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Optimizing Blog Growth: Curing the Fears of Being an Amateur Blogger

The following post on Optimizing Blog growth has been submitted by Aaron Wall from SEOBook.

Many of my friends who are would be bloggers are afraid to start blogging because they are afraid of being wrong or writing something that might make them look foolish.

They want to make sure they know everything BEFORE they write anything. So they never do….

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Image by Meredith Farmer

That model of thinking is generally self defeating for no less than 4 important reasons:

  • Nobody knows everything: in some cases, as you learn more you appreciate how much you don’t know, so it is hard to build enough confidence to feel like an expertise because self doubt can be consuming if you do not have a feedback network set up. Worse yet, in most markets worth participating in new information is always coming out, so you can’t catch up without establishing a base and getting feedback.
  • Authority is granted: being considered an authority is not about how much you know…it is about how much people THINK you know. Just writing regularly gives you an active audience acquisition stream while building a passive stream via the content archives.
  • We love empathy: if the reader feels they are learning along with the blogger they are far more likely to want to come back and read more. They are also more likely to tell friends about you. If you wait until you know almost everything then you might write at a level above most readers and end up with a small audience and no viable business model. Trust in search engines is established via analyzing linking patterns. You don’t get links for what you know and don’t share. Share from the start and you have content for just about everyone.
  • Feedback teaches: reading and writing regularly teaches you how to write clearly. As you write and see some of your ideas fail while others are far more successful than you would have thought you learn what people are interested in, what ideas will spread, and why they spread.

Virtually everyday I see experts in my field write things that are absolutely wrong, but go unquestioned. I have been guilty of it myself in the past, and as I learn more in the future I will likely discover that I was guilty of it today.

You can wait until your knowledge is perfected before you start writing, or you can learn from and with your readers while building trust, distribution, leverage, and social relationships. Learning as you go is a better optimized strategy than waiting for the day you know everything.

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. Patrick says:

    What an inspiring post, Aaron! I love the idea of learning through doing, not through studying and reading thousands of blog posts so that I’m sure I’m doing everything precisely right.

    I’ve taken your attitude exactly and left my mark on the world as best I know how. Thanks for sharing this here….I always like your stuff.

  2. Mike Goad says:

    Great post!

    I don’t care if I look foolish. If it’s TOO bad, I can always delete the post.

    One can never know everything about anything. To delay until you do is simply a form of procrastination.

  3. Hafiz says:

    Everyone will have some sort fear in them whenever they are not in their comfort zone. Blogging is an example. It makes people anxious as they do not know how their opinions written on their blog would be perceived by others.

    I was afraid to start a blog in the past however if I continue to be afraid and never try something new, I will miss out on many opportunities. I don’t need to be an expert in something to try it out. So heck I just give blogging a try and see how it goes.

  4. coolingstar9 says:

    Yes, It is really a useful information, for me I just start blogging one and half month. I not writing everyday, after reading this blog, I think I have to write everyday, do not fear, just do it, am I right, Darren. I know you are really busy as a full time blogger,but if you are free, please take a look see whether my blogs is it really bad, please advise,may all good things come to you. from your sincerely coolingstar9. my blog site is
    http://coolingstar9.blogspot.com/

  5. nika says:

    I hate to say this but I never GOT to the post because the photo is so fantastically disturbing! Really bad choice, might want to reconsider it.

  6. Mike King says:

    Making mistakes is the fastest way to learn anything. Its takes some courage though to learn from any failures instead of just being discouraged and put off by it. Its true though, just take some action, however small, towards your goals every day and you will make more progress than any other way.

    nika, I thought the post image drew me in. I immediately saw it as holding back that desire to speak, nothing disturbing. Great choice if you ask me!!!

  7. I’m currently struggling with starting a new blog (Again!) and this post definitely made me chuckle because I recognized aspects of myself in it. So I blogged about it. I am definitely enjoying having a place to put expanded comments…

  8. JMorris says:

    Excellent post Aaron!

    What you describe here was a critical turning point for me when I came to a similar realization. When I realized that I did not have to measure up to some imaginary bar, it empowered me to share what I do know. In writing regularly, my knowledge is building exponentially because I research each post before writing it. While I may never reach the level of knowledge I aspire to obtain, the journey in itself is wonderfully rewarding.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  9. Ming says:

    I think what makes your blog so popular Darren, is that you write from a very humble point of view. It really does feel like you’re sharing..and not talking down to us.

