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Blogging Takes Super Human Effort vs Blogging is Easy [Misconceptions New Bloggers Have #1]

This post is the first in our series on Misconceptions New Bloggers Have. It contains this post, plus these:

At a recent conference, I presented on the topic of making money from blogging. At the end of the session, I hung around to chat with attendees, and ended up talking with about 30 people in what turned out to be an informal Q&A time.

The group was largely new to blogging and as they asked questions, I realized that there are a lot of misconceptions about blogging and (particularly about making money in this space).

Interestingly, the questions I was asked that day indicated that the misconceptions were all not of the same type. In fact, some had completely different misconceptions of blogging. The truth sometimes lies between the extremes.

Copyright Antony McAulay - Fotolia.com

Today I want to tackle two of the misconceptions that I heard at the conference from attendees. They relate to one another, but probably come from opposite ends of the spectrum.

Blogging is easy: it’s just writing!

One of the shocks that await many bloggers once they emerge after their first blog’s launch is that there’s a lot more to blogging than just stringing together a few sentences and publishing posts.

Blogging is much more about generating content.

This becomes apparent to most bloggers pretty quickly—usually within the hours after they hit publish on their first post and wonder when the readers will come and start reading and leaving comments.

The realization usually dawns around then that marketing your blog is something worth learning about.

Other realizations come thick and fast as readers do start to engage with you, and you learn that building interaction on your blog and fostering a sense of community are also core tasks that you need to learn about and do.

The list of things that a blog can benefit from is almost endless:

  • marketing
  • community management
  • editing
  • design
  • server management
  • search engine optimization
  • staying in touch with what others in your niche are doing
  • ad sales
  • affiliate management
  • bookkeeping/accounting
  • networking

The list goes on and changes as your blog grows and goes through different parts of its life cycle.

Yes blogging is about writing (and that in itself is not always easy), but there’s a lot more to it for most bloggers than that!

Blogging is too hard

Okay, so you might be looking at that list of tasks that a blogger needs to get their head around and wonder if you’re cut out for it. If that’s the way you feel, you are not alone.

Many people look at the idea of starting to blog and feel completely overwhelmed by it and unable to tackle it because it’s either beyond what they feel they are capable of, or it seems like too much work.

Others get a week or two into a new blog and give up for the same reasons—they see what’s ahead and for one reason or another feel that it’s beyond them.

The reality (at least in my experience) is that while it is a lot of work—and it’s a lot more than just writing content—it is not completely beyond most people to be able to grow into the roles needed to operate a successful blog.

I say this because I did it, and I see myself as a very ordinary person. My “credentials” for becoming a full-time blogger were not the most spectacular.

  • Before I started blogging I had had 20 jobs in ten years, none of which were in anything to do with the online space and most of which were fairly manual/physical jobs.
  • My only qualifications were half a degree in Marketing (which I failed half of the subjects in) and a Bachelor of Theology.
  • I’d received a ‘C’ in English in my final year of high school.
  • I was incapable of making text bold on my first blog for several weeks—I wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed when it came to anything technical!

I don’t tell that to build a “rags to riches” story (I had a good life and was a happy chap), but rather because I didn’t have any of the skills or much of the experience that I listed above when I started out.

I either learned them or developed relationships with others who did.

On a slight tangent, a few weeks before my first son was born I was chatting with a friend and starting to get a little panicked about my abilities as a father.

I was projecting forward years ahead about whether I’d be able to raise a kid going through primary school or, worse still, if I’d be able to parent a teen. My friend’s wise words were: “You’ll have 13 years to grow into the role of a parent with teenagers.”

The same lesson is true with blogging. While a successful blog does call upon those who run it to do a lot of different things, when a blog is born there is a smaller list of tasks at hand.

There’s time to grow into your role as a blogger.

In my own experience of blogging, I feel I’ve grown up in my skill set as my blogs have evolved. At each step along the way there are challenges, but in time you learn, adapt, and discover what you need to know to overcome them.

Blogging is lots of work, but it’s not unachievable

If you’re starting out in blogging, or are considering jumping in, do so with the knowledge that there is more to it than stringing a few sentences together and hitting publish. It takes a broader focus than just writing and is a lot of work. However, do know that while you may one day need to expand your skill set and throw more time into it, you will have time to grow into your blog.

