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This is not a Blog

Have you been told, “You should write a book”? If I had a dime for every time I heard that I’d have, oh, about two bucks. I’m also told I should write a blog, and I bet if you have a hobby or business of any sort, you’ve heard that too, or a variation on that theme, such as post, tweet, share or otherwise put your thoughts “out there.” But I’m wondering, do you have the time to write it and does anyone have the time to read it?

To use uber-organizer Peter Walsh’s phrase, “it’s all too much.” There are a lot of throwing words at the Web to “see what sticks” going on. The word for a good website is, in fact, “sticky,” meaning that it keeps people engaged. It can get a bit manipulative. If you’ve ever read a film review online and then at the end noticed the little thumbnails of other articles that might be of interest, you may have been trapped into staying on a sticky website much longer than you intended.

The other day, I was researching an article on female body image and got sidetracked down a rabbit trail of articles about Madonna’s crotch. It was like a bag of pretzels. I kept thinking, “Just one more and then I’ll do laundry.”

If any of us are going to write a book, a blog, a post, a tweet or anything else, I hope we do it because we truly have something to say; something that might benefit someone, or at least entertain them. The worst reason to put something out there is because some marketing book said you should. Or because “Fifty Shades of Grey” looked like crazy easy money.

When I marketed wine brands, one of the key lessons I learned was about follow-through. I observed so many wineries starting newsletters with much fanfare and expensive printing, only to discontinue after three issues. I’ve seen a lot of people start blogs and quit after a dozen entries.

There is an organizer in San Francisco who offers an email “Tip of the Week.” I receive it in my in-box less than once a quarter. Not keeping up with her once a week commitment makes me distrust her time management and organization, the very thing she is trying to promote. At the least she could renegotiate her commitment and call it “Tip of the Quarter.” What starts out as a marketing tool can end up as a negative endorsement.

If you truly have something valuable to say, your audience will appreciate and look forward to it. The medium, as Marshall McLuhan famously said, is the message, so if you have short inspirational tidbits to share every once in awhile, Facebook might be your vehicle, but if you have a deeper, more complex idea, a book might be the way to go.

As always, think about what you want out of the endeavor (recognition, connection, money, increased sales, etc.), how much time you are willing to spend, and whether what you have to share can be sustained if you’re thinking of promising output on a regular basis. Whether personal or professional, careful thought before you share will have more value for both you and your audience.