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Blogging is Rocket Science

Today’s post is by Kevin Sanders of Strong and Fit.

Do you ever have those moments when seemingly random, unrelated thoughts kind of merge together in your mind? This happened to me a couple of weeks ago.

I remembered a documentary I watched on the space shuttle years ago. Something was said about the percentage of fuel it burns within the first two minutes of liftoff. It stuck in my mind and I tried to find the information on Google. No luck. Then I remembered that one of my family members (Dale Hutchens, Ph.D.) works with NASA. He is a chemical engineer who was directly involved with developing the shuttle’s solid rockets. He gave me a quick estimate:

For launch, the solids provide the vast, vast majority the total LAUNCH thrust. The solids burn out in 2 minutes and 12 seconds, if memory serves. Each solid holds 1.1 million pounds of propellant. Therefore, in the first minute, you probably burn something more than 50% of the solids, or 41-ish % of the total fuel. A more certain number is that in 2 minutes and 12 seconds you have burned all the solids (2.2 million pounds) and close to 380,000 pounds (out of 1.6 million pounds) of the liquid, for a total of 67% of the total fuel.

The space shuttle burns most of its fuel within the first two minutes of flight! The science geek in me thinks this really cool.

What does this have to do with blogging? Stay with me.

I began thinking about some things I’ve learned on this blog. A few weeks ago Darren said problogger.net is kind of in maintenance mode (my paraphrase). In other words, it doesn’t require the same amount of work it used to. John Chow said something very similar in his video seminar—he now works about two hours a day.

But both bloggers spent a lot more time and energy getting things started.

In some ways, blogging is like the space shuttle—a great deal of effort is required to get it “off the ground.”

Think about some of the steps a typical blogger would take during the first six months of creating a new blog:

  • Choosing a topic (big one).
  • Choosing a platform and design.
  • Choosing a name/domain.
  • Writing/creating a hundred posts (assuming an average of four posts a week).
  • Registering with digg, stumbleupon, twitter, etc.
  • Participating in forums.
  • Leaving comments/backlinks on other blogs.
  • Writing guest posts for other bloggers.
  • Registering with directories (such as blogcatalog).
  • Spreading the word on social networks (facebook, etc).
  • Developing a core of followers.
  • Setting up a newsletter.
  • Printing business cards with your blog address.
  • Telling your friends about your new blog.
  • Finding appropriate affiliate programs.

These are just a few steps that come to mind. When you think about the cumulative effort, it’s a lot of work.

Maybe this is one reason some blogs never make it very far—some bloggers just don’t realize the initial effort that’s required on the “front end.” Or maybe they don’t realize things will get easier (or at least more productive) over time as their blog gains momentum.

As I’ve mentioned before (both here and on the forum), it took about six or seven months for me to see significant traffic on Strong and Fit, my fitness blog. It still requires effort, but I’m now seeing more results with less work (in terms of traffic and income).

OK, I’ll admit it—blogging isn’t really rocket science. But we sure can learn from it.

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 really appreciate all the encouraging remarks. I had a feeling you guys would get a kick out of this post.

  2. Carrie says:

    I’ve also been blogging for many years with very little success and after reading your post, I can see why! It’s so easy to get disheartened with the lack of traffic and comments etc. but it’s all worth in the end when your blog (and your reputation) takes off!

  3. I would agree with everyone here: great analogy and a good thing to keep in mind when trying to get your blog into orbit.

    I would actually disagree slightly with a lot of others here in saying that once you’re in orbit, it’s just a matter of coasting: sitting back and watching the money (or accolades or attention) roll in. A few other comments have hinted at my complaint (e.g., Dave Doolin), and I’ll continue your analogy to get my point across.

    Blogs have a decaying orbit, and without refueling and care, they eventually re-enter the atmosphere, burn up, and die. It’s very easy to become complacent after awhile, or to let interest in other things draw the writer away.

    Blogs takes effort, period. They take more up front, but don’t be fooled. Good bloggers (like good writers) work at it all the time. They never give up, which is what keeps people coming back!

    Thanks for the post. It’s a nice way to start my Sunday morning. :-)

  4. If you have a business-related or industry-specific blog, then the “on-steroids” version of “Tell your friends” is networking. If you belong to a professional networking organization such as a chamber, industry association, BNI, etc., make sure you’re using that platform to promote your blog. A room full businesspeople, all taking notes and receptive to any information that might be of value to them, is too good an opportunity to ignore.

