When it comes to outdated marketing advice, the age-old “You should start a blog!” is probably my favorite. It’s not that it’s bad advice — in fact, it can be excellent advice — provided that the person (or company) would actually benefit from having a blog. However, not everyone should have a blog — just like not everyone should be using every social media platform.
It’s super easy to get caught up in the general “rules” that we forget each individual case is different, which means what works for one person (aka blogging) might not be a good choice for you. If you’re asking yourself, “Should I start a blog?” or even wondering how to start a blog, here are a few questions you should ask yourself first:
What are your goals for blogging?
If you’re looking to make money, blogging can be very lucrative. However, it does take time and energy to get that ball rolling, and not everyone has the patience — or willingness to learn — that it takes to create a profitable blog.
If you’re looking to share your expertise on a specific subject, build rapport with your audience, or simply share your personal thoughts then blog away. The important thing is to know what you want, how to get there, and whether or not you’re willing to do the work.
Personally, I knew that I wanted to build up an online platform around my blog. It helps me demonstrate my expertise, share value with my followers, and provide insight on the subjects I’m passionate about — like marketing, self-care, and productivity. As a freelance journalist, I also wanted to create my own website where I was fully in control of my content. Not that I don’t love my editors (I really do), but the standard pitch model was draining…especially when I had pieces I wanted to share with the world that were taking months to get accepted and/or published.
Do you enjoy writing?
Let me clarify — not all bloggers are writers and vice versa. You don’t have to love writing to be a successful blogger, and just because you love writing doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll love blogging. However, it’s still worth considering. If you hate the struggle of getting words out, editing your posts, etc…maybe other platforms (YouTube, possibly?) are better suited for you.
Starting a blog might seem like nothing but slogging away at a computer, but some people find it to be therapeutic. Some find it ridiculously easy, and some are willing to push through the grind to get the rewards. Really, it’s about what works best for *you* and your goals as an individual. Catching the theme here?
Do you have enough time to start a blog?
Here’s the thing. When it comes to all things online marketing, consistency matters more than you think. Want to start a blog? Posting once every six months isn’t gonna do much for you. Same as blogging every day for two weeks then dropping off the map for two years.
Blogging takes time and energy, and you want to make sure you’re able to stick with it over the long term. Sure, life happens. (I’ve taken a month off my blog before.) That said, if you want to see growth, it requires discipline.
“I can totally write six hundred words in an hour or less,” you might say. Surely that’s all you need to do for a weekly blog, right? Wrong.
It’s not just about the amount of time it will take you to write your blog. You also need to consider the time it takes to come up with an idea, editing, creating graphics, optimizing the post for SEO, formatting it on your site, sharing it on social media, and more. Plus, you know, there’s the whole procrastination/distraction problem.
On a good day? It takes me about an hour and a half to write (~1,000 words), edit, format, post, and share a single blog post. On a bad day, it’s more like 4 hours. Considering I try to post twice a week minimum, that’s a decent time commitment — especially if you’re already busy.
Are you comfortable sharing from your personal life? (If applicable.)
I’m going to be honest. Sharing your personal life — or your opinions — online can be abso-freaking-lutely terrifying. (Especially if you’re an introvert.) You never know how someone is going to react, and sometimes even “safe” topics can garner harsh reactions. I’ve been hit by internet trolls in the past, and it’s not easy.
While not every blogger will be putting their personal brand front and center like me (hi, hello, that’s me on the right side of this page), it’s still worth considering.
I don’t think you should be afraid of posting your thoughts online — especially if you’re passionate about something — but make sure you know yourself and how you’ll react to things.
Personally, I actually love politics. I wanted to be a political journalist, but I promptly discovered that my mental health couldn’t withstand the burden of the world of politics. Considering I’ve received harassing and insulting emails for the most benign topics, I knew that political journalism wasn’t for me — despite my passion and talent for it. Does part of me regret not pursuing it anyway and trying to develop thicker skin? Yes, 100%. But that’s a decision you have to make for yourself.
Are you willing to spend time promoting your blog?
I talk about this all the time when it comes to digital marketing, and blogging is no different. We often live by this philosophy of “if you build it, they will come.” (Thanks, Field of Dreams.)
Reality couldn’t be more different.
Unless you’re already hugely popular (whether you’re Oprah or a D-list celebrity), that’s not going to happen. Writing a book doesn’t automatically mean people will buy it. Making a cute handmade mug on Etsy doesn’t automatically mean it will sell. Creating a blog doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get website traffic.
You have to do the work, and that work can be hard. From sharing your blog posts on Pinterest to building an email list to SEO and beyond, building up website traffic doesn’t happen overnight. This isn’t a “set it and forget it” strategy, and not everyone is prepared for that.
Remember: the answer to “should I start a blog” doesn’t have to be an automatic yes.
There are some crazy benefits to blogging, just like there are benefits to doing any sort of digital marketing. The magic comes from finding the best method that works for you, your audience, and your goals.
If you haven’t decided if you’re ready to start a blog, or if you know you don’t want one, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a website! Check out my post about what you should know about having a site that *isn’t* a blog, and what needs to be on it.
Not sure where you should be spending your time online? Don’t miss my upcoming FREE live training on social media marketing for creative entrepreneurs so you can get more results with less work. (Seriously.) Space is limited, so reserve your seat ASAP. ✨