If you missed it, in the first part of this post, I asserted that if you write something near and dear to your heart — something you really want to be seen and perhaps even trigger some discussion around — and then post it in the weekend, you’re potentially in for some heartbreak. This time around, I come armed with data! In a reply to Magi, I mentioned that I might just be curious enough to pull together the data set to show what I was talking about re: a lower degree of engagement with posts published over the weekend.

Turns out:

  1. Yes, I was curious enough
  2. But also ‘Yes’, in that it was every bit as painful to pull together as I thought it might be.

Getting the Data

I started looking at the WordPress export options. I found right away I could export the full set of post content as an XML, so we were off to a good start.

Unfortunately, while this table contained a lot of metadata and references, it did not contain either a count of comments per post or the count of likes.

I could possibly have eventually worked around the comment count limitation, as it did include the raw comments themselves as well as the comment IDs, but pulling in this data expanded each post’s data set to the number of rows required, and I decided to forgo this approach.

If I had found a way to export Views and the Like count, I might’ve continued faffing around with the comment data contained in the XML — but View and Like data is held outside of my server, on WordPress’ own servers, being part of the capability that JetPack offers. Unfortunately, there isn’t any native ability to export this data from JetPack either. Possibly there are other plugins that will let you do this, but a very cursory Google kept resulting in the answer of, ‘but why would you even want to do this?’

Grr.

So I knew I was in for a manual process.

From the XML, I ended up creating a table in Excel referencing only the post title, URL and published date. After some fiddling with the date format, I managed to get Excel to understand the WordPress output and filtered it down to look at 2020’s posts.

If you’re wondering why just 2020, it’s because I didn’t even work out how to enable likes properly until late into 2019. I was also still finding a footing as a blogger then. As for cutting off 2021? Well… three things. 1) I just don’t want to manually trawl through that many posts for the data, 2) 2021 posts haven’t necessarily settled in engagement stats yet, and 3) I believed that a whole year of results should be enough to paint the story. ;)

Next stop: The all-time post stats page, where I CTRL-F’d for titles, got their view count and then opened the posts into a new tab to obtain both the comment and like counts.

152 rows of post data later, the 2020 data set was complete.

The Results

Distribution of posts published by day, across all of 2020

Initially, I went with just displaying raw numbers and honestly, that approach told the story I expected it to. Strong drop-offs were visible in the weekend for all engagement metrics. But then I took a quick look at the distribution of posts published against days of the week and saw that this wouldn’t be a very fair way to tell the story.

While I have a reasonably even distribution of posts across the weekdays, clearly, even in 2020, I had some inkling of the issues with weekend posting and kept it down, relatively speaking.

So for my results to be accurate, I would have to factor this in; otherwise, I might as well go see about running as a politician.

I landed on representing everything in percentages1, alongside the post-distribution. Each day’s metrics become relative to itself. All else being equal, if a day represented, for example, 12% of the posts made in 2020 — it should also represent 12% of the year’s engagement metrics.

Days where the engagement metrics represent a higher percentage than the posts that account for them can be considered as overperforming. Inversely, days where their engagement metrics fall below the percentage of posts are underperforming.

Of course, it all has to balance out to 100% in the end, so if a day does under- or over-perform, the next question is, where did those stats come from or go?

This one graph represents altogether too much time

Important note; the data set is orientated around when the posts were published. It makes no remark on when the engagement happened. e.g., likes on posts published in the weekend may have trickled in the days following publication.

Sunday appears to be the worst day to publish something you would like engagement on

It’s down on all measures, but in particular comments.

If you can hold your post for just one more day and schedule it to go live on Monday instead, you’re going to very likely have a much better chance of spawning chatter. So if it’s a topic near and dear to your heart, or if you want to get the opinions of others, hold!

Saturday isn’t nearly as bad as Sunday, but it does hold the dubious honour of being the only other day of the week to underperform on all metrics. So again, if you’re at all able — hold your post and schedule it for another day.

Mondays and Fridays are particularly strong days to publish

This makes intuitive sense to me.

Mondays sometimes need a bit of an easing back into the workweek. By Friday, the checking out process has begun and browsing is on the rise!

Any surprises?

I was a little surprised that Saturday and Sunday weren’t even further behind, truth be told. Although it’s probably worth noting, I have not removed consideration for the Humble Choice posts which I predominantly publish over the weekend and garner views year-round, if not comments or likes so much.

So I would advise you to potentially treat the Views metric for both Saturday and Sunday as somewhat suspect, in that they might be overstating reality vs. a more regular post. Just more reason to consider holding your post for a scheduled release on Monday. :)

Of course, if this doesn’t suit you — ignore the lot of it!

I’m not as zealous about this as two posts on back-to-back days might suggest, I swear. I just like playing around with data and testing my perceptions with it where possible. It isn’t something I do very often here on the blog, but every once in a while… *gestures vaguely at post* …this happens.

My conclusions, in this case, remain unchanged — if you are specifically after engagement with a particular post, don’t post it over the weekend.

Write it whenever you want — or can! — but schedule it for a day it can do the most good for you.