On a side note, I find it interesting that some who write about blogging (and who marketing blogging products) sometimes present blogging in one of the above ways. There are some who talk about blogging (and market their products) as if its the easiest thing in the world—like you just have to flick on a switch and a successful blog magically happens by itself.

On the other hand, I’ve also heard others speak about blogging at conferences as being beyond most normal people, building it up as something that can only be done by people with amazing skills and almost super-human dedication.

The truth is somewhere between.

What was your experience of starting out blogging? Did you have one of these misconceptions? What advice would you give new bloggers who are thinking in one of these ways?

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. Blogging is definitely hard work. Not sure I would have started if I knew then what I know now. Having said that, I’m glad I stuck with it.

    • Graham Lutz says:

      I don’t see how so many people do stick with. To me, if it’s not growing, it’s dying and I won’t be waiting around for years without any blog growth.

      • Some people definitely just blog for the fun of it as well, regardless of who reads their work. To these people the blog is a journal, not a business.

      • Jason says:

        The key to blogging is that you gotta love doing it. If you like blogging, then you’ll keep at it. You also got to write about things that you love. For me, it’s short stories. I write stories and post them on my blog just for the sake of getting my voice heard.

        • It depends on the purpose of the blog and the blogger. If the blog is just for their own circle of friends and family, then you do not need worry about all those things described above like – design, marketing, competition and niche.

          But if the blog is intended to become a successful business, then all the rules that apply for any start-up business apply here too. Every business becomes successful only after they have something to sell, have customers who would buy the product and to do all this you need design, content, marketing, watch the competition and.. the list is endless.

          The post is well written and can be a guide for those who thinks blogging is a way to make easy money. But it is not.

  2. I didn’t think it was going to be easy or hard but I do think it’s as easy or hard as you make it. If you want to start a new blog and be able to have 15,000 followers and quit your day job in less than a year then yes blogging will be hard for you.
    I see it a lot in my blog design business consults (not usually actual clients) though that most bloggers think that a pretty blog will instantly make them famous and receive lots of readers. Sadly that is not true either. I think it is all about great content (and a lot of it-not just one or two awesome posts) and building the relationships with people through their blogs, twitter, facebook etc.
    Great post! I will be linking to it tomorrow on my #SpreadBloggyLove re-cap post with tips and tricks for bloggers :)

    • You’re spot on. It took me 3 years to achieve that actually (with a gaming blog I still have).

      If I had quit in the first year I would have stopped with around 1,000-2,000 subscribers. It’s amazing how things can just click and your site can explode once all the mechanisms are properly in place.

  3. Mrs. Jen B says:

    There is simply no satisfying answer or formula for this. I don’t think that any blogger, no matter how big, had any idea of what they were getting into when they started blogging. If you look waaaay back in the archives of some lifestyle/mom/whatever blogs it’s not much more than “Kids ate hot dogs for dinner. I hope to sleep in tomorrow. Only my mom reads this blog”. Over time, though, something happened. Most of the time it’s something intangible. And that just does not work for the blogger who looks to emulate the success of those they follow.

    Advice from a not-so-big blogger: Work to make your blog as good as it can be – clean, easy to navigate, easy on the eyes. Talk to people. Engage. Use good grammar. Hang in there. Do it for you first, not for others.

  4. Dave says:

    I’ve always found focusing on a niche as one of the most difficult challenges when starting a blog. The questions of “who am I?” and “what do I know about anything?” often plagued me to the point of never starting.

    I like the idea of growing into the blog. Right now, my blog is a mixed bag of ideas as I’ve decided to focus on writing and simply seeing where my project takes me. Blogging is a blast, but it can easily get overwhelming.

  5. Chris Moon says:

    I started blogging because this *ahem* 50ish year old brain was becoming stale and bored. I went into the entire process knowing that I knew nothing – seriously, nothing – about what I was doing.

    I learn something every time I hit “publish.” I’ve gotten much better at writing, and spend a LOT more time editing that I ever did before. I’m also thinking about ways that I can approach my subject in different ways. Quilting and art blogs are a dime-a-dozen and it’s sort of a fun challenge to get in the mix.