  5. Oleg Mokhov says:

    Hey Kevin,

    Do the foundation work now, and it’ll pay off infinitely later. Like any business endeavor, a blog has an exponential curve in terms of results based on amount of work.

    There is tons of work to be done in the beginning. But you only do it once. It’s like laying down the foundation for a house. You build it once, but if you make it strong enough, then it’ll hold your site for the rest of its existence.

    After your house is built, you just need to do maintenance every once in a while – like cleaning and changing air filters. The same for your site: once you have a system of traffic, content creation, and profitability going, all you need is to just keep creating content and maintaining the site.

    It’s almost good that it takes much more effort to get something going in the beginning. It acts as a filter for those who aren’t passionate and dedicated to their creation. The casual or purely-for-the-money folks will give up sooner or later, leaving the most enduring websites and businesses to be created by those that care and give remarkable value.

    Blogging ain’t rocket science, but it takes just as much dedication to build great content :)

    Best,
    Oleg

  6. This has not held true for me. If I lighten up on social media or posting on forums I see an immediate drop in traffic. Maintaining the blog itself has become auto pilot.

  7. Dean Saliba says:

    I agree with Bob Jones. The more you put into blogging the more money you will get out of it.

  8. schneckerl says:

    haha, that’s so true!

    i’m still stuck in the 2 first steps..

  9. valentina says:

    Blogging is not a set it and leave it business, but as you become more informed on the process you can apply some automated systems thereby freeing up your time to concentrate on those activities that require your input. Even social media postings can be outsourced.

    I have a friend whose sole business is tweeting for corporate clients and she makes good coin at it too! The thing here is that she knows how to work the system so that it brings qualified target to her clients’ website. Unless you love to tweet, this may be something that you would like to outsource.

    best…………valentina

  10. Paul Hassing says:

    What a great analogy, Kevin! You had me wondering for a while, but it was worth the wait.

    I’ve not seen the startup tasks of a blog laid out like that before.

    I’m impressed by your elegant analysis and heartened that in a few short months, I should be seeing a bit more movement at my station. Many thanks. P. :)

  11. Someone over on the problogger forum asked what would be the initial steps in starting up a blog. I think mentioned that there would be a list in my next guest post here. Hope he or she is reading.

  12. Chris Marlow says:

    Thanks for such a insightful analogy. I think like many things in life our energies are spent working hard in the beginning so we can reap the benefits later on. As a new blogger I really appreciate your candor about what gos into making a blog successful.

  13. Anne says:

    Awesome post and very encouraging for someone like me. I am working on launching a homeschooling website w/ blog. It is actually something I have been working on for quite a long time. Part of the problem was figuring out who I wanted to design my site. My daughter was going to do it but the learning curve for her was too steep; I ended up hiring JohhnyBTruant at http://www.JohnnyBTruant.com to design my site and he was fabulous.

    Now I am working on learning the ins-and-outs of the site as well as compiling posts and information for the other pages of my site. I am determined to try to cover all my bases before I start. And I’m determined not to expect immediate results. This has been a long-term commitment from the beginning and I plan to give it the attention it needs to succeed.

    So it’s encouraging to hear that if I do that (and obviously offer something that actually fills a need) I can be fairly confident of success.

    Anne @alivenkickin

  14. work at home says:

    Yes blogging is not one day success. I am working since last one year in my blog, but till now not gaining success. But it not means that I will not success in future. I am enjoying in my blogging life. Its really fun and something like win.

  15. You shown here a completely different way of looking at blogging. I had never thought that there is any kind of science behind blogging. I liked your post.

  16. Bottom line – blogging is fun but also hard work. I keep my eyes on the end I’m working towards – ‘maintenance mode’.

  17. drew says:

    im planning to start a career in blogging, i mean just right now,at this very moment.. and i am very thankful that your Rocket Science Theory was the first encouraging tip blog ive ever read..so thank you, good luck and more power to strongand fit..

  18. GolfGurl says:

    Just printed out your list of things to do as my own “double check to-do list”! You are correct – a lot of upfront work is required… in the beginning, results are slow, but you have to have faith in your concept, great content, and confidence that what you share is of value.

  19. sockyee says:

    That’s a very fine example given. A moment after reading the paragraph, I couldn’t find a way on how to relate the example on rocket fuel burning to blogging. But I guess you really stretch your mind over there. And yes, it’s true.

  20. wirawan says:

    That is very good guideline for newbies blogger and for me too.
    I hope I can follow your blog to professional blogger same as you.

    I have one Thai language blog, I am not good in English but for next blog I will try to do English blog.

  21. Hey Kevin:

    I believe that the above analogy applies not only to blogging, but to most things in life that require effort.

