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7 Valuable Lessons Bloggers Can Learn from Construction Workers

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
bloggers.

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.

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Comments

  1. I loved this post. Great analogy and well fitted in to blogging! Particularly agreed with the first point, if you don’t get started you won’t learn anything so get your hands in there and get started.

    • Definitely a great analogy!

      This also ties well with what Stephen Covey says in his ’7 Habits’ – If I had eight hours to chop a tree, I will spend seven sharpening the saw’. This post reminds me of that great lesson! Thanks for the post!

      Regards,
      Vishal

      • Connection between to other field person in one though is great. Great work Joseph. I also want to read Stephen Covey says in his ’7 Habits’. Vishal can you give the link of that post.

        Thanks

    • Joseph says:

      John, I agree about number one. You’ll learn much more from blogging for six months than you will reading about blogging for the same amount of time.

  2. Ann says:

    Hi Joseph, I am from construction industry but never had I put a deeper thought on how construction workers = bloggers = HANDS ON job! The way to learn and master is to go thru it. Like the way you relate both professions. The next time I write a post, I’ll probably dress up in helmets and boots :)

    • Joseph says:

      I’m not sure if helmets and boots will help, but making an analogy like this is a great way to catch people’s attention and illustrate important teaching points. Let me know how the helmets and boots work out. :)

  3. Very nice analogy Joseph. I really enjoyed the hard hat part :)

  4. 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.

    - Definitely! I sometimes find it annoying but funny when a comment is something negative and they go sort of ballistic while saying an opinion, I mean everyone is entitled to their own opinions, right? So don’t go wallowing on self pity or getting overly angry because a person didn’t like what you posted.

    I say, move on and make the negative comment an inspiration. Prove the haters wrong and eventually they will get tired and go away.

    Very interesting post you got there Joseph! Keep them coming! :)

    • Joseph says:

      Thanks, George. I look forward to writing more posts like this!

    • Kr. P. C says:

      Eh, but what if the hater that went ballistic was actually right? Would you say your sorry, but tell the person to say it in a different way. Completely ignore the person? Or quietly learn from it, and move on (without any body noticing)?

  5. soubhiks says:

    hi joseph
    great post.
    i love the comaprision to learn from the construction workers. Most often i end up without giving the finishing touches to my blog and later when I read them hate myself for not ending them well.

    The finishing touch is very important for a blog as is for the construction workers to make their work look better.

    • Joseph says:

      That’s a good point. Finishing work is one of the most important parts of construction since that’s the part the customer will see. If the finishing work is sloppy, people will probably suspect that the rest of the work was done in the same way.

  6. David Shaw says:

    Great lessons. Learn by getting in and getting dirty!

  7. Joseph,

    I cannot tell you how much I love the originality of your post.

    It’s brilliant and it forces us to take a look at what we have around us to teach us how to be become better bloggers (or video bloggers in my case).

    Thanks for sharing this refreshing approach.

    Krizia

  8. Adrian W. says:

    Love the analogy – I used to work maintenance, so I can definitely relate to some of these construction parallels!

  9. patrick says:

    .Very interesting take on planning and taking action. Nice comparison to the work of a construction worker. And since you were in a field, which required physical labor, I’m sure you can see the similarities

    • Joseph says:

      Yes, there are a lot of similarities. You never start working in construction without planning ahead, but it’s easy to work on a blog without knowing where you are going. Step number one is to figure out where you want to go; step two is to plan how you’ll get there.

  10. Joseph,
    Great post and awesome analogy. When I started my first blog (a personal blog) last May, I had no idea what I was doing. I read a bit and then jumped in with both feet. I made some mistakes but learned a lot along the way. By the time I launched my biz blog in November I had learned SO much. I still made some mistakes, but by learning on the job, I decreased those greatly.
    And you do have to keep learning and keep on building!
    Thanks!
    Bernice
    Why I love Twitter

    • Joseph says:

      Bernice, I did the exact same thing. I started a personal blog and had no idea what I was doing. After six months of experimenting, I realized that it was time to start over with a new blog, and that’s why I started Blog-Tweaks.com. It was a lot easier the second time around because of the lessons I learned with my first blog.

  11. Ricki says:

    Some great advice–thanks. The only one that came as a bit of a shock to me was Number Six. I must be very, very slow–it takes me way longer than 2 hours to craft a longer blog post that is one I really like (or maybe my brain ain’t what it used to be–?) ;)

  12. Amy says:

    Great post! I never would have thought of this analogy, but it is spot on. I especially love the part about putting up a tent in a couple of hours. I’d much rather live in a brick house than a tent, and this is a good reminder that that doesn’t happen in a day.
    Thanks!