    Some day I’ll make money from blogging, but I don’t worry about it yet. Laying the groundwork is most important now.

    Thank you for the reassurance that I’m not alone in starting from scratch!

    All the best – Chris

  6. Suzie says:

    Thank you Darren, I know it’s not easy but you just gave me so much motivation. Stay tuned let’s see what I can do!

  7. Marko Polo says:

    I’ve had a few blogs – all were personal, my personal life is boring who wants to read about that? I now write about artists – for artists – because that is my area of expertise, it is the area I can write endlessly about all day long. I love it.

    It’s easy now because I write about a subject I’m willing to sweat, lose sleep and learn new skills for.

  8. David Guion says:

    Like Dave said, I started out with very broad interests and started a blog called All-Purpose Guru. Finally it dawned on me that no one else had quite my combination of interests, and that if I didn’t know what my blog was about, no one else would, either. Eventually I sliced it into a family of four blogs, and each one has its own target audience. I should have read a lot more blogs on blogging before I started, but I truly believe I have significant contributions to make in all four niches. Oh well, the same marketing techniques work for about anything, so I don’t have to learn four of anything except content.

  9. Interesting post :) I’ve run a few blogs and write on several sites for fun (don’t think I’ll retire from it) and in my experience blogging is as difficult/easy as any other job. It depends on what you want to accomplish and your particular skills.

    Anything that results in you making enough money to make a living requires effort. Blogging is no different. I personally hate marketers/salesmen selling blogging as the ultimate “fire it up, go to the beach, relax and go back home and claim your riches” career, because people get funny expectations. And as with any other job, it gets easier when you learn more, develop a method, use the right tools and practice. But starting anything is difficult (unless you are one of those young people that were born with a laptop on one hand and an iPhone on the other, I guess).

  10. Suzie says:

    Thank you. You have motivated me to keep going. I agree its not easy & I can relate to the English at school too! I think I have found my niche so I’ll keep you posted.

  11. I really liked the way this post was written in a personal style. My personal favourite part is the words of wisdom about being able to ‘grow into blogging’. You do have to take on so many roles and guises that it feels like you have to be several people at once sometimes but you’re right its all one large skill set.

  12. Tom says:

    I think a lot or research needs to be before starting your blog; but once its up and running its all about maintaining good content.

    • Tom says:

      I think a lot of research needs to be done before starting your blog; but once its up and running its all about maintaining good content.*

  13. Vago Damitio says:

    Thanks Darren, as a blogger and a soon to be first time Dad, your words were comforting on more than one level.

    It’s too true. I can write from sun up to sun down but for me it’s the tagging, formatting, SEO, an other ‘not so creative’ stuff that drives me to near tears. As a blogger, I meet both types of people those who say… “anyone could do it” who I don’t bother trying to explain why it’s difficult to unless they are interested in learning and those who say ‘It’s too hard’, usually business owners in their 50s plus who are tech fearful.

    The truth, as always, lies somewhere in between. It’s like being a good person – you have to work at it but it comes easier for some than for others.

    On that note, your words about having 13 years to grow into being a good parent of a teen are a breath of fresh air as I’ve been having the same doubts and fears you mentioned. As always, Thanks.

    ~Vago

  14. Nice post Darren. I would like new/upcoming bloggers to persevere when things are not going as planned and learn about any action they intend to take before taking it. Blogging is hard work but its not UNACHIEVABLE.

  15. Chelo says:

    Definitely hard work. But it takes hard work and deliberate effort to be effective. Thanks for the great advice. I love the First Week of Blogging ebook…very helpful :) Oh and thanks for all your hard work that I benefit from as a blogger.

  16. I love the post Darren. I think the one problem I have faced as a blogger is sticking with it for more than a couple of months. Over the past few years I’ve started a lot of blogs, got discouraged and quite, only to start a new one a few months later. Going forward I hope to allow myself and my blogs to grow and mature before I pull the plug.

  17. Megan says:

    I had no idea when I first started how hard this blogging thing would be. I was already an established freelance writer, so it seemed like a natural thing to transfer those skills into blogging – um…not really!