    Thanks for leading the way!

  10. Mark says:

    Hi…
    Great site, nice post, but I was also disturbed by the photo. Eye-catching? Yes. Fearful? Check. But the woman looks like she’s about to be raped or something. How about a cartoon instead?

  11. Shark Girl says:

    Some people can get in trouble if they blog wrong information…like me…. I have to be VERY careful what I say. The Pentagon, Senate, House and many military domains and law firms hit my blog on a daily basis.

    I know if I say something wrong, it can damage my cases and my goals, so I try to do research first, because one slip of the keyboard, and they can probably get sanctions against me, or worse; saying I committed a crime by giving “legal advice” and not authorized to practice law (I am a non-lawyer in four lawsuits).

    I understand the fear of not wanting to blog for fear you’re going to say something wrong or look like a fool. However, I have readers that come back because they’re learning with me, since I started out knowing nothing about litigation. I put disclaimers on my site telling them I’m not a lawyer and I’m learning as I go. It’s amazing how people like to keep up with someone who is learning something new.

    Still I have to be very careful, even in the comments I leave on other people’s sites because I’ve been told people (in law firms) have been assigned to watch my blogs and what I write. Joy joy..now they can find this comment and srutinize it too and look to see if I said anything they can get me in trouble over.

  12. Shark Girl says:

    @ Mike Goad, just because you deleted your post, doesn’t mean it’s gone. Google caches. Other search engines cache, and archive.org stores entire sites even after you delete them. Be afraid….be very afraid.. *grin*

  13. CompuWorld says:

    It is very important to start blogging when you are a novice in it. The way you might be criticized will truly boost your confidence a LOT.

    When I started blogging more than a year ago I was the only one in my institute who used to blog. My friends used to laugh at me and my habit of blogging about technology. Every teacher used to say that I should concentrate on my engineering. I didn’t stop and today almost everyone appreciates my efforts..

    I have learned soo much that I feel so content when I blog. I am loving the job and as mistakes are going to zero I am sure one day I will be a full time blogger!

  14. Good point Aaron! I am an amateur blogger that stepped into the blogosphere less than 1 month ago. I have decided to go ahead and make as many mistakes as I can, as early as I can. I find that the main thing that keeps me feeling like an “amateur blogger” is that I try to read several different blogs and see what is popular, then I go to write my own post but I can’t because I’m suffering from information overload. I felt like nothing I wrote on my blog would be able to compete with the bigger guys in the industry like you and Darren. I just now devised a plan to defeat this issue:

    1. You write about something that concerns you, you research it, and post your findings.
    2. You respond to a stimulus.
    3. You help move the blogosphere into the next topic.

    So possible, I could write about something that simply concerns me regardless of whether or not someone else wrote about it. Someone will find me, someone will find them, most people wont find both, and either way they are happy with what they found. Does this make sense to you guys?

    Love your posts, keep it up! :)

  15. If you are writing in the tech field, you often do a better job explaining something when you are just learning it yourself – while the things that confused you are still fresh in your mind. Your confusion (and what helped you understand) will help the next guy.

  16. Mike Goad says:

    I never looked at the photo until others started posting about it.

    I think the image could be misconstrued. I don’t like it.

  17. Mike Goad says:

    Shark Girl,

    Good point! I need to make it right the first time and if I’m going to look foolish, do so intentionally so that deleting it is not an option.

  18. nika says:

    re: photo

    This is a great example of the power of photos and also why one should spend some time and mental cycles on the photos they DO add to their post.

    It should be germane. It doesnt have to be beautiful.

    If you want the focus on the text then it better not be distracting!

    This is a case where the image is distracting and is leading a whole conversation that is off-topic to the main post.

  19. Max Powers says:

    I understand the feeling about waiting until you are sure about what you are doing, I started out like that, wondering if I should wait.

    Then my friends kept bugging me so I said to myself “screw it” I don’t know anyone out there and they don’t know me so I might as well go for it and learn as I go.

    Best decision I’ve ever made.

  20. Evan Hadkins says:

    Umm . . . a bit disturbed by this in some ways.

    If you want to be considered an expert but don’t know what you are talking about I think this is a problem.

