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I Heard Blogging Was Dead. I’m Glad I Didn’t Listen

Posted By Darren Rowse 9th of August 2009 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

A Guest post by Josh Hanagarne – World’s Strongest Librarian

Howdy to you, you handsome and gorgeous Problogger readers and assorted excellent geniuses. First off, let me say that after my first two guest posts here, your comments and emails have flattered me to the point of blushing for days on end. If you are to be trusted, it sounds like you think I give a good pep talk.

I’ve got a big one for you today, and some very exciting news. But you only get to continue reading if you agree that blogging is still alive and kicking. Otherwise, take a hike and go Tweet. Of course, if you’re here, you probably think blogging has some life in it yet. Pat yourself on the back and have a cookie. You’re smart.

I do Tweet, by the way. I’m just not going to let it replace my little blog that I love so much.

Humble Beginnings

It’s been about 6 weeks since my first Problogger post, How To Land Big Interviews When Your Blog Is Small. Because World’s Strongest Librarian is relatively new (about 3.5 months now), I’ve focused more on the “whys” of blogging than the “hows,” while I learn. Anybody can blog about the process of blogging because we are all familiar with it.

I was plugging away with daily posts, soliciting guests and occasionally making a fool of myself. My series How To Have Tourette’s picked up a lot of steam and I received tons of emails from Tourettics and parents of children with Tourette’s. The links kept coming and the spam grew exponentially, so I figured I was on the right track.

The attention was nice, but more importantly, blogging was fun. That’s the only way you can do a good post every day—if you look forward to it and enjoy the process.

People said I was progressing nicely and I took their word for it because I’m a vulture for compliments. Other people said they were confused (and irritated) by how quickly I was progressing and that they didn’t “get it” at all.

Speaking of that…I don’t care about that. I write for myself first.

Then one day I woke up and read an email that made me scream so loudly that I woke my toddler up.

Not-So-Humble Results

The email was from a very famous blogger who writes dazzling books. It basically said—and I am paraphrasing here—“Your blog caught my eye and I think there’s a book in it. I’m copying my agent on this email.”

After regaining consciousness, I went to work and tried to breathe. The agent emailed me later that day. A couple of days after that I signed contracts to be represented by a real-life literary agency, not the one that has been contacting me in my head for 10 years.

I am currently in the process of finishing the book proposal with my agent (that still makes me feel too fancy and I usually say “the agent,” no offense to Lisa if she’s reading this) for a memoir with the working title of The World’s Strongest Librarian.

There are no guarantees. Maybe that book will never be published and maybe a black hole will open under my desk today and we’ll lose contact because I’m on my way to the other side of the universe. But nothing about this has been typical so far and I’m not going to start second guessing myself now.

Neither should you.

Nobody is more surprised by this than me

I’ve looked at that email every day since and tried to anticipate the questions I’d be asked. “Why you?”

To that I say, “I don’t know.”

“Ok, well…what’s your secret?”

“Uh…ignoring everyone’s advice? Maybe?” Honestly, there’s no plan. I write stuff I love and if other people like it, that’s a wonderful bonus.

Once my blog started rolling and gathering hype, the emails about how I wasn’t focused enough started to roll in. I don’t want to focus. I think it’s boring. And when the traffic stops coming, I’ll start worrying…or just go do something else.

To give you an idea of just how unfocused I’ve been, here’s the spectrum of posts you might expect to see on a week at World’s Strongest Librarian:

  • A video about making your wrists stronger
  • Articles and videos about battling Tourette’s Syndrome
  • A book review of Where The Wild Things Are
  • My sister telling a story about a one-eyed goldfish at Wal-Mart

and so on.

I wasn’t sure what to think about their comments. It seemed like things were going okay.

In hindsight, I now say: who cares what I think at this point? I sure don’t. All those little voices that tell me I’m not good enough—I’m forwarding them to the people who already have faith in me. People with a lot more clout than I do who seem to have total confidence in what I’m doing on World’s Strongest Librarian.

You’re no different

It’s true, so don’t protest. If your blog is making progress, than keep blogging. Put your head down and go. As long as you enjoy it, who knows what might happen? Do you? No, you don’t!

This is my favorite compliment I’ve been given:

I read all of your book reviews even though I don’t like to read. I also read all of your strength training and fitness material even though I hate exercising and don’t plan on starting. Keep it coming.

When I asked this person to elaborate, they said:

I read because you write it, not because of what it says.

I didn’t plan that. How could you? You can’t because you’re not in anyone else’s head. People can always surprise you and there’s certainly no accounting for taste. I’m not sure why any of this has happened but none of that means I’m going to put my hat in my hands and reject all the good will insisting that people are all wrong about me.

