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Your first 10,000 Blog Posts are Always the Worst

Practice“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson – Photographer

I came across this great quote today and as a photography nut it rang true.

However I quickly realized that the quote could easily be applied to the medium of blogging.

“Your first 10,000 blog posts are your worst”

Like anything – blogging is something that the majority of us are not brilliant at in our early days. I look back at some of the posts I wrote in my first year of blogging and shudder with embarrassment. The mistakes were spectacular and frequent.

However with each mistake and failure comes a lesson, with every post comes comes a new skill and with each experiment comes a discovery of a technique that works (or doesn’t work).

If you’re a new blogger – don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t ‘click’ for you straight away.

Practice, Practice and Practice some more.

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.

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Comments

  1. I’ve definitely seen that in my blog. After importing my old Typepad blog into WordPress – I’m now going through all the old posts and re-inserting the photos – 3 years’ worth! And I see many posts that are just…LAME.

    Here is a question: Should we *delete* those posts? Or is that changing history – and maybe we should just leave those alone? What do you think about editing / deleting old posts?

  2. Aristianto says:

    Are u still “worst”, i dont think so. You r so great :D

  3. I definitely agree Darren. I type post so differently these days and sometimes think that if I knew what I know now when I started I would be on a whole other level, but you can’t turn back time and trying to update over 700 articles will really put a damper in your day.

    I’m nowhere close to 10,000 though even though I’m suspecting that is just a figure of speech.

  4. Peter says:

    Very true.

    Some of my most popular articles in recent times have actually been rewrites of earlier articles. In my first 2 months of blogging I had an audience of 1 – and I am not surprised when I re-read my earliest of articles. But behind the boring titles, poor layout, and average writing were some great ideas.

  5. Stefan says:

    What a discouraging, arrogant and stupid quote:

    If you write 10.000 post in a short period of time you’re a spammer, not a blogger.

  6. *checks stats* – 77 posts

    I have a long way to go…

    But I am glad the give-aways are over and the actual blogging is back! I was getting tired of all those give aways…
    Oy.

  7. Starfeeder says:

    Good thing my first 10,000 posts were personal going out clubbing posts on were on asianavenue, xanga, friendster, virb and myspace…

  8. raj says:

    Very interesting. There was an American writer who once said that your first million published words are worthless, or something to that effect. I always forget who it was, b/c I read this in one of William Zinsser’s excellent inspirational books about writing.

    I’ve long passed my first million published words, so I’m thinking that maybe for me, it’s the first two million. Though I haven’t made 10,000 blog posts yet, despite how much I’ve blogged.

  9. raj says:

    Adam: re editing or deleting: my suggestion is that you rewrite your “lame” posts to your satisfaction, but specify in brackets that you updated: [Updated: Oct 9, 2007]

    Don’t delete.

  10. I also felt that some of my earlier posts were not particularly good. Like anything, there is no reason why you can’t get better at writing through practice.

    I like the quote very much.

    BTW I don’t think that “10,000 posts” has to be taken absolutely literally :)

  11. Sue says:

    While maybe not the 10,000 posts need to be written, but I too have found that my posts seem to have at least changed since when I first started 4 months ago. At first my intention was to have a straight journalistic type blog related to lighthouse news, but now more and more opinions and thoughts creep into the posts, so that I’ve found the tenor of the blog has become more personal, although in most cases I try to stay neutral. At least I think so anyway.
    Good advice, Darren. There is no such thing as a born writer.

  12. Stefan,
    “If you write 10.000 post in a short period of time you’re a spammer, not a blogger.”

    Who said anything about “a short period of time”? You missed the point. Cartier-Bresson was a brilliant photographer who dedicated his life to his craft. Each of his 10,000 photographs would have had his full heart poured into it.

  13. Justin says:

    I think that my blog has pretty decent posts now, but when I look back on the very first ones I laugh a little too.

  14. Krista says:

    I still have along time to go before my 10,000 post hopefully I will become a much better writer before that. Thanks for the advice!

  15. jegan414 says:

    I believe Ansel Adams strived for 12 “good” photographs a year.Yes, his standards were high! I’m relatively new to blogging (off and on 10 months). I certainly cringe when reading some of my early posts. I am striving for one “good” post every other day. As a photographer, myself, I am attempting “posts” that are both attractive and interesting. We need quantity to keep the public interested and to achieve our overall objectives. However, if the quality is not improving as we reach thresholds (100, 500, 1000 posts) the public interest will lapse.

  16. Truthiness says:

    Darren,

    Quality post will always out pull mediocre ones. My blog is filled with quality, well-written post which never fails to get a least some media attention. So when I reach that magic number, I wont look back with regret.