    The solution I think is to blog about what you do know about. This means all the things you are learning as well as things you have tried and succeeded or failed with. If you do this you won’t need to claim expertise you will be granted it. You need have no fear – you will be writing entirely about what you know. It also means you won’t be trying to pretend.

  21. Tony Warne says:

    I can understand being scared to start a blog. Ive wanted to, about my darts hobby, but like many others i leave it until “tomorrow”.

  22. Nik Makris says:

    One of the reasons I didn’t start blogging regularly until recently was because I always wondered what my peers would make of my posts. Its always at the back of my mind. Did I write something foolish? etc…
    Since I syndicate all of my posts to my peers through FaceBook it made me even more anxious at first, but I think you just have to believe in yourself and the message you are trying to get across.
    p.s. Great post by the way, spot on!

  23. I think that most of the time bloggers are discussing subjects that don’t necessarily have wrongs or rights so if you get some negative feedback or argumentative comments you can blame it on a difference of opinions.

    Plus there can be benefits of being “wrong” or what I like to call controversial as it stirs up peoples’ insatiable appetite for correcting others. That could spark great debate and give your blog more chance of going viral.

  24. Mack says:

    That is a great post and extremely helpful overcoming some of my blogging fears as a new amateur blogger. I keep trying to post helpful post as I learn them, so I think I am on the right path.

  25. It may be true that one has to just do it and get it over with. But at the same time I’ve seen many blogs that bore the hell out of me. I’m sure you’ve all seen the long line of blog after blog that just goes ” Well today was boring, blah blah blah,
    I had a rotten day blah blah blah, I read over at this site that this and that and this and that. People – only boring people get bored! Get that in your heads. if you sit at your computer, with the wonders of the world in front of you and go. “I’m bored’, then perhaps you are just boring. Sorry if this is too honest for you but honesty is ultra important.

    Where the hell is the originality? This reminds me of all of the posts telling me on numerous sites how great that Mixx site was over Digg. As a lover of Digg and an owner of a site with even more features than Mixx, it started bothering me reading about the endless hype of the supposed avalanche of Digg members leaving. It bothered me so much I wrote a whole post on it today with the title – Senator Bentsen to Mixx – “You’re No Digg!”. It did well for one day now with over 500 hits from StumbleUpon alone. Why – because rather than like everyone else just saying how great the site was I went on the site and saw less than my own site earthfrisk.com.
    I just had to blurt out what so many were thinking.
    Here in is the secret of blogging.
    Being honest, not just going along with the crowd and just telling it like it is regardless of the consequences.
    As for the photo – nothing wrong with it, it is striking and makes one look. You have a most excellent blog and I know you are one of the top bloggers out there from what I’ve read.
    Excuse my ignorance on the popularity contest of bloggers. I’m relatively new to the field, a mere 3 or 4 weeks blogging for fun, not even profit.
    Although in the future i will be taking your advice ( which is quite extensive ) on making money blogging. Maki of Dosh Dosh is awesome in this respect as well.
    It’s just that I’ve done very well in the offline world and might not have the time to place ads on the blog. I have a lot better things to do and have a very nice monthly six figure income right now ( like you I believe) so what little a new blogger like myself would make matters not. At least for 6 months or so.
    Thank you very much for having such a great blog.

  26. Many would be whatevers are afraid to start whatevering because they are afraid of being wrong or doing something that might make them look foolish.

    Replace “whatever” with anything you might want to do and the comment applies.

  27. Lightening says:

    I didn’t know enough about the blogging world to be afraid to start my blog. LOL. I’ve only learnt more about blogging *since* I became a blog writer myself.

    However, I have been somewhat reluctant to try and promote my blog thinking “why would anyone be interested in what I have to say”. So this post has got me thinking about whether I should just jump in and give it a crack…..

  28. Dana says:

    That is the nice thing about comments. My respect has been earned for a few bloggers who admitted and corrected mistakes commenters raised.

  29. Emma says:

    Thank-you for legitimizing my posts.

  30. Hi! I am also new in blogging, and somehow I got afraid too. But since I am really interested in it, I grab the chance with almost no knowledge at all. Though I have a friend who took his time to teach me personally, there came a time I had to do it all by myself. Well, of course with the help of blogging tips like this, I keep on learning. Actually, I am now starting on my 3rd blog which is also somehow about blogging tips. And if you read it, some of my tips includes some of the tips posted here. I agree when you said that “nobody knows everything”, so to end my comment. there are no perfect bloggers because there are no perfect people.

