What’s the best time to post a new photo on Instagram?
Should I update my Facebook page twice a day, or three times?
If I send my email newsletter once a week, is that too frequently?
Social media marketing experts spend a lot of time thinking about these questions. They do A/B testing on timing and frequency in an effort to figure out what’s optimal. And their research is often totally valid. I read it. I think about their findings when I’m scheduling tweets and writing my newsletter. For me, though, this kind of advice misses a crucial point.
Each task when you’re running a business takes time and thought and focus. And each of us is more than just a business owner. We’re also mothers, and caretakers. We work other jobs and pursue other interests.
When it comes to running a business well, for the long-term, the most important factor to consider isn’t perfecting the timing of a social media update or honing in on the ideal frequency for an email newsletter. The most important factor is sustainability.
How can you fit these tasks (the vital ones that keep your online business afloat) into your life in a sustainable way. Sustainable means comfortable. Not easy, but doable. And not just doable this week and this month, but in six months or two years. After all, building a business is about doing small things every day. Updating a profile, organizing an archive, taking fresh photos, editing listings, researching new products – tending to these micro tasks every single day for years is what the real life of business is all about.
Like you, my life is more than my business. When I’m not working on Abby Glassenberg Design I’m a stay-at-home mom of three young kids. I’m a member of a local artists group in town. I’m a fairly observant Jew which means holidays at home and 3-day a week Hebrew school for my kids. Every day is full.
I thought I’d share with you some concrete examples of how I let sustainability dictate my choices over other factors, and why, no matter what the research says, it still works.
1. I send my newsletter out on Wednesdays at 10:00 am. When I was teaching my newsletter workshop at Craftcation, someone in the audience asked how I’d chosen that day and time. Great question!
Here in Wellesley the public elementary schools release at noon every Wednesday. With kids coming home so early in the day I don’t have time to run on Wednesday mornings. So, I run the other four weekdays instead and on Wednesdays I get right to work when they leave for school. I’m at my computer at 9:00 which gives me a good hour to finish or fix the newsletter if I need to. Although I write the newsletter on Tuesday night, it often needs a final look through and Wednesday morning is the ideal time for me. The newsletter goes out on Wednesdays at 10:00. Why? Because its sustainable for me.
2. I pin to Pinterst from 7:00-7:20 pm. How random! Not really, though. If you spent the day at my house you’d see why.
My youngest daughter, Josephine, is four and she still needs me to sit beside her while she’s in the bath. While she’s in there playing with a family of rubber ducks I sit on the bathmat and pin. It’s perfect. I grew my Pinterest following from 2,000 to 12,900 this way. Why pin in the evening? Because its sustainable for me.
3. I record the podcast at least a week before I publish it, often even further in advance. Podcasting is an iffy endeavor. Before you begin recording a conversation you never know what’s going to happen. Sometimes, everything goes perfectly smoothly. Editing means adding an intro and an outro and uploading the file – tasks that take 20 minutes all together.
Other times, though? The guest’s dog barks 13 different times, my mailman rings the doorbell, Skype cuts out, and I had the gain level set wrong. To fix a show like that and make it listenable takes hours and hours. Given that finding hours and hours of uninterrupted time is a challenge for me generally, I always record in advance.
By the same token, my show comes out on the first and third Monday of each month. Wouldn’t it be better to have a weekly show? Yes. But this schedule works for one reason: its sustainable for me.
I could certainly optimize all of these choices. I could use scheduling software for Pinterest, and do A/B testing to see when you like opening the newsletter best. But honestly? I don’ think that stuff is all that important. Composing a tweet that goes out at the perfect time once isn’t nearly as effective as composing hundreds of tweets that go out when you have time to enjoy Twitter.
Search for pockets of time when you can fit your business tasks into your real life in a way that feels comfortable and makes you happy. Your enjoyment in these tasks makes them more perfect than all the social media optimization in the world ever could.