Why and For Whom Do you Blog?

Darren Rowse has an interesting article about a “new” breed of blogger,  who doesn’t blog for money but rather earns income as a SIDE effect of blogging.  His post was inspired by a post written by Seth Godin (the MASTER of earning income as a side effect of his blogging) called “The Wealthy Gardener” in which Seth writes:

Blogging is much the same way. The best bloggers make money, but mostly as a side effect, not as a direct result of setting out to use a blog to make a profit. It’s just too long a ramp up time, too frustrating and too uncertain to be the best path to make a living.


Which is why I encourage my clients to embrace the “new breed of blogging” with a passion.  See, in my practice, my clients are engaged in making what Neil Rackham classifies as the Major Sale.  According to Rackham, a major sale is one in which the seller needs to establish a trusting relationship with the buyer in order to complete the sale.

If you’re an independent service professional, chances are good that YOU are engaged in making a “Major Sale.”  If that’s the case, then a BLOG is a great way to communicate with potential clients and begin building the TRUST needed for them to eventually hire you so you can perform your services for them.

With that in mind, when I have a client who expresses desire to “monetize” his or her blog, I encourage them to think FIRST of why they’re blogging and then WHO their target audience is when they blog?  A consultant whose monthly retainer is four or five figures should probably focus more on building a relationship with potential clients rather than focus on the nickels and dimes a “monetized” blog will generate.

Even blogging superstar Micheal Arrington of Techcrunch began blogging not with a “monetized” blog in mind, but rather as a way to get up to speed quickly on the emerging technologies of Web 2.0.  It wasn’t until after he had built a MASSIVE audience that he parlayed his blogging “success” into a successfully “monetized” blog.

Mark Butler writes about the things Courtney Tuttle did right when he launched his blog and the first item Mark identifies is Court “began with the end in mind”.

Figure out what the ‘Why’ behind your blogging is, and remind yourself of it every day. Hint: “To make money” isn’t specific enough. Your blog should have a clear place in your business plans and goals. Define it, and stick to it.

I recently wrote about a GREAT contest being launched by the Search Engine Journal blog where they’re inviting guest writers to create dynamic posts to their blog.  It’s a great contest, but one I won’t be entering.  Why?  Because my blog is a promotion tool for my business and my clients are NOT RSS subscribers nor readers of the Search Engine Journal.

A conversation I had this morning with a client illustrated this point well for me.  I found myself creating a word picture for a client to help her to understand the difference between her domain name based email account and her beloved Hotmail email account.  (The word picture involved an RV, a mail box, and two dogs named Outlook Express and Hotmail.)   Trust me when I tell you that the readers at Search Engine Journal do NOT need that word picture to understand the concept of having two separate email account.

It’s easy to get distracted by shiny objects and small furry creatures as you build your blog.  However, when you keep in mind WHY you’re blogging and FOR WHOM…. it makes it MUCH easier to decide where to invest your most precious commodity…. TIME.

To Blog or Not to Blog…. Which is Better for your Business

When Darren Rouse of Pro-Blogger posts, bloggers listen. So when I saw that he had post “Should I Change My Website Into a Blog” I felt compelled to share my experience.

Darren points out 6 reasos why you might want a blog and 5 reasons why you might not want a blog for your business. It’s a great post and I heartily recommend it to you.

Darren states that one reason you may not want to use a blog to promote your business is that blogs take time to mature. A HEARTY AMEN TO THAT!!!! Nothing frustrates me more than to have a blogging client contact me 6 weeks after the launch of their blog and complain that they aren’t ranked #1 on a highly competitive search term which they haven’t used ONCE in any of their 6 posts. However, it takes time for ANY web presence to “mature”… even traditional ones which are launched with all their content “in tact” and ready to roll.

Darren also recommends blogging daily. If your blog is the foundation of your business, then by all means, you’ll be posting at LEAST once daily to generate the kind of content you need to generate. If you want to blog for blogging’s sake… then think of it as launching your own independent newspaper. Fresh content and breaking news are truly king.

