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?