This guest post is by Joseph Wesley of Blog Tweaks.
Did you know there are similarities between blogging and construction work? It’s true. I learned this while working as an electrician during the first six months of 2010.
You may be wondering how a marketing grad from UT Austin ended up doing electrical work, but that story is too long to tell here. More important for this post is that I also started blogging during that time.
On the job site, I dreamed about blogging while cutting wire, bending conduit, and connecting matching colored wires. I also took notes about how the construction lessons I was learning applied to blogging.
This post is a collection of those notes and reveals valuable lessons that bloggers can learn from construction workers to become better bloggers.
Lesson #1: The best way to learn is by doing
Construction workers aren’t typically reading types. Instead of reading about how to use a saw, they just start using it. A foreman never hands you a book; he hands you a bandsaw and tells you to get to work.
When it comes to blogging, the same is true. There’s only so much you can learn by reading. Eventually, you have to learn by doing.
You’re not going to start the next great blog just by reading about it. ProBlogger is a great resource for improving your blogging skills, but to really learn, the best way is to just do it.
Lesson #2: Learn how to use your tools
On a construction site, tools are a worker’s best friend. If you have 1,000 screws to screw in, using a screwdriver drill bit is faster than using a screwdriver. A lot faster.
In blogging, you also want to know how to use your tools. You need to know how to use WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Feedburner to your advantage.
The more you know about how to use these tools, the more effective you will be at blogging. To become a better blogger, take some time to become familiar with your tools. In the end, you’ll be a more effective, more successful blogger.
Lesson #3: Make sure you get it done
In construction work, you don’t get paid for thinking. And you definitely don’t get paid for talking. You get paid for the amount of Sheetrock that gets nailed into the wall, or the number of lights that get wired.
This is what construction workers call “getting it done.”
As a blogger, you need to pay attention to getting it done. You can think and talk and tweet about blogging, but that’s not what builds a successful blog.
What builds a successful blog is the time you spend writing, re-writing, promoting, guest posting, and networking. What builds a blog is accomplishing goal-oriented tasks; not just making noise on Twitter or talking to friends on Facebook.
The point is this: consistent output is more important than over-thinking or over-planning. Instead of dreaming about having a great blog, put in the hours that it takes to create great content and build meaningful relationships.
In other words, get it done.
Lesson #4: Learn from a master craftsman
In the construction world, if you want to be a great carpenter, electrician, or plumber, you need to learn from a master craftsman. If you learn from the best, you can become one of the best.
The same is true with blogging. Do you want to become a problogger? Then you need to learn from probloggers. You need to pay attention to Darren Rowse and Gary Vaynerchuk and any other probloggers that you look up to.
You need to read their posts and study how the headlines and copy are crafted. You should pay attention to how they lay out their blogs, and how they build their email lists.You need to learn everything that you can from the best
To become a master craftsman, you need to learn from a master craftsman; to become a problogger, you need to learn from the probloggers.
Lesson #5: Don’t forget to plan ahead
On a construction site, it’s very important to plan ahead. You don’t start tearing walls down or bolting panels in without a plan.
First, you visualize the steps and figure out what tools and materials you’ll need. Then you plan what to do first and what to do after that. Otherwise, you might cut through the beam that you’re standing on or bolt in the wrong panel
first and need to tear it out. It happens.
When you first start a blog, you may not have planned that much. But once you’ve been blogging for a while, you need to learn how to think ahead.
Maybe you need to post twice per week, and you need to write one guest post per month. Maybe you need to devote time to write a series of posts.
Whatever dream destination you have for your blog, eventually, you need to plan how you’re going to get there.
Lesson #6: Become a craftsman
Craftsmen don’t settle for just getting the job done. Craftsmen pay attention to details. They line up every screw and level every pipe to make their work look good and work as well as possible.
As a blogger, you want to be a craftsman. You want to pay attention to the details in every post. I once heard someone say that if you edit your writing 50 times, it’s 2% better than the version edited 49 times.
In blogging, you want every post to be 2% better. This means that you need to take time to craft better headlines. And it means that you need to edit every post more than once before hitting Publish.
Martyn Chamberlain of Two Hour Blogger says that you need to put at least two hours into each post. That’s a good rule of thumb if you want to be a craftsman. If you’re writing a guest post, you should take even more time than that.
If you want to create memorable content, you need to become a craftsman.
Lesson #7: Building something worthwhile takes time
Building a conference center that seats 5,000 people takes time. You look at it month after month, dreaming about the day that it will be finished. That’s what its like to build something, and that’s why Rome wasn’t built overnight.
Building something worthwhile takes time. If you want to build a popular blog, it won’t happen overnight.
Your first posts lay the foundation. The posts after that build the framework. Each guest post puts up more walls. Eventually, the blog gets built. But a blog with 10,000 or more subscribers doesn’t get built overnight. Blogging takes time and patience.
Sure, you can take some shortcuts and drive traffic to a blog in a short amount of time. You can also put a tent up in a couple of hours. But if you really want to build a blog that will last, you need to take the time to do it right. In the end, it will be worth it.
Bonus Lesson: Don’t forget your hard hat
Construction workers are required by law to wear hard hats. Hard hats protect construction workers from hitting their heads on steel beams, and from falling objects like wrenches and drills. It’s a good law.
In blogging, hitting your head is the equivalent of making a mistake, and falling objects are the equivalent of negative comments. Here’s the thing—it’s going to happen. You can’t blog without making mistakes or being criticized. You might write a post that you regret. Or a subscriber may write a hate email that you want to digitally burn.
Don’t worry about it. That’s why you’re wearing a digital hard hat. Interestingly, the more successful you are, the more haters there will be. Don’t worry about being criticized or making a mistake. That’s what your hard hat is for.
So what do you think? Are you ready to get it done?
Joseph is a marketing grad from UT Austin who started blogging at JosephWesley.com exactly one year ago. Recently, he started Blog Tweaks to provide technical services for bloggers. Check out the site to see how you can get your blog tweaked.