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Building Blogs is Like Building Muscles

Posted By Darren Rowse 23rd of June 2011 Video Posts 105

“Building blogs is like building muscles—in order for them to grow you need to use them.”

I tweeted the above statement a few weeks back and it got so much traction I decided to create this video on the topic.

The idea for the video came out of the a Skype chat session I had with five readers who all worked through the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook together. Their feedback was that they felt like they’d all signed up to the gym together and had just had a month of intense training. In each case, their blogs had grown (both in terms of content and traffic), and they’d come to the realization that daily blogging exercise was what had led to the results.

Transcription of Building Blogs is like Building Muscles

Hi. It’s Darren from ProBlogger here. Today I want to talk about a principle of blogging that I think most people understand but many bloggers I come across don’t actually do anything with that knowledge. And that is this: a blog is like a muscle, it only grows when you use it.

Most of us understand that to have a successful blog you need to actually blog. You need to actually create content. You need to do the activities of a blogger in the same way that if I want to grow my biceps I need to actually pick up something heavy and I need to exercise those biceps. If I’m just passive with them they won’t grow at all.

So most of us understand that, but most of us also just let our blogs happen when we feel like blogging. Most bloggers I interact with? You ask them, you know, “what is your blog posting schedule like?” and they kind of look at you a little bit blankly. “Well it’s kind of like when I sit down at my computer and I think maybe I should come up with something to write about”. It’s very impulsive, and it’s not very strategic.

Now, using this exercise metaphor, I’m actually someone who doesn’t exercise very well on an impulsive basis. I actually need to be a little bit strategic about it.

The times in my life where I’ve been the most fit and most healthy are the times in my life where I’ve actually put a plan in place to become fit and healthy. They’re the times in my life where I’ve enrolled in a program of some type to exercise. They’re the times in my life where I’ve enrolled in a gym and talked to a fitness instructor and got them to devise me a plan of the type of exercises that I need to do. They’re the times in my life where I’ve talked to a dietician who’s helped to put together a plan of foods that I should be eating at certain times of the day. They’re the times where I’ve been intentional, and have actually done something and put something in place to help me to be fit and healthy are the times that I’ve actually been fit and healthy.

And the same is true with my blogs. I remember in the early days understanding this principle for the first time, and noticing that the more I posted, the more readers would come to my blog. The more I posted, the more people would leave comments on my blog. The more I would interact with my readers, the more they would interact with me. The more you use your blog, the more successful it becomes. And so when I began to notice this, I started to put some plans in place to help me to blog.

I remember the first time, about three months into my first blog, I developed an editorial calendar. I didn’t call it that at the time—I had no idea what an editorial calendar was—but I got a spreadsheet out, and I put down the different days of the week, and the different activities that I would do on my blog. At that point I was posting on a daily basis, but I began to think, “Well, on Mondays I could ask a question. On Tuesdays I could do a “how to” type post. On Wednesdays I could link to another blog and bounce off something that they’d written and link back to them.”

And so I began to think about different types of posts for different days of the week as a strategy to get my blogging regular, and to be a little bit more strategic about it in some ways. In many ways it was kind of like an exercise plan for your body, but it was an exercise plan for my blog.

Over the years I guess that editorial calendar has developed, and has changed at different times depending on the different stage that my blogs are at. There are other activities as well—it’s not just the content that you write that you need to be a bit strategic about. It can also be about promoting your blog. So you may add in to your schedule, “In Tuesdays, I will visit five other blogs in my niche and I will watch what they’re doing. I will email their authors. I might leave comments on their posts.” Those type of activities can be things that you can be a bit strategic about as well.

Another area that you can be strategic about is around building community on your blog. So you may say, “On Thursdays, I’m going to email three of my readers and just say ‘Hi, I appreciate you reading, is there anything I can do for you?'” You can interact with your readers in the comments of your blog—that type of activity can be scheduled in. You can be a bit strategic about it.

Similarly you could add in activities around doing search engine optimization if you want to grow your readers through Google, or you could schedule in things about monetization, you know—looking at how your ads are placed on your blog, and doing some optimization of that on a regular basis as well.

None of these things just happen any more than muscles growing without exercising them, so be a little bit strategic about it. Now you may have the incentive and the initiative to be able to do that for yourself, or you may need to do one of two other things.

You might get a program like ProBlogger’s 31 Days To Build a Better Blog or ProBlogger’s Guide to Your First Week of Blogging. The reason I actually created those ebooks was to get people doing daily activities that would get them in the rhythm of blogging. So you may choose to use a program like that, or you may devise your own, or use someone else’s.