    • Joseph says:

      Thanks, Amy. :) I also like that part about the tent, and it’s very true.

      You can focus on driving traffic with cheap methods, but in the end, you’re only left with a tent. The better option is to lay a foundation with great content so that you can capture the traffic as it comes.

  13. Renee says:

    Really enjoyed this post. Good analogy! Lesson #6 about becoming a craftsman resonated with me. Sometimes I’m moving too fast and taking the time to edit and edit again gets skipped. Thanks for the inspiration.

  14. In whatever you are doing / learning, there is nothing like getting in there and getting “your hands dirty”. I This has been a way of life for me, and I have to admit, I’m learning more now (with hands on) then I ever did in school (from books). Life hands you the best lessons, learn from them wisely!

    Great post and analogy, love the comparison.

  15. Brad says:

    Ohh you wild and crazy construction workers with your big trucks and cool blogs always getting the babes.

    Good post Joseph…

  16. Musthafa says:

    examples given here are exactly matching to the topic, nice craftmanship..
    I am now laying the foundation in my blog…!

  17. I love this post! #6 resonates the most for me personally. I also have a soft spot for electricians and their craft so this is certainly my favorite read of the day.

  18. Archan Mehta says:

    Joseph,

    Your guest post I found quite interesting to read. Thank you for taking the time to share it with us.

    I would beg to differ with you, however, with all due respect.

    There is no such dichotomy between the mind and body. Rather, it is a continuum, that is, mind-body like the space-time dimension. In fact, the mind-body-spirit are joined at the hip, so to say.

    Both blogging and construction work require a lot besides just grunt work. You have to be able to think as well. You have to flex your intellectual/mental muscles. You have to know what you are doing and why you are doing it. You cannot chop wood just to chop wood: there has to be a method to the madness, which demands logic, reason and analysis. So, I think you have missed the mark here.

    Moreover, if you want to be a success at blogging, it helps to be a dreamer and a realist. The either/or dichotomy is a false one. You also need good marketing skillls: the ability to reach out to others, market your services and, above all, network. For this, tweeting can be quite useful and other social media skills.

    Social media is great for building and maintaining relationships. In today’s world, there are so many blogs out there and new ones are started every single day. So, you need an entire cluster of abilities. One or two skills may no longer suffice. You also need to be a life-long learner and read stuff outside your comfort zone.

    If you want to be a great blogger, for example, it helps to subscribe to other blogs, read mind-bending stuff, keep up to date with the latest news in newspapers and magazines, journals and periodicals, have conversations on forums, meet people for informational interviews, read books and novels, and a bunch of other things. Gone are those days that you have written about here.

    Although I enjoyed reading your article, and thought it was a valuable contribution, I also felt you fell short on these counts and possibly others as well. I look forward to reading your articles. Have a good one.

    Cheerio.

  19. Ah Huann says:

    Yes, this is very true! Especially this point you’ve mentioned in the post:

    “Lesson #1: The best way to learn is by doing” – We should take Nike advice & “Just Do It!”

    “Lesson #7: Building something worthwhile takes time” – This strengthen my focus on keep improving & never give up.

    Thanks Joseph & this is the first time learning from u!

  20. Josh says:

    That was very well summarized in 7 points to match a blogger to a construction worker. I never thought about it that way. I’m writing down these ideas .. “learn as you go” … I guess only through trial and errors

  21. Louie Sison says:

    Hi Darren,

    Lesson #1: The best way to learn is by doing – Best tip for me…

  22. Ozio Media says:

    This was a great post and I think it’s pretty obvious that you abide by the lessons you wrote about. Another lesson for all bloggers is to fine tune their writing style whether it is humorous, straight to the point, or technical. Read other successful blogs that use a similar writing style to yours and take note of how the blogger crafted his or her post. The more you write, the better your style of writing will become.

  23. This is my favorite post in the few months I have been reading this site. I am a structural engineer, so I can relate to the examples you shared. I would add that construction workers build using blueprints. When you are planning for your blog, you should write down your ideas. We draw our plans to scale, meaning that everything is represented in it’s true size. Sometimes a great problem solving idea is perfect in your mind and then you put it on paper and see that it does not work.

    • Joseph says:

      Thanks for the tips Jason. I agree that having a good blueprint is important for blogging success. One of the best ways to get a good blueprint is to pay attention to the best “architects” like Darren Rowse and the folks here at ProBlogger.

