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23 Questions for Prospective Bloggers – Is a Blog Right for You?


Before launching further into the Blogging for Beginners series I would like to take a step back from some of the practicalities of setting up a new blog and ask potential bloggers a question…

Is a Blog the Right type of Web Site for you?

While I’m a big fan of blogging as a way to get content online – I’ve seen it built up by some bloggers over the years as being the ultimate way of having a web presence.

In my opinion this is just not true.

While Blogs are great (in my experience) they are not the ultimate type of website. They do not have all of the answers and they do not suit every application or situation.

It may be that after analysing your needs, personality, hopes, experiences and style that you find blogging does fit well for your purposes – but it may also be other web applications fit better with where you’re at. Don’t just rush into blogging and expect the world.

There are probably other people who are much better at selling you some of the other types of web applications out there (look into wikis, static websites, forums etc) so I’ll leave you to do your own research – but here is a list of 23 questions (written in no particular order except that it is the order they came out of my head in) that you might want to ponder before leaping into blogging. I’ve put a few brief comments next to each to get you going.

Please note that these questions are in essence a list of qualities of successful bloggers that I’ve come across over the last few years. If you don’t have some of these qualities it’s not the end of your blogging dreams. The list is idealistic and the questions are there to help potential bloggers enter into blogging with open eyes and making good decisions about whether a blog is right for them. It also might help potential bloggers to think about what type of blog they might start and what type of skills they might need to develop:

Without further ado – here’s my 23 questions:

