I was recently asked to explain my Weekly Digest post I release every Friday and what the benefits are of this weekly post.
While I rarely publish more than one post a day on my blog, I also guest blog and blog regularly for other blogs, along with offering programs and talks here and there around the world on blogging and related subjects. People have been asking me for a calendar or way to easily keep track of what I’m doing without being inundated with too much information. The weekly digest is a way to streamline and condense all that information into one blog post.
In general, a weekly digest of your blog activities is not for everyone. It is great for someone with a busy public schedule, teaching workshops, classes, or public speaking. It is also good for people with more than one blog who want their readers to stay up to date on all their blogs’ activities and posts. It is also a good way of summarizing a very busy blog posting schedule, allowing readers to see one blog post with everything you’ve published this week instead of seeing everything you published throughout the week.
It’s also a good marketing tool for promoting your blog, its contents, and yourself and your activities. Once a week, people see a one post summary of what’s going on so they can keep up with you on a regular basis instead of hit and miss on your blog.
A weekly digest also does one more thing. It helps identify the blogger behind the blog. Your weekly digest can be a simple list of what you’ve blogged about over the past week, and it can also let people know the stories behind the blog posts and the reactions to those published posts, as well as a little more about you.
If you are working on building a blog identity, this is a great way to bringing all your blog’s activities together in one place to showcase who you are and what you blog about.
Creating the Weekly Digest
My Weekly Digest is published to a specific category on my blog to which no other posts are categorized. This creates a collection of the weekly activities in one place.
With the weekly digest posts in one category, and since all WordPress categories have their own feed, it’s now easy to subscribe to the Weekly Digest Feed, published once a week, and know that you won’t be inundated every day with more Lorelle on WordPress posts. Just one post a week that lists what’s being going on and directs you to the information you are interested in, not everything I release on my blog. Keeps your feed reader a little leaner.
It was also easy to turn that single feed into an emailed feed through FeedBlitz, FeedBurner, or another feed email service. This gives users a choice between getting a weekly report in their feed reader or in their email inbox on what is happening here.
The structure of my weekly digest is:
- Lorelle News (What’s she doing now?)
- Lorelle on WordPress Blog Posts
- This Week’s Posts
- Most Popular Posts
- Whose Linking To and From Lorelle on WordPress
- Blasts From the Past
- Blog Herald Posts
- Linkworthy Links
Here’s the specifics on each section.
- Introduction/Summary: This is a one paragraph summary of all the things going on with Lorelle and Lorelle on WordPress. People can read this and if something interests them, they can scroll down and read. If not, they can skip the whole post.
- Lorelle News: This is the area where exciting stuff I’m doing is offered. It might be related to a specific post, or a workshop or program I’ll be presenting. I list guest blogging events, and other noteworthy events and activities related to this blog. This is the area most people are interested in, followed by week’s list of blog posts.
- Lorelle on WordPress Blog Posts: This is the listing of all the posts I’ve published over the past week or so. From here, people can scroll through the titles to see if something looks interesting to them.
- Most Popular Posts: I believe in giving old posts some fresh air once in a while so highlighting the most popular posts brings to light what people are most interested in on my blog, whether they were published this week or 2 years ago. A post can “go pop” (as my niece says) at any time but how would your regular readers know unless you tell them that this post is being dug by Digg or getting a lot of attention right now?
- Whose Linking To and From: I love this section as it highlights some of the trackbacks from other bloggers writing about what I write about. I love seeing how people view my work and offer their own perspective. This section of my weekly digest thanks them for highlighting my work and points my readers to other good commentaries on related subjects. It’s also a way to highlight the most popular articles off my blog that my readers are heading to, giving me a second chance to point out some really good articles my readers would enjoy and learn from.
- Blasts From the Past: As I mentioned, while many believe a blog is only as good as its last post, old posts are some of the most valuable commodities your blog has. A truly good post keeps bringing in new readers to your blog over years not days. They are like billboards saying “This is good stuff here. And while you are at it, there’s some more good stuff over here!” Great advertising.
A great and popular post does not always happen immediately. I’ve had some posts be overnight successes, and then drop to nothing. I’ve had others that took a week or two before someone spotted them and made a recommendation that sent it off the charts. Others hit the pop zone over a year after they were written. Others slowly build their fame over time and now consistently bring in a good number of new readers every day. It’s an amazing thing to watch.
So call attention to your old posts once in a while to remind folks that you’ve been doing this a while and that your old stuff is still as good as your new stuff.
