Five Big Worries of a First Time Blogger - And How to Overcome Them by Cindy Lavoie

What if I blog and no one cares what I have to say?
What if I run out of interesting things to say on my blog?
What if customers post negative comments on my blog posts, in front of all my other customers?
How can I possibly find time in my busy schedule to author a blog?
Aren't most blogs just insiders talking to insiders? My customers won't care.

Sound familiar? Have these fears kept you up at night as you weigh the decision of whether to join the ranks of bloggers? These are the very real and understandable concerns of clients we've worked with as they face the decision of whether to blog. To blog or not to blog - that is the question.

It's a good question, and one that any potential blogger should think through carefully. The above list of worries, while they are often just a case of the jitters, deserve serious consideration before taking on the considerable commitment of becoming a blogger. Rather than brushing away these fears, I typically encourage clients to dig in and think them through, as the answers will give them important insights into whether they should blog and what kind of blogger they should be. So, here's a paraphrased conversation I had recently with a small business owner who is currently wrestling with this very decision.

What if I blog and no one cares what I have to say? This concern stems from a widely-shared impression that bloggers just write about whatever comes to mind and hope other people will find their thoughts interesting. While it's undoubtedly true that some bloggers are driven only by a need to express themselves - and many do indeed build a following - it's more often the case that good blogs are the result of a deliberate strategy.

Successful bloggers are typically people who understand the audience they are trying to reach and build a following by addressing the needs, solving the problems, and answering the questions - in short, offering value - for that audience. So, if you're concerned that no one cares about what you have to say, then consider saying something that your audience does care about. If you continue to offer valuable information and insights to the audience you're targeting, they'll care what you have to say.

What if I run out of interesting things to say on my blog? The first answer here is the obvious one - keep asking your readers and your customers what problems they're trying to solve, what questions they have, what content they find valuable - and then write about it. But also, be honest with yourself. Not all businesses have an ongoing stream of content to provide to their customers. Some small businesses have a simple, straightforward product or service that customers understand well and don't necessarily want to read about. Some businesses have highly complex or technical offerings that don't lend themselves well to the informal, conversational, and brief format of a blog. It's worth spending time to think through whether "content marketing" will truly benefit your customers and be worth your time.

What if customers post negative comments on my blog, in front of all my other customers? Don't let this one trip you up. Customers will post negative comments, so expect that. But if they don't post them on your blog, they'll post them somewhere else on another social media channel, where you may not see them and they're much more likely to spread. If customers or prospects enter negative comments on your blog, it's because they want you to see them and respond. So, respond. Give them your apologies if their complaints are warranted. Give them your perspective if you don't agree. Defend yourself if you think it's required. Or, if they are simply being rude, you can ignore them and let their bad behaviour speak for itself. Bottom line, negative comments in social media are much easier to manage when you're aware and involved.

How can I possibly find time in my busy schedule to author a blog? I'm pretty sure there's not a blogger anywhere who doesn't ask him or herself this question every day. But then, don't we all ask this question about any new task we take on? Who has time for anything? And yet, we do somehow find time for the things that are important. So, given that reality of modern life, the better question to ask is whether a blog is a valuable undertaking for your business. If the answer is yes, then you will somehow find the time. On the other hand, don't underestimate the time commitment you're signing up for. Authoring a blog does take considerable time and effort. If you are unwilling to carve out that time, don't start a blog.

Aren't most blogs just insiders talking to insiders? My customers won't care. It's a good question - and an astute observation. It is true there's a risk when you start blogging that you'll gravitate to the topics you find personally interesting. As you conduct your business, the issues you think about and the challenges you face will likely suggest topics you'd like to blog about. It's very easy, when you're constantly on the lookout for good topics to blog about, to start writing about your own challenges and learnings.

Over time, it's easy to fall into the trap of writing for other people who are like yourself. I've seen it happen many times, that bloggers start talking in their posts to other bloggers, and pretty soon the audience they want to reach - their own customers - become sidelined. One way to avoid this trap is to write a very clear tagline, or even a mission statement, for your blog and hold every blog post to that standard. An even better way to avoid the trap is to stay in close touch with your customers and ask frequently what they do care about.

The main point that jumps out from blogging discussions is the same point that every marketing discussion always comes back to: offer value to your audience, and they will return.

Cindy Lavoie is a partner at Sound Web Solutions, an Internet Marketing agency in Seattle, WA. Sound Web Solutions helps small to midsize businesses increase traffic to their website, build online credibility for their brand, and turn their website visitors into prospects and sales. Sound Web Solutions website: [ parked domian].

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