And the other thing I’d say is: don’t do it alone. One of the things I know about health and my body and being fit as a person, is that I’m much more likely to exercise if I’m somehow doing it with another person. Whether that be a fitness instructor, or whether that be a friend who I go for a run with, or a friend who I might play a game of tennis with. When we are social in what we do with our bodies, for many of us it’s easier, and the same I think is true with blogging.

When you join with someone else to work through a program like 31 Days To Build A Better Blog, or some sort of other program that you devise to take your blog to the next level, you’re more likely to actually put that into practice. There’s that sense of accountability. It’s a little bit more fun, and you can help each other and resource each other through that as well. So I’d encourage you to think about not only being strategic about your blogging and putting a plan in place for it, but to also think about how you can do that with someone else. How you can build some accountability and cooperation with another blogger to build your blog.

So I guess I’d encourage you with that advice again: a blog is like a muscle. You need to use it to grow it. And for most of us, that means actually being a little bit strategic and putting some sort of a system or a rhythm or a routine in place to help us to go to the next level. Whatever you do, don’t just leave it to chance. If you want your blog to be successful, if you want it to achieve certain goals, you need to put some systems and rhythms in place to take you to those places.

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.
  1. Excellent information and I like the analogy, it fits.

  2. For whatever reason, the thing that jumped out to me here was the mention of the spreadsheet. After listening to the video, I set up a spreadsheet to track everything I need to do each day related to building my blog. I’ve included everything from what I plan to post, blog commenting, reading I want to do, etc. It’s such a simple thing but it has made all the difference in the world. When I complete a specific task, I fill in the cell with light gray, so it gives me a visual of what I’ve done for the day and what I still need to do. It’s very simple and takes very little time, which is probably one reason it’s working well!

  3. I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoy ProBlogger… and this blog entry in particular.

  4. Excellent information and I really enjoy ProBlogger!

  5. I was a fitness trainer in college, so I always enjoy these types of analogies. I did have a question about your experience with posting schedules. If you always wrote one type of article on a particular day of the week, did your readers find it more in the area of “reliable” or did they tire of the routine?

  6. I’m not good in strategy and planning. I’m rather emotional. On the begining my blog was more for myself, than for others. It was a place to speak out, what was born inside me. It was also a way for improving my English. Then I liked sharing my thoughts, my likes and dislikes with people. I would to make them smile, to make them enjoy music I like or pictures. I would to give them some helpfull informations from my own experience.
    I wish to get many faithfull readers. I get time to time even big traffic from Stumble, but it’s not that kind of traffic, which I wish to get. But I’m thankful for all.
    I’m learning al the time. You are a master for me. I’ll be thankfull, if you find a time for dropping to my blog for a while, and for giving me some good advices :)

  7. I like this post indeed. Your comparison “Building Blogs is Like Building Muscles” shows me more clear what I will do for my blog. The muscle cannot “big” withing a few day, Maybe I love exercising also. I’m glad to come here “problogger”

  8. i got 2 words for this post- AMAZING ANALOGY,,i happen to do both incidentlly,workout as well blog,but never took the time to see the link in both these activites until i read this post :)

  9. Interesting metaphore. It is true that when you make a blog is good to do it as your fitness program – gradually and patiently. It’s all about the constancy and willingness. Then the results are good.

  10. You’re right. If you don’t keep up with your blog, it will atrophy just like muscles. You need to keep working at it.

  11. I found a blog on wordpress, where 99,9 % is stolen, word in word, from other bloggers, without even one word, that all there is copied and pasted. There is even information that all is her own, and copying from her blog is prohibited. Where to report a thief?

  12. Albiet more time consuming in my opinion.

  13. The idea of creating an editorial calendar is a really good idea that you suggested. I know that would be a great idea when trying to build up the community blog that I am trying to build up right now. So, when people ask about what topics they can write on I can tell them the specific day and what kind of post we are going to be looking for.

  14. The idea of creating an editorial calendar is a really good idea that you suggested. I know that would be a great idea when trying to build up the community blog that I am trying to build up right now. So, when people ask about what topics they can write on I can tell them the specific day and what kind of post we are going to be looking for.

  15. Hi Darren thank you for sharing your experience on blogging. Since as newbie blogger this kind of advise can really help me to be a better blogger. Blogging is something that is fun but need to be consistent in doing especially if you are planning to monetize your blog. I always amaze how you delivere the idea about building muscle in blogging. If you lift 5kg with 100 repetition, then the next day you can lift 100 kg for 1 time.