Unless, you know, you don’t want to. Then as you were! As long as you’re having fun, it really doesn’t matter. :)


This was posted during Blaugust 2021, the annual blogging event hosted by Belghast. Blaugust is an event aiming to welcome new blogger blood into the fold and revitalise those who’ve been at it a little longer.

The Blaugust Discord is still available to join in, year-round!

Footnotes

  1. As measured against the overall totals, i.e., just under 21% of all views in 2020 were from posts published on a Friday.

Naithin

Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.

11 Comments

Kaylriene · August 12, 2021 at 7:18 pm

I always find myself wondering about causality on these types of things. There’s definitely validity to the idea that people just don’t read blogs on the weekends, but is it possible my readers tune out on weekends because I don’t publish on them/write weaker posts on them/am inconsistent on them? Your data here is interesting and I’d be curious if there is a clear and unambiguous way to prove that weekends don’t work if you write the same style, length, and content-heft of post across the board on a daily basis at the same time to maximize interest for a home market.

Looking at my own data recently, I can see a few places where weekend days are my best performing days of the week, and both days this last weekend outperformed Wednesday this week. Now, that is down to a lot of factors I think – less game coverage, more FFXIV, more personal posts – and I wonder how many of them overlap with day of the week as factors leading to changes in metrics. Could be interesting – although I suspect that all of it is largely interpretation of data and viewpoint!

    Naithin · August 12, 2021 at 11:55 pm

    Question of causality is certainly a valid one. I did play around with removing humble bundle posts from the mix, for example.

    But then the exception I made in yesterday’s post was about evergreen/pillar posts more generally; so should I also remove consideration for posts with thousands of views over time more generally?

    After trying to control for a bunch of this, I found:
    1) It didn’t significantly alter the general shape of the results, but
    2) It did introduce a level of subjectivity that wasn’t present in simply allowing all data to remain and balance itself out in the scope of including a full year.

    More anecdotally, but in support of the findings, is that I do hear from other bloggers that they don’t really have the time (or inclination, in some cases) to perview blogs over the weekend.

    But that isn’t a universal truth either… so… shrug :)

    The data seems to fit the narrative, but that’s hardly the most scientific way to draw a solid conclusion!

quietschisto · August 12, 2021 at 9:23 pm

Nicely put. I have done a similar experiment, and have come to pretty much the same resulsts. Only difference was that Wednesday also was a bit of a stronger day.

However, I have found that it is far more important to make your posts “findable” and interesting. For example, my posts about confusing stories around time travel follow the same curve (less views on the weekends), but they still do better on weekends than my posts about “less interesting” topics on the hot days.

    Naithin · August 12, 2021 at 11:57 pm

    I thought Wednesday would come out stronger too, truth be told. Wednesday is the day I get the overall most views, according to WordPress Insights.

    I suppose in this data set, it’s possible that Tuesday is taking some of Wednesday’s stats, as I tend as a rule (although with plenty, plenty! of exceptions) post later at night.

    So my Tuesday published posts will often have most of their engagement on a Wednesday.

SDWeasel · August 13, 2021 at 3:21 pm

I’ve always wondered about this, as it doesn’t usually appear that way at a glance. I ran into the same problem you did, though, and was never cared enough to do the required legwork. I appreciate you taking the time to put all this together!

    Naithin · August 13, 2021 at 9:56 pm

    Most welcome! I love pulling data like this on things from time to time. Seemed it was time again. :)

    Not sure what the next one might be yet.

Frostilyte · August 13, 2021 at 4:52 pm

This is something I’ve recognized the entire time I have been blogging and has entirely dictated when I post. Good to see some hard numbers on it similar to the time that Quietshisto and I talked about it after his experiment.

    Naithin · August 13, 2021 at 10:08 pm

    I went looking for Quiet’s experiment, but couldn’t find it!

    But aye, like you I’d ‘known’ this for a fair while, but it was still nice to put some figures to it all.

quietschisto · August 13, 2021 at 6:37 pm

Day 3 of pointing out when you spell my name wrong :-)

Jaedia · August 15, 2021 at 8:13 am

Certainly interesting, though I feel like there may be differences in audience to consider, as well. From my crude understanding, gaming bloggers generally read posts during the week on work breaks and so it makes sense that a lot more engagement would occur during the week. I’m not entirely sure how true that is for book bloggers or others, though I find my views a lot larger at the weekends. However, I post my weekly wrap-up posts which are linked into 3 other community posts that encourage blog hopping and commenting on each other’s blogs, so perhaps that’s “cheating”? But it certainly changes things up. That said I still try to keep my reviews/discussion posts, things that would need to gain traction through other means, during the week so perhaps things aren’t so different between the two, after all.

    Naithin · August 15, 2021 at 8:27 am

    Difference in audience would be an interesting one to look at. Especially combined with the effect of primarily posting over the weekend in the first place like WCRobinson called out in an earlier post.

    I had noticed how well your weekend wrap-ups do though even before this, but I’d put it down to your base level of fame in the community being so much higher — even after a break! I hadn’t really considered all the cross-community linking aspect of it.

    Still, interesting that you still put other posts during the week. So as you say; perhaps not a huge difference after all outside of the cross-linking the Book Blogger community does for each other. :)

Comments are closed.