Should You Blog?

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I am often asked by other professionals if they should start a blog, and the answer is almost always, “it depends.” And it really does. I think the most important variable is whether or not the person is committed to blogging for the long-term. And a close second is whether or not the person is committed to blogging regularly.

Long-Term
When I say long-term, I really mean it. It can take a year or more to see real results from blogging, so it’s important to be committed for the long haul. If you’re not, then it’s just a waste of time. Why spend your time blogging regularly for three months and then quit?

I do know of a handful of bloggers who saw results within the first few months of blogging, but that is very rare. People need time to find your blog. It’s not just “if you blog it they will come.” It really takes time for people to realize you’re there and to become regular readers.

And regular readers alone don’t justify the existence of a blog. You need regular readers who mean something – either they are potential customers or they can point potential customers to you. It’s important to determine how you will justify the continued time commitment and what you will consider “success.”

My blog has been a springboard for other publicity, and has also attracted new clients. By developing a presence on the Web, I’ve been quoted in print and online articles and I’ve been asked to write articles and give presentations to organizations. Those have helped develop my client base. And I can trace specific projects back to my blog – I always ask new clients how they found me, and am amazed at the number who found me on the Web.

Regularly
One of the most important parts of blogging is doing it regularly. If you are planning on posting only a couple of times a month, don’t bother. In order to develop a loyal readership, you need frequent updates of your blog. Experts say you need, at a minimum, 3 to 4 posts per week to ensure that readers come back. Others say a minimum of one post per day is a better plan.

I personally try to update my blog at least once a day, if not more. When I find interesting news stories or there are developments on a case I’m investigating, I’m more likely to post multiple times a day. (Now be careful – don’t go overboard with 25 posts a day either. Readers want to be able to keep up.)

Small Company, Big Image
Cynthia Trevino at Small Company, Big Image had a great post about blogging and whether or not small business owners should do it. She offered the following reasons why they should:

1. Search engines love the frequently updated content on blogs. Notice how often when you perform a search for anything using the keywords that relate to your topic, the first few results are actually blogs. It’s a search engine world.
2. A Blog is another Internet presence. A blog gives your small business another place to be ‘found’ by buyers searching for your products and services. The blog is a powerful tool to build your brand.
3. Blogs are conversations. You have the opportunity to talk directly to your prospective buyers. Blogs are not ads. Blogs are not brochures. You are not “selling” on your blog.
4. Blog articles (posts) are short. Each blog post should be around 200-300 words. (Do as I say, not as I do. I am a recovering, corporate marketer and usually write too much.)
5. Costs are reasonable. You should hire a designer to create a custom “header” for the top of your blog. After that, you do not need the help of a programmer. I think you can find designers to create the custom header for about the same or less money, than creating a print ad.

But Cynthia notes some drawbacks as well. Blogging takes time and you have to write at least 3 times a week. Plus you have to think of new topics to write about on a regular basis.

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