OPINION

Beating Blog Envy

There’s an undercurrent running through many conversations these days with professional colleagues: To blog or not to blog? That is the question.

Even deeper than that quandary is the fact that many business professionals, convinced they have valuable things to say, routinely get blog envy if they don’t have blogs of their own. It’s the tendency to read a pithy, insightful blog and say to yourself “Hey, I could do that.” Off they go to blogger.com or another site and in a mere five minutes, the world has another blog.

It usually hits people I’ve spoken with early Saturday mornings when there is an uneasy truce occurring between the television, the neighborhood kids and the telephone. In that peace there is the chance to absorb insights from the best bloggers around. If I had a personal blog it would read much more like “The Truman Show” or “Groundhog Day” than “60 Minutes” — and that is one of many reasons why I don’t have one.

The Strong Points

Don’t get me wrong. I think blogs are incredibly powerful at communicating complex thoughts accurately and clearly, and I read them often. Blogs educate, entertain and introduce you to people half a world away quickly. I’ve learned more about offshoring from Vinnie Mirchandani’s blog deal architect than I have from reading several analyst reports, for example, or more about marketing from Seth Godin’s blog.

John Hagel’s blog is incredibly valuable, and Chris Selland’s blog is very insightful on M&A activity across all of the enterprise software biz, including CRM and many other topics.

On the analyst relations front, if you are involved in that part of your company definitely read Duncan Chapple’s blog Analyst Equity. In the analyst relations area ARmadgeddon is useful. The mother of all blog lists for analysts however is found at on the Tekrati Web site. There are, of course, very popular personal blogs including the one Mark Cuban publishes too, and many others — too many to mention.

Help Raise the Blog Quality Bar

The more I’ve read these blogs the more I realize that for anyone to deliver equivalent value of these aforementioned authors they would either have to possess an impressive depth of experience, insight and writing ability to deliver superior content literally on the fly or just work very hard at it. Most people are in the latter group; it’s just plain hard work to produce decent content.

Here are three questions one might ask oneself that might help to “cure” blog envy for business professionals:

  • “What is my real motivation in writing a blog?” If the reason you want to author a blog is to educate and share freely your insights and experiences, that’s great — the best bloggers do exactly that. If it’s self-promotion — and deep down you and I know the truth on this one — then skip it. Only do a blog if you honestly have the depth of insight and experience to deliver consistent high value content.
  • “Do I have enough insightful content bouncing around in my head to populate a blog at least three times a week?” Another soul-searching question, but this is critical because any blogger wants to be known for quality and opinion — not just blind rants.
  • “If the quality of my blog content starts to drop am I willing to commit more time to take the value of my content up?” This is the most honest question of all because it hits at the heart of why anyone should be blogging in the first place, which is to serve others with information and insights.

My Blind Dog the Blogger

Jokingly I registered my dog Juneau as J. Columbus, CIO, on a bounce-back card to get a free subscription to an industry magazine that focuses on blogging and its role in the IT world. To my surprise, this magazine and a vendor collaborated to create customized portals, and they have now given my dog, a 14-year-old American Eskimo with failing eyesight but a fierce bark, his own personal portal. And he got his portal before I got mine. Dogs rule.

Summary

If America’s founding fathers were alive today they would call blogs freedom of speech in action. Nowhere can you get such immediate and honest information than from blogs. The challenge, however, for most people is deciding whether they have enough to say to make a blog valuable — and for those few talented and insightful authors blogs are a great way to educate, entertain and inform others.

For us mere mortals however, creating a quality blog needs to be first about the hard work of creating valuable content with others in mind.


Louis Columbus, a CRM Buyer columnist, is a former senior analyst with AMR Research. He recently completed the book Getting Results from Your Analyst Relations Strategies, which is available on Amazon.com.


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