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A Secret to Blogging Success – Build Upon What You Build

Posted By Darren Rowse 3rd of May 2008 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

build upon what you build.jpg
This week we’ve been looking at how to reach our potential by overcoming Blogger Inferiority Complex – a condition that cripples many bloggers.

Yesterday I suggested two steps to overcome this problem:

1. Identify What You Have – don’t focus one what you don’t have but instead focus upon what is at your fingertips that can be the foundation on what your future lies. I suggested 11 questions to ask yourself as a blogger to help you work out what you have.
2. Build Upon What You Have – starting with what you’ve got – begin to build from that place rather than being distracted by what others are building in their blogging.

Today I want to suggest a final step – one that comes out of my own experience as a blogger and from watching others succeed in blogging also.

3. Build upon what you Build

Here’s a ‘secret’ that I think sets highly successful people apart (in all walks of life) from the rest of us. They don’t just take what they’ve got and build upon it. They then build upon what they’ve built upon and then build again upon that…. and so on.

Many people get to a point with what they do where they become satisfied, content and where complacency sets in. They rest upon their laurels and stop pushing forward. I’ve seen this with a number of bloggers who quickly rose through the ‘ranks’ of blogging to build blogs that began to get attention and notoriety. But then they began to get comfortable and lost some of the drive that they may have previously had and pull back on the level of work that they were putting in – content just to enjoy the success they’d already had rather than to push into new ground.

The key is to push forward and ask some of the above questions on a regular basis. Here’s how it worked for me (this builds upon what I shared of my own story in yesterday’s post):

After six of so months of blogging on my first photography blog I sat down and looked at what I’d built. I realized that despite making some mistakes I’d covered some ground and what I DID have had grown.

I remember making a list of what I’d achieved at that point. The list included:

  • I had a blog on photography that was paying me enough to start to think about going full time on the project.
  • I had a new laptop that didn’t crash every hour (I was still on dial-up)
  • I had gathered some knowledge and experience of making money with blogs
  • I had some new blogger friends in my niche (and outside it) – some were beginning to talk about working together
  • I had a little more profile in blogging
  • I had the possibility of a little extra time on my hands as I’d completed my study

I looked at what I’d built and decided to bounce off that in a couple of directions. Firstly I decided to put my extra time into blogging more on the photography blog. I also decided to start a few other blogs on technology related to cameras. In a sense I used what I’d already build as a springboard or leverage to the next thing.


I also decided to take my experience of making money from blogs and start blogging on that topic (at first on my personal blog).

Then began another phase of grow and building.

After another 6 or so months I made a similar list of what I’d achieved and progressed to have.

Out of doing that I decided to shift all my archives on blogging about blogging from my personal blog to a new blog here at ProBlogger.

The process has continued over the last couple of years (ie every 6 or so months pausing to identify what I’ve got and where the energy was and then building on that). This resulted in a number of new things and continued growth of existing projects.

For example:

  • out of having built a little credibility and profile with ProBlogger I was joined with other bloggers to build b5media
  • out of 2 years of blogging on digital cameras and growing an audience in that field I decided to launch Digital Photography School
  • out of reaching a point where I earned six figures in a year from blogging I joined with another blogger to launch Six Figure Blogging
  • out of all of these experiences I took the decision to write the ProBlogger Book with Chris Garrett.

Now I don’t want to use my story here beat my chest and grow my ego but as an example of the principles that I’m talking about.

I didn’t start out to build what I’ve built – I started out, looking at what I had and determining to build upon that. That’s all I wanted to do at every step along the journey.

If I’d looked at the big picture too early or compared my meagre efforts with others in my early days I would have become overwhelmed and disillusioned.

Instead I focused upon what I had and what I could do and grew from there. Then I’d repeat the process.

The results have been an evolutionary growth in my own personal development as a blogger and that of my business.

Let’s Revise

  1. Don’t define yourself by what you’re not
  2. Start with what you have
  3. Build upon what you have
  4. Build upon what you build
About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. What I love about Darren is he always has a very positive attitude about blogging. It’s almost like he is in love with it. It makes me want to share that same passion about what I do as him.

    He has given me more good advice on blogging than any book that I’ve read or any other blog that I subscribe to. So with that said I would like to say thanks to Darren and his continuing efforts to provide the best damn content about blogging anywhere online and off.

  2. One of the best tips I’ve read lately and a picture that perfectly illustrates it. Thank you.

  3. Some sound advice once again, have been taking this whole series on boards.

    Thank You

  4. Focus on what you have and than leverage it to improve. Repeat.

    Great advise. Thanks Darren.

  5. Good article..Now i’ll try to focus on my blog’s main idea..

  6. That’s great advice. The complacency can set in very fast, you always have to be pushing yourself to the outer limit.

    Now that I have a blog making decent money and getting decent traffic, I’m thinking about venturing into blog consulting or maybe joining a company that does that type of work.

