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What My 4-Year-Old Son Taught Me About Successful Blogging

In October I was involved in a Keynote at BlogWorld Expo, where I told the story in this video of my son who reminded me of a powerful principle of successful blogging.

So many people have since told me how much they enjoyed and were impacted by the story that I thought I should capture it on video and share it here on the blog.

I hope you enjoy the wisdom of my four-year-old son.

Transcription of “Tell the World Something Important”

About three months ago now, I was sitting here at my desk, typing away, blogging, and it was in the afternoon—about three-thirty, four o’clock.

Now, in my house around three-thirty, four o’clock, things get a little bit crazy. I have a four-and-a-half-year-old boy and a two-and-half-year-old boy. And in the afternoon, after sleeps and after a long day, they can get a little bit silly. So around this time of the day I would normally hear, you know, a bit of shouting, a bit of screaming. And sometimes I’d hear the footsteps racing down the hall towards my roo,m and I’d see the door burst open and all manner of strife would happen in my offices. Cords get pulled out and my kids demand that I make videos of them, and all kinds of stuff and it’s kind of a fun but also a bit of a crazy time of the afternoon.

On this particular day, things happened a little bit differently, though. I did hear some footsteps walking down the hall towards my room but there was no accompanying shouting or shrieking or laughter or giggling. It was just these quiet little footsteps padding down the hallway.

And then I heard the door handle creak and the door slowly open. And out of the corner of my eye I saw my four-year-old son Xavier standing at the door. I didn’t look around: I wanted to see what he would do. He very quietly and gently got down onto his knees and then he got down on his tummy and he began to commando-crawl into my room.

Now Xavier has this perception that if he can’t see you, you can’t see him. And so he had his head buried down low so that he couldn’t see me and he began to crawl into the room. And he crawled up my right hand side and then he crawled in front of my desk in plain sight for me, but he thought he wouldn’t be seen. Then he crawled down on my either side and then he stood up very quietly and gingerly behind me.

Again, I could kind of see him out of the corner of my eye and I could feel his presence there at my left shoulder, and he just stood there for 30 or 40 seconds as I continued to type. I was trying to finish a blog post before whatever happened was going to happen.

And as I was sitting there writing, he just watched. And after a moment or two I felt him lean into me, and I felt him begin to breathe on my neck and on my ear. And as he leaned in he just whispered in my ear “Daddy, what are you doing?”, and then he leaned back again.

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to describe blogging to a four-year-old. It’s not something that I really know how to do, so I just said “I’m writing a message to the world.” And he seemed to accept that.

Again there was silence for a moment or two and again he leaned in close to me and he said “Daddy, make sure you tell the world something important.”

And then he leaned back and he got back down on his knees again and he commando-crawled back in front of me and out the door and shut the door behind him.

And it was kind of a bizarre little moment. For one, I wasn’t quite sure why he wasn’t in his normal hyper mood, but as I began to think about what he’d actually said to me, it kind of, it was a moment that I found actually quite challenging as I began to think about the type of blogs that I was writing and the information that I was putting out there.

I’ve been blogging now for eight years, and I’ve always wanted to tell the world something important. I’ve always had a motivation of trying to help people. But as someone who makes a living from it also, there are these other motivations. You want to make money out of it. You want to build some credibility and you want to build your profile. And so all these other motivations creep into it.

And so for me, that little moment where he whispered, “Tell the world something important”—for me it was kind of a challenging moment as I began to think “Yeah, that’s so true”.

That was the reason that I got into blogging in the first place but it’s also the secret to any success that I think I … success that I have had. The times where I’ve actually told the world something important rather than something that I think might be profitable, they’re the times where things begin to take off for me. The times where you’re actually are solving people’s problems, when you’re actually doing and saying things that matter. They’re the times that people seem to respond the most, and they’re the times where the profits actually do come down the track—for me, in my experience, at least.

And so I guess my message to you as I tell the world a message today is to keep that in the back of your mind. For one, it’s much more satisfying to be a blogger who’s actually saying something important, who’s making a difference. But two, a successful blog is actually built on that. If you’re actually doing something that matters to people, if you’re doing something that’s real and that is actually impacting people’s lives in some way, you’re much more likely to build a blog that people are going to take notice of, and that people will trust, and that people will keep coming back to.

