This post is the first in our series on Misconceptions New Bloggers Have. It contains this post, plus these:
At a recent conference, I presented on the topic of making money from blogging. At the end of the session, I hung around to chat with attendees, and ended up talking with about 30 people in what turned out to be an informal Q&A time.
The group was largely new to blogging and as they asked questions, I realized that there are a lot of misconceptions about blogging and (particularly about making money in this space).
Interestingly, the questions I was asked that day indicated that the misconceptions were all not of the same type. In fact, some had completely different misconceptions of blogging. The truth sometimes lies between the extremes.
Today I want to tackle two of the misconceptions that I heard at the conference from attendees. They relate to one another, but probably come from opposite ends of the spectrum.
Blogging is easy: it’s just writing!
One of the shocks that await many bloggers once they emerge after their first blog’s launch is that there’s a lot more to blogging than just stringing together a few sentences and publishing posts.
Blogging is much more about generating content.
This becomes apparent to most bloggers pretty quickly—usually within the hours after they hit publish on their first post and wonder when the readers will come and start reading and leaving comments.
The realization usually dawns around then that marketing your blog is something worth learning about.
Other realizations come thick and fast as readers do start to engage with you, and you learn that building interaction on your blog and fostering a sense of community are also core tasks that you need to learn about and do.
The list of things that a blog can benefit from is almost endless:
- community management
- server management
- search engine optimization
- staying in touch with what others in your niche are doing
- ad sales
- affiliate management
The list goes on and changes as your blog grows and goes through different parts of its life cycle.
Yes blogging is about writing (and that in itself is not always easy), but there’s a lot more to it for most bloggers than that!
Blogging is too hard
Okay, so you might be looking at that list of tasks that a blogger needs to get their head around and wonder if you’re cut out for it. If that’s the way you feel, you are not alone.
Many people look at the idea of starting to blog and feel completely overwhelmed by it and unable to tackle it because it’s either beyond what they feel they are capable of, or it seems like too much work.
Others get a week or two into a new blog and give up for the same reasons—they see what’s ahead and for one reason or another feel that it’s beyond them.
The reality (at least in my experience) is that while it is a lot of work—and it’s a lot more than just writing content—it is not completely beyond most people to be able to grow into the roles needed to operate a successful blog.
I say this because I did it, and I see myself as a very ordinary person. My “credentials” for becoming a full-time blogger were not the most spectacular.
- Before I started blogging I had had 20 jobs in ten years, none of which were in anything to do with the online space and most of which were fairly manual/physical jobs.
- My only qualifications were half a degree in Marketing (which I failed half of the subjects in) and a Bachelor of Theology.
- I’d received a ‘C’ in English in my final year of high school.
- I was incapable of making text bold on my first blog for several weeks—I wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed when it came to anything technical!
I don’t tell that to build a “rags to riches” story (I had a good life and was a happy chap), but rather because I didn’t have any of the skills or much of the experience that I listed above when I started out.
I either learned them or developed relationships with others who did.
On a slight tangent, a few weeks before my first son was born I was chatting with a friend and starting to get a little panicked about my abilities as a father.
I was projecting forward years ahead about whether I’d be able to raise a kid going through primary school or, worse still, if I’d be able to parent a teen. My friend’s wise words were: “You’ll have 13 years to grow into the role of a parent with teenagers.”
The same lesson is true with blogging. While a successful blog does call upon those who run it to do a lot of different things, when a blog is born there is a smaller list of tasks at hand.
There’s time to grow into your role as a blogger.
In my own experience of blogging, I feel I’ve grown up in my skill set as my blogs have evolved. At each step along the way there are challenges, but in time you learn, adapt, and discover what you need to know to overcome them.
Blogging is lots of work, but it’s not unachievable
If you’re starting out in blogging, or are considering jumping in, do so with the knowledge that there is more to it than stringing a few sentences together and hitting publish. It takes a broader focus than just writing and is a lot of work. However, do know that while you may one day need to expand your skill set and throw more time into it, you will have time to grow into your blog.