    % weeks into my blogging experience I have had a very steep learning curve. in fact, if the words throwing yourself in at the deep end have a special meaning to you then you will understand perfectly. My first challenge was setting up a wordpress blog on my own domain. Thanks to my techy husband for that one.

    Next up I had to design the look and feel of the site, add adverts, find out about plug ins and widgets. I had never even heard those words before last month. Then trying to find readers.Tthis is the part I am still working on. Oh and trying to get my site to be “seen” by google.

    The writing bit has been the easy part.

    I spend several hours every day working on this. But it is all worth it. I am not ready to give up just yet. Apparently people find my site worth reading and more people are doing it every day. That alone makes it worthwhile.

  18. Megan says:

    Oops sorry, make that “5″ weeks!

  19. Frances says:

    I’m the one that all of a sudden one day I decided to start blogging about great information I read about in magazines and on blogs with regard to deals, saving money, and just helpful life tips. It’s fun sharing that info with my friends but it wasn’t fun organizing this stuff so that I could refer back to it later. The blog is really for me to get organized and throw away all those magazines i’ve been holding onto after putting the info in a place that can be stored, like a file cabinet. I read up on all the things to create a blog via your blog and others like it and managed to figure out how to get a domain name, a web host, WordPress, a theme, logos, etc. Admittedly, every other day I stumbled accross an issue that I had no idea about and would take me 10 days to figure out because my brain was too small. I got through that and now i’m ready to share with friends. I have no big expectations. I’m not a marketing or communications person nor do I particularly like to write but i’m passionate about passing on my information in an easy format for people interested. Right now it’s fun and whatever happens i’ll do my best to stick to it. At least my friends think i’m cool because i’ve come thus far. Now that i’ve written all of that, I can make it one more day. Thanks so much for all the helpful hints.

    Frantastically yours,
    Frances

  20. Jenni says:

    I also was shocked by the difficulty of blogging. I had the experience I needed to provide good information to my target audience. What I lacked (and am still lacking) is the time and motivation to keep up with writing. Blogging is a part-time gig for me on the side of a full-time office job, which leaves little time for me to put a lot of effort into it. But it’s good to know there are many struggles that bloggers face and many have the ability to overcome them. So I just keep pushing forward.

    Thanks for the encouragement.

  21. I’m enjoying this post with all the comments.
    I had my fair share of starting small, with a free blog. Had the misconception that blogging can pay a few bills in few months of starting. When I realized how wrong I was, I was ready to figure how right it works. It doesn’t matter how small you start. For anyone new or yet to venture into blogging, don’t bother about how far others have gone. Look for bloggers starting out like you and grow alone. Of course, stick around the big guys to keep learning but don’t get overwhelmed.
    And stay away from the Get-Rich-Quickess.

  22. It is much more work than I imagined, but much more rewarding than I thought possible. Starting my blog changed my perspective (and life) permanently. Pretty cool. :-D

    The advice I’d give to someone starting out is – only write about something you’re passionate about or you will quit too early.

  23. Brankica says:

    Love the part about how you didn’t know anything when you started. I am from a complete different background too. I am (was) a law enforcement officer, working the best job in the world. Then I started working online full time so I left my day job. And I did learn that most of the time blogging is harder than working in a special police unit. I spend more time working than ever. But I still love it and love the fact that I can get up from my computer at any moment and just go jump in the pool. Which I do often.

    Blogging is hard but rewarding :)

  24. Deb Saviano says:

    What great information and dialogue.
    My husband and I are both former school principals and wanted to start a business that focused on the “Recognition of Others” who were deserving due to their attitude, work ethic, contributions, etc.
    We were newbees to the virtual world to say the least.
    However, our drive and passion to begin outweighed our fears.
    There were also SO many others out there who were willing to provide good strong advice and encouragement along the way. That was the most beautiful gift of all.
    With just a song and a prayer so to say we began http://projectpassiton.net and of course we had to start Blogging. http://www.projectpassiton.blogspot.com and we are in the very NEW category as we have been doing this for such a short time. :)
    Reading articles such as this and reading the comments above make it exciting as we know we have much to learn and we look forward to the “opportunities”. Thanks to you Darren and to ALL of the ones above here who contributed sound advice for those like myself.

