The theory is that if you are an information marketer – or if you publish information to establish your expertise in a niche industry or field – blogging can help raise awareness about your service/product and drive traffic to your website. But though I know plenty of online marketers who make millions of dollars a year, I don’t know one who says that the time and effort spent on a blog has directly put money into his pockets.
In my observation, there are two major problems with blogging as a business-building tool.
The first is that most of the blogs I encounter are rambling, stream-of-consciousness musings about a particular topic of interest to the author, largely bereft of any practical, pithy tips.
The second problem is one of distribution. With an e-zine, once the reader subscribes, he gets the e-zine delivered to him electronically every week or every month – or however often you send it. But with a blog, the reader has to go out and look for it. And since your contributions to your blog may be irregular and unscheduled, he has no way of knowing when something of interest has been added. Blogs are, by virtue of being a form of online diary, more suited for private thoughts than public consumption. If you have something of value to share, there are many better formats for doing it online, including white papers, e-zines, and websites. But most blogs seem to be the idiosyncratic musings of an individual. And the result is like porridge: a gloppy mess, tasteless, and not very satisfying.
Until that changes, I can’t see starting and maintaining a blog of your own, unless you are bored and looking for something to do or require an outlet for self-expression. And if the latter is the case, well … why not just keep a diary? [Ed. Note: Bob Bly is the editor of ETR’s Direct Marketing University: The Masters Edition – a program to help you start your own successful direct-mail business.]