  1. Do you enjoy writing? – Blogs are predominantly a written medium. If you do not enjoy writing then the chances are you might not enjoy blogging.
  2. What’s your Message? – While there are many applications for blogging, underlying most (if not all) of them is the aim of communicating some sort of message. Do you need/want to communicate something? Do you have a message? Starting a blog just because you want one might be fun, but it might also be a waste of time.
  3. Are you a good communicator? – I don’t believe that only good communicators should have blogs – (they can be a tool for people learning communication skills to improve) but it can be an advantage to have some basic communication skills.
  4. Are you better at writing or speaking? – Most communicators have a preference (or at least have better skills in one form or another). If speaking is more your thing you might want to consider Podcasting or even a Video based web site.
  5. Do you want to be the central voice on your website? – While blogs are good at building community – they generally feature one person (or a smaller group of people) as the central voices in a conversation. Other people have to respond to the voice of others. If you’re after something where anyone can start a conversation then a Forum might be a better medium.
  6. Are you a self starter? – Starting a blog takes a little initiative. While blog software these days makes it simple to start them, they don’t run themselves and take a motivated person to both getting them off the ground.
  7. Are you disciplined? - Similarly blogs require regular attention over time. While daily posting is not essential, it’s probably a good level to aim for. Will you be able to motivate yourself to write something new every day?
  8. Do you have time? – Linked to the need for regular updates is the fact that this takes time. Do you have enough time in your schedule to write daily? Not only that do you have time to moderate comments, respond to reader questions, read other bloggers posts, network with other bloggers etc?
  9. Are you thick skinned? - If you start a blog, the chances are that it will be found and that others will write about you or some aspect of what you’re doing. This is great when the comments of others are positive and in agreement with you – but it’s not much fun when you’re critiqued (sometimes fairly and sometimes not). Do you have the ability to take criticism well?
  10. Are you willing to be in the public spotlight? - Blogging is a public act. Every day you put yourself into the gaze of others. People will analyze your words and lifestyle. Some will want to know more about you and some might even recognize you in public (it’s happened to me a few times). While few bloggers (if any) are ‘celebrities’ – putting yourself ‘out there’ every day is a strange thing to live with and can have it’s consequences. Keep in mind that once you write something online it is very difficult to get it removed. You might be able to delete your blog but archives services (and other bloggers) pick up a lot of what you write and so you could be living in the public splotlight for a lot longer than you’re a blogger.
  11. Do you have any technical ability? - If this were a requirement of blogging I’d have never gotten far, but it is an advantage to have the ability to learn and work on a technical level. You’ll be working on a computer with web based software and at times you’ll need to ‘tweak’ your blog. Knowing how to do it yourself can be very handy. If you’re not this type of person, you might want to make friends with someone who is.
  12. Do you take yourself too Seriously? - One of the characteristic I think bloggers should have is a sense of humor – particularly when it comes to looking at themselves. While there are plenty of examples of bloggers who do take themselves too seriously, most successful bloggers seem to have the ability to laugh at themselves also.
  13. Do you have a blend of humility and Ego? - Coupled with a sense of humor should be humility. While bigheadedness abounds in the blogosphere it’s often the humble blogger who ends up on top. Having said this having a healthy ego and view of your own worth as a person is also a good characteristic to have as there is an element of ‘self promotion’ that comes into blogging at times. Getting this balance right is not always easy – but it’s worth working on.
  14. Are you willing to learn? – I like to look at blogging as a journey where everyone knows something but nobody knows everything. This is the case on any topic you want to blog about and the best bloggers are willing to share what they know but seek out and promote what others know also. In this way everyone learns – even the ‘experts’.
  15. Do you enjoy reading? – Being good at writing is very helpful – but so is the ability to read what others are writing. If I were to video tape myself over a day of blogging I suspect I’d find that I spend more time reading each day than writing. For every post I write I would read at least three.
  16. Are you an organized person? – While I’m sure many bloggers are completely chaotic and unorganized – there comes a point in most serious blogger’s lives when they have to get at least a little organized. With incoming emails, following lots of feeds, writing perhaps on multiple topics/blogs and moderating comments all going on at once (plus more) it’s pretty easy for time to slip away without getting much done.
  17. Are you a Social person? - There are many styles of blogging but when it comes down to it most bloggers have some sort of a desire to connect with readers. Some bloggers keep readers at an arms length (they might switch off comments and rarely respond to emails) but it’s probably an advantage to actually engage your readers in someway. If you don’t like people then this might be challenging. Another related question might be ‘are you an approachable person?’
  18. Do you enjoy ‘virtual relationships?’ - Some of the most social people I know are terrible when it comes to online interactions. They just don’t ‘get’ it and are much better face to face than via email, instant messaging or in a forum or comments thread. Being comfortable with speaking to and working with people you’ve never met before is an advantage if you’re a blogger. Connected to this – it’s also important to be what I call ‘virtually intuitive’. One of the dangers of relating to people online is that all can not be as it seems. Developing the ability to work out whether others are who they say they are and of good character is probably a skill to develop.
  19. Are you a creative person? – Once again this is not a ‘must’ – just an advantage. The web is a cluttered place and being able to develop content and community that stands out from the rest and that surprises readers is a big plus.
  20. Do you have Stick-ability? – While some blogs are overnight successes, most are not. In fact many (most) blogs are never as successful as their owners would like. A long term approach is one of the basic pieces of advice that I’d give most bloggers.
  21. Are you Consistent? – One of the common reasons that I see bloggers getting into trouble with their readers or other bloggers is that they change the way they approach their blogging midstream. Bloggers that are constantly changing the topic of their blogs, or who increase their expectations on readers suddenly, or who change the ‘voice’ that their blog is written in can end up losing the respect of their readers. While no one likes a boring blog – people do like to know what to expect to some extent.
  22. Are you honest and transparent? – If you answer no to this one then you can expect to eventually be found out. While in real life it can be reasonably easy to keep secrets or be two faced – the blogosphere has a culture of people keeping an eye upon each other and digging where you don’t want them to dig. While you’ll want to develop boundaries around what you do and don’t blog about, you will need to be willing to disclose conflicts of interest and be willing to be held accountable for the things that you say.
  23. Are you willing to work hard? – The level that you need to work on a blog will be dependant upon your goals and objectives for it – but if you have goals of being the next big thing then you’ll be guaranteed of a lot of hard work. Of course this is the case with any thing in life and not just blogs.

I’m sure there are plenty of other questions worth asking before deciding on whether a blog is right for you (feel free to suggest more below) but these are what comes to mind for me. In reading them back they almost read like a job interview for prospective bloggers!

Keep in mind that I’m coming from a background of blogging as a job and this will be reflected in my advice. As a result the above list might be more aimed at your serious blogger who is getting into blogging either as an entrepreneurial activity or with some sort of business application.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I just want something that interests myself and others. Nothing heavy just basic everyday good and bad happenings that some can share and maybe help with the input. Thanks Strider

  2. Roger says:

    Your 23 questions would appear to be a sound platform from which to engage in blogging.

    I recently set up a Google Blog, but I cannot find a way to access it via a Google search. If I can’t call it up/find it on the internet, the rest of the world won’t either.

