Note: this episode is available to listen to in the player above, on iTunes and Stitcher.

What I Have Learned About Blogging

Welcome to episode 100. Today I would like to take a look back, not over the last 100 podcast episodes, but back to when I first started blogging 13 ½ years ago.


I’m going to talk about some important lessons, and identify ten things that I wish that I had known when I first started blogging in 2002. I hope to share some of the things that will help you get over the bumps in your blogging venture.

My blogging journey began when my friend Steve sent me an email with these four simple words, “check out this blog” and a link to I had never heard of blogging before, and I was curious about who the tall skinny kiwi was.

I clicked the link and loved the content that Andrew Jones had created, but I also fell in love with blogging. I was intrigued with the idea of building a community around a blog, and I dove in with no experience or credentials.

In Today’s Episode

  • My introduction to blogging and different jobs I tried before blogging
  • My first blog called Living Room and how I just got started
  • People found my blog by me commenting on other blogs
  • I met some bloggers that taught me some HTML and how to make things bold
  • Rachel Cunliffe from New Zealand helped me redesign my first blog
  • I learned a lot just by starting and reaching out to others
  • Over time the blog evolved and I became addicted to it
  • A year later I started a blog about digital cameras
  • I made a little money with AdSense and the Amazon Affiliate program
  • A few dollars a week, grew to a few dollars a day, to a part-time income
  • After about a year, I realized I was going to be a full-time blogger and really ramped things up
  • I started ProBlogger in 2004 and went full time with blogging
  • In 2007, I transitioned my digital camera blog into Digital Photography School

The 10 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started In 2002

  • If you want your blog to be a business, you need to treat it as a business
  • Identify who you want to read your blog – Spend time to understand your reader
  • An email newsletter is a very powerful thing – Build a list – Popups increase conversions
  • There are so many ways to make money from blogging – Diversify your income
  • Create something to sell – My first ebook The Essential Guide To Portrait Photography
  • Content – Create content that informs, inspires, and interacts
  • Look for Sparks – Most big things start as small things (glimmering sparks)
  • To be active – What action will I take today that will grow my blog?
  • Let your worlds collide – It’s OK to let your readers see what you are passionate about beyond your niche
  • Aim to have a big impact upon the readers you already have – I am incredibly grateful to you for listening to these podcasts and for the emails I get from you.

Further Resources on 10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Blogging


Darren Rowse from Chris Guillebeau on Vimeo.


How did you go with today’s episode?

I value my listeners, and I look forward to continuing this journey together. Thank you for listening and, I hope you enjoyed my story.

I’d also like to thank my team on ProBlogger and Digital Photography School, and Rose who edited most of the last 100 ProBlogger podcast episodes, and our new podcast editors and producers, PodcastMotor.

I’d love to hear some of the lessons that you have learned and what lessons resonated most with you. Leave your comments or suggestions for the future 100 shows below.

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Got a Question You’d Like Me to Answer?

I base many episodes of this podcast upon questions answered by ProBlogger Podcast listeners and Blog readers.

You can use the following widget to ask a question. Please include your name and blog name (if you have a blog).

  • Darren,

    I’ve just finished listening to episode 100. I was thinking all along about my own blogging journey.

    Of the ten lessons you talked about, what resonates the most with me is this: if you want to have a business, you have to treat it like a business.

    Things started changing for me for the better when I ditched my “poor man’s (woman’s) mentality”.

    One day I decided to purchase my first premium WordPress plugin. A few weeks later I moved to better hosting. Then I subscribed to some of the services that top bloggers use.

    My site is now on the Rainmaker Platform. I’m about to subscribe to GoToWebinar, and I’m hoping to get an assistant within a couple of months.

    I owe a lot of my success to you, Darren. Your wise lessons have been a true inspiration for me and my life.


    Maria Fernandez

    • Wow – thanks for the comment Maria – so great to hear your story. I really appreciate you following along on my journey but most of all I LOVE that you’re taking action on it.

      Actually this comment really moved me – thanks for leaving it!

  • Rachel Doherty

    I just listened to your podcast as I was writing my second post for my own. Thanks so much for all your tips for someone just starting their own blog business!

  • Brooke Ciccozzi

    As a blogging newbie, this week’s podcast was pure gold. My wee blog is only 2 months old and originally I thought people only blogged as a way to build a community/email list/trust/authenticity with your avatar etc or for enjoyment. While these are all true, since finding ProBlogger I am looking at my little blog in a whole new light. I found the links in the show notes to previous blogs particularly helpful and I cant wait to tune into those.

    My problem is that I am being given too much good advice all at once. I want to do everything yesterday which is of course – madness! Does anyone have any advice or a checklist of what you should look to do in the first 6 or 12 months of a blog?? Has there been a podcast on this topic?? In the meantime, thanks ProBlogger – all your advice is helping me improve each and every week

  • lrmiskell

    Hi Darren – Congratulations on your 100th episode! Really enjoyed hearing your story, and the 10 things you wish you’d known when you started. As a beginner myself, the points that resonated most with me were about content and readers. I think I finally have a subject area that I am excited about and can really stick with. Just gotta stop doubting myself and keep writing! Thanks for all that you do! -Lynn,

  • OMG Darren, it seemed like a walk in the park, but now I know that starting a blog is no such thing. To be honest, I find it rather overwhelming. There is soo much to do and soo much to learn and your podcast is truely a lesson I needed to hear.
    I guess for me the most important lesson at this point is the one you gave in your introduction: just start. Even if it is not perfect yet and even if the writing isn’t all that good yet. Just start.
    I would like to add to that (mostly for my own encouragement): KEEP ON GOING. DON’T STOP. I sit down every morning between 5.30 and 7.30, before school/work and do stuff for my blog. Anything. I write. Or figure out how to create an emailcampagne. Whatever. This morning I listened to your podcast and I just want to say thank you. I am still overwhelmed, but I have a feeling I am going to stick to you for a while.

    • lrmiskell

      Hi Michelle — Just had to write a quick reply to say “You can do it!” I’m still getting my first blog set up as well, and know what you mean about overwhelming. Darren’s podcast always seems to include what I need to hear to take action and move forward one more step.

  • Darren – I am enjoying the podcast!

    I started my first blog in 2003 as a way to keep my extended family updated on what was going on in my life. I was two years into marriage and my wife was expecting our first child. I wanted a way to communicate that would simplify things on my end. A single place to post updates and pictures that was less hassle than using email. I chose a free blogging platform, added an email subscription form, and even attempted to monetize using Adsense. It really worked well. But then Facebook came along….

    I started at least two more blogs over the years but suffered from the same issues that many others did. I didn’t commit. I posted infrequently and inconsistently.

    This time I am committed – for over a year now! Even increasing in frequency. And your podcast and blog have been valuable resources for me! This particular episode helped me reflect on what I have done well and what I still need to work on now that I am this far in.

    My interests in this blog lie in writing about both the personal and organizational aspects of leadership and communication. I recently updated my “about” page to better reflect the vision for my blog.

    Any feedback from you or commenters would be appreciated!!!

  • Hi Darren, I have never be one to listen to podcasts…you however have changed that. I love your podcasts. I have had a blog in the past that did not go all that well. I am now taking a different approach this time. I am preparing for a new blog. I am at the prebloging stage is my go to spot. You have so much knowledge and I thank you for sharing it. I have brainstormed at least 35 potential blog post. Now it’s time for writing, preparing the newsletter and setting up social media. With your help an excellent information this will be the best blogging experience ever. Thank you again for providing so much information. I look forward to this journey.