  31. Ruchir says:

    As they say: practice makes perfect. The more you write posts, the more you’ll become better at it. Taking action is much better than thinking in my opinion.

  32. B Carter says:

    I think the fear of what others may think of a person is what keeps many people from starting a blog. Some readers on the web can be mean because they are sitting behind a keyboard.

    It’s difficult to say that you don’t care, because it’s easy to get slammed on the web and have your rep ruined forever, but as long as you don’t say you are something that you should be OK.

  33. Jed says:

    I joke around with one close friend of mine all the time about how our famous last words before we get in over our heads on some project are: “How hard could it be?” But that is one of the great things about blogging – I now have an outlet to share the things learned from my adventures, and a place to share my (hopefully) humorous stories.

    Some people are afraid to try anything new without first receiving proper ‘training’. They feel like they’d be unqualified and no one would take them seriously unless their credentials show that they have enough experience in an area to make their contribution relevant. I prefer to take the mindset that anyone can become an expert in any field, given enough dedication and self-learning – through books or hands-on experience. I always remind myself – somewhere, someone had to be the first person to try this. How nervous do you think the first guy ever to attempt brain surgery was?

    BTW, I thought the photo was fine for the piece.

  34. I think a blogger is 10% technician and 90% talent. “Amateur” seems like such a relative term for a platform that’s really in it’s infancy when you look at the big picture. I’d rather visit someone with a keen wit, life experience and a knack for great story telling throw up a word press template than a technically dazzling code monkey who has mastered Adsense but has the personality of tree bark and nothing interesting to say. I say go for it no matter your level of blog savvy. Everyone has a voice. Just like in real life, people will respond, or they won’t.

  35. Highly inspirational article Aaron, thanks for your time to write and motivate people.

  36. esvl says:

    I needed this. Great post.

  37. DefogMyBlog says:

    It is a relief to know that I was not the first person to have a fear of starting to blog. I kept talking about starting for months and only did so when I found myself sending the same instructions or variations of them to people i help with blogging. It then made sense to put them in a blog and share them with anyone who needs them.

  38. Gisele B. says:

    Looking foolish can be a good think!!!

    You said it Darren: We cannot NOT know everything … no one does.

    It does and WILL happen that you’ll say something and another expert will tell you that you are wrong. The best thing to do, it to use that information to correct an old post or create a new one and admit flat out that: you made a mistake.

    I think your audience will much prefer knowing they are dealing with someone who asks good questions and go out and finds the fact. Part of finding the facts means that you will trip and sometimes, you’ll make incorrect assumption.

    When you find yourself in that situation, simply come clean.

    This exactly what happened to me not long ago after interviewing a plastic surgeon. Once I realize I had made a mistake, I went back to my old posts and added to it. I was clear about finding new and more accurate information.

    Just like Nike said it two decades ago: Just do it! Blogging is supposed to be interactive, so get started and if you do make mistakes, use the opportunity to create new content!

    Gisele
    http://www.mybeautymatch.com

  39. Michelle says:

    A great post to get people out there in the blogosphere. I generally try to write about things I know, so I don’t have too much anxiety yet about being wrong. My fear is that I will dedicate time to writing and making my blog good, and then no one will read it. All of the plugins involved for technorati, sphinn, CAPTCHAS, and the design aspects are a bit intimidating to me as well. If anyone knows of good “to-do” lists posts for WordPress bloggers, please comment with it. I am joining a group, but any help would be much appreciated! Thanks again for the post.

    Michelle
    michellesblog.net

  40. charles says:

    Great post Darren. I needed this one too. thanks for sharing. :)

  41. lol!fear of blogging?I never felt this way though.blogging is such an interesting thing to do and you can express yourself.further more I could make some money from it.fear from it?isnt that like the fear to express yourself?

  42. Luq says:

    lucky i dont have this phobia! :-)

  43. Swanbros says:

    Blogging is a good way to express yourself. Not everyone may like your posts. It’s a free world. If you have something to share with others, have the gut to express and start blogging, I think. Thanks.