    I guess that was separates the good from the great. All of the work required initial requires a lot of time and effort. Seeing low visitor count, not that many comments can be frustrating.

    But we still have to find a way to persevere and keep pushing ourselves. It is hard, but it gets easier. Some people just choose the overall comfort as opposed to doing something that requires work.

    Building a great blog is like building a great house. It requires a great foundations and a ton of work initially, but once the frame is up, the rest is up to your imagination.

    Thank you for the tips and the motivation. It is important for me as a new blogger to keep this in mind and just keep pushing myself.

    Best,
    Tomas

  22. Blogging is actually much harder than rocket science in terms of success. If we look at the number of people who train to be rocket scientists and how many make it, it’s much higher than that of bloggers. After all, 9 out of 10 bloggers don’t make it six months!

  23. A great metaphor. I agree with it. No wonder most bloggers quit early. Or even if they don’t bring down the blog, they quit internally and stop trying to get their blog to the next level.

  24. I will admit that I didn’t realize there was so much to blogging until I decided to blog for myself!

    Choosing and tweaking a site design, writing posts, having back-up posts, deciding on plug-ins and widgets, promotion, promotion, promotion…there’s always something new to do!

    So far though? It’s been worth every second.

  25. mealdy says:

    Maybe you’re right, but I prefer the idea that continual effort is necessary for success, just like learning a foreign langage. Persistence is power!

  26. Jhay says:

    Almost everything takes a lot of energy to get starting. Especially family dinners. ;)

    As for blogging, I see it more like sailing out into the big ocean, always being mindful of the weather patterns (internet trends) and ocean currents along your course (your niche) and always being in everyone else’s radar screen (networking).

    Because some blogs that really took off only required minimal effort while others were like big rocket launches that only failed along the way or in the end.

    But that info about the fuel consumed by a shuttle launch was just geeky cool!

  27. You are sure right “some bloggers just don’t realize the initial effort that’s required on the “front end.”

    It’s taken me 1 years of work full-time on blogging.

    Hope many people read this post rather than read those stupid hyped up sales pages that say “I’ll make you $thousands every month – here buy my product for $27!”

  28. Renz says:

    Wow. Thanks for the tip. I just started installing wordpress on my host server. I’m still at the configuration stage. This article encouraged me a lot to exert more effort on this. Thank you.

  29. Yes this is very true. But it’s true for any human endeavour, not only blogging, right? The most of your resources will be required UPFRONT, and then the work will get lesser and lesser until you reach “cruise speed”, and you can relatively relax :)

  30. What is the most essential part of marketing a website? I have always doubt what is about a website that will bring people to it. Now I have made out that the biggest factor is usually search engine marketing. It is, truly, becoming important in the marketing process of any online presence. Search engines can drive very qualified traffic to a website. If someone is searching for what your site has, then that makes your site more important for them.

  31. Scott says:

    This one is spot on. I cannot begin to tell you the number of people that think I started my blog over a long weekend. The work required is tremendous initially. Now that my blog is getting reasonably established I’ve moved on to books and almost feel “guilty” about not giving my blog as much time. The proof that what you say is true is the trail of dead “competition” in my wake.

  32. In any endeavor, critical planning and hardwork is required. You must devote ample time to see your work successfully accomplished.Someone said, “If you think you’ve reached the top, keep climbing”.So is true with blog. Devote your time and energy for this is a very rewarding experience.

  33. Barb says:

    I agree, I put a lot of work in getting my blogs of the ground and learning about this new world after all I am a baby boomer. I only discovered computers when my daughters taught me about them. Now with my blogs I find I have created a cool little world all of my own and after so many years of being a full time mother finding the energy to get my blogging world of the ground is great.

  34. Gabriele says:

    Hi Kevin,

    your original informative post has really stirred up much thinking and honest blogger contributions.
    It is amazing that people wrote so much individual comment and information about their blogging experiences, which so seldom happens with blog comments.

  35. rosebelle says:

    Good words of encouragement to remind beginners to keep trying and don’t get discouraged when things aren’t going as planned!

  36. Brett says:

    Nice post, definitely something to think about for the newbies…. like ME! Wooooo!

    That list in the middle of the article is really handy too, it’s getting stuck on the wall so I can make notes around it on this fun journey :)

  37. Good points.It is true that blogging is rocket science, at least when it comes to the daily action steps you need to take.It is not only about getting a good idea for a post, there is commenting and interacting, social media, forums.It is very time consuming as well and the pay is really low in the beginning.