I hear a lot of talk these days about the benefits of blogging for small businesses. Sometimes it seems everybody these days is starting a company blog. If you're a small business owner and you haven't already started a blog, I bet you've at least considered it.
Problem is, as many people as there are out there crowing and strutting over the success of their blog, there are just as many -- maybe even more -- grumbling about how their blog is a huge waste of time and energy that never produces any results.
So, should you blog?
On one of the forums I frequent, a new member recently asked if it was "worth it" to start a blog. This member noted there were already some blogs in their field, but none of them seemed to be doing all that well. They were concerned it might be a waste of time to try to stimulate reader interest in what could be a "dead" niche.
Well, sure, it could be the other blogs aren't doing well because people genuinely aren't interested in the topic. On the other hand, it may simply be a matter of the other blogs just not being worth reading. Generally speaking, in almost any niche, there are some truly terrible blogs, a large pile of mediocre blogs and only a few that are actually worth reading on a regular basis.
So what does it take to make a blog "worth reading"? How do you decide if blogging for your business is worth the investment of your time? Step one is to be honest with yourself about your reasons for doing it, and what you can bring to the table.
Let's get realistic. Consider these questions:
Do you have something to say? And is there enough of it to warrant a blog? A blog post written because you genuinely care about the subject will resonate a whole lot better with your potential readers than one written because it's been three days since your last update and your How to Make Tons of Money Blogging book says it's time to post again. You don't have to post every day, but unless you can come up with enough interesting topics to justify posting on a fairly regular basis, blogging may not be the best alternative for you.
Do you enjoy writing (at least a little bit)? Let's face it -- blogging is writing. You don't have to love it more than free chocolate, but it would probably be helpful if writing at least outranks "being beaten with large sticks" on your personal Fun-O-Meter. If you're simply worried about not being a "good enough" writer, take heart. As with many things in life, writing gets easier (and you get better at it) the more you do it.
Can you write about something other than just your company and its products? Nobody wants to listen to a non-stop sales pitch. If you want readers (well, repeat readers, that is), you'll need to find something else to write about, at least every now and then.
Are you willing to take a risk, express an opinion, have a point of view? Stiff and stilted corporate-ese and insincere marketing-speak are the kiss of death for a blog. You need to have (and use) your own human, individual "voice" in your posts. A little scary? Could be! So, can you handle it?
Do you have (or can you quickly develop) a thick skin? When you express those opinions in a blog, you open yourself up to comments -- from customers, from competitors, from random passers-by. Not all of them will be complimentary. Unless you want to do irreparable harm to your business (or personal) reputation, you must be able to keep a cool head and respond with maturity and grace. You also need to know when to let it be. Sometimes, not responding is the best response you can make. Can you do that?
Do you have (or can you acquire) realistic expectations? Are you willing to toil in (relative) obscurity for a time, or does your motivation rely on instant results? Listen, blogging is a marathon, not a 100-meter dash. It will take time for your blog to gain traction. In the meantime you'll probably spend a lot of time writing posts to which no one comments and which you suspect no one (save you and your mom, and maybe not even her) actually reads. If you think your blog is going to leap to the head of the pack right out of the starting gate, you need a serious reality check. (Unless you're already a celebrity with throngs of eager fans quivering in breathless anticipation of your next syllable, in which case, nevermind. Carry on.)
So, is it "worth it" for your business to have a blog? That depends in part on what you consider "worth it," and how much work you're willing to put in to get there. The quality of the results you get will depend on the quality of your blog itself. Done well, blogging can attract new visitors to your website, help establish you as an authority in your field, and maybe even help you make an additional sale every now and again.
Only time will tell if you get what you were looking for in the end. But I think if you're willing to invest the effort to create a blog that's worth the time it takes to read, your readers can make it worth your time to blog.
Learn more about the ways Diane can help improve the performance and profitability of your business web site, or request a no-obligation personal consultation, by visiting www.NineYards.com.
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