I mean, come on: Is that really the point you’re trying to make? That you’re just not good enough? I didn’t think so. Then why do we spend so much time correcting people when the compliment us? Quit fussing and go write something that you love and that people can use.

Who do we think we are?

Three and a half months ago I pushed “publish” for the first time in my WordPress Control Panel. My goal was to have 100 daily readers in one year and to make myself laugh. That’s it. Two weeks ago I signed a contract with a literary agent.

You’re always going to be asking yourself, “Who do I think I am? Why should anyone listen to me?” Track down the insecure void that produces those thoughts and throw some acid on it.

Or you can decide that yes, blogging is dead and no longer opens doors for anyone. I see no signs of that.

Once you get over your nagging blogging-blues-nobody-loves-me thought loop, come listen to my voice for a while. I’m nobody, but since I’m here, here’s what I say:

Why not you?

Seriously, why not you? If you can actually explain to me why nobody should listen to you to the point where I agree, then you have no business blogging anyway and should go do something that you love. It will make you happier and there will be a tiny fraction less noise on the Web.

One of the most satisfying aspects of blogging is that I am constantly surprised. I’m surprised by the things I write, the people I meet, and the very real relationships and friends that I’ve cultivated online. Most of the surprises are small, but some are big enough to scream about.

If you’re committed to making a go at this, keep plugging away, take the steps you read about on Problogger, ask questions, and enjoy yourself.

The only thing sadder than wasting time at something you don’t enjoy is wasting time and not getting results.If you enjoy your blogging, no matter how modest it is, it’s not a waste. The results will come. I see blogging as one more way we learn about ourselves. One more mirror to look into.

The Internet makes it very easy for people to do favors for each other. Go meet everyone you can. One morning, you might receive an email from someone who thinks you are worth more than you do. When they tell you that, don’t argue.

Go go go.

Today.

Now.

Don’t look back

Don’t second guess.

You’re not the passenger, you’re the driver.

Refuse to deal with life. Make it deal with you.

I’ll be doing the same. Thank you all so much for the continued support and encouragement. I will throw each of you a parade with 1000 dancing elephant if the book ever gets published.

Josh Hanagarne writes World’s Strongest Librarian, a blog to help you get stronger, get smarter, and live better… every day. For bonus articles, videos, and original music, please subscribe to the Stronger, Smarter, Better Newsletter. If you know someone with Tourette’s Syndrome, please let them know about the blog. They need to know that someone out there “gets it.”

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, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. Darren, thanks again for publishing my post. Things have snowballed even since we last spoke and you and your readers are a big part of it. Thanks to all who have supported and encouraged me. If I can do anything to help any of you, I hope you’ll let me know. If I can, I will!

  2. Hi Josh,
    Thanks for this post. Hope you find success in every endeavor!
    Keep up the good work.

  3. If this isn’t inspiring, I don’t know what is. It also make me a little jealous though :)

    Josh, in your experience, does “deviating” from the focused path every once in a while (or maybe more than once in a while) actually engage your readers even more?

    On a (slightly) related note, nice to see another kettlebell fan out there :)

  4. haha, this post made me laugh a few times. I really like to see more of this. Its informative to read how your blog “came to be” and you are funny while doing it.

    and yes you are progressing nicely!

  5. Wow. Great story.

    I’ve been serious about my blogging since February. Growth seems to have stalled a bit, but I enjoy the writing, and it has served as a jumping off point for some longer fiction efforts.

  6. Josh, I love your site (you know this, I gush about you and to you regularly) and, looking back, I think I found you through ProBlogger in the first place. Yay guest blogging!

    What you wrote about blogging lines up with what I’ve been thinking: I don’t make a cent from blogging, and that doesn’t bother me in the least. The things I DO get from blogging have beyond my expectations.

    And something in your post made me think of this quote:

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” – Marianne Williamson

    I am eagerly awaiting the book. And more blog posts, of course :)

  7. Bravo, Josh. Congrats on all. You prove yet again that cream rises.

    People love your blog because of YOU and your infectious personality.

    Blog on! (And I do believe too that blogs are here to stay.)

  8. “The only thing sadder than wasting time at something you don’t enjoy is wasting time and not getting results.”
    That’s one of the best and truest things I’ve ever heard. You have a very cool writing style which gets attention. Keep it up mate. I’ll be sure to check your blog.

