6 Problems with Being an Infrequent Blogger

by Ken Mueller on April 4, 2013 · 45 comments

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300px Mid Devon %2C Country Road and Jogger   geograph.org.uk   1650403 6 Problems with Being an Infrequent BloggerI’m an infrequent runner. Sometimes I’ll run if I have to chase down a paper that blew out of my hand. Or to chase down Shadow when he gets away from me. Or perhaps I’m late to get somewhere, so I’ll do this kinda run/kinda fast walk thing. But I call it running. It makes me feel more…athletic.

But, no. I’m not a runner. At all. I’ve tried, and I can’t get into it. Sure, I’d be better off in some ways if I ran. But I also know I would pay for it in the knees.

I have friends who are running addicts. It takes time to get to that point. You have to work your way into it, but once you do, it becomes a regular part of your routine. In fact, if a runner doesn’t run, they get agitated. Missing one day bothers them. As a result, they run in the cold, they run in the rain, and they run in the excessive heat. It’s what they do.

People run for a variety of reasons. Often they start out of a desire (or need) to lose weight and get healthier. Often it’s at the advice of a doctor. But at some point it kicks in and they enjoy it.. It becomes necessary for them.

Blogging is the same way.

I recently noticed a small, local business proclaim that they had a new product on the way, so they’d be blogging about things related to what they offer in the weeks leading up to the big day. Great, right?

But this particular business has blogged before. Infrequently. They blog. They stop. For long periods of time. The only time they blog is when they have something to sell. I see this quite often with businesses, and even marketers who preach blogging to their clients. They blog a few times in the course of a week or two, and then disappear for months at a time.

There are a few problems with this:

1. You Can’t Build an Audience

One of the keys of building an audience is being consistent. People like when you blog, but when you stop, people forget about you, and there’s no reason to come back to your site.

2. You Can’t Build a Community

Community is not just a buzzword. It’s a very real thing that happens on blogs as people gather and communicate regularly. Just ask Gini Dietrich. Her community isn’t just hers. It belongs to any of us who participate in the comments over on Spin Sucks. Many of my readers here are people I met over there. If you don’t blog regularly, there is no way you can get that kind of online interaction on your site. Community building takes time, but you can’t have a community if there is nothing on which to center that community. A blog does just that.

3. You Can’t Build Credibility

One of the most important reasons for blogging is that it shows off what you know. It lets your readers and (potential) customers know that you are an authority in your field.  But if your blog posts are scatter shot, that won’t happen. One great post every few months won’t convince me.

4. You Won’t Be Taken Seriously

Quite honestly, I’d rather see a website without a blog than one with very infrequent posts. To me, it looks as though you are trying, but not really. It’s the equivalent of a Facebook page or Twitter account that is rarely used. If it’s April and the most recent post on your Facebook page is last October, that’s a problem. The same with a blog. It makes me feel like you don’t care about your business.

5. It Reflects Poorly on Your Work Ethic

“Wow. Blogging is a great idea, I’ll try it out! Oh, but it’s hard. I can’t keep this up. Oh, I have an idea, I think I’ll write a post. Hmmm, that post didn’t do anything for me, so I’ll stop.”

The start and stop mentality makes it look like you can’t follow through on anything. Believe me, I know, because that’s the way I am with handyman projects around the house. I’m not skilled in that area, and I start something, and then…I walk away. Sometimes for good. Lots of unfinished projects here! The same is true of your blog. Infrequent blogging can make you look lazy.

6. You Won’t Develop Your Voice

A big part of blogging is developing your own voice or writing style. If I try to run once a month, I’ll never build up any stamina. Each time I start will be like I’m running for the first time. With blogging, every time you take a long break, it’s as if you are starting all over again. You won’t strengthen your writing chops and develop a clear voice.

The Rx: Blog Frequently

Take a look at your blog. It’s time to fish or cut bait. Either commit to blogging consistently, or not at all. And by consistent, I don’t mean every day. If you want to blog weekly or biweekly, that’s fine. Just be consistent.

Persist. You’ll get there. Make it a habit. Part of the problem is often getting to the point where you understand the value of blogging, and then you’ll take it more seriously. If my doctor suddenly tells me that I need to run, there’s a good chance I’ll listen to him.

I understand that blogging isn’t for everyone. I love blogging and I believe that it is one of the best things that any small business or nonprofit can do, but I understand that it’s not always possible. That’s fine. I’m not asking everyone to blog.