However, most of my clients don’t aspire to full time blogging. My clients want a powerful marketing tool they can use to promote their business.

I’ve played it both ways. I had a “conventional” web site parked here for YEARS!!! When my web site was “just a web site”, when a potential client would contact me, the conversations would begin with “so and so says you’re wonderful.” After launching the blog, my phone began to right with people saying, “I read your post on [insert topic here] and I thought you might be able to help me. I can’t say I ever had ANYONE who wasn’t a referral contact me without an article being picked up by a newsletter prior to launching the blog.

Darren is MUCH more “balanced” on this issue than I am. Read his 23 Questions for Prospective Bloggers… despite earning a comfortable income from his blog, he still doesn’t think it’s for everyone.

However, Darren blog is his business. My clients are encouraged to see their blogs as COMMUNICATION TOOLS for their businesses.

My favorite word picture is as follows and I use it with clients who have a web site they love and they are considering whether to add a blog.  Read that post here: Using Your Blog to go Fishing (warning, it’s targeting authors, but it works for any business!)

Why Your Blog Isn’t Getting As Many Comments As You’d Like …

One of the most common “laments” I hear from my clients (the ones who are actually adding content regularly) is “HELP!!! Very few people are commenting on my blog posts!!!”

My standard response to them is as follows:

It’s been my experience that most people who leave comments on blogs are other bloggers. With a blog of their own to promote, these people are trying to build a “bread crumb trail” to their own blog via their comments. “Regular” people will have to be moved to great extremes of either passion or anger (usually the latter) to be motivated to actually post a comment.

It’s interesting to note that I have a few clients who have NO DESIRE to allow people to comment on their blogs! As I was researching a blog post for another blog, I came across a post from Steve Rubel over at Micro Persuasion titled The Participation Ladder and Its Impact on Marketing and PR.

Forrester segmented the online audience into several different stratas – what they call a ladder of participation. They found that “Inactives” are by far the dominant group (52%). They’re followed by spectators, joiners, critics, collectors and last but not least creators. This last cluster, according to the analyst firm, dabbles in lots of different activities but few do all of them. See the chart for more.

The numbers on the graphic pan out as follows:

Creators: 13 %
Critics: 19 %
Collectors: 15 %
Joiners: 19 %
Spectators: 33 %
Inactives: 52 %

Keep in mind, according to the report, people enter at the bottom of the ladder and move UPWARDS. Inactives don’t usually jump into blogging at the “creators” level. They move slowly up the ladder… becoming spectators… then joiners.. then collectors… then critics.

Now, take a look at YOUR blog’s audience. Where do THEY fall on this ladder?

My clients are definitely fall on the lower spectrum of the ladder. Most of them are trying to soar to the top and as a result, they need my services to guide them. That’s what I do. As a result, my clients (and potential clients) don’t comment on my blog posts, my colleagues do.

While my clients and potential client’s won’t post a comment, they will email me if they feel particularly moved by a post. For example, when I was complaining about my cat and his OCD issues in the post “Are Google Adwords the Answer?” I got several emails from concerned clients who wanted to help my demented self mutilating kitty.

Niche Blog Marketing also offers great advice regarding playing the comments game with your blog:

Focus on building your lists while building rapport with your visitors. Track your progress and study your numbers. Treat social networking like attending your local Chamber of Commerce meeting. Be approachable……..

In other words, ASK for participation if you want comments.

There’s no one who does this better than Liz Strauss over at Successful Blog.com. Notice how she ends her post “Wendy Wouldn’t Wait. Will you?

What are you doing to build the business of your dreams now?

She got 23 comments on this blog post just by ending it by asking a question. She does that a lot and as a result, her blog is an active hub.

By the way, Liz leads that post with the most brilliant insight I’ve seen on the web:

A blog isn’t a business any more than a building is a company.