Why bother blogging?
It’s easy to look at a blog, whether it’s your own or somebody else’s, and think “why does this exist again?” With this in mind, I’m going to peel back to first principles, and work through some of the main advantages of having a blog.
It’s a low-risk way to get into content marketing
Consultants like me will often sell content marketing as a glitzy, resource-intensive undertaking, with videos, podcasts, white papers, ebooks -- the whole deal. This is a lot of effort, and when you’re just starting out, it’s easy to underestimate how long things will take. This means you publish less than you intended on publishing, and spend more time than you intended putting it together. Not Great.
A blog is a much easier entry point into content marketing. If you start out just writing blogs, you’ll get a feel for what kind of schedule you can maintain, and what kind of effort it takes your organisation to produce content you’re happy with. And if content marketing ultimately ends up being more effort than is worth it for your organisation, you haven’t lost much in the process of finding out.
You learn how your organisation produces content
It’s easy to hand-wave away content marketing as “oh, we’ll just get it done.” In reality, very few organisations can function like this.
You may think you can just produce content with no problems, but when you sit down to actually do so, you realise that lots of people need to see each piece of content before you publish it. This means that each piece of content you produce is going to take significantly longer than the actual writing time.
Or, you may learn that producing content is more time-consuming than you expected - ideas aren’t just sprouting out of the ground, and people are struggling to find the time to think of things, and write about them.
It’s much better to learn this on a 400-word blog post than it is to learn this in a 5-minute, high production value video. This gives you a much better view of how long things take, without expending lots of resource doing so.
You build a framework for other content
I was a bit glib above about e-books and other high production value content, but these things can be very valuable. If you blog for awhile, you are not only producing content, you are also producing a framework to inform content that takes more effort. Every blog is a potential video script or podcast conversation. So by blogging, you are making it easier for yourself if and when you want to move into content that requires more of your time and energy.
You learn what kind of content your audience wants
When you do start producing content that requires more of your time and energy, you’re going to want to be producing content that people actually want to read. It's no use putting together a $15,000 video about a topic that your audience couldn't care less about. This is where a blog is super-handy - it can tell you what people care about through its readership stats.
If one post has been read by 5x more people than any other post, then you can probably assume that topic will be worth a deeper dive. And if one post that you particularly loved only had four readers, you can assume that that topic is less interesting to your audience than it is to you. This helps take some out of the risk of committing your resources to content production.
What are you waiting for?
As you can see, I thoroughly endorse blogging. It’s one of those rare things that has a lot of potential upside and fairly limited downside.
This blog is a great example. I probably spent a couple hours on this post. If nobody reads it, I’ve lost two hours of my life. That’s a risk I’m prepared to take, because it’s basically no risk at all.
And if I want to produce something like a video or podcast, I now know that people care more about repurposing content (90 views) than they care about content calendars (24 views). This is all valuable, albeit slightly embarrassing, information, and it really didn't cost me that much to get it.
I’d advise any organisation to take the same risk. Get into blogging, start producing content, and you'll quickly find out what you can produce, how fast, and who wants to read it. You'll probably be surprised at what you learn.
Image credit: LeBlanc Construction Photos via Wikimedia.