- Blog Herald Posts: If you blog elsewhere, on more than one blog, or if you guest blog, make sure you bring the posts you publish elsewhere to light for your readers. Not only is that a way to show off your writing off your blog, but it says thank you and calls attention to the blog you wrote on, giving them a chance to attract new readers.
Guest blogging helps build your reputation as well as spread the word about your blog. The boost to your blog from that traffic, checking your blog out, is a great boon to you. So give some back by pointing to your guest blogging gig.
- Linkworthy Links: I often run across some really interesting blog posts that 1) don’t quite match my blog’s intent and purpose but I know my readers will enjoy it, or 2) match my content but I don’t have the time to write about them at the moment. I describe each of the links and the reasons I recommend them, to help my readers decide if it’s worth visiting.
I’d love to link to just about anything and everything I find of interest, but I understand that PageRank now evaluates who you link to as well as who is linking to you, looking for content matches. This means who you link to is a reflection back on you, and that links are content. My recommendations carry weight. So I’m really careful about what I link to and recommend.
While the benefits of having a Weekly Digest post to summarize all my blogging activities is great for my readers, it’s very hard work. Instead of just concentrating on my writing and research, as well as the rest of my business activities, I now have a deadline every Friday to summarize what I’ve been doing all week.
Every time I post an article, I add it to the text file I keep with my Weekly Digest posts. It means paying closer attention to what people are reading on my blog as well as who is linking to this blog. It takes a lot of time, so I do a little a day, so I don’t have to panic come Friday morning.
None of this happens automatically. I’m often asked if my tags and related articles at the bottom of most posts, as well as many elements in my Weekly Digest are done through WordPress Plugins or special programs. Nope. It’s all done manually, one link at a time.
A Weekly Digest isn’t something you can do as a future post. It’s timely, right up to the moment you publish it. Since I work almost exclusively with future posts, this means adding this deadline to my schedule every Friday.
How does it work for me? It’s still new and evolving, but for the most part, I think that people like having a one-stop-Lorelle-shop to keep up with all that’s going on. I work hard to keep it interesting, adding little bonus tips and fun information not normally found in my blog posts here, so people like digging through to find the fun gems.
Tips For Writing Your Own Weekly Digest Post
Your format will not match mind. Your weekly digest must match you and your blog’s content and style. Your version of the weekly digest post might be to have a monthly post or quarterly post to keep you readers up-to-date on your blog’s activities.
To help you create your own Weekly Digest post, here are some tips:
- Make It About You, Not Your Ego: It is easy to make your weekly digest about you and all your stuff. You, you, you, and more you. It is about you, but be careful to not make it about your ego. This is a self-promotion piece, but it is also a benefit for your readers. Make it for them, not you.
- Avoid Excerpts: Since you want your readers to subscribe to this once a week post through your category feed and/or emailed feed, don’t truncate the post by forcing a “read more” or using excerpts. Using the “read more” will truncate the post in the feed as well as on your multi-post page views like your blog’s front page. Your readers want to see the post in its entirety.
- Use the Opportunity to Share: Use your weekly digest to share your thoughts and insights, and give readers a behind the scenes look at your blog.
- Say Thank You: Your weekly digest is a great way to say thank you to your readers and to those who linked to your blog.
- Use It To Build Relationships: Your weekly digest is a great way to build relationships with your readers, those who link to you, and those you link to. It’s another chance to show your enthusiasm, passion, and commitment to your blogging community.
- Keep it short: It’s easy to let the weekly digest get long. I struggle with the length constantly. Keep it short with link lists, but make sure your link lists include explanations when necessary to encourage your readers to click.
- Avoid Clutter: It’s really easy to add a lot of graphics and clutter to your weekly digest. Use graphics only to divide sections or if they are necessary to the content. Keep a consistent look throughout your weekly digest in form and format.
- Include Options for Subscriptions: Include a description of what your weekly digest is about and the various options for subscribing to the weekly post, including a link to your post category feed.
- Set a Schedule and Keep It: A weekly digest is not for the casual blogger or uncommitted blogger. If you start one, you must set a regular schedule to build reader anticipation and expectation. You are making a weekly commitment to your readers. Don’t let them down.
What do you think? Is my Weekly Digest working for you? Do you have a Weekly Digest summary post? Do you think your blog needs one? Why? And how would it work for you and your blog?
Update: Engtech of Internet Duct Tape has come up with “WordPress Tip: Create a Digest Post in 3 Seconds”, a technique I haven’t tried yet, but it if saves the two hours this takes me, I’m ready and willing to give it a try.
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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network, and author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.