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The Dark Side of Blogging: Warnings From Leading Bloggers

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There's no question that the blogosphere is on fire. As the flames spread faster than anyone could have imagined, a virtual state of pandemonium has resulted.

Many businesses and individuals have leaped blindly into the blog pool. Countless bloggers have found the water a bit too chilly and have abandoned blogging altogether. Still others are barely keeping their heads above water as they grapple with the challenges of blogging.

Perhaps you are contemplating blogging? Maybe you are a blogger thinking of calling it quits? Leading bloggers have some important warnings for you.

But first, how many bloggers are there?

How Big Is the Blogosphere?


Just this very moment, dozens of new blogs just went online. Here are the startling facts: In April 2007, 1.4 million blog posts were written every day, according to David Sifry, founder and CEO of blog tracking site Technorati. That's more than 1,000 new entries every minute.

Enormous numbers of people are jumping into blogging. In Sifry's The State of the Live Web report, he revealed that 120,000 new blogs are coming online daily.

With the mass adoption of blogging come some warnings that might surprise you.

Beware of the Addiction

For many people, blogging is an addiction that hinders their business and personal life. "The temptation is to devote increasing amounts of time and mental energy to blogging without realizing that your efforts could be more profitably spent elsewhere," explained Robert W. Bly, author of the new book Blog Schmog: The Truth About What Blogs Can (and Can't) Do for Your Business.

Seth Godin, the world's leading marketing blogger, echoes this sentiment, "If you have no editor, you don't know when it's done. If you have no boss, you can work too hard and do nothing else. If you don't have a filter, you might not like what you hear back."

Joi Sigers, owner of 14 blogs, explains, "You have to be on guard, because if you let it, blogging will claim more of your life than you should be willing to part with. You have to ask yourself a few questions. Does my family see the back of my head more than the front? If my Internet connection was down for a week, would I take a break or break down?"

Ann Handley, chief content officer at MarketingProfs, says you know you are addicted when "You can't watch a movie, see a play, read an article or share a sweet moment with your child without thinking of whether it's blog-worthy."

Not only is blogging dangerously addictive, it will also rapidly erode your free time.

Calculate the Commitment

Whether for hobby or for market advantage, blogging takes a great deal of time and personal commitment.

Pete Blackshaw, CMO of Neilson BuzzMetrics, said, "I love my blog and its topic, but frankly, I'm struggling to keep up. I'm just not cranking out content like I used to, and feel as if I'm contributing 'too little, too late.' I'm starting to freak about folks potentially sending unsubscribe pings my way, and I just can't handle the thought of such rejection." Blackshaw explains, "Creating great and compelling online content takes real work and commitment."

"I watch it happen around 4 to 6 months. The enthusiastic beginners start to realize that they have picked a blog topic that they aren't really passionate about. Blogging every day becomes a chore," explains Liz Strauss, author of Successful-Blog.com.

Strauss adds, blogging involves "having ideas, writing, revising, proofing and formatting. All of that takes time. It's rewarding, but folks should really know that it doesn't happen by itself."

Ann Handley says, "It takes commitment. Blogs require constant care and feeding. Expect to spend a significant part of your time off of your own blog, trolling around other blogs—to build your own audience, raise your visibility and keep your ear to the ground."

Understand the Challenge of Comments

Bloggers often find their hard work rewarded by reader commentary. The currency of blogging is comments. Comments come in many flavors, and often the ones you get are not what you were expecting.

"I was surprised when I started blogging that there were people submitting comment spam to my blog. These are people who wanted to use my blog real estate to generate links back to their Web sites," said David M. Scott of WebInkNow.com.

Simplenomics.com blogger Mike Sigers says, "Most bloggers are faced with the reality of no comments right off the bat. The feeling that nobody cares what you write is what dooms 50% of the bloggers who quit. The other 50% find out that they really don't have anything to say that's worthwhile."

Sigers also added, "Some people are going to be very negative and say ugly things to you and about you."

Liz Strauss explains, "A journal without an audience isn't as much fun anymore. When you first start blogging, you think it's about you and the writing, but so quickly you find out it's a participation sport. Once the thrill of hearing how people respond to and interpret what we say occurs, it's hard to go back to writing entirely without feedback."

Ann Handley advises, "Building an audience still happens the old-fashioned way, one reader at a time. Have patience."

Lessons From Bloggers

During the time you read this article, hundreds of new blogs just came online. Most certainly hundreds more wrote their last post as well.

Despite all the warnings, bloggers can achieve great success if they are prepared for the trek.

First, remember that blogging can be as addictive as nicotine or alcohol. It has its highs and deep lows. Be sure you understand this before you start blogging.

Second, blogging can become your "other child." Make sure you actually have time to raise this new kid. Like children, seeing the results of blogging can take some time and effort.

Third, you will find that comments are what fuel your efforts. However, spammers will likely be your biggest fans. Understand that comments must be earned and that they mainly come from writing great content.

As Joi Sigers says, "Offline's where the real living is! If someone comes to the realization that they don't read as much as they once did, can't remember the last movie the saw with their family, forget where they put their tennis racquet or suspect their family pet thinks they're a stranger, it's time to shift priorities."


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Michael A. Stelzner is the author of Writing White Papers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them EngagedFollow Michael on Twitter.

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