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Lessons from the Heart for Would-be Bloggers

Posted By Darren Rowse 14th of March 2007 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Joshua Porter from Bokardo (a blog about social web design) has written a refreshing post with his 9 Lessons for Would-be Bloggers. It is refreshing to me as it’s not filled with the just the ‘normal’ tips that everyone comes up with but is written from the heart. His 9 points are (the headings are his (and he writes more on each one) – the comments are mine):

  1. It’s only an initial fear – seasoned bloggers often forget the ‘weirdness’ and fear of starting up a new blog. It takes a while to get used to the idea of people reading what you have to say and knowing more about you than you know about yourself. I still get weirded out by total strangers bowling up to me and telling me what I’ve been up to (my wife gets freaked out even more!).
  2. You have something valuable to say – I love this one and it’s something I’m regularly saying to bloggers. I strongly believe in the worth of people and think that in their own way each of us has something worthwhile and precious to share.
  3. When in doubt, post – while I wouldn’t advise just posting every half thought through idea that comes into your head – I do subscribe to the theory that blogs are not just for finished or refined thoughts. One of the wonderful things about blogs is that when you track them over time you get to see the journey that a blogger has gone on. Good blogs will track the evolution of thought of a blogger (if there’s no real change or development I’d be worried). All I’d add to this point is that ‘when in doubt, post – and be transparent’. Don’t try to come off as the ‘expert’ if you have doubts or are still working through something – write such posts in a way that invites people to journey with you and be patient with you as you think out loud.
  4. Use the comments for refining your point – great stuff on this one too from Josh. The real action and learning on the blogs that I respect most (and hope to be developing) happens in the comments sections where the knowledge of the wider community comes into play and shapes a post. Take the attitude that together we know more than individually and you’ll create a space where true learning takes place.
  5. Everything is beta – the idea of Josh’s ‘thoughts being in beta’ is inspirational to me and really connects with a lot of what I’ve already written above. Blogging is a journey – evolve, be shaped by it and be open to change. One of the things I love about blogging in comparison to many other mediums is that it’s so adaptable and flexible – worth with this rather than against it and keep your blog moving and adapting to the opportunities that arise.
  6. Have a schtick – what’s schtick? It’s the thing that defines what your blog is about. You might call it a tagline, a mission statement or your topical boundaries – but it’s the thing that keeps you on target and keeps you accountable to the direction you’re headed. Here at ProBlogger my schtick is ‘helping bloggers earn money’ – it’s broad enough to encompass a lot, but focussed enough to keep pulling me on track when I stray.
  7. Correct English be-damned – I can imagine the emails Josh will get on this one but hear what he’s saying. Good grammar and spelling shouldn’t be thrown out the window – but there are other important factors at play in the creation of a great blog. People are interested in ‘ideas’ more than how you write.
  8. Show your greatest hits – creating prominent greatest hits sections of your blog that give people a place to start is a great tactic and something I’ve written about many times. It gives your blog the ability to prove itself as a credible source of information and become sticky to new readers very quickly.
  9. People are listening – the lurkers of your blog far out number those that comment so don’t be disheartened if some days it feels like you’re talking to a brick wall. You are being listened to and every post is an opportunity to make an impression, build loyalty and create a spark that could grow into a flame.

Great post Josh – thanks for your inspiration!

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 a great post. It’s really inspirational… all of those was true..

  2. Josh made some inspiring points on this post, Darren, and I really appreciate your take on them.

    I, too, particularly liked point #5, that everything is in beta. As you say, it is adaptable and flexible. It can instantly be re-edited if need be – refined and finely tuned.

    Point #10 was probably my most encouraging. I need to be reminded of the visitors that come and read, but don’t comment. As I said there, I cherish the small number that comment, but I try not to forget that the Feedburner stats tell a more expanded story.

    Ultimately, I want my site to be visited by people who read it and gain something from it. They don’t need to feel pressured to comment – that’s not what it’s there for.

  3. Thank you Darren, this is a wonderful post, I agree with all points (and I’ll head over to Josh’s site to read under his headlines, also). I just posted my first post last Wednesday, and the point that resonates with me the most today is “when in doubt, post”, especially re: the part about not coming off as an expert. Since my blog is so new, I feel that I am figuring out the balance between offering solutions and also including the fact that I certainly don’t have all of the answers (re: health, weight loss…)

    Thanks again, I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months now, I’d recommend your site to anyone who is serious about blogging.

  4. Points I agree 100%:
    -Show your greatest hits
    -Use the comments for refining your point
    -You have something valuable to say

    Pints I am not so sure:
    -Correct English be-damned
    -When in doubt, post

    Overall it is a nice post, different perspectives always enrich the discussion.

  5. Printed and stuck to my wall next to the monitor. I’m still trying to get my little blog off the ground and these lessons are ones that I’m still learning. Thank you for posting them.

  6. This is one really nice article. I am frequenting this blog these days, since John started posting too much of ReviewMe reviews and very little actual content these days over there.

    the number 9 acctually applies to me! i don’t know, no matter how hard I try to encourage comments it never actually works out. Thanks Josh for inspiring this super post. . .

  7. this was a great post especially about the greatest hits

  8. […] On one of my regular reads of Darren Rowse’s blog ProBlogger, his post title Lessons from the Heart for Would-be Bloggers caught my attention. It also makes reference to the blog called Bokardo and a similar article there and I’ve bookmarked that site too. A new one for the list of daily reads. […]

  9. Thanks for the post. It helps me stay focused when wondering if anybody is reading.

  10. Wow, this is really helpful and comes at a great time. When I started my blog I had all these grendiose ideas about what it was going to be. It is that, but it has also become so much more, because I started using a lot of the principles – especially when in doubt post. People like to see bloggers as human beings, not just all knowing experts. If they see that a blog that has a great sourse of information, but also a human behind it, I think it makes it more interesting to them.
    Thanks for all the reminders!