Need inspiration? Check out the latest edition of Brand Fast-Trackers featuring Mark Schaefer, author of the new book, Born to Blog. Some great tips for you there on getting started and staying consistent.

*Update*  - After writing this post I was notified of three other posts this morning dealing with blogging, all of which are great resources, so I recommend them to you here:

Nine Tips to Write a Great Blog Post  over at Spin Sucks.

Your Business is Boring. Your Blog Doesn’t Have to Be at Eli Rose.

Why Have a Blog? at Conversation Agent.

 

If you want to blog, jump in, make the commitment, and do it well.

 

 

 

 6 Problems with Being an Infrequent Blogger
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41 comments
Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR

I fully agree...the running thing, well, I play tennis and kill my knees anyway. I wish I was a runner, but I like a fast pace through the wooded trails anyway. Sometimes I'll jog a bit and then walk. That's good for the heart.


So is blogging. Blogging is all about heart, soul, community, brand, 'raderie and all the things you said upstairs. Good one.

lauraclick
lauraclick

As a runner, this really resonates with me. It's amazing how hard it is to get back into a routine of running or blogging if you take just a week or two off. It's very slippery slope if you don't maintain that consistency.

I've written about this quite a bit. Although the frequency of blogging will depend on the business and their goals, I think most should really strive for once a week. If you blog less than that, it's really hard to gain any momentum and get into a routine. Great post!

dbvickery
dbvickery

Enjoyed the post, Ken. I did find it an interesting conclusion that becoming infrequent would reflect on your work ethic. I see your point, but sometimes the lapse is due to furthering those business connections with IRL meetings - or executing on billable work won through your hard efforts.

Of course, you always have to be filling that pipeline...so gotta keep ALL plates spinning. That includes the blogging engine.

C_Pappas
C_Pappas

I needed this slap in the arse Ken - thanks. Ive been using my redesign as an excuse for the break but it's only hurting me in the end. I need to find some balance because so much of my life is consumed by marketing - but I love it. Im trying to get back to more regularity and have some great post ideas. Stay tuned :)

Hajra
Hajra

I would so agree. Having just blogged after weeks I understand how lost one can get. Though I have a personal blog, I use it as a sample of my writing work. And recently when I applied for a freelance work (I did get it!); the first thing they asked me was whether I could handle being regular for them because I haven't blogged for a long time at my own blog. It took convincing but I could have done without it if I had been regular!

Mark_Harai
Mark_Harai

Nice reality post, Ken - hopefully it will help some folks buckle down or move on to more productive activities that will positively impact their business.

A half-hearted approach to anything in life will ALWAYS produce mediocre to poor results.


mdyoder
mdyoder

Love the sports analogy, @KenMueller I think it will help some people better grasp the concept. And, thanks for another excellent post that I can share with my clients. You're making my job much easier! I can just make you the bad guy for telling them what they don't want to hear. :)

ronsard28
ronsard28

Hello Ken. Thanks for this post. How would you say this applies to personal blogging? Are there any different suggestions or approaches suggested or would most of the same suggestions from above apply? I'm not really intent on building my business, but would appreciate work on expanding my audience (that is if people are interested in reading what is written). 

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes

Blogging frequency plays a big role in so many different and important areas. I am with you, if businesses/people don't do a good job of updating it makes me wonder about them.

bdorman264
bdorman264

Crap; # 5, now I'm going to be exposed....

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

Cycling is that way, too. In fact, Mr. D just said to me, "Please don't break any more bones. I don't know if your not being able to ride for six weeks is the best idea." Cough.

I half agree with you and half agree with @Shonali . I think the reason Avinash is successful at blogging infrequently is because of who he is and his job. I can count at least four people who've left big jobs at big companies who had big communities only to find people just don't care about them if they can't do anything fo them anymore at those big companies. It sucks, but it's human nature.

We have a couple of clients who blog (read: We blog for them). It works for awareness and traffic and all of that, but it doesn't work for community building or sales because they don't participate. They want the blog to go on its merry way and not participate in the writing, share it, or build community. It drives me nuts.

But, blogging is like a marathon or a Century: You can just go out and do the race. You have to prepare for it many months in advance. If you want to use your blog to announce your big new product, you have to start preparing it for that many, many months in advance.

Shonali
Shonali

Ken... I don't agree; I think it depends on what kind of business you're in, etc. And  blogging is not the only way to build thought leadership, credibility, etc - there are several other ways to do it, blogging is simply one channel. 