  25. Jon says:

    Blogging takes time. For someone who is just getting started, you may not be the best writer or have the best ideas to blog about. Over time you will get better.

  26. Tom Ewer says:

    Love this article Darren. Get started now, worry about whether or not you’re competent later.

  27. prasad says:

    I also had those misconceptions at the begining but abled to manage them later.I think blogging with blanced lifestyl is the most effective way to success.Inspirng post.

  28. jo says:

    i think we definitly have alot in common,i too have “half a degree” in engineering,and just managed to clear it,failing in half the subjects along the way.Then just ona hunch i decided to start an edu blog,and in the beginning it was a little daunting,but now 4 months into it,it seems worth the trouble

  29. The hardest part for me has been merging the blogging time into my life. Working a full time job, raising three kids and battling addiction while trying to find time to write a blog post has been interesting to say the least. Of course, I know that I’m not the only guy who has struggled with blogging, so I can also infer that I’ll get through it…and so will you!

  30. Very transparent of you to share your background and I find it intriguing, though, I still don’t believe you weren’t always the sharpest tool in the shed. Being sharp isn’t about tests, and that’s something I’ve had to learn because I’ve always been able to master tests (and have always thought I was sharp because of it – not). Being sharp, or rather, being successful in blogging, as in any type of entrepreneurial role, is about instinct. Can you sense what your readers want and need even before THEY know what they want and need? And can you deliver their not-yet-known want and need in a way that mesmerizes them and keeps them coming back for more? If so, then, yes, THAT’S a bit of a Super-Human feat, as I don’t believe that kind of instinct can be taught…and THAT’S what makes blogging hard…well, Super-Human, Awesome, blogging, that is. Really great post, and I’m excited to read the rest in the series.

  31. The only people who really succeed at it are the people who love it and treat it as a passion. When you break it down in to how much you make per hour it can actually be quite shocking so you have to think of it ias a love. Coming in to it day 1 thinking you are going to make a lot of money or be an overnight success is just never going to work!

  32. Lisa Mims says:

    I am a teacher who blogs, so I didn’t go into it for the money. But, it is still hard work balancing teaching, blogging, and family. (Ask my husband) . I sit down to write a post and realize two hours have gone by.
    It hasn’t been a year yet, but I love it! (Even though I did have those “Why am I doing this?” moments)

  33. I agree that it is easy to see as one extreme or the other. When considering a blog it is easy to concentrate on those that are successful and assume it is easy. Once you start and don’t get instant results it is easy to start thinking that it is near impossible for the average person. Thanks for the great post!

  34. Susan says:

    Thanks for this post, Darren, it is very inspirational.

    One of the greatest misconceptions that I had was the difficulty of coming up with daily (or frequent) relevent topcis. I did manage to blog daily for the first month and in month 2, blogged approximately twice a week – but now that it is month 3, I am starting to not have new topics to blog about.

    Also, with very little traffic, it feels likei am blogging into a large void — I think that I underestimated that in actuality, most people have little traffic at the start.

  35. I just started blogging more seriously and this was definitely a helpful article — so were the comments! Thanks! Hopefully I can overcome the initial difficulties!

  36. James S. says:

    I am very new to blogging and it is much more work than I thought it would be. There is so much to it, but It is a mountain I am bound to climb.

  37. Hey Darren,

    That is the fact about blogging. It is neither too easy nor too hard. And it certainly is not a quick thing to do. It needs quite some significant amount of time to grow and establish it.

    Hard work always pays; but mere hard work is not enough. Bloggers have to be willing to learn everyday.

    Cheers,
    Jane.

  38. James Greg says:

    I have not started blogging yet however I read blogs and gain useful tips and experience from the writers who are already flourishing. The reason I have not attempted to blog is “Blogging is too hard”, but after reading the point from a professional it seems that it’s the other way around. This article has quite lifted my hopes and I will try to test my skills not on the blog but at least on a paper.