So from the mouths of babes, from the mouth of my little guy Xavier who’s coming up to four and a half now, I’d encourage you to keep that in your focus. Tell the world something important.

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. Jaky Astik says:

    While you’ve been one of the most wonderful blogger on the web, I understand that #1 quality of a blogger is to never stop learning. You’ve done that and that’s the reason this blog exists so well. A blog that always stays on line is the one that never stops learning…that’s what I learnt form you…just now.

  2. Tell the world something important really strike me to blog reader to consider pledge for Brisbane Flood Victim.

    Thanks Xavier, Blogging its not so much about what niche i’m going to write when i can help stay put a way and help for a cause.

    I’m writing a quick post to link blogger to Australian flood fund. Thats my important message to the world.

  3. Too true, if you can’t look at what you’re doing and see that it adds value to other peoples’ lives in some form or another then it isn’t really worthwhile doing it in my opinion.

    • Brent, I just completed my quick post to support Aussies with Flood Relief Appeal.
      Never did i ever thought that i can do such wothwhile task under 5 minutes.

      This post has greatly impacted me to be more serious about quality content to readers.
      Thanks Darren, for such a powerful post.

  4. Alison Voyvodich says:

    Out of the mouth of babes and into the heart of dad and the world. Great little moment. Thanks for sharing.

    • joela says:

      Agreed. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story. I’m constantly examining my motivations but Xavier’s little gem brought things into clear focus.

  5. Matthew Peters says:

    What a powerful reminder. It is surprising what my 4 year old boy understands. Xavier recognized the unique opportunity that you and I have every time we sit behind the keyboard.

  6. Facemot says:

    hmmm your Son will follow you who to be ProBlogger?

    • dotCOMreport says:

      He’ll probably found something even more impactful. And maybe not in blogging either.

      • Darren Rowse says:

        I kind of hope he’ll do something else – and doubt a little that blogging will be something that many people do as we know it by the time he’s old enough to work :-)

  7. Rahul Pandey says:

    Very rightly said Xavier, and I would like to assure you that ‘My Message to the world’ would always be important and I wouldn’t write just for the sake of writing but would only write if it is important for the world to receive and read that message. I would like to spread happiness and laughter to the world through my messages. And I hope that you would read my messages too. Till then be healthy, be naughty, teach your brother all the mischiefs and do upload your videos on YouTube for us to see them.

    Bye. Take Care.

    - Rahul

  8. Marylin says:

    Thank you for this reminder… it’s something I don’t do often enough, though I have been trying to do more as my family’s journey into the world of autism continues.
    It’s so important to give back to the community you’re a part of.
    Xavier, you’re a very clever little man, I’m sure you’ll do great things! :)

  9. It is amazing what our 4 year old boys understand. Xavier, like my son Aidian asks me the hard questions. In explaining I’ve found the essence of the issue without all of the sophisticated wordiness used when speaking to adults. 

    I think we can learn a lot by pausing to think about how we can answer every question as if explaining it to a 4 year old – with utmost sincerity, brevity and with the absence of ego. 

    Thanks for helping us bloggers center back on what is most important. 

  10. Martha says:

    Kids are smarter and way more perceptive than we often give them credit. Sounds like your little guy knows a thing or two!

  11. satish says:

    yea Its right!!
    most of ppl just get into blogging to just fill up their pockets…But their contents and post are sometimes just useless…
    Its really necessary that what you write,must become sumthing usefull for readers!

    keep going!!!!!!!!!!
    xD

  12. Manish Singh says:

    Awesome stuff there

    Will take your points into consideration

  13. Sarah Clark says:

    *love*

  14. Wasim Ismail says:

    I guess if you tell the world something important, and provide value, profit will always follow even though you didn’t intend to do so.

  15. Jackie Lee says:

    Out of the mouths of babes. I have a 4 year old as well, and sometimes I get my best ideas and encouragement from the things she says. It’s like they completely understand how the universe works, and we’ve been around long enough to have forgotten. Thanks for sharing this story Darren ~ I have found it to be true as well, when you share something important your business really grows. Now to just balance that with all the other motives… :)

  16. Scott Smith says:

    Children have some of the most profound and innocent raw insights sometimes. I love the pics that you often send out over twitter. How likely do you think it is that one or both of your sons will be interested in blogging like their daddy?