    At 67 years old I am not yet computer literate! My website (under construction) is an 8 year work in progress… developed to this point by ‘pro bono’, and ‘fee for services’ assistance from various individuals. All government, and copyright registrations are in place.

    I need to understand more fully how a blog might/may/can/won’t support, or interface with my website.

    Is a blog a seperate stand-alone web site (seperate name, registration etc…. then, somehow linked to my main web site)? Should my blog be integrated into my website via an additional ‘button’ added to the left side of the home-page.

    How would I get the blog to be listed in/on the internet mainstream… make it easy for Canadians to find, and hopefully participate by responding to a blog theme/writing.

    My request for some direction from you may be to intricate, and long for you to respond to. If I do not get a response, I will understand.

    If however, you could easily point me to another location to have my questions answered, you could then consider yourself ‘hugged’ for assisting an ‘almost old’ person.

    Cordially

    Roger

  3. jon murray says:

    Thanks for the notes, I found them helpful. I am an avid ‘e-mailer’ but only just wetting my toes in blogging – for a ’cause’, of course!

    JM

  4. Darren you may also want to consider adding :-)……

    Do you have a back arm or or shoulder problem? Being on the computer for extended periods may aggravate your problem – so one needs to consider this before commencing

  5. Kaushik says:

    This is a great post guiding a would-be blogger to achieve an ultimate success.I’ve just started blogging a few months back and I’m getting success to some extent. But I’m not getting sufficient readers/traffic. Now,I would like to know what the blogging is all about when it comes to writing an article or post? Does it mean writing about what’s come up with in your mind or writing a post in an article format like a ghost writer does?
    Anyway thanks for this valuable post.

  6. steve says:

    ahhh, I seem to have foind the posts I am looking for. Some good points in those questions, ones which I will have to think about for deciding what to do with my blog.

  7. K says:

    Dear friend,when you’re blogging you primarily do the following things:1>research on topic yn want to post about.2>write the post.3>read and respond to the comments on your post.4>read your friends posts and comment and respond to the comment on their post.
    Plz write a post on the topic ‘blogging and time management’.Do you allocate a purticular time every day(e.g.2hrs every day) for blogging and the related stuff? Plz wriet a post about it.It will be very helpful for me.

  8. Anna Rosa says:

    Found this really useful and thought provoking, thanks. Think I qualify on most counts. Will have to try to be more organised and focussed though!

  9. Wordlar says:

    I think this is a great resource. I am an aspiring freelance writer by profession, and never thought to use my blog for making money. It’s a great side business for a burgeoning writer; certainly one who has less than a toe in the door of the industry. It allows me to get my name and content out there, and writing for other blogs would be a great resume booster. Thanks for the pointer!

  10. SF says:

    Thanks for the article. The checklist of questions confirmed for me that blogging is a career direction I want to take. Not looking to become the ‘Next Best Thing,’ but would like to explore where it takes me.

    I desperately need tutorials on the technical side or, as suggested, make some friends who are proficient at it.

  11. kawoix says:

    i was just landed to your site. what can i say…this the site highly recommended for the beginners. thanks for the useful information. i’ll visit your site more regulary. Keep up your good work.

  12. Renee says:

    My company has suggested that I should soon begin to blog on a regular basis as I love writing and communicating with our clients. I am just a little nervous and apprehensive as to how I shall manage to come up with new and interesting material on a regular basis. I guess that knowing your submect is the one of the most important requirements.

    I found your questions and information to be invaluble in my positiion and will use them as a reference in my preperation for this new task.

    What else can I possibly do to familiarise myself more fully with blogging as I want to make a success of it for the sake of my boss and my company as well of course as a personaly success.? Where can I find examples of blogging done on behalf of a company as opposed to one’s personal blog with a daily diary format?

    I would very much appreciate any advise or guidance your very helpful sit can offer.

    Thanking you in anticipation of furhter helpful hints on your site.

    Renee

  13. Debbe leal says:

    hi, you explain this all so well, Im just trying to learn lots of techie things about the web and your comments are a great help to us newbies. This is right outside my comfort zone and Im sure lots of other my age. I have just joined a company called Xocai the healthy chocolate, its a fantastic product, having wonderful results with everyone, its diabetic friendly and is even gluten and lactose free. I think that blogs and forums are a good way to let people know about a great new product. Ill be watching very keenly for your future info, thank you so much again, regards Debbie.
    [email protected]

  14. Larry Blanscett says:

    I am starting my exploration of blogging and appreciate your insights and suggestions. I am passionate about my topic,
    but my main focus is on scriptwriting. How would I go about getting my post on other’s sites?
    Larry

  15. i am not sure but money being my motivation, i am willing to do much more

  16. Carol says:

    Thanks, Darren, for the wonderful advice. Said ‘yes’ to all the questions, except 1 or 2, esp. the “organized” question. That I am not! Will be going over all the further links which look like a tutorial on blogging — which is exactly what I need.

