To Blog or not to Blog

First, let’s recap what a blog is.  Simply put, a blog is an online journal.  You can “post” content to your blog in the form of text, images, and links to other sites.  You can also post files like audio or video content.  Once you post a blog entry, your reader community can post comments and feedback.  They can also link to your blog from their websites to drive traffic to your page.

Most bloggers measure the effectiveness of their blog through page views, number of comments, and number of links to the post.  This way you get an idea of readership and engagement.  You can also see if your post was bookmarked on Delicious.  Delicious is a searchable bookmarking site.  Just think of it as a place to store your “favorite websites”.  You have this capability in your browser (Explorer or Firefox probably) so it’s really just your list of favorites saved online that you can access from any computer anytime.

Blogging quickly became symbolic of the new found power of the internet.  Individuals could easily share their stories and the most powerful stories connected millions of people around a topic.  That collective energy prompted real action.

Knowing this, blogging sounds great!  Don’t race off to WordPress or Blogger to create a profile.  As a small business you have to think about whether blogging is a good idea or not.  Being thoughtful about choosing web tactics is important.  We all have limited capacity.  We have our core business to think about, customer interaction, product development.  Here are 6 things to consider before jumping into the blogosphere:

  1. Content: What are you going to write about?  If you’re a small interior design company maybe you want to write about interior design.
  2. Time Investment: How long will it take to develop content?  Have you already created it for another project and just need to repurpose content?  (edit for this medium and audience)
  3. Promotion: Is your site traffic established?  Are you going to invest time in promoting your blog to your target audience so that they read and participate in the conversation?  Are you going to create contests or giveaways to get the readers?  Promoting your blog also represents an investment of time.
  4. Value for Time: Some businesses have a good idea about how much time they have to invest to make one sale.  If you don’t, I would try to.  If your time is better spent doing other activities, then maybe blogging isn’t the best idea.  Now blogs, like any other part of your site need a lot of cultivation at the beginning and attention to keep the conversation going with your readers.
  5. Posts: Your blog posts will have categories and tags which are essentially subjects that will inform how your blog is viewed and searched.  Those merit some thought upfront because the way most blogging tools archive your post is by categories, so you don’t want to delete those.  My advice is to do 20-30 posts before you launch.  This way, you’ll give time and energy to create a structure and write thoughtful pieces.  You can think about topics of discussion and layout how it will work.
  6. Risk: Are there any risks you see in taking on this blog?  Accountability is important.  Think about the worst case scenario and make sure there are things you can do to mitigate those risks.  Maybe everybody in the company doesn’t blog, just a few people.  Perhaps you want to create a review system before posting.  Maybe you want to ensure posts don’t give away too much of your competitive advantage or value.

Blogging can be a great tool for your business but a thoughtful strategic approach should help you understand the workload and mitigate risk.  The internet is littered with blogs that didn’t last because the authors did not give the decision to blog much time.  Think about it, and if blogging is for you… enjoy!