  11. Great way to reference another post Darren and add value of your own – that is using the bulleted advice and then adding comments of your own. Josh’s post was excellent and though I shared it with my audience, I did not do it near as well as you.

    Keep leading by example – countless others and I are sucking it up.

  12. The 100 Most Prolific Bloggers…

    There is a time and a place to argue about what prolific means and what should be the criteria for being on this list. That place is here.  The link will also tell you how to get on the……

  13. I think this is great, Darren. I couldn’t get over the first point for 2 years and never started a blog or commented on any. I read this blog and others of yours during that time and couldn’t get up the nerve to put those thoughts out there. I am addicted to blogging now, and am starting to have a whole community online and it’s really cool. I let fear stop me for too long!

  14. Great Real post.

    The more good blogs I find tend to be the the ones that are based on altruistic ideas. My blog started out very rigid and factual. I am starting to understand that realism exists in this binary world. Its funny many years ago as an outsider to the computer world, it seemed very structured and precise. Not the case the deeper you look.

  15. […] Over at Bokardo, they’ve posted a great list of 9 Lessons for Would-Be Bloggers. I ran into it at ProBlogger, as Darren added his own comments. I recommend that anyone considering taking up blogging go check it out. You’ll be surprised by some of his thoughts. I would like to expand his list to 10 though. […]

  16. This article is great for a new blogger like me who is feeling that initial fear. Including things like random business ideas in my blog feels good to get out in the open, but very scary to know that somebody somewhere is reading it and possibly judging it in a negative way. But I know I’m not the expert, and it takes some pressure off to hear you saying the same things I’m thinking.

  17. I’ll add another one:

    Blogging is the better way to become a good blogger.
    Every single post you’ll write, you’ll learn something, every time you’ll find it easier to write again, and how to do it.

    Being italian, I still have some problems with my english, and I sometimes feel that “talking to walls” thing, (90 subscribers and only one loyal commentator…) but this will change ;)

  18. Thanks for the mention, Darren. And the additional points you’ve added are exactly what I’m talking about when I say “treat feedback as a gift” and “use the comments”. Our readers are always smarter than us, and it’s often in the add-on conversations like these that the real insights come.


  19. Interesting points. Some touch base with the ones I listed the other day, like the show your greatest hits. In words of others this is called “pillar posts” and is what defines your blog and provide a timeless foundation, according to theory. Another point that might be worth considering is how you write for an online audience.


  20. My head’s spinning – there’s so much great free info just on your site I could give up my day job. If only someone would pay me just to read! My blog has been going since November and as a 40-something Armenian woman living in a small mountain town in Andalucia, southern Spain, I may well be atypical. You give me hope that I can hold my own against all the super-keen male early adopters.

    Finally, while I take your point that spelling and grammar are not the most important thing in a blog, greater accuracy does wonders for readability and credibility…

    Thanks for this great blog, and keep up the great work!


  21. Great post Darren. I wanted to say that you really have a knack for inspiring people. My dad and I have started blogging together, me at techloaf.com and him at jonbryan.com. We used the information from your site to get going. Now we refer to your site constantly for info and inspiration. Keep up the good work!


  22. Great post. I am very new to blogging and am still dealing with most of these challenges, particularly with finding my voice. Your site has been an invaluable resource, helping me to understand this new way of connecting with others.



  23. Wow, I wish I’d read this months ago. This may be the most spot on blogging advice I’ve read.

    That said, just a little thought on “Correct English be damned”:
    Ideas are more important than grammar, to be sure. However, I’m more likely to listen to someone who takes the time to write properly.

  24. […] Lessons from the Heart for Would-be Bloggers […]

  25. Great stuff! I really needed to wake up this morning and hear (read) this. Thanks for sharing!

  26. Very inspirational indeed. I very much have that initial fear and weirdness going on, but I’m just going to keep blogging and see where it goes.

    I need to print out and tape number three by my computer. POST DAMMIT!

  27. It is articles like this that help the world understand what a blog is. On a local level I know that it will help the people I communicate with. Great job!

  28. Its a journey like life.I see how you have grown with your blogs in few months.Blogging if done from heart makes u feel closer to heart.I have so much of work but still I feel bad if i don’t blog.

    For me life is inspiration of blogging..technology is just another part…

  29. Darren,

    This post resonates with me in so many ways. I’m trying to get away from my “Type A” personality where every single post has to be “just perfect”, but after two years of blogging, I’ve come to learn that it is just a journey and each of our journeys are different – so therefore everyone’s thoughts are going to be different.

    Hate to sound cliche, but in short – “Keep it real” and people will come to love you for who you are…

    Thanks so much for your inspiration!

  30. I am going to tey to follow these maybe this will help
    i hope it dose

  31. […] This post is an example of this lesson in action. Two weeks ago I wrote 9 Lessons for Would-be Bloggers and it got a good amount of traffic: people seemed to enjoy it. Darren Rowse of Problogger, who I’ve read for some time, embraced it and added his own thoughts. I had some great comments left on my blog and I thought about them and considered other lessons that I’ve learned. I kept writing them down as I thought of them and eventually built up 9 more of them to write this here post. […]

  32. […] is növelte. Darren Rowse, a Problogger szerkesztője magáévá tette a gondolatokat, és kiegészítette a sajátjaival. Néhány igazán épületes hozzászólás érkezett a Bokardo-ra, Josh belegondolt, és ezek […]

  33. […] was tickled when I saw that Darren Rowse had also blogged about Joshua’s post, adding his own wonderful comments on the points brought up. 2. You have […]

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