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What Thomas Edison Can Teach You about Blogging

Posted By Darren Rowse 15th of June 2008 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

thomas-edison.jpgThomas Edison was one of the most prolific and influential inventors that the world has seen. Inventing world changing technologies such as the light bulb, phonograph and the motion picture camera – Edison is someone whose views on emerging technologies can inform what we do in blogging today.

Following are 11 Thomas Edison quotes and some thoughts on how they apply to blogging:

1. Start with a Need

“I never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others… I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent.”

Blogs succeed when they meet a need – whether it be a need for information, entertainment, community or something else. The best place to start when building a blog is to think about a need or service that it might provide people. Once you know what that need is – start building.

2. Work Smart

“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”

It is easy to fill your time as a blogger with many tasks that seem urgent – yet which are not important. Don’t become obsessed with any one task in blogging and put thought into your workflow so that you can concentrate on the important rather than the urgent.

3. Work and Wait

“Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits. “

Most new bloggers quickly find that to build a blog to it’s potential takes time. In some ways it is a waiting game while the search engines index you, you establish trust with readers and build your profile in your niche. However it’s not just a matter of waiting – it’s about working hard – particularly in the early days of your blog.

4. It Takes Work

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. “

Coming up with a great idea for a new blog is just the beginning – to make it a successful blog takes a lot of hard work.

5. Failing Takes You Closer to Succeeding

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. “

Every post you write, every way that you attempt to promote your blog, every tool that you use – treat these things as learning experiences that shape your future. If something doesn’t work – you’re one step closer to finding something that will. Build on what you build and be willing to try new things – this is an important part of being a good blogger.

6. You are Capable of Astounding Things!

“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves. “

Don’t get trapped into limiting yourself as a blogger because you’ve not ‘made it’ yet.You have incredible potential, you are unique and have something in your that no-one else has. Tap into what makes you you and you’ll be on the way to building something valuable.

7. Sometimes Failing is The Start of Success

“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless. “

One of the wonderful things about the blogging space is that even when things don’t turn out the way that you plan them – they can still be a success. My first photography blog was designed as a photoblog – the problem was that no one ever looked at my photos – but instead read the little camera review that I also posted on it. That gave birth to something that grew into a full time living!

8. Don’t Give Up Too Early

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

Most blogs are abandoned after a month or two…. the average time that it takes a blog to rise to the top of the pile is around 3 years (it’s now longer).

9. Make it Fun

“I never did a day’s work in my life. It was all fun.”

Blog about something that you enjoy, that you have passion for, that you’d talk and write about for free. While this doesn’t guarantee success it certainly makes blogging a more pleasurable and therefore sustainable thing.

10. Have Lots of Ideas

“To have a great idea, have a lot of them.”

Put time aside regularly to dream, brainstorm and wonder ‘what if….’. Not every idea for your blog will work – so it pays to have lots of ideas!

11. You Don’t Have to Start with the Finished Product

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”

Many bloggers get trapped into thinking that they need to start out with the best blog design, on the best domain with the best blogging tool. While it can help to start out with all the bells and whistles – most successful bloggers started out with the basics – a free blog on a free blogging platform with a default template. The key to their success was that they had a good idea and worked hard. Most upgraded overtime but what you see of their blogs today isn’t how they started out.

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. If a list like this does not motivate you I don’t know what will. Thanks so much for that Darren

  2. It is always rewarding to be able to take the knowledge of great people from throughout history and interpret it in such a way that it provides current value.

    Really lights up your day.

  3. 12. Think big and start small

  4. Wow, great quotes. Usually when you think of someone famous like Thomas Edison, you think of their accomplishments. It is easy to forget how much they struggled to accomplish what they did. How many times did they get frustrated with their failures? How many times did they have an idea that they never got to act upon?

    Really puts things in perspective as far as blogging is concerned.

  5. Nice qoutes from
    that genius man!

  6. I wonder what Einstein can teach us about blogging?

    Oops! Another blog post idea. :D

  7. Love this post! Not only did Thomas Edison believe in these points, so did all of the most successful people that Napoleon Hill interviewed (more than 500 of them, including U.S. presidents, captains of industry, famous lawyers, etc., over 25 years).

    Hill interviewed all of them because Andrew Carnegie challenged him to do it when Hill was still just a young pup of a reporter sent to interview the great man for his newspaper. Carnegie believed that there were 13 steps to riches/success in any endeavor (be they for money or love or charity) and he challenged Hill to test his theory by asking all of the great men of his time. Hill accepted the challenged, spent the next 25 years testing Carnegie’s theory (even managing to create the “riches” of causing his own son who was born without ears and whose doctors said would never be able to hear to hear by using Carnegie’s 13 steps!).

