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The Power of Not Giving Up – One Blogger’s Story

A guest post by Naomi Dunford from IttyBiz who emailed last week to remind me (Darren) that today is ProBlogger’s 6th Birthday and asked if she could write a birthday post. Here it is!.

I’ve sat where you sit.

I’ve devoured the articles and the blog posts and the link roundups. I’ve agonized over whether I could afford that video camera or that conference or that membership program. I’ve felt like a fool for even hoping this blogging thing could ever work.

I’ve sat right there and I know how scary it is.

Maybe I should introduce myself. My name is Naomi Dunford, and I was just like you.

I was desperate, scared and pregnant. My doctor had put me on bed-rest. I had to leave work because I was fainting all the time. Even before he was born, we knew our baby boy would have health problems.

We had intermittent web access because I could only intermittently afford to pay the bill. My husband was making very little money in a job working nights and it was going nowhere. Things did not look good.

Then I found Problogger.

I read all the archives. (All the archives.) Read some Copyblogger. Read some Chris Brogan. Slept. Drank a lot of tea. Had some panic attacks and spent a lot of time thinking about how cool it would be to be a problogger one day.

You’re waiting for the bit where I say it got better, right? Where I say I dove right in and created a blog and hustled my way to fame and fortune? Sadly, no.

I did nothing. Nothing. For a year.

I had my son. Went back to my job. Left work in the middle of my shift on my fourth day back. Went down to one (sub-poverty line) income. Flirted with the idea of starting a business. Got one half-hearted client. Put our son to bed by myself. Ate a lot of rice.

But I kept reading Problogger.

One day, Darren mentioned he needed businesses to sponsor his third birthday giveaway. Sitting there, nursing my son in the middle of the night, I had a crazy idea. I could be a sponsor. I had no idea what I was going to give, but the deadline of Problogger’s birthday was enough to get me going and get my blog launched.

I decided to give some marketing coaching. I had to fill out a form to say who I was and what I was offering, and I wrote that IttyBiz was the “offshoot blog of IttyBitty Marketing”. IttyBitty Marketing? Please. We’d had the sum total of one client and to this day, they haven’t paid me. But I had to put something in there. I sent it off, and then all I could do was wait.

(The actual story of how I went from not even having a domain name to launching my site on a Technorati Top 100 blog in four days is pretty uninteresting, although there are some juicy behind the scenes highlights and an adorable picture of Xavier here.)

I launched the blog. I wanted to email the people who commented to enter the contest and invite them to IttyBiz, but I didn’t have their email addresses. (I ended up clicking on all their links and personally emailing them via their contact pages, a process that took two full days. We worked straight through the night.) I did the same with the other sponsors.

I got some readers. Not a lot, but some. I got a little bit of traffic. A few other bloggers said some nice things about what I wrote. My goal was to get a thousand subscribers before Christmas. I didn’t make it.

But I kept reading Problogger.

Let’s flash forward three years.

My blog now employs six people. We have over 20,000 readers. We’ve helped more than 1000 people quit their job. As an affiliate, we sold enough copies of Teaching Sells to fund a school in Cambodia.

My husband quit his job. We’re unschooling our son. We moved to England for a while. We bought a little house. We finally got a car. We went to Cuba and Ireland and SXSW and Blogworld a few times. I threw a party in Austin and Darren came.

We’ve had ups and downs. I got pregnant again and lost the baby. Burned out. Missed some deadlines. Had a few site crashes. Got hacked a couple times. Did some stuff I’m not proud of. Did some stuff I’m very proud of.

And we’re home. My husband kisses my little boy goodnight seven days a week.

But here’s the really crazy part.

Nothing special happened.

I didn’t just happen to get a column in the New York Times. Nobody invited me to be on Oprah. I didn’t conveniently score a book deal. Despite my repeated attempts, I’m still not married to Brian Clark. I didn’t do anything special. The gods did not smile on me.

I just kept reading Problogger.

The point of all of this?

Please don’t give up. I know it’s terrifying. I know you are under indescribable pressure to do something serious with your life and grow up and forget your crazy blogging dreams. I know that some days, this is the hardest thing you’ve ever done.

