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Should You Even Be Blogging?!

This guest post is by Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing.

Blogging is dead.

In fact, if you ask some people, it was never really alive.

Sure, there are a gazillion blogs out there, and sure, some of them have tons of followers and make lots of money.

But let’s face facts. Most of the blogosphere consists of ghost blogs with single-digit audiences, about topics that nobody really cares about. Most blogs make zero dollars, and even cost the owners money, as well as lots of time.

So really, it’s just a matter of time before the world wakes up to the reality that blogging is dead, or was never really alive, and returns to the comfort and security of print newspapers. Right?

Umm … no, not really.

I don’t think blogging is dead, and I’d like to think that I wouldn’t make such blanket statements about anything (I’m not a big fan of Twitter, but I recognize that as being my opinion, rather than the gospel truth). The above was a quick caricature of the crotchety, ain’t-never-getting-on-board-with-this-blogging-thing sort of naysayer.

And it’s nonsense. Not just because this is ProBlogger, and if you’re reading this, then you probably disagree with almost everything I wrote. But because you’re a smart person, who knows that absolutes like “blogging is finished” or “Facebook doesn’t work” may be right for some people in some contexts, but can’t be right for everyone in every context.

So let’s try another absolute on for size. Tell me how this one grabs you:

Blogging is awesome.

In fact, it’s so awesome that I find it hard to believe people still waste money on anything else!

There are loads of blogs out there with tons of followers making lots of money—these aren’t just hypotheticals, There are tons of easy examples that come to mind, like Problogger, Copyblogger, and Firepole Marketing (okay, so Firepole Marketing isn’t in the same league, but watch this space!).

Sure, there are some ghost blogs out there, but that’s just a testament to how incredibly accessible the world of blogging really is—there are practically no barriers to entry, which means that anyone can do it, and anyone can win big.

Blogging is the ultimate level playing field, and it’s just a matter of time before the whole world wakes up and realizes that blogging is where it’s at. Right?

Umm … no, not really.

Why blog?

There really are tons of great reasons to be blogging. Here are just a few, off the top of my head:

  • Blogging is rewarding. It feels really great to write a post that you know is solid, and then have people read it and agree in the comments.
  • Blogging is educational. To keep on putting out good content, you’ve got to be reading good content, and thinking about interesting things. This makes blogging a powerful learning experience.
  • Blogging builds community. For your blog to do well, you need to connect with others like you. They will have experiences that you share, and that is the start of community. This isn’t just a web 2.0 buzz word—community provides support and momentum, which are both critical resources.
  • Blogging builds credibility. Creating solid, relevant content on a regular basis is a great way to communicate to your audience that you know your stuff.

These are good reasons, but they aren’t the only ones—I’m sure that with a bit of time, you could come up with five or ten more to add to the list!

But rather than expanding that list for several pages, I want to discuss one terrible reason to blog: all the cool kids are doing it.

Too many people start “me too” blogs, because it seems to be the thing to do. Everyone and their sister has a blog, so you should, too. It’s the magical path to freedom and riches, right?

Wrong!

Just because others are growing an audience and making lots of money doesn’t mean that you will. At the same time, just because others aren’t growing an audience and aren’t making a penny doesn’t mean that you won’t.
Each person, blog, and situation is different, and you can’t just copy-paste someone else’s successes or failures onto your life.

So … should you be blogging? Let’s explore that in a slightly roundabout way.

Back to business school

I think it’s safe to assume that if you’re reading ProBlogger, then you’re after an audience, money, or both.
Let’s go back to business school for a moment, and talk about your business model. Fundamentally, your business model answers two questions:

  1. What are people going to pay you for?
  2. What will you do to make them want to pay?

Now, whether they’re paying you in eyeballs or dollars depends on what is important to you. Either way, getting them to do it depends on giving them something that they want.

And how do you know what they want? Well, first you have to know who they are—who are you writing for?
I read somewhere that when Stephen King writes a novel, he has a specific reader in mind—someone that he knows. When the novel is done, he gives it to that person to read, and if they like it, he knows he hit the mark.

Now, if this were a post about writing, then I’d talk about how you should be thinking about a specific reader for each and every post—how to make sure you’re writing what they want to read, using language that will resonate with them, and so forth. But this post isn’t about writing (but leave a comment if you want me to write that post!).

Where does your tribe hang out?

This post is about whether you should be blogging. So here’s what I want you to do. First, choose the person that you’re writing for. See them clearly in your mind, and don’t continue until you’ve got it.

Second, ask yourself this question: “Do they read blogs?”

If the answer is yes, then great. But for too many blogs (read: the ones who never hit the traffic numbers that they want), the answer is no. Like an organization for anarchists, they’re targeting an audience in a way that the audience will never respond to—even if the audience would love all their stuff if only they read it.

It takes courage to admit it, but if that’s you, you have two options: write for a different tribe, or write somewhere else (wherever it is that they do hang out).

Let’s say that the answer is “yes”—they read blogs. The next question is: “What blogs do they read?”

That’s the answer to where you should be commenting, engaging the community, and guest posting.

Who is that one person?

