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Smart Blogging Doesn’t Always Mean Starting a Blog

by Shonali Burke on June 1, 2010

Plunging into the ocean

So you’re finally ready to do it.

You’re ready to take that big plunge into the scary “social media” ocean. You’ve avoided it for as long as you can, or maybe you’ve just dipped your toes in, reading other people’s blogs.

Image: Steve Skinner, Creative Commons

But now you realize you can’t stay away any longer. Everyone is telling you that you need to be in the social media space. More specifically, they’re telling you that you should start a blog.

You have such great insights about economic development, marketing, basket weaving, they tell you. Or maybe they tell you that it would be the best way for you to interact with current customers or find new ones. Besides, they say, it’s easy. You can create a blog for free!

“Sure,” you think. “I can do that. I can write a blog.”

Because blogging seems like the easiest entrée.

STOP

Right now. I mean it. Resist the urge!

I’m not saying you shouldn’t be blogging. But I am saying that, like all realms of marketing, communications, PR, etc., you need to think before you leap.

It’s not as easy as they say

For one, blogging is a HUGE commitment. Your site needs to be updated on a regular basis. This doesn’t mean once a month or even once a week.

You need to find something to say – and the time to say it – at least 3, 4, or even 5 times a week.

And just writing and posting your thoughts isn’t enough. According to Technorati, there are more than 100 million blogs in existence. Or take a look at this 2008 Blog Herald piece on the subject.

It’s that whole “needle in a haystack” thing. The chances of someone just happening to stumble upon your needle blog among all the hay? Not likely.

If your blog is going to be successful, and be read, and be worth the time you put into it, you need to promote it through other avenues. You need to drum up readership. And trust me, doing so is HUGELY time consuming.

Fine!

“Fine,” you say. “You’re right. I’m not ready. I don’t have the time for all the legwork. Forget about blogging.”

STOP right there. I’m not telling you to give up on blogging entirely.

I’m suggesting you give up on creating your own blog.

Come again?

Too many people think that being a blogger means having to create their own blog. And it doesn’t. I should know.

Look at me. I blog here and I blog on What’s Next, Gen Y?, both of which are group blogs with many, many authors contributing content.

It’s the best of all worlds. I get to become a thought leader by putting out my content. I get to promote my company and various organizational ties via my bio paragraph at the bottom. And I don’t have to do all the work promoting a new blog, finding readers, updating content constantly.

Alternative thinking

One of the best pieces of advice I can give to anyone looking to start their own blog is to look at the alternatives.

Go become an avid reader of other blogs on the same topic that you want to talk about. Then offer to write a guest post on relevant topics for those blogs.

Better yet, after you’ve submitted a few guest columns, ask whether you can become a regular voice for that particular blog.

Then maybe someday, when you’ve been doing this long enough and you’ve built up a loyal following and you’ve road-tested your “voice,” maybe then you’ll be ready to venture out on your own. But if you do, do so with caution! (And don’t say I didn’t warn you! It’s a lot of work to be a solo blogger.)

Great examples of group blogs, other than Women Grow Business, of course:

And check out these posts on collaborative blogging:

Robin Ferrier is the editor of What’s Next, Gen Y? and Communications Manager for the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus. She is also the President of the Capital Communicators Group and the co-chair of the Marketing Committee for the Tech Council of Maryland. She has inadvertently become a frequent career / professional / job hunt resource for friends and colleagues due to a career path that has included five jobs in 12 years.

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