The “new blog” decision

new_and_improved-300x300It’s a question that comes up every so often in, I would expect, most writer’s minds: Should I start a new blog? Maybe their current site is devoted to a particular topic but they find themselves drawn to the idea of writing about something drastically different. Say the site is about movies but they find a rising passion to write about political issues. So maybe they wonder if they should intersperse political posts with their usual movie-centric offerings and they begin doing so. Some of their readers enjoy those posts but some don’t, feeling it dilutes the site’s focus.

In my experience over the years I’ve started too many blogs too lightly and wound up deleting them or at least leaving them to wither and fade because my passion for X topic has waned from what it was when I started it. So blogs have had their content folded into my general, catch-all site and wind up as categories in a larger picture. I still might write on the topic occasionally but certainly not with the frequency that is necessary to sustain a stand-alone title.

The most valuable thing to do when considering starting a blog, whether it’s your first or your fifth, is to bounce the idea off someone who possesses a trusted and valued opinion. Someone who’s not afraid to tell you not to jump off that cliff you’re standing on the edge of. Likewise it can be someone who, when they tell you it’s the best idea they’ve heard in a while, prompts you to go ahead and jump. Sometimes that’s just a personal friend and sometimes it’s the social media marketer you’ve hired to guide you through the online world.

After that it’s a matter of sitting down and figuring out if you have two months of sustainable content. It generally takes about two months of consistent concentration for a blog to find its voice and its comfort zone. And it takes that long, again based on my experience, for the writer to make writing for it a habit, one that they can’t help but indulge in every day.

If it’s a corporate blog that’s being started there are often significant stumbling blocks in place. While legal, financial and other institutional and regulatory hurdles can usually be cleared with minimal effort, the biggest often comes when people start explaining they simply don’t have time to write anything for it. At this point look to behaviors that are already in place and find content that can be plucked and re-purposed for the blog. Does someone write a daily email with the important stories of the day regarding their company or their industry? Does someone regularly report on trade conferences they attend? Find these people and explain that it’s a simple matter of copying from their word processing program and pasting into the blog software and voila, there’s an easy post that can help build momentum.

If it’s a personal site, the same question can apply. Do you regularly send your friends an email with a tirade about the latest political bumbling? Do you spend an hour a day commenting on movie blogs? Take some of that time and, instead of commenting on the post, write what you would have left as a comment as your own post, with a link back to the thought starter.

One of the biggest self-imposed roadblocks to overcome is simply giving yourself permission to fail. Even blogs that are started with clear strategies and roadmaps and no doubt about the passion of those contributing will fall by the wayside. Don’t decide not to start a blog simply because there’s the possibility it won’t work out. An influential teacher – actually my high school choir director – said that if you’re going to sing the wrong note make sure you sing it full voice so everyone can hear. In other words, if you’re going to fail,  fail boldly.

There are ways the decision to start a blog – much less a second blog – can be addressed in a very low barrier to entry manner. But you need to make sure that several questions have been answered and that you’re in it to win before doing so. If it doesn’t work out then take what you’ve learned and apply it to the next time you start the conversation.