    Want to do a photo business for real estate agents. Planned on doing a “static” site, dreaded the time it would take, but this is such a better way, blogging. Can tell stories of my past adventures, let them know what I’m all about, tell adventures I have around the town taking their photos! I love to share positive experiences (and memories) and this will give me a way to do just that. But I’m such a newbie at blogging, I need to really go through all your posts before I begin. Thanks again for the valuable information.

    P.S. There’s nothing on the site yet, but in a few days — yeah!

  17. mike says:

    My curiusity about blogging leads me to this page. As I go reading, I found myself interested puting one like those individuals who engage on this kind of profitable hobby.

    Thank you Darren for this great work!

  18. Justine says:

    very helpful…. i feel inspired and excited about this…although to avoid frustration i’m going to have to speed up my computar.
    Here’s a question though, when choosing a topic would you feel it’s a good idea to have a variety of topics on one blog – albeit slightly related?
    thanks for the help

  19. Jasmine says:

    This is such great information. I am looking for a little bit more information on this tho as I am learning the majority of it free lance and not in school. If you can direct me to any other sites that may have more info. please let me know. Some Great posts! Thank you

  20. Carolyn says:

    This is such great information. I am looking for a little bit more information on this . If you can direct me to any other sites that may have more info. please let me know. Some Great posts! Thank you your blog rocks!

  21. Jon Sollie says:

    Many thanks for the insights…

    As a senior (very) citizen with a limited attention span,
    I am motivated to revisit my efforts to develope my
    humble little blog.

    All the best,

    Jon

  22. I just recently started a weblog and these are some great questions that I asked myself everyday. I am definitely using these questions for my blog, for my attitude and the direction I want to take it. Great Post!

  23. Sujatha Pulla Reddy says:

    Thank you Darren, that was very helpful, I have never blogged, but would like to start, I have so much thoughts in me, so many questions, but I am not finding anyone to share with, or who shares my intrests, I want to start sharing, learning, find people of similar intrests, broad minded, and not instrusive. Do you think, for all this blogging will help?, and is there any chances that we get ourselves into trouble with the legal system, law and order?
    Some advice would be helpful.

    Thanks
    Sujatha Pulla Reddy

  24. jay says:

    Thanks Darren for these very informative points for a beginner like me. It would be a big help for me.

  25. Daniel says:

    Thanks, very interesting post.

  26. Richard says:

    Darren,

    Thank you for your thoughtful article. I am ready to blog again.

    I tried using TypePad but found that I couldn’t control title, keywords, and description with it and consequently, I couldn’t control or even influence my SEO for my blog. Frustrating. I am told that WordPress is better for controlling the SEO elements of my blog.

    Also, glad you mentioned wikis and static websites.

    What are the advantages of a static website over a blog? That’s a question I have always had.

    Thanks.

    Richard
    Chicago, IL USA

  27. Lucho says:

    Hi, thank you very much for your usefull posts, I´m just begining at this new world and know I will come to your site continuesly. Best Regards, Lucho.

  28. Paul says:

    Very insightful post for anyone considering starting a blog. As for me, I enjoy blogging and would encourage those looking to start a blog to take the 23 questions seriously, they will benifit you in the long run.

    Darren, I’ve added your blog to my favorites

  29. Babita Bhandari says:

    Thanks for sharing these tips with us. Your experience is really helpful and will definitely add value to every blogger.

  30. Joshua says:

    Thanks so much for this blog post; I had already been debating whether or not to start a blog, but these questions helped me to put things into better perspective.

    What is worrying me the most is that I don’t want a particular niche for my blog, although I have seen it suggested several times on various sites that one should consider having a specific niche for their blog. I understand why, as catering to a specific demographic gives you a certain margin of internet readers who are also interested in your niche, thus securing some readership. Also, being all over the place in your writing will annoy your readers.

    I believe I can pull it off, as I wouldn’t be too all-over-the-place; my blog would somewhat go in a particular direction.

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