  17. Adam Miller says:

    It’s all about the incremental improvement.

    It also speaks well to writing drafts, letting them age for a few days (or a few hours, at the minimum) and then going back. I’ve only been into my new, focussed blog (non-personal, etc.) for about a week now, and I’m finding that if I can keep 5 or 6 drafts ready to go, I just find one that I want to work on and then edit/rewrite a big part of it before publishing.

    I’m sure that I’ll look back in a year and still wonder what the heck I was thinking, but at least its a start and a step in the right direction!

  18. Patrick Burt says:

    But.. if a picture is worth a thousand words:
    a blog post is worth a thousand blog posts
    Does this mean it only affects my first 10 posts? :P

  19. Stefan says:

    Sorry for taking the 10.000 posts literally. But if you don’t take it literally it’s just a very banal quote. But I heard Henri’s photographs are quite okay… ;-)

  20. Very true. My blog is not very old at all and I can already see a big difference in my writing since my first post. I can feel a difference too. I just feel like a better writer.

  21. FANDD says:

    What an encouraging post and one that I needed today. Basically, if I just keep plugging away, I’ll get better.

    By the way, yesterday’s episode of “Sesame Street” was on practice. I think that it may be a sign…

  22. Nancy says:

    My old posts were so bad that I’ve deleted probably 90% of them. (I’ve tried to salvage that remaining 10% by re-writing.)

  23. 9cherries says:

    I’m perfect. This concept is laughable.

    Just kidding of course. I’ve really only been at this seriously for a month or so, and I’ve noticed the change in quality, quantity, and inspiration has already been very positive. I still have a long way to go though. Wouldn’t want to lose those 10 loyal readers by ceasing to improve.

  24. WarriorBlog says:

    Wow – I can’t believe some of these people are taking the quote seriously and getting *angry* over it :LOL:

    It is just a metaphor :P

  25. Yet another reason to go back and rewrite old posts and make them sound better. Plus there’s no reason to write something that you’ve already said many times.

  26. Ken Y-N says:

    My blog is translation based, and recently there has been updates of stories I translated two years ago, so I’ve been revisiting old entries. Ahh, formatting is so-so, lots of translation mistakes and terrible, terrible grammar and spelling! And my two year old posts were even worse…

  27. Justin says:

    Earlier this year, I finally finished moving my old blog posts (plain text files) to WordPress. Some of that stuff was sad. Really sad. But, I can at least look back on who I was and what kind of writer I was then.

    As far as editing old posts, I don’t recommend it. I say, leave it like it was. Of course, you can always go back and remove broken links or add tags, which could take forever.

    I haven’t nearly reached my “10,000″ mark yet, but I do feel that as time passes, I am becoming a better blogger.

  28. Meryl says:

    I can’t stand reading my old blog posts (seven years old!). As for whether to delete them… No. I very much would like to especially for those with broken links — but somewhere on the Internet … someone could be linking to it or it’s archived (archive.org). I do fix broken links when I find them (if there is a fix) — if something was removed, then I leave it alone or else the post may not make sense.

  29. Alain says:

    I just hope people will want to keep reading what I’m bloggng about after 10,000 posts!

  30. Larry Eiss says:

    Great post! Thanks Darren! I passed 10,000 photographs earlier this year, and right about that time my wife mentioned that my photography had improved–check out my Photo Gallery at http://photos.LarryEiss.com to see for yourself. I agree that it takes some serious shooting to really get to be decent at photography. So too with Blog posting. I have the benefit of having written a lot before coming to the Blogosphere, but I can see how I have improved over time.

    This was encouraging for me. Thanks!

  31. Wiselad says:

    Well, I am at post number 3 on my blog, so I’ve guess I’ve got a lot of sucking to do. :(

    Caleb

  32. Mike says:

    I could certainly relate to this pretty well! While I have definitely not written 10,000 posts, I look back at some of my early ones and just laugh.

    After reading Darren’s site quite a bit for ideas I actually had the audacity to post about making money through blogging on my 6th or 7th post ever. I was like a freshman in a chemistry class trying to create a new element.

    Fortunately, I’ve wisened up and now try to post fun and (hopefully) helpful information for people about the evils of the rat race! My days of looking like a clown are over…. I hope.

