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I’m not Technical Enough to Blog [Misconceptions New Bloggers Have #4]

A couple of years ago I wrote a series of posts here on ProBlogger that looked at ‘Misconceptions New Bloggers have’. We covered:

Today I’d like to add another misconception – that you have to be technical to be a successful blogger!

I wonder how many potentially great bloggers have been put off starting a blog because they perceived blogging to be a technical task?

My Story

I think back to my own first forays into building a web presence – way back before I started my first blog – and remember having that feeling myself.

I remember back in the late nineties coming across a website that was written by another Aussie guy who had put together a collection of quotes and jokes. It wasn’t a blog as such but I was attracted to what he was doing and I emailed him to ask him how he did it and whether it was easy enough to set up something similar.

His reply claimed it was easy – but then went on to describe a process that went way above my head. It involved a lot of coding – there were no templates, few tools and within reading the first few paragraphs of his email I knew I’d never have a website.

I had no technical background, I’d not long even been on the web and my personality didn’t really lend itself to the detail that I saw as being needed to set up a website.

Fast forward 4-5 years to 2002 and when I came across my first blog and wondered if I too could start one I remember feeling again that perhaps it would be beyond me. I didn’t let the feeling stop me this time though and began to investigate.

What I found was a surprise – tools now existed to get a site up and running in minutes.

With my limited experience (at that time I used the web to do occasional emails (hotmail) and to research essays (search engines) and to do IRC chat) I was able to get a blog up and running and to post my first post within an hour or so. I even made an attempt at designing my own template/theme (it was ugly but I managed).

I had a steep learning curve – back in 2002 the tools were somewhat primitive and I still needed to learn some HTML code because there were no What You See Is What You Get options. You had to write your posts in html and to get comments working on your blog you had to use an external script (I guess we’d call it a plugin these days).

Today the tools at our finger tips are amazing. Creating a blog takes seconds, updating themes are relatively simple (if you want to use a default theme or a premium one – a bit harder if you want to do it yourself), posting to blogs is as simple as writing an email or creating a word document and there are literally hundreds of thousands of plugins around to help you customise your blog with not a lot more than a few clicks.

There are still technical things to learn about if you want to take your blog up a notch (hosting/servers, custom themes etc) but in the scheme of things the tools now exist to create blog with little or no technical background.

The other things I’d say on this topic are:

  • there are technical things to learn – but you don’t need to know them all at once. When you’re first starting out you might want to keep it simple and set your blog up on a WordPress.com blog – a few clicks and you’re on the go. In time you might feel this blogging thing is something you want to get more serious about and want to transition to your own domain and hosting – but by then you’ll have a lot more skills at your fingertips. Take your time and suck up as many skills and as much knowledge as you can as you blog.
  • together we know it all – I realised pretty early on that even where my knowledge fell short that there were others around willing to help. I still remember in my first week or so of blogging wondering how to make text bold in my posts – I was embarressed but summonsed the courage to ask another kind and generous blogger. She not only helped me with that basic request but over the years became a good friend. We even ended up doing some blogs together. I quickly found that there are people around willing to give advice and share their knowledge. Some will do it for free just to help out, others you might like to barter services with and there are heaps of people around willing to do short term paid work for you to help set up aspects of your blog.
  • outsourcing – on that note – if your budget allows and as your blog grows it is worth considering whether outsourcing some of the more technical aspects of blogging might be right for you. While I’ve learned a lot over the years I’m still not really a technical guy – particularly when it comes to hosting blogs the size that mine have grown to. As a result I’ve out sourced some technical aspects of my blogging – particularly the hosting of my sites and some development work.

As Important (if not MORE Important) as the Technicalities…

Lastly – there are much more important things in blogging than the technical aspects when it comes to having success.

Yes you want to have a blog that loads correctly and that isn’t crashing all the time – but in my mind the things that are as important for success include:

  • Having an understanding of your readers – knowing their needs etc
  • Being able to create content that is compelling, useful and meeting the needs of your readers
  • Being able to engage with readers and build community on your blog
  • Having the ability to draw readers to your blog

None of these things are easy – but similarly to what I said above about the technicalities – you don’t have to know it all from day one. Skills develop over time as you need to know things but also the more you experiment.

