I was doing some research for a client project the other day and ran across an article in the New York Times talking about the high failure rate of weblogs. According to a 2008 survey by Technorati, only 7.4 million of 133 million blogs were updated in the last three months. That’s only 5 percent, which means 95 percent of blogs have been abandoned:
“…many people start blogs with lofty aspirations — to build an audience and leave their day job, to land a book deal, or simply to share their genius with the world. Getting started is easy, since all it takes to maintain a blog is a little time and inspiration. So why do blogs have a higher failure rate than restaurants?”
So why do people blog in the first place? Some see blogging as a path to fame and fortune. Others see it as a way to create an online forum to communicate with customers and prospects. I agree with an emerging breed of bloggers – creating a weblog is a means to extend your personal brand and promote an online presence.
When talking to clients about social media strategies, I tell them they need to think about the three C’s – content, conversation, and community. You need to start with the content in order to provide topics of conversation that ultimately lead to community. The blog is an ideal online icebreaker. It gives you a forum to talk about what interests you, both personally and professionally, and gives you a platform to share ideas with the rest of the world. A blog invites conversation where a web site only offers a sales pitch.
Blogging also makes you more three-dimensional, if not more interesting. It gives you an online soapbox to share ideas and concerns about topics that are of interest and make you stand out from the pack. Of course, there are more ways to build a web presence and engage in conversation these days. Facebook, for example, provides a great weblog platform with ready-made templates and discussions just waiting for you to adopt as your own. And then you have feeds on Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, and elsewhere to help the content proliferate.
The objective is to lay a trail of online bread crumbs that lead back to web locations, converting followers into allies. Whether those followers become clients or partners or sources for referrals really doesn’t matter. The first step is to engage them in conversation.
So if you choose to blog, stick with it. The followers and the comments will ultimately find their way to you, in one form or another. It just takes commitment, focus, and a clear understanding of what you want to achieve with your online brand. These days, Google is the first stop when people want to learn more about you. Wouldn’t it be better to let web searchers uncover the content that you created and that tells your own story? That’s why you should take charge of your online brand with tools like weblogs.