  9. Thanks Josh for a great story.

    In my view there is no failed blogs! All blogs are successful because by blogging you learn something. Recently, I created my very own WordPress theme. Whether my blog will be successful or not is one thing. But sure I did learn a lot in building it. I wouldn’t have learned DHTML/CSS style sheets If I didn’t take initiative.

    Thanks for the encouraging words and wisdom

    Regards
    Aaron

  10. Great post Josh.

    It’s all about ploughing on, with your blogging. The turning point can’t evade you forever! Also, as you said, it is very important to enjoy what you do. If you don’t enjoy what you do, it’s worthless.

  11. Wow! Congratulations on the book proposal — exciting news indeed! Thank you for such an inspiring post, and the reminder that if you do what you love, success will follow. Best wishes on the book deal — I look forward to the parade.

  12. Wow! Love this post! Congratulations on your success! I agree about blogging about what you love and just enjoying the ride.

    I wrote a similar post yesterday and received some very interesting emails this week that just blew me away. You really never know what opportunities will come your way as a result of blogging.

  13. That’s gresat news to hear, my new blog has had a slow start and I did consider maybe blogging was dead, but you and your book deal have kept my dream alive, I’m off to post on my blog, many thanks

  14. Loving it Josh, it’s got nothing to do with ego and everything to do with passion. When the passion is there you’ll power on when things aren’t going well. When the passion isn’t there you’ll find reasons to give up even when the whole world is behind you. We can all learn from this. Blogging is certainly not dead, it’s in transition and now is the time that passionate voices will be raised above the crowd.

  15. Many people fear success more than failure. Don’t worry about the haters.

    (Yeah, I’m a little envious too, but in a good way… inspired to keep after it :)

  16. First, congratulations on your success. Second, what did this post tell me? You should change the title to “Josh’s Publicity Post” because there’s absolutely no beef in this at all. While “I just do what I please and the success follows!” might be inspirational, it certainly isn’t informative.

  17. Not to mention that it rather goes against the whole ProBlogger concept, after all, if there are no rules and everything can be made up as we go along then what’s the point of having a Blogging Boot Camp or a book on how to make money blogging.

  18. Tyler, fair enough. If this post truly goes against the entire Problogger concept, I’d ask Darren why he thought it was fit to publish and called it a “very cool piece that would be great for people to read.” For me personally, I like to read things that are inspirational once in a while. I like stories. This is just a story. I don’t think it always has to be nuts and bolts to be informative. But that’s just what I respond to, so to each their own.

    And I’m not sure I said “I do what I want and the success follows!” I said “I do what I love and so far that has been working.” I didn’t plan for any of this. If there’s a message here, it’s make sure you love what you’re blogging about. I do follow many of the rules of Problogger and am certainly not suggesting that anyone shouldn’t. This is just a story and isn’t meant to be a treatise. I’ve been through the 31 days to a better blog program. A lot of this is tongue-in-cheek and I’m not an authority. But Darren wanted the piece and I was happy to write it. Good luck with everything. Thanks for the thoughtful response.

  19. I still blog and I can see that my earnings are down but I have hope to make money from it like 2 years ago. I think blogging is not dead in that sense.

  20. I just hit submit on my wordpress blog a few weeks back and am wondering what is going to happen next as well.

    I used to have a skiing blog, in fact, a skiing at home blog. I found it too narrow of a topic, and I really wanting to blog about more things. Now, I ramble about how to build ski lifts, to outdoors, finance….I know you should probably have a theme, but this format has been easy for me to create content for on a somewhat regular basis. But then again, I am only a few weeks into this. I like the comment “If you enjoy your blogging, no matter how modest it is, it’s not a waste”

  21. Great post! I can really relate to what you are saying.

    I had the same “why you” question swirl in my head when one of my favorite bloggers approached me and asked me to contribute monthly to her site. It is an amazing honor.

    I think most people do not really realized how valuable they are. We underestimate ourselves and what you can do.

    The funny thing is when I told told people about the opportunity, most people replied, “of course, you’re a great writer.”

    You’re right. We really do need to ask ourselves “why NOT me”.

    Cheers,
    Here’s to your potential

  22. i am too, thanks for positive passion
    http://teratips.com

  23. Your post is always long but I must tell you that this is of worth to read it. I read it half and half is still to go. But could not wait to tell you that I am enjoying your post.

    Certainly problogger can give you instant recognition once you deliver the eye catching and meaningful post.

  24. Josh,

    You writing is ‘morish’ – I love it and want more. Your writing just sucks me in and inspires me. Excellent stuff, Josh.

    You deserve all the great things coming your way.

    Andrew

  25. Nice work, Josh. I discovered your blog thorugh Problogger and I’ve been reading it for a while. I love your style and sense of humour. Good luck with everything!