  33. punisher8808 says:

    I don’t necessarily agree that your first 10,000 posts are the worst if you’ve posted well thought out, concise, informative articles. I believe the blogosphere, rather the internet in general as a whole can be likened to a worldwide literary stock exchange where value rises and falls and “stock value” can be injected into your blog/stock sort of speak by acute attention being placed on the design/look and content of your blog which yields appeal and ultimately brings value to your first 100 posts as well as your first 10,000 points. To illustrate this point I will list my top 3 favorite blogs which make excellent use of these parameters and we would all be wise to take heed of their niche approach so that we too can inject value into our blog/stock : (in no specific order) http://theqbicle.tripod.com (2) http://alistapart.com/ and naturally (3) http://www.problogger.net. We would all do well to ask ourselves what is it that these blogs do so very well that sets their inherent value apart from the hundreds of millions of blogs in the blog-stock-exchange?

  34. doug m says:

    I agree Alain, i hope to continue up to and beyond 10,000 posts, and also sustain readers until that point :)

  35. Slevi says:

    Nearly reached 5% of my worst entries! Hehe, as stupid as the 10,000 sounds for something like blogging since many will just never make that number it’s very true. But it counts for everything, as you continue on doing it you’ll be improving your skills.

    When I look back at my old posts it’s like lol, slowly but steadily I’ve been learning more and more things and it’s also what makes blogging fun and enjoyable.

    I’ll never touch the old entries again though, they’re there to stay as they were like some form of heritage. Simply by going back in the archives it is a way of showing on as to how things got better throughout the years.

  36. Matt Jones says:

    If you’ve written 10 thousand blog posts and don’t have a popular blog they must be terrible!

  37. Tom Hanna says:

    Well, I guess I’m about a quarter of the way there. Do lame comments count in the total? If so, I’m way better off.

  38. Mark Dykeman says:

    At the risk of saying, “Me, too!” I fully agree with the spirit of Darren’s comments. Months or years later when you look back at your older work, you’ll probably find many cringe-worthy moments – I know I have and I will continue to do so.

    You can look at this in two ways. You can say “OMG, I’ve got to write 9122 more blog entries to be any good!”. Or, you can try to take some comfort in the fact that you will get a tiny bit better with each post and you will learn a great deal along the way. Ultimately I think he’s trying to offer encouragement, which is a cool thing.

  39. Kelvin Kao says:

    I know it’s a figure of speech, but I wonder how many posts I’ve actually written. (Well, I can easily count my younger blogs but my Xanga would be hard to count.)

    My first 10000 comments are the worst too. I’m getting there slowly. :)

  40. I just started blogging about 8 weeks ago and I’m already going back to my first blogs and making corrections to make the posts more understandable, grammatically correct and “reader friendly”.

    Now I wish I would have paid more attention in English class. Who would have figured 30 years later that I’d need these skills?

    I believe you learn something new each day so the more I write the more I will learn and thus, the better I will become.

  41. Brilliant advice, and a great quote to go along with it.

  42. Deb says:

    Max if you feel you need some usage refresher the programmed text English 3200 can be very helpful.

    As for the quote, I think there are two messages in it. If you commit to doing 10K whatevers you are going to take on a marathoners mindset rather than the sprinters. Second the number 10K is too large to realistically track in your brain’s archive of how long it’s taking, because the it’s just far enough on the horizon to be imperceptible of it’s rate of advance. You know after the one you’re working on there is another to be done, etc, etc.

  43. Actually my first post was the best but its been all downhill since then. ;)

    No, seriously, finding my voice as a writer has been tough. I think I’m getting better as I write more and more.

  44. Adam Snider says:

    People are taking the number 10,000 far too literally. As a “metaphor” or “proverb” the quote rings true, though. Your earliest work is always the worst, because you haven’t yet spent the time developing your craft. Those proverbial 10,000 first posts/photographs/whatever are, in many ways, just practice. They’re not very good, but they’re necessary to help you hone your skills and become good at what it is that you’re trying to do.

  45. Darren Rowse says:

    Stefan – like Jon says – the point of this article isn’t to say that you should write 10,000 posts very quickly. The point is that the majority of bloggers improve over time.

  46. tinymeme says:

    Thanks for the pep talk.

  47. Jeff Myers says:

    This post came at a good time for me, as I am starting to come out of a bit of a blogging slump that started around my third month of posting.

    I think it’s essential to find your voice within those early posts, but then continue to develop as your knowledge of the format grows. I can look back on some of my posts on my three sites and find some real gold. I can also see a lot of junk, but for whatever reason, this little metaphor has connected with me in a meaningful way.

  48. Pat says:

    I have a long way to go to 10,000 so I have lots of time to learn from my posts. Of course I love learning and life itself is a learning process. Thanks for the encouragement!

  49. Missylicious says:

    Ya I agree with you. Every now and then when I refer to my past posts, I cringed with embarrassment.

  50. Brad V. says:

    Yes, I also shudder when I read some of my earlier posts. However, as much improvement as I have seen over the last year, I know that I can always do things better. Practice, practice and practice some more!