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Do You Feel Like You Don’t Belong as a Blogger?
[I Do Somedays]

Some one pinch me please…. this must be a dream!

November 2002

Early DaysAt the end of a day on a warm November day when I was about to leave work a friend emailed me a link in an email suggesting I check out a blog because it seems to be on a topic I have an interest in.

It’s one of those emails that most of us regularly trash without looking at because we don’t have time – but on that day I had a spare few minutes and I followed the link.

The blog was on a topic I was interested in – however it was the medium of blogging itself that immediately grabbed my attention.

  • What was this ‘blog’ thing that enabled a Kiwi guy living in Prague to have his voice amplified around the world to thousands of people?
  • What was this ‘blogosphere’ thing that enabled not only one guy to have a voice – but thousands of people have a voice, interact with each other and build community?

I was immediately hooked and started a blog of my own within a few hours. ‘It could be fun’ I told my wife….

The rest, as they say, is history….

April 2010

2010Now on this cool Autumn day (remember I live in Australia), 7 and a half years later I:

  • make a good living from blogging (and have been full time at it for around 5 years)
  • have written a book on the topic (it’s 2nd edition debuted at #140 on Amazon’s best seller list this week)
  • have around 3 million people each month read what I publish
  • have been interviewed and made appearances in more mainstream media that I can count
  • get invitations to speak around the world on my topics of interest

I feel like I’ve been living in a dream

The above list of ‘achievements’ is actually something that I feel should be written about someone else. You see I’m not qualified to have them written about me.

Recently at a conference where speakers shared their ‘credentials’ to speak on their topics of expertise I decided to share my own list of ‘credentials’ from my life before blogging.

The list included:

  • 20 jobs in 10 years (none of them in social media/web/tech or anything slightly related to doing anything online)
  • a Bachelor of…. Theology (it took me almost 10 years to get)
  • Half a Bachelor of Marketing (I loved the marketing subjects but kept failing the more ‘business’ related topics and ended up giving up.
  • C grade average in English at High School
  • Incapable of making text BOLD for 3 months into my first blog

I was certainly not a dismal failure in life. I’d done pretty well in high school, had achieved in some of my jobs and study and had a fairly happy and healthy life – however I was certainly not a high achiever with too many skills or experiences that would set me up as a blogger.

In fact if I could add to the list one thing it’d be that I was a fairly undisciplined kind of person. I’d not had a great track record at sticking to too many things for the long term (my longest stint in a job was 2.5 years) and was notoriously bad at deadlines. The thought of doing something daily for 8 years would not have been something I’d have seen myself ever doing.

Many days I wake up in the morning and think about where blogging has taken me and wonder if it’s all been a dream or a mistake – I really don’t think I belong in this life some days….

None of Us Really Belong

I’m sharing this today for a couple of reasons.

Firstly – I’m having one of those ‘pinch me, this must be a dream’ days. It’s a good dream, but I’m shaking my head and wondering how I got here.

Secondly – the main reason I’m writing this is that I want to share my story because the more successful bloggers I talk to the more I realise that I’m not the only one who feels like they’re in the middle of a dream that they don’t quite belong in.

On the flip side of things I also talk to a lot of newer and less established bloggers who tell me that they look at ‘successful bloggers’ and wonder if they can ever be like them.

Sometimes as more established bloggers those of us who have been around for a while come off as being more polished and qualified than we really are. The reality is that most of us are pretty normal and ordinary people.

Most of us have little experience in publishing, limited training in communication and have days where we wonder if we really belong or why we’ve had the success that we have.

By no means am I saying bloggers who’ve been successful don’t deserve their success (many of the bloggers I’m thinking about are creative, smart and hard working people) – I guess I just wanted to acknowledge that while I write about being a Professional blogger that there are days where I’m not sure I fit the ‘mold’. I hope in doing so that bloggers of all levels might feel a little more ‘qualified’ no matter what their background.

For me the key is not to be put off by the achievements of others but to focus upon who you are and how you can be useful to others. Learn from those who may have gone before – but don’t become distracted by them. Instead work hard on who you are and what you’re doing.

