Time to blog versus business need to blog
Sure, the Edelman/Intelliseek report is fabulous (in spite of the Pew controversy), but the report looks at the impact on customer engagement (and one can extrapolate that to include staff engagement too) resultant from blogging. The report, and all of the bandwidth at the moment in the blogosphere about business blogging, seems to focus on corporate blogging.
But for the SOHO/entrepreneur/micro business owner one has to wonder if there is an ROI worth the effort.
I know how long it takes to pull material together for a one-hour podcast. Some podcasts are made daily, some are recorded twice per week, plus the creators blog extensively as well.
Where do they find the time? Is it that 'business is slow' therefore they have time on their hands? Do they have others to delegate business life (such as selling, following up, production) to? What happens to their audience when they go on holiday/burn out? In traditional terrestrial radio it is a maxim that you never take a holiday, for fear of losing your audience and/or your replacement doing a better job that you do.
A series of posts over at my hosting company (I am a passionate SiteSell customer) have made me think about the ROI of blogging. Sure, the search engines love it, but that is going to be a temporary blip, perhaps, until the engines figure out what to do with all of the new content.
If a search engine's task is to deliver useful results, then a random blog (albeit rich in keywords) goes only a little way towards solving the searcher's headache compared to a full article on it. But blogs seem to have some level of primacy at the moment. At the moment.
The question remains: does the time it takes to blog provide a large enough ROI for the SOHO/entrepreneur? Someone who probably already has their hands full trying to keep their business afloat (assuming that they are adhering to the three basics).
I believe that if you do NOT provide your customers/prospects with a way to engage in dialogue with you, if you don't allow the opportunity for others to create a community with you, then you are missing an important part of creating your own brand identity.
Sure, I blog and podcast precisely because I consult on blogging and podcasting; but the 'early adopters' of new technology steal a significant march on those who come later.
True, some technologies are blind alleys, but SOHO/micro entrepreneurs (myself included) have to make risky business decisions every day. Sometimes our decisions pay off, sometimes they don't. That's business life. The decision to invest in blogging (and it's more time-intensive sister, podcasting) are decisions about being 'early to market' and 'defining and reinforcing your brand'.