A version of this post was originally published in April 2013. I’m republishing it here and now because I’ve been feeling guilty about my lack of activity here, particularly as I start teaching again this week. I need to be a better example to my students, and I also need to practice what I preach. So this is a reminder for me to get back into the game. I read this, and I wince. Oh, I do blog regularly, just not here. My blogging is more for others, including my full-time gig at Tellus360. So if you’ve gotten in the same blogging rut I have, this is for you. And me. Oh, and I’m back.
I’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 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.
If you want to blog, jump in, make the commitment, and do it well.