Dec 202012

Content plays two roles in a blogger’s life—sunshine and rain. When you come up with a great article, video or image it’s time for barbecue and cheap domestic beer. When you’re out of ideas but you have to post something, it’s time to pour the water out of your loafers and put your slacks in the dryer. Sometimes it doesn’t matter whether you have a brilliant idea or you’re just going through the motions.  An entirely separate problem arises—do you post something about a current event or publish “evergreen” content that won’t be affected by timeliness? There’s no easy answer, but let’s look at the pros and cons of each.


Stale, Evergreen Content

Evergreen content has its advantages, but it’s also prone to reading as uninspired or boring. Despite its shortcomings, evergreen content is something every blogger should have at least a small stock of in case of emergencies. That being said, we do need to explore some of the difficulties associated with evergreen posts.

  • Boring – Evergreen posts have the tendency to be rather… lifeless. They’re often 500 words for the sake of posting 500 words, and are thus lacking the energy and zest of a regular blog post.
  • Low Relevancy – If there’s something absolutely everyone is talking about in your niche and you post an evergreen piece, people are going to notice that something’s amiss. Relevancy is also an issue if the focus of your blog has changed and you put up an evergreen post you wrote before that shift happened.
  • No Connection – If your evergreen post is a lifeless wad of 500 words, your readers are not going to connect to it. It won’t draw any new readers. It will be a lonely little cola bottle floating in the Pacific Ocean, eternally denied human contact.
  • Low Traffic – An evergreen post isn’t likely to bring in much traffic, and it probably won’t ever go viral either. Loyal readers will peruse it, but it’s not going to appeal to anyone outside of your already-established fan base.

Those are the downfalls, but do evergreen posts serve any purpose other than acting as emergency blog rations?

  • Never Untimely – An evergreen post, as the name denotes, is never out of season. It never looks awkward or tacky in the way that some super-fresh, current events related posts do.
  • Good Filler – One of an evergreen post’s primary functions is that it’s perfect for filler content. If you just need to bridge the gap between Monday and Friday, a pre-written evergreen post is a great solution.
  • Diary – Evergreen posts, more than niche-specific articles or in-depth pieces, can work as a journal or diary of sorts. They’re a great outlet for writing down stray thoughts or small ideas without delving into them too deeply.

New, Fleeting Content

You’re probably a little bit hesitant about evergreen content now, but ‘breaking news’ content has just as many pitfalls. Super fresh, current-events related posts are great from time to time despite the negatives, but let’s take a look at some problems.

  • Newsjacking  - Oftentimes when you write a current events related post with your blog specifically in mind, you’ll be accused of newsjacking, or capitalizing on someone else’s tragedy for the sake of your site. Even if it’s not true, people are quick to point fingers because they’ve seen such indecent, tasteless examples of newsjacking in the past.
  • Past its Prime – A post that relates to a current event, especially a pop culture event, has the chance of losing its luster very quickly. Even when something in the news wins the blogosphere’s heart it’s not out of the question for them to forget about it the very next day. In most cases, those posts will never be included in your “best of” and will occupy only a certain time and place.
  • Bandwagon – There’s another problem with super fresh posts, which is that everyone else is doing them. Unless you can put a very unique spin on that event or news story, people are going to think you’re jumping on the bandwagon and losing your individuality.
  • Hasty – People get emotional about current events. Bloggers are not immune to this phenomenon, and when they write something rash in the heat of the moment they’re likely to regret it later. Even the most captivating events look different with a clear mind.

Though ‘breaking news’ posts have some considerable shortcomings, they also have a few key advantages. Let’s take a look.

  • Attention – Fresh, news-related content grabs people by the collar. They’re drawn to what’s currently happening, and they love reading about it from their favorite writers. As a blogger, you can expect many more links, comments and social shares.
  • Emotional Response – Just as writers get caught up in emotions and post things they won’t be proud of later, readers feel a real emotional connection to posts based on current events. A reader that’s invested emotionally is going to refer your post to friends and visit your blog more often.
  • High Traffic – Because of the attention and emotional response, these blog posts are going to bring in a higher amount of traffic overall. The views will come from social shares, dark social shares, links and search queries. Higher readership numbers are always a good thing.

How to Succeed

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve listed more negatives than positives with each type of post. That’s simply because relying heavily on either one is a bad idea. If you produce either an evergreen or newsworthy post, you need to think hard about that content.

The best way to do that is to inject your own personality into each of these post types. People visit your blog because they like you, your voice and the brand you’ve created for yourself. If you can comfortably fit that post into the canon of your blog and have it blend in smoothly, you’re doing a good job. In most cases, you’re not the one breaking the news so it’s important to put your own voice into the piece. An evergreen post is an even better receptacle for your unique writing style, and if you put a little bit of extra thought and effort into a “just in case” post, it can go on to be a popular favorite.

As long as you insert your own voice into the post, you can use either evergreen or current event-related content to your advantage and leave the negatives behind.

Dustin Verburg is a writer and musician based in Boise, ID. When he's not playing to a mostly-empty venue or watching Deep Space Nine reruns, he writes about internet ethics, good blogging practices and the human side of SEO. Dustin writes for Page One Power, a link building firm that focuses on relevancy and transparency.

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  • Philip Alex

    Hi Dustin,

    Very interesting post, I have to say that I get caught up in similar situations when writing on my blog, but what I do is I write blog posts about fresh news and I create pages for evergreen content, this is what works for me.

    Have great day.Cheers.


    • Dustin Verburg

      Hey Phillip,

      Sorry for the late reply. Holiday craziness and all.

      It seems like you have a good mix of the two strategies, which is where you need to be. As long as you’re using your voice to its full potential, both fresh news and evergreen posts are tactically sound.

      Thanks for reading!

  • Carolyn Nicander Mohr

    Hi Dustin, I think about this issue with my blog, which is about personal technology. Most tech only has a limited shelf life, but you can write about more classic tech issues, such as how to set your home page, versus a review of the latest Android phone. Each has its merits and its problems. You’re right, it’s best to mix these up so you get the best of both worlds.

    • Dustin Verburg

      Hey Carolyn,

      Thanks for reading.

      If you’re dealing with tech (especially apps and smart phones) you have to be really versatile AND ready for a little bit of heartbreak when you write up a great app review just as a new version (or a competing app that’s even better) comes along. It sounds like you know what you’re getting into and doing a great job.

      And yeah, there will always be some tech issues people need help with or want to read about. Seems like you have the mix down perfectly!