I know your family thinks you’re crazy. I know you feel completely alone. I know you feel like it’s never, ever going to work.

But what you’re reading here? It works. I promise. Please don’t lose heart.

Happy birthday, Problogger. And thank you, Darren. I am blessed to have you as my mentor and honoured to have you as my friend.

Naomi Dunford writes at IttyBiz.

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Comments

  1. Jai Gopal says:

    You simply rock Ms. Naomi. Very inspirational words. Thanks and keep on keepin’ on. Peace.

  2. shubho says:

    very true dear… i have just started my blog and i work very hard on my posts… its not easy to write on that topic… i consultant many people before completing a post… but i am not getting the kind of response i expected… but i know i am not going to give up… i want to help people through my blog and if i could help just 1 guy in a month then i would consider it as an honor…
    you are right… i will never give up and i will continue reading problogger…

  3. Very motivating story. There have been times when I’ve wanted to give up (and I actually did a few times). However, I’m still blogging. Great reminder, Naomi.

    And happy birthday to the ProBlogger community!

  4. I think I’m gonna print save this part and read it when I’m feeling like crap.. “Please don’t give up. I know it’s terrifying. I know you are under indescribable pressure to do something serious with your life and grow up and forget your crazy blogging dreams. I know that some days, this is the hardest thing you’ve ever done.

    I know your family thinks you’re crazy. I know you feel completely alone. I know you feel like it’s never, ever going to work.

    But what you’re reading here? It works. I promise. Please don’t lose heart.”

    I know that came from the heart Naomi, thanks for that :0)

    Hector

  5. What a touching story and a great reminder to us all not to give up. Remember Edision tried 1,000 different ways to make the light bulb and none of them worked… what would today be like if he had not tried way 1,001?

    I actually counted up all my money today came out to 8 dollars and 28 cents … I really don’t know what will happen, have failed to get every job I have applied for and my sites are just not producing enough yet. But the cool thing is they are producing and I know I am not giving up on them. One of my sites has over 8k unique visitors a month with over 1k of those reading the blog .. my other site I have had only for 4 months and its already has over 1k unique visitors and over 500 of those read the blog. So I know it is possible its just a matter of hanging in there and plugging away.

    Another type regardless of you belief in them study the 11 forgotten laws… they are interesting and have helped me immensely.

    Thanks Daren for all the wonderful help you site has given me!

  6. Hilary says:

    Hi Naomi

    it was highly touching to read your story and its damn inspiring.. i felt like i was there with you at some moment of time.

    I love to read problogger and i congratulate Darren for the fantastic effort he has been putting into this blog.

    Also i would like to mention i started my blog .. today only and after reading this post my enthuthiasm is highly boosted .. i will certainly be back and continue reading problogger :)

  7. I was extremely touched by this post. Given that I’m at a stage where I’ve been questionning a lot of things since I’ve been at this internet business for a while, this post is a reminder to keep keeping on and that everything in the end will be allright.

    Thanks Naomi – you’ve made a difference in this blogger’s life with your words.

    Krizia

  8. Such a great honest and touching post Naomi. Ironic and very lucky that I just featured you today as one of the top women to follow on Twitter for entrepreneurship and business.

    Then I found this post and was like huge congrats!

    As much as I adore my blog and all that it’s given me it’s seriously hard work and so posts like these always give me more inspiration and energy.

    When you take into account there are 200 million blogs out there you just have to be doing this because you love it.

    Do something you love first, the money will follow second.

  9. Anne Galivan says:

    Approximately a year ago when I got serious about this “blogging thing” – actually I launched a full-fledged website but, of course, the blog is where I spend my time courting people – I signed up for several blogging related newsletters. I knew I had so much to learn, and learn I did.

    A month or so ago I realized that I was getting too many newsletters because they were taking too much of my time to peruse. So I trimmed my list. Problogger is one of only a handful of blogs (that are devoted specifically to blogging) that I still receive.

