That really is a good question!
A lot of website owners enter into their site ownership with the best of intentions.
They’ve got lots of plans for that new site! But I frequently see those intentions get stampeded by the reality of day-to-day activities.
So time goes by and before you know it, we see information on the site such as sales events that are a year old. That has your visitors wondering if you’re even still in business!
What does this have to do with blogs? Everything.
Blogs are great marketing tools for websites. But like all other aspects of website ownership, it comes at a cost. It’s not a great idea for everyone. And it’s not a great idea if not done right.
First, there is time. Do you have the time to devote for a minimum of 1 article a week? Or 2 a month? That’s minimum…a more effective approach is at least a couple of posts a week or even daily during weekdays.
Even the most experienced writers are going to take an hour or two to put together one post. So this is already several hours out of your day/week/month. More, if you come up with topics that require research. It can also take a while if you’re stuck creatively. My husband, Jonathan of Skippy’s List, can spend an hour or more on one post. Even when he’s not feeling too stressed to write or stuck creatively. I tend to be in the same boat.
Once you’ve set aside time, how many ideas do you really have? Do you have enough material to keep you going for a year or years? My advice to any blogger is to write out a list of topics. And keep that list going from here on. Flesh out ideas in advance. If you don’t have a sizable list right off, wait a while and make sure you’ll have enough to make blogging worthwhile. I’ve got a rather extensive list of topics. For me, I just need to relax enough to get the writing juices going and make time to do it.
The third issue is this: how good of a writer are you? If you don’t write well or don’t like it or find grammar challenging, blogging may not be for you. Remember: spellchecker can only do so much.
And remember the important rule of writing: write about what you know. I saw a blogger write about SEO who had regurgitated a few points from another SEO blog. Unfortunately, he clearly didn’t know enough about web design or websites to know what it was that was important to use in his own article. It left him looking rather silly.
While deciding whether blogging is for you, ask yourself a few questions. Why do you want to blog and what you intend to share? What do you have that is unique to offer? From what perspective will you approach your subject matter? Who is your target audience? Are you comfortable sharing your thoughts and opinions for the world to see? How well do you handle criticism?
That last question is a doozy! Some bloggers have the inclination to shut off comments. But a lot of your readers want to be able to comment. And you want to encourage those comments too, as that certainly increases your site traffic. But not all of the comments will be from people who think you are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Some will decide you are yucky, moldy cheese. Good blogging practice is to just leave the comments alone that you disagree with (assuming they are not likely to drive away your other readers). I typically recommend against fighting with people in your blog too. At least, I recommend it if the blog is used for professional purposes. Correcting a poster on a point is one thing; flamefests in the blog comments is another.
And remember: blogs are not instant money machines. They typically take a lot of time and hard work to generate traffic. Some, like Skippy’s List, just become popular on their own without heavy marketing and advertising efforts. But even that happened over the course of 10 years. Don’t believe the hype from those promising instant riches as you blog from home in your underwear. Like all things: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
When you do decide to set up your blog, before you run out and grab a template make sure you read the license for it. For example, when you go to WordPress.org, you’ll see lots of free templates there. But beware: not all are licensed for commercial use. Read the fine print. Blogs can have a learning curve too so you may decide you’d rather hire someone else to put it together and maintain it for you. That’s right, there’s more to a blog than writing. You’ve got to keep the scripts current or your blog becomes a security risk.
Blogging can be an excellent asset to most business, non-profit and government sites, but as with all aspects of a business, it involves proper planning. Got blog questions? Just ask me!