In these days of 140 character tweets and 6 second video vines, are blogs worthwhile?
More importantly, are they worthwhile to YOU?
The topic of blogging can fill books, but let’s go through some of the highlights:
- Blogs are gardens. Some people grow gardens to show off prize winning tulips; others to grow food for the family; still others for self fulfillment. Why you need a blog is similar. Some use it as part of their business to build relationships with potential customers. Others, to bring attention to their work or projects; still others, as an end in themselves. The content you regularly ‘grow’ on your site is handy for many things, since regular content encourages search engines – and searchers – to come to your site. The result is promotion of whatever your sites exists for – your business, your hobbies, or even you.
- Blogs are billboards. When you visit a blog, the personality of the site comes through (or it should if it’s designed right). Broadly speaking, people drop by a blog for two reasons: A link (such as from another web page or a search engine), or directly, because your content has built a relationship with those returning visitors. Guess which group is more likely to help your website/business/cause out? Therefore, viewing your blog seriously as a promotional tool, and working on relationships, is vital for getting the most out of it. Posts should always focus on the end goal, that of connecting customers with products. And if ‘customers’ and ‘products’ sounds too businesslike, substitute ‘donators’ and ‘worthy cause’, or ‘hackers’ and ‘neat project’, or ‘fiction fans’ and ‘next great novel’ – you’ll see it fits well for many things.
- Blogs are tools. As they say, to the man (or women) with a hammer, everything is a nail. So too with blogs. For example, I once created a site where the blog wasn’t a blog at all – it was a store, and the ‘posts’ were product sales pages. Because I’m comfortable with WordPress, my ‘hammer’ gets a lot of use that way. But blogs don’t fit every time. For the most part, a blog is about text: If you want a forum, an art gallery, or an Amazon-sized store, there are more targeted options out there for you. But if words are your key message, blogs do make a very good fit.
- Blogs are work. Like most any task, blogs involve effort. Some blogs, like Blogger or WordPress.com (not to be confused with WordPress.org) reduce effort by hosting your blog on their site, but at the price of giving up control and future growth. Yet even in these cases, time will need to be spent on your blog posts and website work. Because (good) blogs are really not ‘set it and forget it’ solutions, it pays to decide if you want to invest the time to keep adding to it, or can your time be spent better elsewhere. And the best time to decide that is before you start a blog, not after.
So are blogs worthwhile? They can be. Simply put, if you have something you need to say, they make a convenient way to say it. And while not every online site is a good fit for a blog, they do provide a low cost and simple way to get a website for your own up and running – and promoting whatever you need promoted.