. . . That is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outraged blog readers, Or to take aim through social media against a perceived sea of troubles, And by commenting, end them? To die: or to employ conversational marketing, No more; and by a blog to say we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks . . . or merely to build personal brand . . .

Okay I will stop now and offer my apologies for butchering William Shakespeare in his posthumous state and his literary masterpiece, “Hamlet.” http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/385300.html

Seriously, should you start your own blog to build your personal brand, become a thought leader and develop a cadre of readers and colleagues? When I ask the question that way, the answer is an obvious, “yes.”

Here’s another way of posing the same question: Should you burn up valuable personal time on at least a weekly basis to become just another voice in the crowded blogosphere? How do you know that anyone will even care, let alone read your blog? And can you run afoul with your employer, leading to your quick demise in the face of the worst economic downturn in the modern era? If that is the standard then Mother Teresa (if she was still around) wouldn’t even attempt to post a blog on comforting the sick and the poor.

One of the key reasons to post a blog is that traditional means of getting out your messages are rapidly declining, particularly the pencil press. The invention of digital media, yes those ubiquitous ones and zeroes, are providing us all with the ability to self publish. We can now climb on top of our virtual soap box and speak to the masses.

Keep in mind that the trend is toward Facebook (400 million reported users), Twitter (75 million users), LinkedIn (60 million users) and MySpace (57 million users). Technorati www.technorati.com may track 70 million registered blogs, but the dirty little secret is that only 15 million or 21 percent of this total number can be considered to be active. Blogging may have peaked. http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/blogspotting/archives/2007/04/blogging_growth.html

There is no doubt that it is much easier to write quick little quips on Facebook, Twitter (only 140 characters), LinkedIn or MySpace then to come up with four or five paragraphs of copy for a blog. I found that most would-be thought leaders pass on starting a blog because of bandwidth concerns. They just don’t have the time (or don’t believe they have the time). Instead, they have suggested working on a contributed article, which probably eats up 8x as much time when you prepare and submit abstracts to editors and go through the same exercise on the actual article. Besides why do want to be the subject of the whims of external editors, when you can just self publish in a fraction of the time?

Another concern is what will you write about? That is a legitimate consideration. The answer lies with the famous quote by former US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart when he was asked to define hard-core pornography, “. . . You will know it when you see it.”

The key is not panicking. There are so many things in your life and your work that are fascinating to you that may also be something that interests somebody else. So why not take the plunge? In a later blog, I will discuss the key steps in starting and maintaining a blog. The real question that you should answer in the interim is: To blog or not to blog?