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Five Hard Truths About Blogging
By Samuel Ryan     Blogging     Comments

I've had my share of itinerant blogging in the past -- but Wake Up Later has been the one consistent effort I've taken to in this realm. I am fortunate to see its solid growth, but I've realized a few truths about blogging along the way. Here are five of them.

 



Blogging Is a Huge Commitment

 When you first start your blog, posting comes easily because it's exciting and you already have a number of posts mentally composed. But as time goes on, you find yourself covering subjects and ideas that require more coverage and deeper fact checking. As traffic grows, so will accountability, which means more drafts and better proofreading. Furthermore, you'll probably need to keep up with pertinent news and information in your industry and keep tabs on relevant communities. Add all this up and you're looking at a pretty good chunk of time that most people don't have (without giving up other things).

 

Blogging Is More Than Just Writing

 We live in a world where books are labeled "Best-Selling," not "Best-Writtten." So when it comes to blogging and building an audience, you have to market your blog in addition to writing entries. This means being involved on other blogs, writing guest posts, jumping into social media, answering comments and emails, and the list goes on. Furthermore, you will constantly need to be adding value to your posts, which may include tasks such as research, tracking down experts, and finding photos. And then there's the boring stuff, like proofreading or blog software updates. 

 

Blogging Is a Crowded Space

 Technorati tracks millions of blogs with some sources estimating that a new blog is created every second. Granted, many of these quickly become defunct or are nowhere near your niche, but the more you get involved in the blogosphere, the more blogs you'll find that are like yours. This can be good if you're just looking to rub shoulders with other like minds. But on the flip side, you're vying for the same visitors who can only subscribe to so many blogs. So you had better find ways to differentiate yourself and make your voice unique. (To be honest, very few blogs find a unique voice and many feel like their only source of information is other blogs.)

 

Blogging Is Profitable, But Rarely in Financial Terms

 Blogging makes you a better writer. Blogging gives you a public identity to help your network and business. Blogging teaches you discipline and time management. But blogging will not make you rich. I'm not saying there aren't exceptions or that you can't make any money. I am saying that in most cases, if you were to look at a pure dollar-per-hour "wage," you would find that many bloggers work rather inexpensively. If your goal is purely to make cash, then there are much better options out there (especially if you're a developer or designer). As I mentioned in a previous post, paying some bills may be nice, but there are better reasons for blogging.

 

Blogging Is a Starting Point

It's good when people can speak intelligently about a subject. It's better when they can consistently write about it. But until you act upon your own advice, you've given people no reason to listen to you. This may mean starting a business, writing premium content, or just implementing the productivity tips you so often dispense. Because how can you write about business or passive income if your advice hasn't even led you to action? Don't turn into a blogger who begins rehashing what other people have said because your own experience is lacking. And don't get so caught up in blogging that you stagnate in terms of new ideas and projects. Blogging opens you up to the online world -- just keep moving forward.


Community Comments
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1
Tony
Blogging is a huge commitment, but I think it's totally worth it. It comes with the hard stuff, but blogging also motivates me to do that hard stuff -- keeping up with other blogs in my industry, getting better at writing, etc.


2
Brad
Sam,

Your blogging here has certainly been a big help and inspiration. I have a floundering blog of my own and see everything you are talking about reflected there.

Its tough, but you've done an awesome job so far. Keep up the good work!


3
Nick | PTO
Congratulations on 5 months of WUL!

I completely agree with you about blogging being a starting point. I've already 'met' a huge amount of people and had some great opportunities through my own site just one month in.

Blogging really is a crowded space, but the same thing that makes it rather cramped is also what makes it such a wonderfully diverse and interesting field to be a part of.


4
Darren
As a n00b, I find your lessons important and relevant. Thank you for sharing them with us all.


5
Cedric Hohnstadt
I love your blog and find it very helpful. My blog has been growing steadily over the past year and I completely agree with your observations. Especially #4. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who leans back in his chair and thinks, "Wow, this blogging stuff is hard work".


6
Brett
Sam,

Have you looked into adding additional writers - to not only increase the amount of posts but also take "some" of the strain off yourself. I know it might be tough to screen potential writers for credibility and skill level but it might help to continue the growth of this site.

Either way, I think I speak for everyone when I say we appreciate your insight and the dedication you have put into this blog so far. Awesome job man.


7
Andrew
Intelligent blogging is a really difficult task. It's not hard for people to post about their day and other train-of-thought posts that others find hard to relate to or even understand.

Conceptualising, composing and writing 'smart' or informative blog posts is difficult, but it does help train and improve those skills you use.


8
Oh Davey
Great Post.

I think a lot of business owners and entrepreneurs can understand where you're coming from. "Five Hard Truths From 5 Months of ________ " Fill in the blank. Much of what you pointed out in blogging is true no matter what you get into. Huge commitment, competition, research, slim to none profits... the list goes on.

I think any great entrepreneur has to be a visionary. However, I've found that with my numerous endeavours, I know where I want my business to be when all the dust clears. I don't dream about all the time, hard work, stress, and lack of sleep that must be put in to reach the ultimate goal. I think that's half the fun, however.

And really, thats the gauge I find myself looking at the most. The fun factor. If it's not fun anymore - what's the point of doing it? I'd rather wake up later with a good attitude over dreading the day because of my work.

Great blog, great stuff. Keep up the good work!



9
Adam
Great post! I've just started a blog to help market my own services (actually, I've just themed it so it's not embarrassing anymore), and I'm finding it really, really hard to find things to write about on a regular basis. Hopefully it gets easier...?