    Great information your presented in that video Darren. If we aren’t saying something important then why are we wasting time saying anything at all?

  17. Iago says:

    I think you already told us this story or at least I have heard of it somehow. But I have just noticed that also Darren Rowse reads Harry Potter (more or less eyes height to the right). I guess this is what happens when you look twice at the same stuff, you can point out new things!

    Nevertheless, I very much like the story :D !

  18. What a wonderful blog post. You definitely gave a very important message to the world here, one that I will keep very close by as I launch my blog in March.
    Love that you include your family in your blogging; that makes your message even more important with a much bigger impact to making a difference. Thank you!

  19. I think an 4 year can understand an blog more then some of these older people..because its their generations and its something will be experiencing soon…hes already an smart guy..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  20. So simple and so true Darren. My two sons are all grown up now, but I do still remember the wonders they taught me when they were that age. Their view of the world is so simple and so spot on.

    I’ll bet that moment was a huge reality check for you. Love it when the teacher gets a lesson in teaching. Just shows us that we spend all our lives learning. (Or at least we should if we’re paying any attention at all!)

  21. Faruk Kalan says:

    your Son will follow you who to be ProBlogger?

  22. Moses Jones says:

    This is true, you must tell the world something very important. If you can provide something that is relevant and helpful to the world, you will be more likely to profit from that in many ways besides financially.

  23. David Repka says:

    Reminds me of the Zen Proverb: Knowledge is learning something every day. Wisdom is letting something go every day.

    Sometimes it is hard to just focus on the big, important stuff and let go of everything else.
    Thanks, Xavier!
    Dave

  24. As others have said, tell them something important, and balance that with the other things in your life. I am working to build my blog/business. It’s main purpose is to help people live a more balanced life, but I hope to be able to make a living, even a partial living from it in the future. Being able to do so would allow me to put even more time into what I love to do, help people with their lives.
    Very smart 4 year old!
    Bernice
    There is a God and it isn’t me

  25. Marya Miller says:

    Kids are wonderful at cutting through all the psychological clutter and camouflage, and telling it like it is.

    A good lesson for the day. Thanks for sharing it.

  26. Jenn Crowell says:

    This should be required reading for everyone who blogs (or even writes, in any format). Too often I see the blogging universe caught up in stats, metrics, tips, and tricks — all useful, to be sure, but often forgetting this message, which goes far beyond the rallying cry that “Content Is King!” Making meaning is what matters.

    (Of course, this also got me all sentimental, since I have a four-year-old at home, too, and amazing things also come out of her mouth.)

  27. mushtaque says:

    i saw whole video,very intresting and genuine.say blogging in one line or principle of blogging.
    thanks a lot. i continuously follow your information.bcause u r blog is genuine,authentic and
    no fack information. your blog is in my blog list. your blog is very helpful to newcomer in blogging like me.
    happy blogging

  28. Inspirational post and another great video. Really important message that I think we can all take away from it.

  29. I’ve literally just finished a blog post. Your message made be back-track in my mind to see if I had indeed told the world something important. I don’t think I have.
    This is not a good feeling at all.
    Thanks for your post.

  30. What a good message, and I’m not surprised by where it came from. I also have 2 boys, and they too occasionally take a break from the constant tussling, yelling and light-saber fighting and speak right to the heart of something.
    When kids are clear, they are really clear. I’d like to recapture that!
    Reading this post today is interesting for me. Just yesterday I published a post on my blog that felt more true and important to me that anything in a while. It is a direction I am pursuing on purpose, and I don’t know exactly where I’m headed, but I want it to be real and hopefully valuable.
    Thanks for sharing!

  31. Lisa says:

    That is so precious! I have a 4-year-old too, and that sounds just like something she would say.

    But its also so true… Thanks for sharing!