    This post greatly encouraged me. Why? Because you say, “Nothing special happened.” I know how big you are, Naomi. I see your name everywhere. So if you were able to have the success you have by, among other things, simply reading Problogger, well then I have a template to follow that will, if not guarantee me success, at least give me a better than average chance.

    Happy birthday, Problogger! And thank you Naomi for sharing with us neophytes. You can never hear, “Don’t quit!” enough.

  10. Kara says:

    Good timing on the reading of this post. Thanks, Naomi. I’ve just entered an art exhibition. You know, the kind of place where you have to front up, face to face, in a place where there are “real” artists and hope that people might actually pay you money for stuff you’ve painted?

    I’m petrified. I know it has nothing to do with my blogging, but it does have to do with just getting out there and trusting that I won’t die of fright. Maybe I’ll even sell some of the art that’s been sitting round my house for two years. Maybe I’ll just paint some kids faces while people buy paintings from other people.

    I assume that no matter how scary it feels, no one will shoot me if my art isn’t good enough. :D

    Thank you for pointing out that overnight success is rarely overnight. I have pressure on me to “get a real job” but I want to make my body art business work!

    Happy (belated) Birthday Problogger, you’re the same age as my son.

    “Now that I’m six, I’m as clever as clever. I hope I stay six forever and ever”
    Christopher Robin.

  11. Marc Brodeur says:

    Very inspirational Naomi! For us at the bottom of the pyramid just starting to lay the foundation, its very inspirational!.

  12. Yeah, i would be a liar if i said, my eyes are dry now….

    Guess what, i am another person blogging because of that guy, Darren…. :p

    Was simply searching online for something that i crashed on problogger. I have been blogging off and on since 2003, but who am i kidding, i was a 15 years old then.. After going through problogger.net, i made up my mind to get serious into blogging,..

    7 years, and i am still not doing it right, but i learned a lot. I had to sell my only blog the best i had 3 times, to pay ofr my schooling, so i am technically father to many blogs which i don’t know how well today will be…

    I have restarted with a vengeance, and will never drop my current project, which is ongoing at Tonz Of Resources

  13. Sandy says:

    It might be months past the fact, (and I am ashamed that I have not read your blog often enough Naomi, especially as I am about to host the weblogger’s group in Darren’s home town – and thank you Darren, for this six-year-long contribution to the blogging community) but, clicking through to ‘the stuff you were not proud of’, which is a must-read story, has cemented an idea I had just been toying with, until now.

    You see. The power of these connections. It never palls. This is the world we who blog, or aspire to blog, inhabit.

    Your conviction and candor is a pure delight to read.

  14. Carmen Brodeur says:

    Congratulations on your success Naomi and happy birthday Darren!

  15. Hello Naomi, I too have felt the same way. I don’t plan on giving up, I have to make it, my retirement depends on it. I have a long story as well.
    I am sure you would not get to read my reply but congratulations to ProBlogger and positive thoughts go out to you.

  16. Happy birthday to Problogger!! and thank you for your story Naomi. Naomi, I just started my blog, I’m pregnant for the first time, and it’s a boy. So many factors I have are similar to where you started. My blog process is slow but I was encouraged by your words. I’m not going to give up. I’m believing in the power of not giving up! One day, I will write a story like you, I decided!!

  17. KO says:

    Wow. Happy Birthday to Problogger, and Thank you Naomi.

    I’ve started my own blog, and it is such a hard slog sometimes. It is hard to imagine success, and having to hire anyone to help. You inspired me.

    Watch this space!!

  18. Preg Nancy says:

    Baby steps, baby steps and you can make it. It definitely not an overnight thing but with dedication im sure most people can get there!

  19. Jillian says:

    Awesome advice, great article! Thank you, Naomi!!

  20. Josanne says:

    Your story continues to re-enforce Darren’s statement that sticks in my mind–it takes many hours of hard work.
    I’ve halfway thru his book, just bought the workbook, and read his story in another book(Beyond Blogging), and he doesn’t try to hide this fact.
    Congratulations to you on your success! And thank you for being willing to encourage others along the way-sometimes that is exactly what is needed-to see someone who has been there.

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