cut it down by about 20 percent or so. If you think you can publish five articles per month, aim for four and create the fifth as a bonus if you finish the first four early.
Again, you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew and burn out before giving yourself a chance to master the art of consistency. The calendar you map out needs to manage more than anything else.
Which leads to my next point…
How to create a content schedule for yourself.
Ideas for content generation should be broken down into five easy steps.
Step one, after setting your cadence, open up a google doc or spreadsheet and start listing verticals you want to focus on. For instance, as a writer, my top three verticals (1.) marketing, (2.) writing advice, and (3.) personal growth—they’re the things I write about most.
Step two, list a few different ways you can add value to readers by posting about your top verticals. For instance, I typically share my marketing experience working for a ghostwriting agency and for a digital marketing company. As a writer, I share pieces like this one, teaching what I’ve learned from experience. For personal growth, I write about habit-building, self-discipline, and managing a busy schedule—all of which I learned as a collegiate athlete.
Don’t skip the step of identifying where you add value in each of your verticals. Whatever it is you’re doing, you’re not going to gain any traction if your content doesn’t help your target audience.
Step three, do some research to find what’s currently resonating with people around the topic areas you’re going to post about. If you’re looking to build a following as an Instagram as a fitness trainer, model your strategy around other people who have done it successfully. As a writer, I check publications that publish articles around the same verticals I focus on for inspiration.
Step four, based off of your cadence, pick which days you’re going to post. If you’re a writer and want to publish three times per week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, then block out time in your calendar on each of those days to write. The more deliberate you are about blocking out time, the better.
The same is true for editing pictures/videos for social, creating podcast episodes, or whatever it is you’re working on: if you don’t make it a part of your routine, you won’t get it done. Stick to your schedule religiously.
Step five, take one day per week and dedicate time to expanding your content schedule. Build off of what you started with and change verticals or strategies based off of what you’re seeing perform well. Use this time to create brief outlines for your articles, jot down ideas for Instagram captions, start scripting your podcast episode for the week. The more you prepare, the easier it will be to hit the ground running when it comes time to sit down and create.
Thanks for reading.