  7. This is an excellent miniseries, especially for me. I have gone through periods of “What are THEY doing that I am not…?” and it was probably reflected in my blogging. Now I am looking at “what is bringing people to my blog, and how can I expand that?”

    It’s a much happier perspective :)

  8. First of all, the picture is missing work. In the beginning of the post you emphasize working so much that it can’t be missing from the picture. That little dude is not even breaking a sweat!

    First point really needs more attention. Lucky are those few people who do not determine their life by listing things they still lack. Darren, maybe you could show some light here so we would see, how to change our thinking.

    Things we don’t have are the problems, which need solving. It is only logical to start circling around these issues in hope that they miraculously get solved. I am also guilty of this circling.

    However, readers look for answers to their problems and if we can’t answer our own questions, maybe we can answer others’ questions. Next time you write something, write how to solve a problem. The person who comes to your site, probably comes there just because of the answer you provide.

  9. Great post Darren. I think it is too easy to stay focussed in the ‘now’, plugging through the daily task list. Your suggestions here seem like a great way to look at the big picture and determine how you can take things forward. I also imagine this can boost you self-confidence when you sit down and list the things you have achieved.

    I have only just started on my own journey so look forward to trying this out in about 6 months.

  10. I have to admit, it’s difficult, the more I get into blogging, to focus on what I have and have done, and not beat myself up for the things I can’t do or haven’t done yet.

    Thanks for a straightforward reminder to better what I have and grow.

  11. Hm. I’m not quite in the ‘building on what you’ve built’ phase. I’m more in the ‘figuring out what the hell happened to your tuppenny nails so you can build what you’re building in the first place,’ phase. But I shall remember this when I am a big strong blogger considering the possibility of blogging full time.

    Yes, that day. It will be a Tuesday. If we still call them Tuesdays that far in the future.

    Great post!

  12. These is absolutely great achievement for you that you had built.

    I am striving hard to build my reputation in my country then to the world.

  13. Great info Darren.

    I hope to get to that point one day, where I can make use of what I have build, and build upon that.

  14. Nice to have an overview of your process like this. Yesterday I sat down and looked at the few posts I already wrote and came up with a lot of new ideas just by looking at those subjects and taking them as a starting point!

  15. Great advice Darren! I’m definitely going to keep it in mind and try to actually write down a plan to build upon my own recent success.

  16. I think this is why we should read biographies in order. People that have great achievements are always building on and on, on top of what they’ve already built.

  17. Hi Darren,

    Another fantastic post. Your advice kind of reminds me of a song from one of those old Rankin and Bass Christmas Specials. I can’t quite remember the context, but the song went something like this:

    Just put one step in front of the other,
    and soon you’ll be walking across the floor
    Just put one step in front of the other,
    and soon you’ll be walking out the door

    Which boils down to be grateful for what you have, and keep walking forward.

    Thanks for the post,

    – Dave

  18. Great way to top off this series. I agree that the pattern seems to recur. Those who are successful in any field are those that continue to build on what is already built, continue to grow, continue to challenge themselves and to learn new skills.

  19. Never be content with what you have built; instead, use it as leverage to build even more!

    Great advice and applicable to all walks of life.

  20. Hi Darren, thanks for showing us your business method – I’ve been doing the same thing in the way of building upon previous posts I’ve written but not purposely as part of a business model.

    ***Actually, is what you’ve shared here part of your business model, and at what point in your blogging career did you put one together? I’d love to see a post from you on “how to write a business model” for a blogging business.

  21. That’s great stuff. A lot of leadership bloggers/authors talk about this concept. They phrase it something like, “spend time strengthening your strengths.” The point being that you could become the best at a strength with a little work, but you’re probably never going to be the best in a weak area.

  22. Hey Darren,

    Build Upon What You Have, Build upon what you Build,
    that’s Positive Mindset, Only Champions speaks like that
    because they have been in the game and know what it
    means to win. Funny, how it’s true, You never under -estimate the heart of a Champion. That’s Fresh Oil, and putting it in new wine skins is the very “Magic of Thinking Big” as David Schwartz would say.

    Just had to save that contemporary wisdom in our
    del.icio.us/upperroom it’s that good and Champions
    always treasure and know the meaning of winning
    from a solid foundation. Be Blessed always…Peace!

  23. I had followed a similar path before but it was a much different time on the internet.

    But with your help and many others I have found a similar path again that all started from blogging.

    Thanks for always answering my questions and thanks for always being upbeat.

  24. Now I know I am on the right path, with The Abundance Highway, thanks for your input.

    This is a fantastic post. Sometimes we forget to acknowledge what we have and the answer can be right in front of us. It like diamonds in your own backyard

  25. Darren,

    So many of your posts inspire me and many others to become better bloggers. This is one of those posts.

  26. Great article! Very inspiring!

  27. I hope by starting with what you have can me that I have made only $0.60 in my last month blogging, and build upon that.
    I am very excited for the future I have with making money online as I begin to teach people about finances and how to become wealthy and I thank you darren for the inspiration to keep going with that despite my small beginnings.