I’d love to hear your thoughts:

  • What advice would you give bloggers feeling overwhelmed by the technical side of blogging?
  • What technical aspects of blogging do/have you struggled the most?
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. Chris says:

    I was a major Luddite when I first heard about the Internet. I was in college and my only experience with a computer class made me sure that I never wanted to work with them because of the difficulty of getting the programming right. Fast forward about twenty years, and just about all of my work is online. My blog, like you said, took minutes to set up. If you can type a word doc, you can have a basic blog. Of course, getting good traffic to the blog is the important part, and that can take quite a bit more than a few minutes.

  2. A good example. The tools in 2002 were certainly primitive. Now, having WordPress, you really not need to be a techie to get a blog set up. And, as you say, you did it in an hour.

    I think new bloggers have to realise that 1. setting up a self-hosted WordPress blog is pretty easy and there are 100 tutorials on doing it. I usually recommend Bluehost for a newbie as their Simple Scripts install is even easier that Fantastico.

    Or, if no money – go for Blogger or HubPages. You can have content up there in a trice.

    I code my first blog by hand in 1999, so I am OK with coding. But I am not good at it: so that is something I outsource when I can. I can fiddle around and get it done: but it’s a poor use of my time. I have my go-to people who I trust to do these things for me.

    But for a simple blog you need little technical skill, as you say Darren. And what little technical skill you do need to get you started, Google usually comes to the rescue.

    Malc

  3. Edson Hale says:

    this post encouraged me a lot to continue blogging becasue i was blaming my non-techie attitude the reasons of my little slow success in this field. Thanks for sharing such a nice post

  4. Technical knowledge does not build connections with readers and audiences, personality, engagement and having something clear, concise and either informational, educational or entertaining is key. Don’t get me wrong, those with detailed expertise can run successful niche technical blogs, but those will be niche for specific technical audiences. I completely agree focus on finding a voice, quality of content and it is better to outsource the technical work than outsource the engagement of audience members, content outsourcing should be minimum unless you are prepared to pay for quality content but it still won’t showcase your voice if you are trying to build your connection with readership and audiences.

  5. shane says:

    http://instantpaydaynetwork.com/sice1234

    A great post and it really helps to calm the fear of charting into unknown territory. Things are much easier now than they ever was and their getting easier. Youtube is like a beacon of how to informational content. If there are any questions or skills you may be lacking, 9 times out of ten you can pick them up on youtube. With someone showing you step by step how to do almost anything, from setting up a BLOG to building a website from scratch. So the fear of things being considered to technical I believe can finally be put to rest in this new age of technology and automation.

  6. Thanks Darren for sharing this post, I totally agree that we learn everything gradually, I have started a blog of my own and I am facing the same problems but now that I think about it all I can say is that I was too worried about all the things making me overwhelm.

  7. Thanks Darren for the Wonderful Post,
    Before Starting to blog I was also having that doubt in mind that whether I would be able to do it or not, Whether I have that much of pre-requisite technical knowledge or not…ut after starting I got a lot of Support and read a lot about blogging, learned everything and now it seems quite easy..
    Regards,
    Ashwani Kumar Singh

  8. marty says:

    this is true I know nothing about the technical side when I first blogging and I thought it would stop but in truth you learn as you go along.Thats part of the fun.Everyone starts out a beginner

  9. Howard says:

    Great post, blogging really is getting easier. Starting the blog was really easy once I made the jump to do it, its the posting that is the tough part…lol. Once you get going, it gets easier though.

  10. Abhishek says:

    To be frank I am not a technical guy too and to lean SEO no one needs to be a technical person. It all depends on how fast you learn and how much quality content anyone can provide to their readers.

  11. I think you hit the nail on the coffin Darren. Start with the readers. If I gave a newbie some advice, I’d tell them to start with a GREAT STORY. When you have a great story that is engaging and people want to read, the technicalities can be overlooked. Actually some of the ugliest blogs might have the best stories and it’s because they are so engaging that you stay and read.

    Starting off, my biggest issue was making things look nice. I was more concerned with how things looked, so some HTML coding and stuff like that. Now it’s a piece of cake. :-)

    I think people underestimate the cost of outsourcing. It’s by far the best thing for newbie. Thanks Darren.

  12. I think you just learn along the way. I started my first blog when I was 15, not knowing anything about web design or how the technicalities worked.

    I was hosted with Blogger, and over time I just got sick of the design, I wanted to make adjustments. So I began to learn HTML + CSS. I’ll tell you what, it’s come in handy. No more do I have to endlessly search for a solution to a problem, I’ll just change it right there and then.

    Great post Darren, cheers!