It all comes back to that one person that you’re writing for. Take the time to think about who that person is, and what they want to read. No complicated tricks or frameworks—if you know them, then you know what they like, right?

So who are you writing for? Who is that one person? What are they like? Do you know who that one person is for you? Share it with me in a comment…

Danny Iny is an author, strategist, serial entrepreneur, and proud co-founder of Firepole Marketing, the definitive marketing training program for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and non-marketers. Visit his site today for a free cheat sheet about Why Guru Strategies for Blog Growth DON’T WORK… and What Does!

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Comments

  1. Chris says:

    Good article – it really got me thinking.

    I just started blogging in January primarily to learn how to set up a website and a blog – basically to learn the mechanics of it all. I felt that at 50(ish), I was getting stale and boring – this was a way to get the little gray cells bouncing around again.

    To get started, I wrote about things that interest me (quilting, drawing and my journey into incorporating the two.) The blogs I read by more accomplished “real” artists seemed to run along those lines. So, I didn’t have something new and different, but it worked (with low readership) while I get my legs under me.

    Now I feel that the blog is morphing into more of a personal journal rather than something that someone (other than my mother) would search out.

    It’s only recently that I decided that I need to narrow my focus on a particular reader. I THINK I know who that person is, but how can I really figure out if I’m on point? I’ll admit I’m not always the most adept at reading people and personalities.

    Thanks again for a thoughtful article.

    • Hi Chris, thank you for your sharing your journey here, and for your thoughtful questions.

      My partner wrote a post last week about how to go about narrowing your focus on a particular reader – perhaps you should check it out: http://www.firepolemarketing.com/blog/2011/04/30/customer-profiles/

      Let me know if it is helpful! :)

    • Bobo says:

      While I agree with your title, but I don’t agree with your conclusion. Let’s face it, just as Chris has pointed out, the majority of blogging falls into the category of personal journal published for the few, or the one. Blogging isn’t ending, but rather its platform is morphing into the distribution channel of choice for digital media. I see self-absorbed, ego-centric fluff (personal blogs) simply going away as Facebook, Twitter and other channels allow people to have their say.

      Have you looked at the comments on Yahoo articles, or other Big bloggers (because I see Yahoo as a blog), they number in the thousands as people cheerfully write paragraph after paragraph of responses to these online articles – so I would argue “response blogging” is the future; a consolidation of the best blogs under corporate umbrellas with the small people commenting and not actively creating.

      Reality TV, personal blogging, personal webpages and the sort are reaching their end as the internet consolidates and the big guys make it redundant and unprofitable. The channelization of the internet will only serve to accelerate this trend (for example, the USA creating blacklists and digital borders – a “second” internet. Perhaps personal blogging will continue for some time, but in reality, who cares? The little guy is doomed and will need to submit “blogging” articles to the corporate platform owners.

      Just some thoughts as our digital rights are being taken away day-by-day and no one really cares. This combined with thousands of “blog marketers” writing crap has diluted the appeal of personal blogging.

      Thanks for the article, and I would discourage anyone from starting a blog unless they have “new” ideas to contribute – just go to all the top stories and see how many top bloggers are recycling others info… In other words, I believe we will digitally evolve away from personal blogging as the corporations direct us toward their definition of blogging, which will be response blogging as I’ve demonstrated here. Consolidation is the word of the day, bye bye ego

  2. Vish & Asia says:

    You are so right! Blogging isn’t dead. If you blog with sincerity and on a consistent basis, you will find your fans.

  3. Great blog. A little negative at first. But It definitely made me think about who I want to reach. Thanks

  4. Sean Davis says:

    Great post! I was scared to answer the final questions but once I did, I came to the realization that I know exactly who I am writing to… and they do read blogs! Very wise words in this post because I’ve had plenty of failed blogs and I’m willing to bet my target audience wasn’t online.

  5. I read blogs constantly! Especially ones the are within my business and likes. I have wrote my first article or blog I guess on educating the public on company’s like mine versus the unethical type that seem to be everywhere nowadays. I hope blogging is not dead because I feel it is a crucial way to talk to potential customers and explain there are still honest people out there. I learn a lot from this sight every time I’m here.
    Here is my first try at a blog http://honestcarpetcleaning.blogspot.com/

  6. This blog post was insightful and full of relevant information that encourages me to take action towards enhancing my blog and overall web presence. Solid no-nonsense advice in this post.

  7. Danny!

    Great post, thought inducing as usual. I expect nothing less from you. Now I see what you mean about your tongue and cheek reference to blogging!

    I align completely with most of your points, especially really knowing what people will want to pay for. As simple as that sounds, and as easy as it is to understand intellectually, it’s quite the different story clearly defining it and executing in a way that reflects that.

  8. Usama says:

    thats a good news thanks for sharing man.

  9. john liming says:

    Hey! I have just only begun my blog and I am so happy to find a resource such as Pro Blogger for advice from the professionals. I know that reading this Blog is going to save me a lot of time, frustration and hassle. I was depending on one of the online “Forums” for advice and “Community,” but, apparently, a lot of people do not care to respond to questions left on these things. Pro Blogger seems to answer questions before I ask them and that is just fine with me. Thank you for being there.