When I talk with people about blogging, sooner or later someone observes that as they would have to spend a lot of time writing, they might not get around to it for a while (or ever!).

I hear the voice of a high school English teacher in the background of these conversations, prescribing the essay topic for the day or week – I’m sure that for a lot of people ‘writing’ means ‘homework’ and the memory is painful.

Guess how exciting that makes the idea of blogging?

A corollary is that some people did not get good ‘marks’ for writing at school, so they don’t think they are ‘good writers’.

There’s an interesting discussion about profiting from blogging,  over at the Linkedin Bloggers group on Yahoogroups (yes, if you’re interested, we expect members to belong to Linkedin but that’s free and takes about 3 minutes), and that discussion has segued into  the subject of how much time you need to invest in the writing of your blog.

One of the members asked how much time a typical blogger would invest in writing. I commented that I did not think anyone could tell someone what is ‘typical’.

Something that most regular bloggers know but don’t seem to talk about in this sort of discussion is this: you don’t actually need to write a lot to be an active, much visited/read blogger. Some ‘ranking’ bloggers have very little content ‘in their own write’ and devote themselves to sharing information they come across in their research/browsing etc.

For example, look at the posts today on the front page of  Steve Rubel’s Micropersuasion.

Steve is certainly a leading blogger. I suggest that prospective but concerned bloggers ask themselves: are there things I read that others might like to know about but maybe won’t find out about unless I point them out?

And look at Dane Carlson’s excellent Business Opportunities Weblog – it’s continually updated, well visited etc – check it out to see how he provides a service by linking to and quoting others.

I’m not saying Steve and Dane don’t write – just making the point that you can provide a great service by using a blog to point people to items you find interesting. If others find those interesting too, your numbers will rise like the incoming tide.

I tend to write longish articles which might take me 20 minutes or so, but I can also write an ‘article’ or ‘post’ in five minutes or less if the mood takes me.

I really think this business about time is an illusion for a lot of people. You may well be one of those people who has every minute accounted for in the day, but I suspect most people could find 15 minutes on, say, 3 days a week, to write something or link to something. That would put the person in a small minority of the millions of bloggers worldwide.

Which is why I encourage people to just get started – there is no blogging police force (yet!) to check on how often you post or how much time you spend or the quality of your writing or linking.

And to demonstrate how you can post by re-cycling, this post is essentially what I wrote on the Linkedin Bloggers forum a while ago. I think it is a subject of potential interest to a lot of people, not just on this forum, so my attitude is why not share it? Copy and paste, top and tail – say five minutes (well, maybe ten)?

I take longer for breakfast.

At least two other bloggers will also benefit – because I’ve mentioned Steve and Dane‘s blogs in my post, that will add to the links to them that search engines ‘see’ (and I’ve linked them again, just to make the point).

When we are explaining this preoccupation of ours, we bloggers perhaps need to speak of it as an ecological system, not just a bunch of crazed bloggers trying to think of something to ‘write’.

Fundamentally, a blog just gives us a vehicle to share our thoughts with, and interact with, a wider community/audience. I encourage people to forget school essays and think of the ‘writing’ bit as like writing emails to their friends. To go with the flow: treat it like a conversation. I know there are some purists who say we should carefully  craft our blogs – ars longa, vita brevis etc – but hey, why not just let people find their own voice?

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