  26. I have to disagree with Tyler, I’m afraid.

    Whilst there are some aspects of the post that could be labelled self-publicity, the whole thing can also be read in the context of a ‘This is how I did it’ piece, to inspire others to do the same.

    Thanks for a great post – I’ve now placed a link to your site from mine, so here’s another lesson in how guest-posting can lead to more followers!

    Have a great day!

  27. Blogging never dies, as long the webhosting corporation is not dead.

  28. I wont say blogging is dead but its subsiding a bit. But all that does not matter if you write compelling content.

  29. Such a wonderful idea and push up Darren.
    Your article has given me a strong pus like a basket ball push into the basket.
    Yes! Yo are saying right,every one need a push and motivation.
    I believe on following:
    Some times we feel to give up business when it reaches on 99% even only 1% left to complete.
    Every business gives the result when it cross the limit 100%.
    The profit start after 100%.If your business efforts crossed 100% and reached 103% the 3% is your profit.
    We fail because we assume the profit and fruitful result before we put 100% efforts.
    My formula is only this:
    “Blogging is long journey don’t stay,don’t stop walk until you reach on your targeted spot”.

  30. I think the next email you get might be from a motivational speaker!

    I’m going to bookmark this post to come back to it when I need some motivation!

    Thanks for the post Josh!

  31. Hey Josh – This is a fantastic story and definitely gave me a bit of motivation. I was recently told too that my blog had too many topics, not enough focus. But I love doing it, so I’m just going to keep it up. Thanks for the reminder :)

    Congrats on the book deal – amazing! One never knows where life may lead us – especially if we just keep doing the things we love. I’ll be checking out more of your blog, you have a new follower in me.

    – Laura

  32. Josh –

    With your terrific writing style, I can see why you’ve grown an audience. Congratulations to you on a successful blog and a book offer!

    Blogging may be on the downward side of the bell curve, but that’s a good thing for those of us who provide regular, well-written content for our readers.

    I write a microniche blog on traveling within the Finger Lakes Region of New York State and I’ve seen consistent growth since I started almost a year ago.

    The one thing I’ve found fascinating is how, through watching the searches that bring readers to my site, I’ve been able to help those I blog about increase their business.

    It’s been a fascinating ride and I plan to keep going, even if the blogging industry downsizes.

    My best to you,
    Carol

  33. Steven J Snelling says: 08/09/2009 at 11:33 pm

    Thanks to Josh for writing “I Heard Blogging Was Dead. I’m Glad I Didn’t Listen and to Darren for printing it through his “Guest Post”.

    It never ceases to amaze me when I finish reading someone’s work knowing that when I started reading it I thought I may read the first paragraph. Good writing and topics tend to draw me in and then leave me wanting to read more. I try to learn from these writers and their writings yet often realize there is an entertainment element which, to me, is equally important. After all, I don’t watch a movie to learn but rather to be entertained. Now I have learned I can have both. Thanks for another nudge to keep me writing and remembering why I like to write. My blog site can’t be ready soon enough for me…

  34. waw -cannot say more. time to wake up and get things running..

    great post

  35. Josh:

    Thank you for this inspiring post. I have enjoyed reading your blog for a while and can appreciate it because of its lack of focus – mine is the same way. For me my blog has been an experiment and an opportunity to do something I love – writing. Its also an opportunity to explore things I am curious about.

  36. Josh, what a refreshing read! I paid $90 for a half hour consultation with a top blogger and was told I needed to construct headlines with the boring ass formula everyone else uses.. and rebrand and refocus. I have the same stubborn mentality you employed and it’s nice to see that it has worked for someone. Because if I took all of that expensive advice I paid for, I would lose the joy and satisfaction of writing about what I want to, when I want to. And if that happens, I may as well be in a cubicle right? Best of luck with the book. Again, awesome post and insight.

  37. Josef says: 08/10/2009 at 1:25 am

    Great Post. Inspiring!

    With all the blogging advice out there some things seem daunting to beginners. Personally, I have been afraid to put myself out on my previous blogs.(I have never released my name)

    I am overly concerned with what people will think and if I’m doing things the right way. That and being overly cautious of prospective employers googling me and seeing that I’m a blogger.

    There is also a certain amount of elite snobbism amongst some bloggers and web celebs who in many cases think they “own the internet” An almost “hello! no one will read you’re blog and who are you anyway” kind of attitude

    But I have to constantly remind myself that no one owns the internet. I too, am good enough for blogging. Screw the high brow critics. Try it for 3 months and if it isn’t your cup of tea, move on.