On a side note, I find it interesting that some who write about blogging (and who marketing blogging products) sometimes present blogging in one of the above ways. There are some who talk about blogging (and market their products) as if its the easiest thing in the world—like you just have to flick on a switch and a successful blog magically happens by itself.
On the other hand, I’ve also heard others speak about blogging at conferences as being beyond most normal people, building it up as something that can only be done by people with amazing skills and almost super-human dedication.
The truth is somewhere between.
What was your experience of starting out blogging? Did you have one of these misconceptions? What advice would you give new bloggers who are thinking in one of these ways?
I have been engaged in computer hardware for 15 years and in search for about eight and I am sure not a good blogger, but trying. I feel you have to be an authority on something or very articulate with your options. To just churn out mindless content is not the way to go. Expressing your expertise with some kind of style is the key IMO. Getting the style down is hard part.
I had a few similar experiences. The bold text note makes me :), because of a few similar font-related shortcomings in my blogging world too.
My advice to new bloggers: blogging becomes easier when you blog consistently. Write posts each day. Read each post on this blog – and top shelf blogs like these – and practice what the post preaches. This blog has 321,000 readers for a good reason. The guy who had no blogging experience went through trial and error, learned what worked, and did it.
I was an unemployed security guard before I blogged. I had zero knowledge in the area. But I studied successful bloggers, did what they did, and put my twist on it. I was persistent. Blogging became easier to me. It seemed tough, until I learned what to do, to make blogging easier.
I wrote, networked, tweaked my design, and simply persisted, and blogging became easier. Challenges still pop up, but when you gain valuable experience, challenges aren’t so big and bad. You know what to do, or you have a bunch of knowledgeable blogging buddies who will help you out, all because you persisted as a blogger.
Thanks for sharing your valuable insight Darren.
Hi Mr. Rowse,
Nice to see your post after so long. Your “credentials” part was the most interesting in this article. It shows your honesty with your readers and is very inspiring.
When I started my site I thought it was very easy to earn money from it. But after 2 months I earned only about $ 0.3 from my site through Chitika. But I’m not too sad because in these 2 months I’ve learned a lot (much through your blog and much through my practical experiences) and now I’m doing some big changes on my site.
You really run an awesome blog Mr. Rowse. It works like an encyclopaedia for new bloggers like me. Many thanks.
Thanks for another encouraging article! I’m almost a month into my blog/writing endeavor, and traffic is actually dropping off. I keep reminding myself to stay positive and not give up. Your bio is very similar to mine. I’ve had many jobs in a few different “non-tech” industries. I enjoy writing, especially when I can choose the topic. Another commonality, I’m currently a Biblical Studies major, and I see that you have a degree in Theology. So hopefully being a successful blogger is not out of reach so long as I keep at it.
I appreciate your dedication and your honesty, please keep up the great work!
When I first started I felt the same way. Put up a post and bam I’m in the money. So not true, but thankfully passion is what keeps you going when it doesn’t go your way in the beginning.
Either the passion of sitting on a beach and drinking a pina colada while deciding your next post, or the passion that comes from helping others who read your blog.
That’s what separates those that leave in the first few months from those who make a full time living off of it.
writing part is easy while building links and seo is way too difficult for me
I’ve literally created probably 20 blogs since 2003 until I got to the point I am now with one main blog and a developing set of readers. You set general goals of what you want to accomplish in an average day. A little bit here, a little bit there, and it starts to add up. The more offbeat and specific your ideas, the better. I find that if I’m one of the few people talking about something, I get a lot more traffic. If you’re blogging about Britney Spears, no one will probably ever notice you because there are a billion other websites talking about the same thing. But if you’re blogging about President Obama’s dog (or any other under-reported topic in the world), every time someone Google’s that topic they’re much more likely to come across you. You have to be blogging about something you simply can’t resist talking about. I’ve had moments when I’ve been in a state of panic trying to get a story on the blog as fast as possible so I can tell my readers. If you’re making it “work,” that’s what it will feel like. And you’ll end up burning out.