    All of Hill’s research culminated in the classic self-help book called Think and Grow Rich. (I summarize most of it on my blog). That book is largely the reason for my believing in my dream enough to start blogging (and giving up a 6-figure legal career to do it) even though I hated computers and didn’t know how to do anything with them except email, surf the internet, and type up legal briefs, letters, etc. on them.

    By the way, I am looking to barter with any web/blog designers/consultants the following professional services:

    * legal advice
    * English lessons
    * job interview skills
    * people skills at work (office politics)

    Outstanding topic and post!

  8. Thank you. You always make me think. Love the stuff I talk about which makes it easy. Probably need to work more on brainstorming and “busy work” areas? Isn’t reading other blogs part of blogging?

  9. We have a saying in nepali which goes as “arti bhaneko gharti ko pani linu parcha”, which means “we have to take lessons from even the lower caste people”.

    But, Edison is quite a person in himself as well. We can take motivation of anything. That can be as small as a needle or as big as Mount Everest as well.


  10. Edison was a great Inventor and Philosopher indeed
    His ideas and his thoughts are really inspiring

    But there is another most interesting and inspiring thing about this post
    And it is the way you used Edison’s quotes to create this inspiring article

    This is a great example of Edison’s 10th quote u mentioned here

    That’s what distinguishes a Professional from an average blogger

    Kudos to you Darren :)

  11. Love this! I’m going to Stumble it.

  12. This is the most inspiring of the list..

    6. You are Capable of Astounding Things!

    It really is true when you build on what you build, astounding things can happen, you gotta aim as high as your possibly can and hopefully you meet it halfway or more.

  13. Those are some great quotes that everyone can apply to their daily life and not just blogging.

    I knew a couple of them before, but thank you for sharing the rest of the quotes.

  14. I love Thomas Edison. He almost certainly had what we now call attention-deficit disorder, so he makes a good role model and inspiration for people who have it today. His life shows that not only can you succeed despite ADD, you can succeed because of it. For example, having a lot of ideas (“To have a great idea, have a lot of them”) is normal for ADDers.

  15. Nice post, I like the idea behind it


  16. Good advice! I’m sure Edison would have made a great blogger.

  17. A brilliant post, i really like the quote:

    “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.“

    Thanks, your blog has helped me a lot!


  18. #8 is so true, it can’t be emphasized enough I think as that it simply doesn’t happen overnight. There’s many great bloggers out there which write really well but after just several months of blogging they just leave their blog behind or frustration is to be read in their entries as they do not get the tons of comments or views quickly.

    Love how you took Thomas Edison though as a figure to teach about blogging, that man was so brilliant and definitely has shown that it’s about more than just coming with great ideas but perseverance playing a major role as well.

  19. Beautiful and very apropos. Certainly the godfather of technical innovation has valuable light to shed (Ha! See what I did there?) on one of the biggest technical innovations of this century. Although I think Edison just called my blog a pile of junk… ;)

  20. Great post Darren. It was the first post I read today in my Google reader and I automatically plurked it to all my friends. Very inspiring indeed!

  21. These are some really great and meaningful points. The one about giving up too early should really hit home for bloggers…we always need to try just one more time in order to succeed!

  22. I really like #4
    “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. “

    So true.

  23. Contrary to what’s taught in schools, Edison did not invent the lightbulb (or a lot of other things that have been claimed, like the Kinetascope).

    The incandescent bulb was developed by Englishman Joseph Swan, back when Edison was still selling newspapers. Edison only found a filament that wouldn’t burn-up within a few minutes. And was that even Edison who discovered the, or was it one of his many lab workers?

    The Kinetascope (a.k.a motion picture camera)? Louis Le Prince in 1888.

    The only important invention in your list that was actually Edison’s doing was the phonograph.

    I’m currently writing a research paper that’s encompassing the history of electricity and fossil fuels, and how alternative energy sources could replace the latter, putting electricity as the sole force running modern civilization. I’ve been reading about Edison a little too much for my tastes lately, so I thought I’d mention this. :D

  24. I always wonder what Thomas Edison, or Tesla, or even someone from antiquity would do if they were in our current time. Would Edison be pushing our electricity forward? Would Alexander still be conquering half the known world? Would Babbage be a Mac or PC user?

    I think we can always take some ideas from a lot of famous people throughout the ages and apply it to blogging, however Edison was a perfect choice.

    Well done article, like always!