If everything you say was 100% true, then Avinash Kaushik wouldn't be who he is today. He does *not* blog frequently. Yet he has one of the biggest communities for his niche, has about the highest credibility there is when it comes to his specialty, is taken very, VERY seriously and no one ever questions his work ethic.

The problem with the small business that you allude to is that they only "give" to "get." Avinash (and others of his ilk) don't. So again, context is everything.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Hajra  I tell my college students that blogging is important for them BEFORE they graduate, for just that reason. It can really help them when it comes to job hunting.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Mark_Harai I agree, and I think that is part of what @Shonali and I were debating. What I'm talking about is the half-hearted approach to blogging. Even though Avinash doesn't blog very frequently, it is clear that he doesn't approach it half-heartedly. So perhaps a lot of it is semantics.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@ronsard28 While it's different, in that you aren't "selling" anything, you are trying to build a reputation and an audience. I think this holds true for you, too. Without knowing or looking at your blog, and assuming that you are writing good content, you need to be consistent. The other thing a lot of bloggers forget is that they need to get their work out there. You need to cultivate the audience. Two ways of doing that are by commenting on other blogs, and also by pushing your content out to the social web. That's something I wrote about in this post a while back. http://inklingmedia.net/2010/05/17/just-one-click-to-the-world-simple-ways-to-extend-your-blogs-reach/

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes I see a lot of small businesses that seem to hiccup with blogging. They blog once or twice when they start, then let it go. If you're not going to follow through, get rid of the blog on your site. It looks worse to leave the old copy there.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Shelley Pringle That's one area I usually discuss, but didn't touch on here. Google has even said that blogging is one of the best things you can do for SEO purposes. So the payoff from blogging is magnified.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@bdorman264 Oh, come on. You blog regularly. No one questions your work ethic. Well, at least not as the result of your blog!

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@ginidietrich @Shonali I originally wrote this around running AND cycling, and using you as an example. But then I thought, "Ken, stop mentioning Gini. Her head will get too big and she'll fall off her bike."

And that other part of the analogy is key, about the prep work. I took my son to the basketball court yesterday and there was a group of men playing on the other court. One of them was sitting on the ground stretching, then ran some wind sprints and did other drills before he even started shooting. He understands that while that might be boring, it better prepares him to play and play safely.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Shonali Yes, and there are definitely exceptions to every rule. A few things about Avinash, though. Blogging isn't his only outlet. I knew of him from other avenues, long before I found his blog. His other writing, speaking, etc. I also think that in some ways we live in a space that is a bit different than your typical small business or nonprofit (which is my main target audience here). When it comes to blogging, I'd say Avinash breaks a lot of rules. His posts are incredibly long, and I would cringe if any of my clients ever wrote that much. 

And, I would say he is consistent. While his posts aren't daily, or weekly, he blogs regularly. There generally aren't huge gaps where people wonder where he has gone.


KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@katskrieger Thanks. Keep putting out that great content and you'll keep getting links!

MarkHarai1
MarkHarai1

@KenMueller @Mark_Harai @Shonali As you've pointed out, Avinash is not the optimal blogger to compare to majority of the those in the blogosphere. He's not the majority, he's the exception. 

For real world bloggers who we desire to help, they'll need to step up the plate and work their a_s off, just like Avinash did to build the reputation and following he's achieved. Had he not taken an "all in" approach to his professional career, he would be mediocre at best.

In other words, he did a lot of other meaningful impactful work that make his blog a success. He didn't have to do things that most bloggers will have to do today to get noticed online; he already had a community of fans that carried over to digital when the opportunity presented itself. 

I'll bet he worked his fool head off to accomplish what he has to this point in his life and done those things OTHERS ARE NOT WILLING TO DO.

Frequency in blogging is nothing but GOOD ADVICE to aspiring bloggers who want to make a dent in the blogosphere if they happen to not be famous or professionally established at this point in career.

 Great discussion, sir : )

ronsard28
ronsard28

@KenMueller @ronsard28 Thanks for the great suggestions. Still working on developing what I want to achieve with my blog but if you ever would like to check it out it is www.ronsardsjourney.blogspot.com.

Shonali
Shonali

@KenMueller That is exactly my point. Avinash (and many others) used and continue to use several other channels in addition to blogging. I think if you'd used a different headline, or posited a slightly different premise, adding in the context, then your post would have been more accurate in my eyes. Because they're the only ones that matter, of course. :)

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Shonali Understood. I thought I made the context clear, and there are exceptions to every rule. I think the headline still works, because it's not a blanket statement. The difference with Avinash, and the others, is they had a reputation before blogging. That's a huge factor in this.

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