I have had some websites (blogs and non-blogs) just to make money. Even when I started making money it wasn’t fun to do. I’ve only kept my non-blog sites and my primary blog and I’m having fun again.
Blogging to blog or blogging to make money is no fun at all. I recommend you stick to the things you like and take your time to enjoy blogging. If it’s only for the money, there are better things to do.
Great post. Very trued about the 13 year olds. If you have any questions about raising kids email me! I’m an expert on that and so far I like the results. I will work on the blogging. Looks like I have nothing but time. thanks!
Great post Darren – really highlights that anyone with a bit of pluck can give blogging a fair shake, as long as they have a bit of courage, willingness to learn, and a whole lot of commitment!
Thanks for the list, Darren. It’ll help me stay on track. I like most things about blogging but there’s a couple I fudge on because I’m not as interested. Yes, I understand that all of it is needed. That’s why I liked seeing this list.
Great points. I’m not out to make money with my blog, I just do it as a way for my clients and prospects to get to know me and understand my perspectives on marketing and research. But your points are very valid. I struggled immensely at first with the technical aspects of blogging, especially with plugins for SEO, sharing content, etc. It was like a whole new language. Now that I’ve gotten my feet underneath me I’m having much more fun with it, but it took a month or two to get there.
I’ll agree with the statement that blogging is lots of work… but it’s definitely worth it.
I really enjoyed the article. Thanks!
It’s easy to get discouraged. Like most, I am blogging on the side along with a full time job and a family to care for. The stress of it can bring you down…if you let it. Don’t give up!
As a current newbie (blogging seriously under a year), I’d like to share some thoughts with fellow newbies:
-blog because you love the topics and are inspired, don’t focus on the money.
-don’t obsess over stats right away
-build some content and archives before going into a major marketing project
-it’s not a race, go at your own pace
As a hobby blogger, rather than a professional blogger, the site creation work I do has to be fun – else there’s no point. So the idea that a blog has to be “hard” work seems rediculous to me. Of course it involves lots work, but I’d say it is “fun” work!
A common theme from those who want to become “professional” bloggers is the chance to do something creative and enjoyable, so if working on your blog seems tough going then why are you going into this business? There are easier boring jobs in the world that will most likely pay better!
Thanks for this post! This is the comment that struck a chord with me: There’s time to grow into your role as a blogger.
This is what I have found myself doing in the past 10 months I started. My advice would be take what you read with a grain of salt. Use the principles you read about and like and apply them discard the rest. I have read so much on how much to post (my opinion post great content that fits your schedule) on what days of week (again what suits you) etc etc. It is the same that I tell all my new parents in the office: Decide what kind of parent you want to be and apply the things your read and learn that you like and discard the rest. The beauty of being a good parent, blogger or whatever is discovering what works for you!
I have no difficulty writing (although I’ll admit some of my posts were put up while tired – definitely not my best work), it’s the incoming traffic I’d like to see. I don’t have a niche, just a few broad categories (and lots of specific ones). I have come to the point (this is sick, I know) where I literally dream about blogging. I dream about what I’m going to write. I fantasize about posting all sorts of different posts as I try to fall asleep. At times, it feels like I could write forever. Just waiting for people to read it.
Seems like I’ve gone in phases. Phase 1 – Blog as a journal. Wrote about how I felt with an outward tone to it. Phase 2 – Blog whatever was available. I went without posting for months on end, so at times I’d post something random just to have a few posts within that YEAR. Phase 3 – Rehash news stories (that do genuinely matter to me, not just any available news) in an attempt to draw visitors via Google search. Couple of these worked, couple did not. Phase 4 – Spending more time trying to think about how to improve my blog than I am actually blogging. Somewhere in the midst of all those phases I’ve got a few decent posts that continue to bring people in but I can tell that really, it’s just like the real world – it’s not always about what you can do, it’s about who you know.