  16. Great post Darren!

    I am continually reading your posts and all in all the advise and tips have made a real change to my views on blogging.

    I am new to this area so it has taken a little time to get in to it but as time goes on my blogs are slowly getting better and better!

  17. hehe , And so I am unable to build either………
    Lovely Post

    How to Optimize your Website

  18. Thanks for this timely post Darren!

    I have just uploaded my first formal blog and sometimes I just don’t know what to do with it. As you have said,I agree that creating content is the key to “grow” my blog, much like exercising my muscles to let them grow. I have basic knowledge about SEO – this coupled with lots of informative content that I SHOULD write on my blog, I guess I’ll get by. :D

  19. Great and Very True Post! Many people fail at blogging and also at losing weight for the same reason; because they don’t put enough effort in to it for a long enough time.

  20. Really, these analogies fit in very well, as a blogger, always, distraction is what is worrying me. The way to track and focus is the most important for me.

    I tend to divert to different things , lately as Darren had mentioned earlier , I use to un-plugg my internet and it helped me to do a lot of writing without distraction.

  21. Like the rest of the group I would definitely agree here. However, I would like to extend this analogy and say that after using a muscle group for a period of time, it will become fatigued and start slowing down in growth and effectiveness. Likewise, a blog can experience the same characteristics, and although always hard charging is a valuable quality in a blogger, it is important to take health and flexibility into the equation.
    That being said, solid video, solid topics, and bringing this to the forefront while showing the strength in some of your other marketable products was timely.

  22. If people like what you are writing they will come back for more. If you have a period where you’re not writing anything then your viewers will soon get bored and stop coming back to your site.

    Also, I would image that search engines like Google have a system for demoting sites and blogs that aren’t showing activity.

    So …. keep exercising your blog. No pain no gain!

  23. I love the building muscles analogy. More importantly I appreciate the lesson to work on our blogs everyday using a schedule. If that’s what it takes to gain the success you are enjoying then it’s a very small price to pay. Thank you for the insight.

  24. It takes a lot to build a blog, a great article.

  25. This was a great post, and the muscle analogy suits it well. I own a fairly new marketing blog and one of the things that I struggle with is finding time to add new content. But I know in order for me to have a successful blog it’s going to take adding new content to it a couple times a week, and creating backlinks to my blog. This topic did help and will motivate me to set a side at least an hour a day to work on my blog. Thanks!

  26. I am a new blogger. And one thing that I find very hard is building a traffic for my blog, but I never realize that first, I need to put extra work on it. As you said, inorder to grow a muscle is by using it! This idea is very helpful, and this entire article is worth reading for several times!

    I just one to put here the summary of what I learned upon reading this: (I still want to watch the video)

    1. To Bear in mind that Blogging is like Building a muscle, I need extra work out for it!

    2. Make A strategic Plan, and if am I right, it is better to make a single step at a time and put my best on it.

    3. A good example of a strategic plan is a good schedule, like making an editorial calendar for the activities of my blog.

    4. Writing my post is not for the sake of posting, what counts to it is the quality! Just like building a muscle! Without effort it wont work!

    5. If I am a blogger, I just don’t have to create content in my own blog but visit blogs of my niche and interact with them.

    6. I should live with this good tips, not just learn for once, but apply this learning in the entire journey of blogging!

    7. And lastly, I thank you Sir Darren because all these things are not just useful for blogging but for the application of making my life better.

    This is my humble blog:

  27. The daily content idea is definitely powerful, but I think it also depends on the type of your blog. I write technical articles on mine, and it’s almost unrealistic to get a decent technical post out with sample code and clear instructions on a daily basis. If I start doing it, I know the quality would suffer. What is there to do for people like me then? Thanks!

  28. Great info. I loved your analogy of blogs and muscles. This put everything into perspective to where it made more sense for me and other as well probably. Thanks.

  29. Darren, great video! I’ve been inspired to start a group on a small social media site I’m involved with. Together we’ll be going through your 31 Days to Build a Better Blog ebook every month. I’m hoping the group will grow and together we’ll be building better blogs!

    btw – What service do you use to transcribe your videos?

  30. Darren, thanks this article. I purchased the ProBlogger Kindle book and have been reading it as I have time. It’s a tough balance for me but as I’ve read so many times, I need to blog often (more often) actually. It’s tough as a newbie and I’m really trying to add value to the people who choose to follow me. Thanks again and I wish I would have found your book ealier.

