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I think this one might get me pilloried. But who cares. It’s been brewing for awhile.

The benefits of blogging have been clearly delineated over the past 10-12 years.

Posts like this one do a great job of outlining the pros succinctly.

I am starting to believe these posts are – for most people and organizations, most of the time – wrong.

No doubt, your blog and its regularly updated content are great for SEO. But it ain’t that easy. First, you need to update the content regularly – this is HARD, and if not done looks BAD. Second, there are other ways to reap SEO benefits besides blogging. As with all things in life, it boils down to opportunity cost. I believe that blogging has a very HIGH opportunity cost because publishing takes serious effort and thought and, in a world where idiocy rules, great content often goes unnoticed.

Second, though there are myriad success stories about how companies and individuals have done great things for themselves via blogging, there are at least 1000 times more failures. Yes, Chris Brogan’s blog makes him money. But odds are yours won’t for you. Again, in a world of scarce resources you have to think about the counterfactual. What could you do BESIDES blogging? Would it bring more cash? I bet it would at least do so QUICKER – since blogging takes so much time to show returns.

Third, in a number of industries the “land grab” is pretty well done. This means that big players are already established with their blogs (whether or not they have anything good to say or are actually talented at executing business is another matter) and have grabbed large segments of the audience. I know, for instance, that everyone in PR thinks they need to blog. You don’t and breaking into the field, securing an audience (if that is your goal) is harder today than it was yesterday due to the proliferation of sources.

Fourth, I am totally down with the idea of blogging to be “knowable.” Indeed a prospective employer can learn far more about you from your blog than a resume. But blogging for knowability does not necessitate mountains of content. Due to the information overload that seemingly everyone claims to suffer from, I’d argue anyone who checked out your blog to get to “know” you would only consume a small fraction of what you had produced.

Fifth, and finally, I want you to blog. It helps me make cash. The folks who write the “helpful” tipster posts about how to create “killer content in 5 easy steps” share my desire. So, too, do social media consultants everywhere. But, between the immense time it takes to show returns, the small chance of creating content anyone consumes, the difficulty of accurately measuring the direct business benefits of your activities, and the immense opportunity cost that comes with blogging, you may be better off doing other things with your time.

I’d love to get your thoughts on this.

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • First, thanks for the nod to my article.

    I agree that not every strategy should start with blogging — or even social media. You need to figure out why you’re special, what customer needs you serve, who your customers are and how you are going to communictae to them and serve them. That’s a lot! But it takes a lot of thoguht before diving into something like a blog.

    Having said, that, a blog done well can create a lot of value. I owuld alos like to challenge you on the notion of what a blog is. Take a look at some of the examples in this post: The 10 Best Corporate Blogs in the World

    They are focused on new product development, problem solving, thought leadership and other goals. Blogs are evolving.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post Jackson!

  • It is I who should be thanking you Mark 🙂

    Thanks for the insightful comment and the link. In the final analysis, we both agree that blogging is a difficult thing to get right.

  • Well here are my thoughts: you are wrong. 😉

    1. It should take time. Creating content is our job. With content you help customers first, your company second.
    2. Everyone compamy can benefit from blogging. On a small or a big scale. Most failures are related to companies who already sucked in marketing.
    3. The table is never set. You don’t have to do exactly the same as your competitors. If all you advisaries are writing, you could vlog.
    4. There is always room for new information. Always. As long as it is better than the information we had before.

    Blogging is not the PR tool, but a tool. We can only succeed if we master different formats and be outstanding in each and every one of them.

  • Claire Celsi says:

    Jackson, I have great respect for you, but disagree with your opinion. Now if you’d said, “blogging is not for the lazy and the faint of heart,” I would have agreed. Blogging has helped many of my clients not only increase their visibility on the web, but their bottom lines. It has also forced them to get their poop in a group. So to speak. But I always enjoy reading your blog. Cheers, my friend. Claire

  • Danny Starr says:

    Working in marketing at a small company, I totally agree but mainly because of the fact that, especially when you are launching or trying to build your brand, there are probably 100 other things that you can do that will show better ROI.

    I like to say that your corporate blog (even your personal one) is only going to pay off you through two channels:

    1) SEO – writing content that ranks is getting harder and harder because most of the easy angles have been taking 5 times over and because SEO isn’t even close to as easy as it used to be.

    2) Social – getting people to see and share your blog content means that you have to put in the hard work of building and engaging with your audience. This is also getting harder as every brand jumps in social and the amount of noise goes up. As we now see organic search being heavily influenced by social, this is only more important.

    Lots of brands like to think that blogging is an easy route to popularity and sales instead of making a great product and working on communicating its value to the market… unfortunately, its not and so I would recommend they spend time doing anything but blogging.

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