  13. zolar says:

    Hm.. now the blog is more easier than before.. using wordpress that have many plugin to help us

  14. I am a technical person and sometimes wish I was more creative. I have no problem setting up a WordPress blog or HTML based website. This is where my skills are best utilized. I’m not that good at the creative side of blogging, ie the writing of blog posts. Sometimes I wish I was a better writer as this is where the money is made I think. The skill of writing to sell.

    • Delia says:

      Mark, you can also try video or audio blogging if you don’t like writing that much. Given your technical side, I imagine there’s lots of tutorials you can do in video format :)

      • Matthew Goldsworthy says:

        I totally agree with you. I plan to set up a blog and as a professional actor I plan to implement video into my blog posts as well as text. Video footage is great as it allows the audience to see the speaker and get emotional feedback from the person. It is amazing how seeing someone with energy can really make someone tune in and listen. I think video will be great to monetize a blog. I could be wrong but that is my belief.

        • Delia says:

          That’s great, Matthew. Particularly when you believe in your strategy, you have all the chances in the world to make it work :)

  15. I’d simply recommend anyone looking to get into blogging to not get stuck in analysis paralysis. I “researched” all the technical stuff for blogging for nearly two years before I started and I shudder thinking of how much further I could have been by now.

    Take action. If you really care about starting a blog you can have one online within an hour.

  16. Richard Ng says:

    I am currently using both WordPress and Blogger platform and find that these CMS are very self-explanantory and intuitive… Not much of technilicalities required.

    The more technical part that I spent a bit more time in grasping is on the hosting set-up/configuration and linking to the domain.

    Cheers!

  17. I have been blogging for 5 months now. I didn’t know anything about CSS or HTML but now I am turning to pro.

  18. Paul says:

    You are right. Things are much better and there are more folks blogging now than ever before. However, many are still struggling with theme usage, SEO, and it is still advisable to learn CSS, PHP for further enhancement of any blog. Plugins have also made blogging easier but many will not work with each other.

    The technical aspects of having a blog have dwindled down a bit but to become really successful you will either have to learn more or outsource some of technical glitches that come with doing it yourself.
    Paul

  19. Thank you for posting this!!! I know so many people who can stand to read this. One of my pet peeves is when someone calls themselves stupid for not understanding WordPress or HTML coding. We all have learning curves and it takes time. I started blogging in 2009 and what I know today and fill volumes when compared to when I started.

    When I advise other bloggers, one thing I tell them is to find a popular blogger to follow that speaks in a way that they can understand and become great friends with Google. I’ve been up late at night figuring out how to fix my site and I found all my answer by just being patience and searching.

    If you love blogging, then you’ll get it!

    Kimberly

  20. Great post Darren.

    You’ve hit the blogger on the noggin. Remember the first time you sat down with someone you knew was really smart and helped them set up a WordPress.com blog. During the process you glance toward them and notice them staring at you?

    Then they say something like, “You’re a genius. I could never figure this out.”

    Call that raising the brain-bar and everyone wins, just like reading problogger, but that’s our secret.

  21. Lolka says:

    I’m totally newbie, reading a lot of blogging, trying to learn what to do and what NOT to do. The result of almost 2 month of searching, reading, writing was that I deleted my blog. Getting a lot of informations, I became overhelmed, I considered I will never be successful in this. O maybe I will? Few days ago I decided, that I will start again, try to not thinkig to SEO, to rank of my blog, just writing for me, for my pleasure. Maybe never will read anybody, or just few…

    • Delia says:

      Lolka I suggest you forget about stats, readers, and SEO for a bit. Just write for your own sake for now until you figure out your blog mission :)

  22. E.B. says:

    I wouldn’t say that I was clueless when I started, but I have learned a ton about coding and SEO since my first blog post. In fact, I’m even considering switching careers to web design now. I love learning more about it and I even made a treadmill desk so I could code for hours without feeling like a lazy slob. Multitasking for the win!

  23. Jedha says:

    Great article Darren. I would say just get in there and do it, it’s the only way to learn. Yes it’s scary but the more you do it the easier it gets. So jump on in and have a go :)

  24. Ralph Hua says:

    Great post Darren.

    You know the saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

    I am beginning to understand more of this saying.

    When I was ready to start blogging, the teachers (google, veteran bloggers) all “magically” appear. =)
    I am currently facing the challenge of getting traffic and I was told it takes time and patience.
    I guess the trouble with me is, I do not know how long will it take.
    So I believe this is where the patience comes in.

    Good day Darren,
    Ralph.