  28. I have been wanting to begin a blog for a very long time. I too have been finding reasons for not staring a blog other than just doing it. Thanks for the tips.


  29. Back in ’94 there was a guy online as SteveMoMo: all I knew was that he knew more than me and was eager to help everyone with anything. I’d refer everyone to him. After a long absence from the web, i have found my new guru. Thank you for the information. I’m not that interested in the monetary aspect of blogging but with your help I now have a medium for my friends- spread throughout the country- to discuss topics relivant to us. Great site!

  30. Great post!

    Two good examples of people who continue to build upon what they have built is:

    Warren Buffet and Bill Gates

    failureblogger-16 year old blogger

  31. This is a very simple yet insightful idea. Your success proves that moving forward is in fact the only way forward. We are at the start of the process taking our traditional marketing firm and trying to integrate blogging and social media into what we do for ourselves and for our clients. It pretty intimidating now, but we’re digging in and getting our chops up. Thanks for the insight.

  32. It’s really nice post.
    This situation comes when blogger feels inferiority about their blogging,specially niche bloggers.

    Thanks for a motivative post.

    Shaan Haider

  33. Darren,
    thanks very much for sharing your personal experience with us. So your general suggestions become very practical and more easy to follow. Anyhow, do you think it might be possible to install something like “I say something on your blog (not yours, Darren, but one of the commenting people here), and you comment on mine?” Just once a month or so? I for myself use the commenting postings for visiting other blogs – and comment sometimes – but could there be such thing in an organized way? I hope my question is not too stupid.

  34. Hello Darren

    I’m new to blogging and have only been involved for a month or so. Am really enjoying it but find it’s very time consuming. I sell real estate and have started a blog as an addition to the website I’ve had for the last last 10 years. I find my blog more flexible and enables me to do things that I couldn’t with the website.
    Your comments are in line with my thinking and I realize its going to take time and hard work. My aim is to build traffic and then to monetize my blog. I’ve viewed your blog on a number of occasions and its good value.


  35. Very sound advice. This is why this blog rocks to the core.

    I have a pretty successful blog, but I am always coming up with new ideas for other things. One thing I have to keep in mind is that it is good to build on what I have rather than splitting my activities up all over the place to the point where nothing really takes off. So, this advice is good.

  36. Darren,

    Probably the best parts of this post for me are reminding me to stop every 6 months to see what I have accomplished and not to define my goals or success by what somebody else has achieved.



  37. Daren,

    Love your posts especially the quality content ….. and the topics which you raise ….. I just hope your love for blogging and sharing information will remain the same ….

    Keep up the good work ….



  38. Very good post. I always wonder how i came to know you, found you. I started reading your newsletter after a long time i subscribed to it. Not exactly blogging or earning money but your faith in the blogging converted me to blogging. You keep me on the track with your posts. Thanks!

  39. Darren: I like your idea of continuing to build on the success. But what I did not understand is that why you not make all your blogs on one website?

  40. One more great advice by you. Thank you for sharing all this with us. It’s really enjoyable to read your blog.

    Great work indeed!

  41. Hi Darren,

    Excellent advise and well said to.

    Build upon what you built to continue building what you have build for other thing you are building so whatever you have built will keep building.

    There’s too many build or built I have used and this building upon what you have built can bring you to the next level and level after level..

    I 100% agree and support this idea of building upon what you have built and I see it as a good way of making sense to people who would just build one thing and just sit on it after that.

    Thanks Darren.


  42. Congrats, Darren, on your success. I first came upon your blog about 2-3 years back and have witnessed its phenomenal growth.

    Your “Build Upon What You have Built” is an important lesson for me to learn. My difficulties had been lack of focus and constant distractions from a multitude of get-rich-quick programs.

    Thanks for sharing your secrets. I’m hoping to consolidate and to focus on the topics I like best and to build upon what I’ve built and hoping to build from now on.

    Have a great weekend,

  43. This is an inspiring post, to realise what you already have is a good way of taking an objective look at what could be done next.

    For instance I know what I’m going to do with severa of my blogs and that is build upon my art blog for sure, as I think it will be well recieved with more information on how I draw the way I do, some kind tutorials of some kind with real progressive samples.

    Anyway thanks for the post, as ever some great points to establish more content.

  44. Really useful

  45. i suppose i can start a new project based upon the existing domains that i have with some PR

  46. Darren,

    What you have shared here extends far beyond blogging. So many of us waste precious time lamenting over what we don’t have rather than focusing on what we do have and building on that.

    You have touched on the key to building a successful life as well as business empire. What’s important for readers to note is that it took time. You didn’t throw all of these ideas out at once. As a matter of fact, you didn’t even see the newer ideas coming until it was time for them to be born.

    Thanks once again for helping us point our attention and energy in the right direction for success.

  47. Great article. Really good share and makes for very informative reading. Thanks so much. You are an inspiration.

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