What Would Mary Blog?

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When I started my consulting business, I did the obvious thing: I put up a website describing my services. Pretty standard fare. I recall a colleague calling a website an "authenticator" for a small business: you don't have one, you don't look legit.

Five years later I'm noticing that keeping a blog is becoming a kind of authenticator – implying that a person's thoughtful, that she has something to say. A little tagline closing a short bio that directs people to more.

I was a late adaptor to the blogging world; I didn't get it at first. It all seemed so forced and self-important—like a reality TV show in online journal format. But eventually I began wading into the blogosphere—first creating a private blog for family when we moved cross-country; then a public blog on parenting preschoolers when this venture began occupying most of my life and brain space. I started reading others' blogs more regularly and was inspired, enlightened, challenged, encouraged.

Blogging seems particularly well-suited to a person with leadership gifts. A leader is by definition someone who influences others, and blogging is an ideal vehicle to communicate ideas and extend influence. So it makes sense that many who are natural leaders also blog – their doing so can benefit countless others.

The challenge, though, is in the tool itself–a method of organizing thoughts for others' consideration.

To blog is to write for an audience and thus to consider how many are in the audience; how regularly each returns; whether they comment. One blogs, after all, to be read.

Enter the potential blogging trap, for the marketing mindset that accompanies blogging can easily corrupt the whole enterprise. When I started my blog I was faced with issues like how searchable I wanted it to be; whether to tag my posts; joining blogging communities to gain exposure. A friend forwarded me an email from BlogCoach on how to grow my blog . But did I want to grow my blog or, for that matter, use a blog coach?

Suddenly it felt like a popularity contest. Insecurity lurked, posing worrying questions like: is my content good? Original? Will people read it? How many hits will feel like enough? Should I spend energy trying to get more readers? Getting swept away in the promotion aspects of blogging is painfully easy, especially because the data inherent in blogging is virtually inescapable.

The platform can be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because a leader may optimally steward her gifts and infinitely extend her reach; thus her words and ideas may minister to others in an unprecedented manner. A curse because this potential offers ceaseless temptation to seek self-promotion… And to compare herself unduly to others' blogs in content and numbers, thereby falling into an abyss of self-focus or insecurity.

December08, 2009 at 9:52 PM

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