  25. @Patrick, Babbage would use a Mac, of course. Edison would be hindering progress, like he did with AC. Tesla would be on the cutting edge, having developed some innovative new “thing” without aid from the monster corporations that do most development now.

  26. “…get trapped into thinking that they need to start out with the best blog design, on the best domain with the best blogging tool” This point really hit home for me. I struggled with this at first, I wanted a cool design with the most features.

    However, I have since learned by reading this and other fantastic blogs, both large and small to realize that the bells and whistles are neat, but can’t cover-up crummy content.

  27. You always find the best motivational ideas.. I love it.


  28. He can also teach you how to steal, use force against other people and spend money to influence governmental figures.

    If you want to talk about a real inventor, talk about Tesla.

  29. I would add to this list that networking with other blog owners is an excellent way for your blog to succeed. Thomas Edison had good connections that allowed him to get the financing necessary for his inventions.

  30. amazing analogy ! thank you problogger . i liked the first point the most — “start with a need ” .

  31. Some of those points are pretty motivational. Thanks

  32. Hey,

    I don’t know what happen if Edison does Blogging, haha. Well, thanks Darren for this analogy. Anyway, bloggers that start from scratch, I mean who started it from Free Domain and Basic Tool Stuff, I really salute them. How minority these type of blogger in this world. I’ve see in BlogCatalog.com bloggers with free domain have a thousands of members. Again, I salute them very much. Roger and Out. See ya!


  33. This is an interesting analogy. If Edison was a blogger, he probably would make it big time. I particularly like the part ” Falling takes you closer to succeeding”. This is like the process of elimination, once you eliminate all of the wrong things, you will have more chance to find the right thing. It’s a shame that most blogs are abandoned after 1 or two months, no business can be successful in such a short amount of time, unless you get extremely lucky.

  34. Edison is my favorite inventor, and I love that you applied his thoughts to blogging! I have to say that I pretty much agree with this post 100%. I used “I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work” for my senior quote.

    I’m not sure Edison would be a great blogger, he’s kind of a hands on guy, but hey, he invented the video camera, so Vblogging, anyone?

  35. It’s mind-boggling to think of how many inventions Edison is responsible for coming up with or developing. Even more mind-boggling is the advancement on almost all of those inventions to a point that Edison himself could not have even imagined or envisioned! I think he would be absolutely amazed at our blogs – that we can so easily share with the entire world words and images, and that it’s available everywhere instantly as soon as we hit the Publish button!

  36. I agree with all the tips, especially number 8, “Don’t give up too early.” A lot of bloggers expect to see a financial reward too soon and get bored. They don’t see each post as a step ahead. They are too easily discouraged. I think that bloggers don’t realize how much hard work is involved before you can even see a dime. Edison’s words are timeless and can be applied to whatever you do in life.

  37. In the very beginning I started with my own need to write, be read and get feedback. I think it follows because Edison might have stated that he invented things to serve people but he served his own internal need to tinker which he crafted into an inventor’s mindset.

  38. Asanya says: 06/15/2008 at 11:25 am

    I randomely found out on google about this nice software you can use to get people find you and be attracted to your headlines in search engines. I think it was called glyphius…
    You pretty much type a headline and it gives you a score. You keep editing it and changing few words until the score gets higher and higher and i guess next thing you know, you have a catchy headline ;) I think I’ll try it to advertise my coming up business.

  39. Excellent inspiration for us all, Darren – thanks.

    “In the very beginning I started with my own need to write, be read and get feedback. ”

    Don’t we all, Deb! I think that is why all writers through all time have written – because they had something they thought was worth saying – that might help other people understand something about the world, their life, and to make change. We humans have an amazing urge to create – in so many different ways!

  40. Wow, did I need to read that. Thanks.

  41. I think that the list is not so interesting, I’m not saying it is not worth reading but any successful person can be inspired. In my opinion no thing special.
    But anyway thank you again for this post.

  42. What a very inspiring quotes!

    Those thing a I’ll name it self motivation….

  43. Thanks for providing excellent tips. its really motivates me a lot.

  44. Wow, what a great motivation

  45. This should be a classic in blog posts, nice job. Hitting the print button on this one.

  46. Great words to ponder.

  47. A nice post. Work hard and keep trying is the way to go!

  48. Great post man,, thanks for so nice information’s..

  49. This was a great, helpful post. Thank you! And, congrats on the birth of Henri!

  50. I’m still working at finding my “voice” as a blogger, but I do believe that if you’re genuine and write with authenticity, your blog will attract readers.

    That being said, growing a blog is obviously a lot of hard work, in addition to good writing!

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