  24. Great tips. I didn’t knew that bloggers and construction workers are this much close. Building a blog is like building a skyscraper – it may go over 1000ft but easy to fall in a terrorist attack. We must be careful in building one.
    Thanks
    Chris

  25. Great post,to tell the truth,I never thought much about construction workers.I learned something today.

  26. donny says:

    I enjoy reading your post!great tips thank’s so mucha and can’t wait to read next post.

  27. David rankin says:

    An unlikely analogy but a good price of advice

  28. Paul says:

    Real good analogy. A better one are the “Baseball Players”. You can read till you eyes bleed about playing ball. But you will never get to the top unless you actually play the game. You will have to actually do the techniques, weights, stretches etc…in order to get better batting averages, faster round the bases and power for home runs.

    Just my thoughts on this…Paul

    • Joseph says:

      Paul, that’s a great analogy. Thanks for sharing it. It’s easy to think that blogging is different, but really it comes down to the things that you actually do. Your “muscle memory” increases over time, and you become a better blogger. That won’t happen if you don’t get started.

  29. Videojuegos says:

    This post is kind of obvious the things that I read. But for new ones maybe to know that they have to learn how to use twitter and wordpress is important. I think that lately problogger is only using guest posts, but sometimes we want more pro tips than just success stories. The comparison with the construction was ok, but its kind of obvious all this things. One thing is really true START DOING, just start your blog and dont put excuses.

    I really would want to read more things like the ones in 31 days to start blogging better (from this site also). That was really cool! And I recommend it.

  30. What a great post. I could relate to everyone of the lessons; and every new blogger should take time to focus on each lesson. Thanks!

  31. Mistakes are what has defined my career.

    That last point is so important. I think in order to succeed, you need to go out there and not be afraid of mistakes. You need to embrace them.

    My first business ended horribly. Likewise with my second and third.

    If you’re scared of mistakes, you won’t get anywhere.

    There’s a saying I’ve heard, that refers mainly to movies. Every director has 40 crappy movies in him. Once he gets through all 40, he can start making great movies.

  32. Chris Neiger says:

    Joseph thanks for the post great correlation between construction work and blogging. I especially liked your point about how a good blog will take time to build. I’m working on building my content now and staying patient!

  33. Joseph, really great analogy. I also relate blogging to a lot of other things like sports and training teams. I do think blogging success has the same requirements in terms of attitudes, habits and moral values the same with winning championships and having success in business.

  34. captainkids says:

    I enjoy reading your post!great tips thank’s so mucha and can’t wait to read next post.

  35. Joy says:

    A very enjoyable read. I totally agree with #1. I read a quote once along those lines and just love it.

    “IMPERFECT ACTION BEATS PERFECT INACTION EVERYTIME” .

    You are very correct in saying that the best way to learn something is to do it, to take some action. Even if it isn’t perfect its moving forward.

    I also love #7. Building something worthwhile really does take time. Thanks for the reminder to not hurry myself along, and to take the time to build a solid foundation for my new business.

    Great post Joseph, thanks

    Joy

  36. Yeah.. definitely I’m ready to get it done.. I agree to all your 8 lessons. It’s good for new bloggers and other great bloggers too.

  37. Very clever comparisons, and great list, Joseph. My husband has been in construction for many years and all of your points are right on! Going to check out Blog Tweaks right now. Thanks!

  38. I’m still smiling. Great post. I need a hard hat and a back brace!

  39. Florae says:

    Thanks. Nice and interesting way of teaching which makes it very interesting to learn blogging.

  40. Kr. P. C says:

    Great Post,
    Just wondering, you know how you said (or paraphrased) to take at least two hours into one blog post,
    does that include research, or two hours into writing and editing only.
    Thanks

  41. Joseph,
    That was an outstanding post. It must have taken you longer than 2 hours to write and edit.

    Lesson #6: Become a craftsman – contained invaluable tips and Lesson #7:Building something worthwhile takes time – is something I think most of us need to remember. Blogging doesn’t look that difficult, but to get really good at is takes studying and patience.

    Eventhough I’ve never been a construction worker, your analygy was perfect. Thank you.

    Connie

  42. Bravissimo, Joseph! Applause! Applause!

    As a woman, I believe I’m a rare bird. I love power tools and construction work as well as any type of restoration project.

    So this post really resonated with me. :)

    Every analogy you used made total sense to me and you put forth your message in the most creative way. This is one of the most cleverly-written posts I’ve landed on in a long time.

    I’ve got my hard hat on,
    Melanie