Starting a Blog – The Lies Every New Blogger Believes
Though every blogger is an individual, many of us begin our journey bobbing in the same boat, adrift in a sea of misinformation.
Not unlike parents and their children, we have lofty goals and great expectations for our fledgeling blogs. Perhaps we want to be the next ProBlogger, Copyblogger or Dooce. Maybe we’ve seen the subscriber numbers at Zen Habits and dare to hope our voices could achieve such reach. Our blogs are our babies and the sky is the limit, right?
Somewhere between dreams and realizations, reality intervenes.
Birthing a blog and raising it through its infancy and awkward, initial growth are two different things. Just like nearly anyone can have a kid, anyone can create a blog. It’s what comes after that first post which determines the success of our blog. And just like many parents, many of us stumble our way through the learning process.
As we said, anyone can start a blog. Want evidence? As of this publication, there are hundreds of millions of blogs worldwide. However, millions of these blogs are now inactive, abandoned, and orbiting cyberspace like a forgotten satellite.
Most blogs never see their first year birthday.
Why? The short answer – blogging isn’t as easy as it looks. Many of us bought into a false dream of easy internet success and riches. More on that in a bit. First, we want to tell you a bit about how our blogs were born.
Last summer, we were strangers on opposite coasts, who happened to both be dads and writers, both searching for Internet Success.
David was part of the Great Journalism Layoffs of 2008 and was searching for a way to keep his writing tools sharp and sate his creative desires while also feeling as though he were doing something productive. He decided to start a humorous blog about his experiences as a father and figured magazine and book offers would soon come pouring in.
Sean was running a preschool with his wife, but feeling restless. His brick and mortar business had grown as far as it could and his recent discovery that there was a writer inside him begging for attention, only encouraged him to find a way to amplify his voice and spread it as far as he could.
Soon, we joined forces, instantly complimenting one another’s strengths and weaknesses.
Neither one of us was quite sure where we were going, or how we would manage to get there, but we both knew taking our dreams online was the one surefire way to strip them of limits. We both believed, rather naively it turns out, that things would naturally fall into place. We thought if we worked as hard as we could and never failed to look our audience in the eye, we would eventually discover the magic alchemy that turned words into dollars.
This is just one of the lies the beginning blogger believes.
Here are three more.
1) Subscribers will eventually equal dollars. It is all too easy to see the blogs with their five-digit subscriber counts and assume that with an audience so large, the authors must have trouble counting all their money. But this is Los Angeles and the truth is Helsinki. Your blog might be the car and a hundred-thousand subscribers your full tank of gas, but you have to know where you’re going in order to get there. That is, if you expect to mine value from your vehicle. Subscribers are nice, but they don’t automatically equal anything. It is extremely difficult to make money simply by being liked or appreciated. The professional blogger must think like a businessman and not only be able to harness their popularity, but also lead it toward profit.
2) Content is KING. We still agree that quality content is an essential ingredient to success. Neither one of us, however, in any way buys into the argument that it is the most important element. The chances of breaking out and making it BIG are nil if you are only putting out garbage or faded echoes, but they are still better than if you put out premium grade copy and do absolutely nothing to promote it. Content may be king, but it is worthless without a couple of jesters in the court.
3) Publishing to a blog is easy. Yes, WordPress makes it simple to gather our scattered thoughts and place them online for all to see, but the budding blogger must also quickly realize that their posts are a reflection of them. This prompts many an inner perfectionist to tweak and re-tweak their posts, spending far too much time in search for the perfect image or digging to the deepest root of what we want to say, all for content that will spend a day or two on the front page and then be mostly forgotten forever.
You probably believed one or all of these things. Most of us do. We were both convinced we knew what we were doing and that it was only a matter of time until it paid off. Fortunately we met in our first month blogging and have used our early momentum and many mistakes to figure out some of the best ways to move forward without falling down.
Stay tuned. Wednesday we’ll be publishing the next part in our series looking back at our first year online.