  25. Sara says:

    This post is SO true! Let me be a beacon of light to some of you out there: I started my blog in March 2012 while I was a full time teacher. I had no tech skills other than gradebook and knowing how to use my iPhone. I was able to (with the help of online tutorials) move my wordpress.com blog to a self hosted platform, tweak it, and grow it to the point where now it earns me a part time slarary. The next changes I want are beyond me technically (like a custom hover Pinterest button) but now I have the extra bucks to hire out for it. If you’re questioning whether you are techie enough to start a blog… believe me- you can!

  26. Delia says:

    The best advice to give someone who is afraid they aren’t technical enough is to stop saying that. Seriously, believing that you can do it and want to make it work is the most important thing, as with everything new we learn in life, right?

    If that doesn’t work :) and you still think you cannot do it, take a WordPress course (free or paid) to get set up, then go ahead and make it a priority to blog a few times a week. You can do it!

    • Brian says:

      I agree with you Delia!
      I’m a brand new blogger, and because I really want to make this work, I’m finding what I need to find using sites like Problogger. Sometimes you need to dig, but it’s fun to look and learn. In the past few weeks I’ve come a long way. I have a LONG way to go, but I’m looking forward to the journey!

  27. Karen says:

    This is such a great article that I have it bookmarked for anyone who ever says to me that they don’t know enough to start blogging – including my husband! I have his blog framework set up; now to get him to sit down and type.

    I was lucky; I learned a lot about html/css and had already built and sold two content static sites before switching over to WP to blog. And I’m loving it! Now if I can just start writing for real people and not like the college term papers I used to do for Literature classes… LOL

  28. Matt Brennan says:

    The important thing is to know where to find information. As questions come up, there are plenty of resources and people out there who can help. Good post!

  29. If I was to give advice to a new blogger I’d quote ‘Rome was never built in a day’. Small steps, read widely, join blogger networks and ask lots of questions.

  30. Jim Anderson says:

    Yes there are people for who the technical aspects of running a blog is overwhelming. Could my mother or even my boss run a blog. Only if someone DID everything for them when problems arise. The reality is however, there are fewer people like this than ever. That and the fact is if your blog is set up properly, and not changed often, problems are usually few and far between. That being said, you have to have some what of a computer aptitude or a go to person or you will flounder in my opinion (which is that of a novice).

  31. The basic templates from platforms like WordPress are so simple to use that anyone who knows how to use a mouse and a keyboard can get a blog started. Not every blog needs all of the bells and whistles and these can be added later as the newbie blogger gets a better grasp on how plugins and widgets work.

    As the tech side of blogging has gotten easier the content aspect has become more complex with the need to produce quality content on a regular basic. The question over blogging for many people has shifted from their technical ability to their writing skill.

  32. Esther says:

    I’ve tried to help people see that you can do it one step at a time. Starting extremely simple and adding as you learn.
    I’ve recently had trouble with adding things using HTML. I used to be fairly proficient (almost 15years ago) and now realize I don’t know a darn thing. Re-learning has been an adventure!

  33. Danny says:

    Very good points, Darren.

    The one hurdle that I think many people encounter is that people either, “oversimplify things” therefore leaving out vital parts of information(steps) involved….(And the big fix doesn’t work)!.

    Or, they totally ” over complicate things” making a somewhat easy process sound near impossible to the “layperson(beginner / novice)…..and both of these approaches will cause all sorts of anxieties and frustrations, from both sides of the fence…..

    The fact is that, we can never know it all! We can always learn new things, and that’s the beauty of it!

    There is a story about how one particular person(professor ) tried to make a fool out of Albert Einstein….

    The fellow walked up to Einstein at a gathering and challenged him to solve an equation/ theorem that was outside of Einsteins area of knowledge….

    Einstein calmly responded, “I don’t know the answer to your query, though, if you can wait one minute I get get you somebody that does”….meaning someone else at the gathering….(professor, scientist, etc)

  34. Marci says:

    I was impressed with myself once when I figured out how to change the background on my Myspace using HTML. I’m new to blogging but I’m getting the hang of it and I’m finding out that I know a lot more then I think I do.

  35. Awesome article here brother!! I am still finding my way around php and css. But that will help me to make my own plugins :) Already know a bit of html, the most impressive point is that nowadays anyone can set up a blog. But can you please do a post on how to make our blog stand out from all of the others in the heap. It’s just becoming too crowded nowadays here in the blogosphere :P :D