  32. Darren,
    That’s just a beautiful story. As a father of two, I can completely relate. There’s even been times, I’m sorry to say, when I’ve been so preoccupied I might have ignored or “yeah yeah”‘d my kids in favor of work. But then they’ll go and do or say something like you described, and it all kind of falls back into focus. Keep at it, btw. You’re telling the world something important, believe me.
    Thanks again!

  33. Claudie says:

    Your son is adorable. And apparently very smart too. Great post!

  34. Great story…
    I blog in my personal time around work, but try very hard to make sure it doesn’t cross over with any of the time I can be spending with my little girl (she’s 2).
    Having had her wander over while I have had my laptop out, she grabs my finger and then says “Daddy. Come with me”, I was reminded what it means to do something important.

  35. Inspiring. Thanks. Who actually gets to decide what is important?

  36. Nikhil Varma says:

    Hi Darren,

    I don’t even know whether you would read this comment or not. But i thought of telling you one thing as i enjoyed your video. The first thing that i noticed was the sound quality of the video, May be because as i am a sound engineer working in the industry. Your video quality is good. A decent ( decently priced) lapel mic would not only enhance the quality of the audio but will also give a perception as to he is closer. It would really help to fully serve the purpose of a video post.

  37. Mike Lopez says:

    Tell the world something important – that was just perfect and that kinda puts me back on the right track too. Sometimes, the motivation of making money just overtakes the motivation of helping.

    Thanks, I needed that!

  38. Wow, that’s oustanding. What a wonderfully written story and a wonderfully insightful little boy. Kudos to you for taking that little moment and sitting with it, long enough to share the wisdom with us. thank you :)

  39. gneesham says:

    It’s amazing how we can sometimes lose sight of the basics. Telling the world something important is what I think we all set out to do when we first write our blogs, so it’s nice to have a little reminder, about what I set originally set out to do with my blog.

  40. Wendy says:

    I loved the post ‘What My 4-Year-Old Son Taught Me About Successful Blogging’! You did such an amazing job of describing it that I felt as though I were there watching the whole thing…that is a gift I hope to acquire.

    The message was perfect as I struggle with juggling business, family, finding time to work on my blog, etc. There are so many distractions bombarding most of us that its so easy to forget that life in general is easier if we just remember to stick to what is important…thanks for the great reminder!

    Wishing you a healthy, happy and abundant year,
    Wendy

  41. I love when kids speak.

    If we learn to be active listeners kids will teach us a tremendous amount about what the world is looking for and how to present it to them.

    This is an awesome post!

    Thanks for sharing Darren.

  42. Great message … great video! It has drawn me out to comment on your blog for the first time. Although I always hope that I am sharing something important and worthwhile on my blog, your message is causing me to ponder a little bit deeper about “telling the world something important”. Thanks!

  43. Amazing picture quality…

    :]

  44. This is an amazing story. I really appreciate you sharing it! You really did telling the world something significant important — sometimes its more important to listen than to speak.

  45. i think the perceptions of small kids show us the blogger`s and every person who write that basically the simple things are the things that really matter, and as much as it simple its easy to understand.
    i new here and i like the video as its have much more strong impact on people.
    will keep monitor you blog and follow you on twitter, have a great weekend.

  46. Yes, that’s exactly why I too wanted to blog, to create something that a person who is just starting out in my area can rely on for guidance and quality information. But I guess as I am new to the whole writing stuff, sometimes get all confused on what to write about and what not to. I have been reading your blogs here and they have been giving me a sense of direction. Thanks a lot, you already are telling a lot of important stuff :)

  47. Susan says:

    Wow, I also have 2 little ones (4 year old girl and 19 month old boy) and they certainly remind you of what is truly important. It’s truly amazing.

  48. Jelena says:

    Hi,
    Awesome:)
    Children make it so …simple… they go to the point.
    Sometimes I think ,we should listen more to them, when they explain some things and when they ask that fabulous “WHY ? “.
    Thx for sharing
    Jelena

  49. Mike Clouse says:

    This was a great post Darren! This one really hit home, thanks for all you do!

  50. Came in on Lisa Barone’s coffee link post..great story, feel sorry for everybody who has to write something everyday..Not everything is that important, (You must have nerves of steel to stay focused when kids are running around).

    PS: What is the camera you use? It’s really clear

    Searchengineman