    Your blog is yours and yours alone. Its a marathon. I’ve spent about the past 3 years reading about blogging but never actually really committed myself to it. All because of fear.

    Thanks again for this post. I have been needing some motivation lately to begin blogging again.

    And good luck with the Book! and viva la blog

  38. Best of luck Josh! I’m thinking the reason you got spotted is *because* you write for yourself rather than in spite of that fact. I’ve gotten tons of thankful emails over the years from people saying they’re glad my writing is so straight up and honest and there’s no promo posts screaming at them to buy this or that or attend some seminar, no begging for sponsorship, just plain old me–writing MY guts out, be damned with the corporate whatsits! People like you remind us that the internet is OUR domain, and we CAN own it. We can read quality thoughts without being inundated with spoonfed babble. Your story also inspires others who may be working on a dream that, indeed, it still can happen.

  39. Thanks Josh. I think the best advice is to just “put it out there,” tell it all like it is…. and just enjoy blogging. Be honest, clear, sharp, incisive, clear, sharp, incisive, etc. etc. etc.

  40. Wow Josh! This is my first run in with you and dang, am I smiling because of it! I have such a focused niche that sometimes I feel like I don’t have enough varied info to share with my readers. After hearing your pep talk, I’m beginning to realize that if I can’t write about what rings my bell, then why bother.

    So first I’m dropping my feelings of inadequacy and continuing to do what I enjoy – and second, I’m subscribing to your newsletter :)

    Thanks Darren for such a great guest blogger!

  41. If you have the passion for writing a blog, sooner or later the readers will come (at least that’s what I am telling myself!)

    Great post

  42. Thank you everyone, your comments have been wonderful and generous and I’m glad you’ve found something to like in the post. In the interest of full disclosure, I did want to point out that I don’t make much money from my blog. I have a couple of affiliate programs in the sidebar that are products written by friends. They bring in a sell here and there and I do a little business with Amazon affiliates.

    The point: my focus on one billion niches is definitely costing me, monetarily speaking. My bounce rate shows it, too. But that’s okay with me, because the core readers I have are very loyal and we have real relationships. But monetizing the blog was never really my goal. I’ve turned out so far to be good at traffic building and less-good at making money. So absolutely, write what you’re passionate about, have a good time, but if you’re trying to make money with your blog, listen to Darren, not me!

    I’m having so much fun blogging that I’m not making any money. Again, that’s okay with me, but if you choose to get crazy and scattershot, just make sure it’s okay with you too!

    Thanks again, everyone.

  43. I am sending this post to everyone I know. It’s the most inspiring post I’ve read in a LONG time. I’m so happy for you and thanks for spreading your positive mojo to others.

  44. Hi Darren!
    This post is really ‘INSPIRING’ one for all readers.

    I really like this topic , as most of the new bloggers like me will definetly find useful from this.
    I am also from one of them who is looking for an good traffic on my blog. Its really having an
    good stuff to refer and implement these things on my blog.

    Thanks Darren once again for such post.

  45. Josh- You deserve the compliments from what I can see. I plan to go to your blog after I write this, but I am glad to know that there are people out there who don’t feel the need to fit into one niche.
    I have so many diverse interests – I chose to start my very first blog last month and so far it is slow, but that is ok, because I am on a journey for myself first and foremost, secondary are the benefits others may get from sharing in my experiences and thoughts.
    Darren’s posts and book first inspired me to give this a try and you have affirmed that which some bloggers forget- blogging should be fun. We are making connnections and that can be very rewarding in and of itself. Monetary gain would simply be a bonus.
    Thank you for this inspiration & encouragement to march to the beat of our individual drum!
    Stefyspeak

  46. Blogging is most certainly not dead – thanks for the great post.

  47. Valerie Babin says: 08/10/2009 at 11:13 pm

    You should get a “tweet this” button. I don’t see a twitter link in the “Share this” section either.
    I may be blind.

    Nice article. Just stumble upon your blog. I will bookmark it for sure! Thanks.

  48. Wow. Great stuff. This article has gotten me motivated to keep going as I struggle to get my new blog off the ground.

  49. This is so inspiring! Thank you Josh, and thank you Darren for posting this. I’m off to go check out your website, Josh!

  50. Josh, Thank you for this post. I wish I had started blogging years ago because I need — I crave — creative outlets. I used to draw and write on the side but they didn’t fully satisfy me; what I was missing was the audience response and the ability to create a community. I can’t believe how many opportunities people are giving me — and I’ve only been at this for 2 months — just because I am enthusiastic about my blog.

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