I was recently asked at a conference, as I have been many times before, how much time blogging requires each week. The person who asked the question was obviously concerned that writing a blog would be a time sink, and one that might not be justifiable from an organizational perspective. It’s a valid concern, and I sometimes rely on a flower garden analogy to address it.
The average gardener knows that pleasing and sustainable flower beds tends to be made up of a mixture of perennials—plants that persist and bloom year after year without re-planting—and annuals—plants that have to be replanted each year. Because they are relatively stable from year to year, perennials provide for the abiding, deep nature of the garden. Annuals, on the other hand, provide for variations, accents, new splashes of color.
A skillful gardener will think through the balance of perennials and annuals in a flower bed—i.e., develop a strategy—before ever planting, and will continually evaluate the results and adjust. Generally speaking, a garden that relies more on perennials will need more up front planning, but then considerably less new planting activity over time. Gardens that are heavy on annuals need continual replanting.
In the world of blogging, I think of postings that address timeless topics or provide resources that will remain valid for a long period of time as perennials. Here on Hedgehog & Fox, postings like my recent 3 Classic Web Reads – Free or my earlier Pricing Online Learning might fall in this camp.
On the other hand, postings that touch on a current news item, a debate in the blogosphere, or other passing event might be thought of as annuals. My posting a while back on the ASAE E-learning Conference, for instance, is an example of an annual.
What does all this mean from a time investment perspective? Well, as a general rule, perennial-type postings are longer than annual postings and take significantly more time to write. Once they are posted, however, they have the potential to provide value to many readers over a long period of time. These types of postings tend to attract links from other bloggers and Web sites and continue to generate traffic even when you have not posted anything new to your blog recently.
Annual postings, on the other hand, tend to take significantly less time to write, but their value is ephemeral. A blog that is dependent entirely upon postings of current news, for instance, will need to provide a continual stream of fresh postings weekly, daily, or perhaps even hourly to attract traffic and ongoing readership.
There is no right answer as to whether a blog should lean more towards annuals or perennials—it really depends on the goals of the individual or organization behind the blog. As you may also be sensing, there is also no magic answer to the “how much time does it take” question, but recognizing the annual/perennial distinction will help you determine how best to allocate time and resources to your blog.
Photo Credit: http://flickr.com/photos/free-stuff/177453185/
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