One of the most frequent questions I receive while traveling is about blogging. The questions revolve around how to get started, what to talk about, and what software to use.

My questions back to them usually startle the person, because so many start thinking about what they want to say, other than what their target audience needs to hear.  Here are a few…

1.  Who are your primary and secondary targets for your blog?

2.  What do you want to tell them?

3.  Do you understand what the key informational needs of the audience are?

4.  Are you reading other blogs on that topic, and ones targeting your customers and prospects?

5.  If you are reading, are you leaving comments that add to the online conversation on the blogs you cover?

6.  Do you have a firm grasp on the types of keywords to focus on that would be relevant to your blog?

7.  Do you follow those keywords on Technorati and Google Blog Search?  Do you have alerts set up around those keywords at Google Alerts?

8.  Can you commit to blogging at least two-to-three times per week? (consistency is key)

9.  What is your ultimate goal in starting a blog?  In one year from when you start blogging, how will your life be different?

10.  Are you looking at blogging as a challenge or something that could be fun?

Of course, I don’t ask all of these in order in fear I would scare them off, but these are the general starter questions.  These questions should be the same for individuals as well as businesses.

The majority of blogs out there don’t make it.  The worst thing you can do as a business is start a consistent dialogue with your customers and then stop.  Better not to do one at all.

Remember, blogging is just a tool.  Some businesses aren’t ready to commit resources or change their culture (full transparency) to adapt to a blog.  That’s okay.  But all businesses must understand the power of blogging.  Your brand is what people read about and talk about online.  You have to decide if you want to be a part of shaping that conversation around your brand.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: You can read more of Joe at his blog.]