  31. Very true, building blog is like building muscle. it builds when we use it when we leave its getting weaker. the whole idea is that we need to be consistent towards the blog.

  32. That’s funny and so true. You can’t build a blog and just let it sit on its laurels. It’ll get out of shape quickly. By building muscle, you’re more attractive and building your blog makes it more attractive too.

  33. Hi Darren,

    I like the way you explain the methods you use to build your own blogs. I agree that Building Blogs is Like Building Muscles and we all know how life can happen and distractions abound – if you let them.

    As a blogger I find the most challenging thing is to make the time to plan and set my daily and weekly intentions down on paper. I know it works and when I actually do plan out my week I get a lot more done.

    Thanks for this timely reminder!!

  34. You gave the best analogy. And yes, I agree, there is no success in blogging without a plan and a strategy.
    Great tips

  35. At least you don’t have to spend 10 minutes warming up your blog every time you want to write a new post.

  36. Thanks for the wonderful advise (although I hope it’s not really like growing a muscle, cause I failed in that :))

  37. Great great video – When I saw it a month ago I thought, “Yeah, hmmm, well, his right about something”. Watching it today was a total different feeling, more of a “holy f*** this is gold why am I not doing this”. Jest watching it made me hang 2 new calenders on my wall of action.

    Keep up the good work

  38. And BTW I go to the gym 6 days a week for 2 hours – 30 minuttes ago I was sitting in the gym doing my biceps :)

    I also play golf and have a love for MMA/BJJ/mauy thai – so any analogies to any of those would be great ;)

    All the best

  39. It often feels as hard building blogs as it does building muscles! You’re right, I guess it’s always harder at the beginning, but the more you keep at it, the more rewards you get long term! Thanks Darren.

  40. As muscles building takes time blog traffic building also take time
    It takes me 8 months to reach Google PR3 with descent traffic for my Blog tips and Tricks site.

    Not only that if more use more you will get more success as you said.

    Thanks for sharing.

  41. You bet it is like building muscle it’s hard at first but once get hold of the right things to do in order to execute the exercise right you’ll be amazed how easy it is… The best part is when you get the result of your hard work but still you still you need to maintain it and involve in some other community blogging site so that the popularity will not deteriorate.

  42. I loved this analogy because 1) I’ve just started going to the gym and 2) I’ve just started with my new blog. It’s the PERFECT post for me! Haha. I’ve been guilty of just leaving things to chance and going with the flow, your post is a good reminder that systems and schedules HAVE to be put in place. :D

  43. I’m going to wait like 6 weeks or so before I start monetizing, I’ve read that Google will give you more respect by not rushing things.

    I’m going to try this whole schedule idea, only because of how you pronounce the word.

  44. Love the muscle analogy, Darren. You know I’ve often said that defining myself as an artist suggests that I’m a better improviser than organizer. It’s not that I thrive on chaos, but I get bored with routine. Still, taking my work seriously, as well as being accountable to others such as a community, demands taming those wild demons of restless creative energy and channeling their potential into constructing helpful systems of personal organization. Maintaining a weekly an editorial calendar is a great idea that certainly can’t be too taxing on one’s creative potential. :)

  45. I agree it is like building muscles, I have been trying to build links post fresh articles.
    and I should say it is time consuming but I got result later, I never though about monitizing either

  46. I prefer to be more focused when creating content. Creating unique content is the key to making your blog a super blog.

    Well the post was a treat.

  47. The problem is that everyone likes having muscles but not everyone can have them, due to several circumstances. Very neat comparison of blogging and muscle building!

  48. I agree completely, many people seem to think they can stick a site up and then make money (or whatever the goal of the site is) the very next day… same goes with people in the gym, think that a couple of workouts will get them looking great, got to be consistent and build and build… not just expect quick results.

  49. Well… You are right.

    If I can not come with an idea for writing, I ask my fellow bloggers to guest post on my blog. Some of them are using this offer and are happy to blog about automotive issues even they are not familiar with this niche. But guess what?! They really have some original thoughts and ideas. Probably people who are into cars and automotive world never think like them and never come with those points.

    Also they can live a link to their blog so they will have some new visitors there.
    Everybody is happy…

  50. Nice analogy. You should also mention that like building muscle after you’ve trained for a couple years while watching your diet, you can ease up a bit on the rigid schedule and still keep 95% of what you’ve built…but with a lot less effort. Similarly to blogging if you work daily to write great linakable content, then after a few years you can ease up and still reap the rewards from all the hard work spent in years past. It’s always the beginning that’s the toughest…but I suppose that’s true with everything!

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