Keep in mind that blogging and the social media space is not really owned by anyone – none of us really ‘belong’ any more than anyone else. To put it more positively – we all belong and have as much right to the space as each other. 10 years ago the blogosphere didn’t really exist. 5 years back ‘social media’ was hardly a blip on the radar.

We’re all still finding our way in this space and there’s plenty of room for more to join us.

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. Running Bear says:

    I love this post. Perfect timing. Just the inspiration I need right now. Thank you.

  2. Mike J says:

    I not only think of this in blogging but life in general. My wife and I are always saying things are so good we both have good jobs(I still have my day job but am working on the blogging/marketing life style) and enjoy are family being myself my wife, and daughter. We don’t live extravagant but things are nice two cars, a house, a boat, two dogs, and good friends. Yes sometimes I need to calm myself down when I have to wait to get that new iPad, but overall life could be a lot worse especially after Haiti and all those type of events happening in the world. Thanks for keeping us all in check,always look at what you have versus what you don’t.

  3. drt says:

    Darren,

    Reading your post reminded me on my own not so smooth journey in the bloggosphere. I have been asking myself or being asked by others so many times, what am I doing with this blogging stuff? At one point back at the end of 2007 I posted this In The Wrong Crowd post.
    http://www.atanone.net/in-the-wrong-crowd/
    Since then it has been an up-and-down, up-and-down until recently I concluded that it’s not about money, but it’s about sharing. Two hours ago I just left a funeral service for the head of the IT section in my work place. He passed away because of the complication of colon cancer surgery at the age of 68. His passing away has bothered me for the past 3 days. I wanted to write, but I didn’t have that much time to come up with something that would not offend his family. Then I scan your site and came across this post and start to ask myself again. Am I really belong as a blogger? Thanks for made me thinking.

  4. Really great post! I guess that is why I am post #117. A whole lot of people can relate to a message like that.

    I too #117 never really felt like I was getting anywhere in life, let alone be interested in anything until I found the internet. Luckily the first person who showed me how to do anything on it pointed me in the direction of blogging.

    The problem was that I had not written anything since the time I barely made it through community college a long time ago.

    That was two and half years ago. Today I have two blogs and actually make money doing what I love to do most – blogging or should I say communicating with others from all walks of life.

    Thanks for an EXCELLENT post!

  5. Dawn Murphy says:

    I am reading your book now, and I enjoyed this blog…..I was curious to know which of the two authors were writing this, and didn’t find out until I got onto this page. You should have your name somewhere in the blog!

  6. Martin Koss says:

    Well I have to say I totally get what you’re saying and often feel like I don’t fit in to the whole blogging thing. What can I write that hasn’t already been written. What topics would interest my 3 readers that they didn;t read elsewhere – and probably read by a better writer.

    But, I understand that we all have a voice and we’re all unique with a unique opinion and a unique way of putting things down on paper, on video or on a blog post… It doesn’t remove the doubt about our abilities though. I suppose if you have a million people reading your blog each month then you can take confidence from that that you’re doing something right.

    Me… My 3 readers wouldn’t miss me if I quit today… But then some days I’m bursting with a really exciting topic and just want to write – and thats the thing for me – I want to write… I want to be heard.

  7. David says:

    nice, i’ve been waiting for a post like that… blogging with our true voice in order to help other is the key!

    thank you

  8. Euro Boy says:

    I believe that there are born bloggers. But im not one of them.

  9. Glen says:

    This post gives you the extra inspiration and drive you need when you are feeling down and when blogging is not working for you.

    Thanks Darren!

  10. Thanks Darren! I might now start that 2nd blog I’ve been thinking about, and continue writing on the blog (er, website) I have now.

  11. Pippa says:

    I have a very new blog, to help promote my own little company. It’s nice to hear even the “greats” feel the same. And seeing all the comments makes me feel it’s not just a one off thing. I guess everyone has to start somewhere but it’s very slow going, and feel like I’m force feeding friends most of the time.

