Quantity vs. Quality: The Growing Blogger's Dilemma

Quantity vs. Quality: The Growing Blogger’s Dilemma

In July, the number of unique viewers on The Rideshare Guy went from 105,000 to 150,000.  The former was already a massively impressive number and to see nearly 50% growth in just one month is equally surprising and astonishing.

I wish I could say there was something specific that I did to make that increase happen, but at this point it’s really just a combination of massive growth in the rideshare industry itself, lack of competition and a nice snowball effect.

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems

With increased traffic though, comes a lot more pressure.  Not only do I need to spend more money on logistical things like hosting, e-mail and web support, but there are also a lot more eyeballs on everything that I now publish.

Even something as simple as a scheduled Facebook post or tweet could be read by thousands of people.  So if I say something stupid, you can bet there are going to be a whole host of people ready to jump on it.

RSG Growing

These days (on RSG), I have a part-time staff of three writers, two virtual assistants and one web guy.  Figuring out who to hire has been a really fun challenge for me but it also means that my readers will now associate anything my writers publish as being written by me.

Even though I clearly delineate at the top and bottom of each article who wrote the piece (if it wasn’t me), many readers just gloss over that part, only read the title or just don’t care.  I am still still the one publishing these articles though so like a good CEO, I am responsible for their content.

The Right Number of Posts

Right now, I’m personally contributing 1-2 pieces of content a week to RSG (article and/or podcast).  For me, that’s right about my sweet spot where I can still cover important issues and topics but I’m never scrounging around for something to write or podcast about.

In total, we usually publish 3-5 articles per week on RSG and I am very proud of every article that we publish.

Less Is More

There’s definitely no shortage of topics to cover in this industry but I have always felt that the more stuff you cover, the more watered down your content becomes.  I think the best example of this is on a travel blog I follow called The Points Guy.

I started reading TPG 5-6 years ago when I was just getting into traveling with miles and points.  His site was a wealth of information and I was more than happy to support him by reading his articles, using his affiliate links and promoting his site to my friends.

People have been traveling like this forever, but TPG was really one of the first bloggers to start writing about it extensively.  He had first-mover advantage and he was fortunate in the sense that a lot of normal people like myself started finding out about traveling with miles and points around the time he started to take off.

Today, TPG gets millions of page views a month and if I had to guess, his site income may also be close to the $1 million+ per month range.  That’s some serious dough and clearly he’s done an amazing job.  But one thing I’ve noticed more and more over the past year is that even though I still visit the site out of habit, I don’t read most of the articles.

This morning I headed over to TPG and scrolled through the front page.  Out of 10 articles, only one seemed remotely interesting to me and the only reason I clicked it, was because I figured there would be some good comments (and there were).

I don’t know about you, but I would feel really shitty if I posted 10 articles in a row that were total duds.  Right now, I don’t feel the pressure to post amazing articles every time we publish, but I do feel like I should post articles that most people will enjoy.  And TPG does still post good articles once in a while, but as a percentage of total posts, he’s well below the Mendoza Line.

I’m sure he gets a ton of residual organic traffic from all these posts I never read and it helps him earn his millions but it definitely comes at a cost.  The hardcore fans like me have turned to other blogs like Travel Is Free in order to get their travel hacking fix.

It kind of reminds me of the small time restaurant that expands to a bigger space or opens a new location and starts to lose a lot of its charm.  Qualitatively, the experience just isn’t the same once you get too big.

My Strategy Going Forward

I’m not necessarily faulting TPG or other bloggers who do this but I do think you lose a lot of the ‘blog charm’ when you start publishing multiple articles per day.  There’s plenty to talk about in niche industries like travel hacking or rideshare but you’ll definitely see diminishing returns the more you post.

So where do you draw the line?  I think it will be different for every blogger and will depend on your goals.  Nothing is set in stone, but for me, I think 3-5 articles per week is the sweet spot right now for a few reasons:

  • Work balance: According to Rescuetime, I actually only spent 13% of my time last month writing and editing articles on RSG.  Most of my time (37%) was spent on communication and scheduling.  I like writing but I like all the other aspects of running a business even more (although I’ll be working on evening out these percentages going forward).
  • Work-life balance: Although I do work a lot, it’s on my own terms and I always make time for physical and mental relaxation.  I do yoga every Monday morning, work out 1-2 times a week outside of that and try to volunteer every Friday morning.  My wife is also in med school right now so I like to help out around the house and with organizational stuff to make her life easier.
  • Experiment: One of the nice things about under-publishing is that it allows me to experiment with other things.  Right now, I’m publishing 1-2 Youtube videos a week, creating ‘Getting Started’ guides for drivers, answering LOTS of questions from drivers, doing lots of media interviews, getting cast in rideshare movies, meeting with VC firms, consulting for start-ups, trying to get equity in new companies, etc 🙂
  • Maintain High Quality: I think the biggest thing for me though is that I would rather under-publish and over-deliver than over-publish and under-deliver.  I don’t think every article we’re publishing right now is a home run but for now, I won’t ever publish anything without thinking, “A lot of people are going to like this, read this or find value in this.”
  • Lack of Competition: The other thing that I really failed to consider up until this point is that bloggers like TPG are facing immense pressure from lots of other sites (there’s no shortage of travel hacking type sites).  Right now, I’m in the fortunate position where I’m gaining market share and there’s really no one in my rearview mirror.  I suspect that will change eventually but I might as well take advantage of it while I can.

Ultimately, there are a lot of factors that go into how much you should publish.  But since I’ve never built something as successful as RSG, I’m pretty happy to be where I’m at right now.  My traffic is doubling every two months and I’m more than happy with that type of growth.

I don’t feel the need or the pressure to pump out more generic content and lower the overall quality of my site.  In a few years, or even a few months, things may be different, but ultimately I think the path bloggers take should be a personal one dictated by a combination of internal and external forces.