  39. Great points Darren. I like your quote about having time to learn to be a dad of a teenager. Blogging is an evolutionary process and is somewhere between your two extremes.

    Now, to hear my lion roar… and write my next post.

  40. Manesh says:

    I like the comments from Chris Moon -

    “I started blogging because this *ahem* 50ish year old brain was becoming stale and bored.

    Some day I’ll make money from blogging, but I don’t worry about it yet. Laying the groundwork is most important now.”

    Yes, Laying the ground work – I too believe in that.

  41. Daniel says:

    Agree with Blogging being both easy and difficult. Oddly, with time and effort, many things which I would have considered to be the most difficult parts of Blogging have turned out to be relatively easy. The aspects of blogging I originally thought should be pretty easy to deal with, have turned out to be far more difficult.

  42. ES says:

    Ground work? Yeah, a lot of it is required! My best guess is, it takes years for a blog to earn enough amount regularly to quit your full time job. And a lot of other factors like target audience location, blogging niche etc matter a lot. The toughest thing in blogging is not the traffic – you’ll get that anyway after a few months. But the toughest thing is to find out the right way to monetize your website! Ads don’t always monetize well!

  43. janwong says:

    I would think blogging is like sharing what you know to a good friend. You’re not sharing for something in return but sharing because you mean it and you’re just helping out. Many stop within the first 3 months because they’ve got no readers, comments or they’re not making money out of it.

  44. Yes, rightly said that Blogging does take a toll on people. It isnt about spending a few minutes to gush out your thoughts, but is all about creative thinking and putting that onto the paper. The first few weeks of blogging have been quite an experience for me, and I am not sure if I find it hard to accomodate among my other personal and official tasks of day-to-day life. I feel blogging is for people who have the patience and determination to tell the world about their inner thoughts.

  45. Hi Darren Rowse,

    Nice article. Truly thniking..if we get into blog world only for making money I personally believe it may not work out for long run. Like passion and creativity makes the wonders and bring more light to our blog based on postings.

    Thanks for sharing the article. – Manickam

  46. Sorry for the typo – “Truly thinking * ”

    Thanks. Manickam

  47. When I started – it was to talk about Real Estate – but I did not want to be the same “noise” that was seen by the consumer that had the same “world view” as I did with regard to Sales People.

    I came from 17 years of LAPD training – where I remained a Line Reserve. For some, that would have put the “blinders” on permanently- I am glad I was able to break from the typical “cop” mindset. The Us vs. Them…

    Blogging was introduced to me by Jeff Turner, Real Estate Shows, he and I met, for free, he bend my mind back and I was off.

    My problem is that I hit publish too quick most times. But, my readers seem to think that is ok, after learning my background. Quick on the Trigger is OK and if you are just starting, don’t worry about nerve, you will be hit to and fro – Even the Pro Blogger gets slammed from time to time :-)

    The key, when you get knocked down, get back up and back to blogging. If you always get up and keep moving forward, you will be successful….

  48. Kendra says:

    It was definetly not what I expected when I first heard of blogging. I started blogging at the beginning of this year and it is amazing the amount of information you can learn about a topic (blogging) in such a short time span.

    I am so greatful for websites like problogger and many others for passing along very valuable information to new bloggers like myself, as I know it would have been much more difficult for me to keep going without you all!

    I have also found some very useful and engaging sites through the comment sections of your blog posts as well.

    I love blogging and even though the rewards may be far off for me, I’m gonna keep pushing on and hope that maybe one day I can be as helpful to others as you have been to me!

    Thanks, Kendra

  49. Usman says:

    Hey Darren I am surprised you switched 20 Jobs in 10 years time frame before being associated with pro blogger. Anyways i think blogging is very easy if one blogs his passion out but it is extremely hard when someone does it for making money. In my terms simple is that

  50. Đuro says:

    I had a strong wish to start doing something online. Working in a company was my old wish but as years pass, I see that it is not the real thing. To be more creative was something that I actually wanted. So I started to write about technical problems I happen to manage with at my work.

    learning more about blogging, I realize that if you for instance want more audience, you need to write about something more mainstream then geek stuff like databases or Apache server tricks :-D

    I hope I’ll make something more of it.

    Thank you for advices.