  12. turisuna says:

    I love when you say:
    ‘The key is not to be put off by the achievements of others but to focus upon who you are and how you can be useful to others. Learn from those who may have gone before – but don’t become distracted by them. Instead work hard on who you are and what you’re doing.’
    It’s really inspiring. Previously when I made my first blog, I always felt curious on how someone could get many visitors to their blog, I tried to imitate their style with a hope that I could be success just like them. But unfortunately it didn’t bring anything. Now I try to find my own style, I learn lot of thing from the successful bloggers, but I don’t want to imitate them anymore. I take their advices and then create something new. With this way I can make something fresh for my blog.
    Surprisingly my visitors like my style and my traffic getting better. I know I’m not perfect, but at least I have given my best effort and I’m glad that my visitors like it.

  13. Nacho Jordi says:

    Thanks for your post, really encouraging, Darren. I have always respected your win-win attitude, the feeling that you always convey that this is not a zero sum game. Greetings from a rookie and keep up the good posts!

  14. Brian says:

    I appreciate the “pinch me, this must be a dream” statement. I think that’s the feeling that most of us out here want to achieve, and we love to read about those who have achieved that state. Plus, it’s kinda cool to read how a life can be changed in just 7.5 years.

  15. Julia C. says:

    You say exactly what I think about this “wonderful blogosphere world” and didn’t know how to express it in worlds. Thank you, I’m not young and just started in the blogs world, but I love to blog. Congratulations about your post. Julia C. from Argentina

  16. Hi Darren –

    Thank you for this positive post with an inclusive message.

    Your note about not being able to bold text for the first three months of your blog resonated with me. I’ve certainly made mistakes with my blog. But the process of trial and error is often what leads to improvement.

    And your advice about focusing on who you are and how you can be useful to others is invaluable.

    Thanks again for sharing your insights.

    Geri

  17. MArko Zain says:

    Thanks for this article Darren. It give me new spirit to continue my blogging journey.

  18. This isn’t just feeling generated from blogging I think, Darren. I think the same rules apply to pretty much any writing medium you can think of. I would know this applies very well, being an aspiring novelist that looks up to many of the established novel writers out there. It feels.. Very out of sync, to say the least. I’m sure this applies to non fiction writers, screenplay writers, many journalism spectrums, anything, really…

    I was once told that a solo venture does not mean venturing alone. And it’s very true. Blogging, as well as the majority of writing gigs, are pretty much just that. Paradoxically, that feeling of ostracism or being out of sync with the world sinks in on a rather common frequency.

    At the time of writing, I’m certainly new, yearning to belong in the blogosphere myself. Or heck, in writing myself. Sure, you’re as ordinary as the rest of us. But the same can’t be said to your level of success in writing. Perhaps I can come close to your level of success one day..

  19. Daily People says:

    WOW!So thankful to have came across with this post!.

    Very Rarely…we can find such a humble person in the blogosphere!

  20. Nelfra.com says:

    Hello Darren.

    I’ve just read the “About Darren” page and I’m glad I’ve seen that with this article on blogging. You see, my passion is really writing and I am hoping that my blog would somehow be known by others. You could say I’m a little bit struggling, but I believe in my heart that this is something I’d like to do. I hope I can hear from you more. I also intend to visit LivingRoom because of what you pointed this out in “About Darren”

  21. Awesome and encouraging article! I’ve just started blogging and already realize that the beginning of a thing and its continuance are certainly different beasts. But, I love what blogging offers so I am thankful to hear how you started and where it lead.

    There is hope!

  22. “20 jobs in 10 years (none of them in social media/web/tech or anything slightly related to doing anything online)”

    Wow! That’s alot, I have gone through about 7 in 5 years, so slightly behind, gotta get a move on in the next 5 years hehe!

  23. Sanjay says:

    Wow, this was really inspirational and motivational post for me as well as other bloggers who are on the way to become frustrated. I must say that even you are average in English, you are creative in writing.

  24. Opposite to other ideas, greater informed blogs continue to drag in visitors including me. My first time here. I found so many interesting articles in your blog especially its discussion. The massive amount of comments show I am not alone with this opinion

  25. Mike Deutsch says:

    Great post, Darren. Reminds me of a Naomi Dunford (IttyBiz) quote that I keep on my wall for motivation. On days I’m not sure I belong, this helps me keep putting myself out there:

    “There is more room in your market than you think there is.
    Bring YOU to your market.
    Not your product or your service or your blog. YOU.
    You are cool and there is room for you.”

  26. Thank you for great post Darren, I feel like I don’t belong as a blogger!!!