Blogging is often lamented as a torturous requirement of managing a modern business or nonprofit. Ugh, I know I should be blogging, I hear from my clients, but it's just so much stinking WORK.
You know what I think? Turn that upside down. Blogging is not nearly as much work as not-blogging. In fact, blogging can save you as much as dozens of hours per post. Don't believe me? I'll prove it.
"So, um, how does this all, like, WORK?"
Vague, open-ended questions like that are the bane of consultants and other service providers during a sales meeting. It means starting from absolute zero with the person in front of you, explaining the basics of your work, your process, and everything your client needs to know before you can even begin to tailor any specific pitch for him or her. It's like teaching My Business 101 to absolutely everyone.
We use previous blog posts (in particular, this post about web site planning basics) as a way to prepare potential clients for that first meeting. Write once, re-use infinitely.
Time involved without blogging: 10 to 20 minutes of every sales meeting. FOREVER.
How to save time through blogging: Write it all out once in a blog post, with tweaks every six months or so as necessary when your process changes, and send it to your sales leads before you meet.
Blog bonus: Some of your potential customers will find your "My Business 101" blog post without your help, and its clarity and focus will bring them to you!
No matter your industry, trends come and go. If you want to be known for what you do -- and especially if you are already known for what you do -- you'll need to have an opinion on those trends. Being a player in your field requires you to participate in these industry-wide conversations, whether the industry is software development ("what do you think of agile methodology?"), fitness ("crossfit: great or dangerous?"), or children's toys ("would you sell the new Lammily doll?").
Time involved without blogging: The mere act of sitting down to blog takes far less time than the research involved in forming an intelligent opinion. You'll answer these questions from any engaged potential customer or partner, anyway -- if you don't blog about it, you'll still have to answer email about it, talk about it at tradeshows, and chat about it at cocktail parties. How long do you want to spend hiding in the bathroom at your next industry event reading articles about it on your smartphone so you don't look like you don't know what's happening?
How to save time through blogging: You'll remember what you wrote far more easily than something you just read. It's worth reading this whole article from LifeHacker, but here's the good part: "writing things down appears to help us remember the important stuff, and...the better our notes are the more likely we are to remember."
Blog bonus: If the opinion you share in your blog post is especially prescient or insightful, you may get extra attention that brings you more business.
Using your blog as a place to record your reviews of important information, products, and service providers serves several purposes. In the case of this blog, which often includes links to other articles about web design, blogging, and service providers, I often find myself referring to past writing to find the resource I found useful six months ago. In addition, new clients will sometimes ask me a question that I know I've answered in a previous blog post. It's great not having to reinvent the wheel every time someone asks me something I know I've already considered.
Time involved without blogging: Depending on the information you know you used to have, it can take anywhere from minutes to hours for you to search your email and the web, get the answer, and create context around it for the new application you have for that information.
How to save time through blogging: When you blog about, for example, the best pizza places in Chicago, be sure to name the blog post well, use tags to help you find it ("pizza," "chicago," "best of", "lists"), and include links in the post. That way, when your visiting clients ask you where to go for a great deep-dish, you'll be able to point them to a post that has both your commentary and direct links to the places they want to eat. Otherwise, you'll have to repeat all the research.
Blog bonus: Sometimes you are the one who needs that research the most. Returning to your list for yourself reminds you of that one restaurant you never visited but you recall offered dessert pizzas -- just the thing you want for an upcoming party.
It's not lazy to skip blogging. Not bothering to write it down now really does make more work for you in the end. If you take two hours to write a good blog post you can repurpose for sales, publicity, and future reference, it's hard to say how many dozens of hours that really saves in the end. Working for two hours instead of fifty? If that's lazy, then I'm lazy and proud.