10
Keeshia
Wonderful post, as per usual.

I think the hardest thing for me was figuring out who exactly to target my blog at. Because it's at the same site as my portfolio, I felt a need to have material that would benefit a customer, but that wasn't the only audience I wanted to reach out to. A lot of the difficulty was based in the fact that have far too many interests and they can't really be rolled into one cohesive collection of topics.

So I've decided to dedicate the posts to an audience of my peers, not noobs and not experts!


11
Samuel
Thanks all for the kind words...

@Cedric - I enjoy your blog and your obvious illustration skills ( though I'm sure the illustration revenue outpaces the blog revenue 100 to 1 :) You should see about guest posting at a site like FreelanceSwitch to get a few more people your way...

@Brett - I'm still in limbo as to a long-term plan for the site. I've been open to guest posting in the past, but I feel as if good articles should require good reimbursement. Plus, as you noted, the filtering and management aspect is another role to consider.

@Adam - Work is always work in my opinion, but if you can develop good habits of discipline and attitude, it does get easier and can be more enjoyable :)

@Keesiha - I've been waiting for TheDane to launch :) I agree that speaking about where you're at and about what you know at this time is the best route. It comes easier and you don't feel like you're putting any pretense on (like you might when trying to address experts or noobs).


12
Rodrigo
Samuel, thumbs up for the effort to keep writing good and useful posts!
Your blog has been a great resource for me.


13
Keeshia
Yeah, it's been in progress for some time. Between school and my unfortunate day job I haven't had very much time to work on the design. I tell you what though, It looks badass on paper! rofl

Now to just get it onto the digital medium..

In the meantime, I've been thinking of bringing forth the blog part of it. We'll see.


14
Jason
Good stuff. I'm a late comer to blogging myself - my biggest struggle so far is finding the time. Keep up the good work.


15
Nubloo
You are right, as time goes on, you have to come up with new ideas for posts. There are certainly lots of ways to do that. Inspiration is everywhere, it's just important to make a difference between creating your own, unique content and simply ruminating other blogger's ideas.


16
Charles
I loved this post and agree 100%.

I just started a new blog and since have found many others like it. I do have an original voice and design and feel like I stand out, but it's tough sometimes when you think about how much is out there.


17
Michael Werner
Hey, Sam: Good post and question.

Have you ever thought about how someone might use their blog as a tool of self-discovery? I guess, in a sense, all blogs are partly that anyway, but I'm thinking more pointedly.

For instance, over at my site, most of my readers are looking for ways to launch into their dream jobs . . . but the biggest hurdle for most of them is that they don't know what they want to do or become.

I know that several folks advise journaling as a way to discover your strengths, so I'm wondering what your take on "blogging as journaling" might be and how you would see it working.

Keep after 'em, sir!

Michael Werner


18
Samuel
@Jason - Good start to the blog. I find that starting a blog (for the first few months) is tough because you really want participation, but it can take time and marketing energy to get there...

@Nubloo - I agree that inspiration is everywhere - it's just that developing new ideas takes a good deal of time. In the print world, writers get semi-decent time and resources -- the blogging world seems tighter...

@Charles - I enjoyed perusing your blog and didn't realize the breadth of the green blog community out there (I only knew about TreeHugger). As you noted, it's tough to blog in some niches...

@Michael - Blogging as self-discovery can sometimes cause a paradox. Because on one side, you're exploring your thoughts (which can be boring to others except your family), and on the other side, you want readership and community (who often prefer expertise and not uncertainty). So I think self-discovery is a valid reason for a blog, as long as you truly care more about "figuring stuff out" and not your readership levels. Although a "offline" Moleskin journal could work just as well. But I could be wrong -- I haven't thought much about blogging as self-discovery. Maybe others will opine...


19
David Lano
Sam, thanks for pointing out some of the not-so-obvious realities on blogging.

Blogging definitely requires a fair amount of time and effort, but the benefits are huge!

I just started a blog a few months ago and I have already made a lot of good friends.

Creating amazing content and constantly pushing yourself to grow isn't easy, but I love the challenges and opportunities that go along with blogging and starting conversations with others.

Thanks!


20
dianewb
I've been struggling with the decision of whether or not to start a blog of my own, and I've been trying to really pay attention to the differences between blogs that are compelling (like this one) and blogs that, even if they have a great concept, are blogs I just don't return to.

I don't know that I have it, yet, but I think it has something to do with some blogs just being too self-indulgent. Even if someone has a great tip or survey for freelancers, if they only have it every four posts, I'm not going to visit very often. This blog, and only a couple of others, has somehting I want to read almost every post.


21
Paula G
Great post. I recently wrote an article "Should I Start a Blog" on my web design blog www.paulagwebdesign.com talking about the very things you do here -- the fact that blogging is an investment, not to be taken lightly. It's not a one shot deal...like any other Internet Marketing it is a distance run and your payoff may not come in money (directly) but moreso in relationships, connections, potential other business, credibility.

Part of why I regularly read this blog is because the content is always good..and reasonable. There are not 30 posts a day. Feeds like that simply overwhelm me & I never get the value of what I know is in there somewhere because I don't have time to mine it.


22
The Daniel Richard
The realities of blogging. I totally agree that blogging is definitely a huge commitment!

Takes time to type something, check through once, twice, and then publishing the posts.

You've certainly done a superb work on WUL. :)


23
lijfrente verzekering
In my work as a volunteer for an open and free internet knowledge database in the Netherlands, (called Leerwiki.nl), I am trying to convince people to start blogging. To share their knowledge. To learn from each other. Most people refuse to start blogging and in this article I learned all the reasons why they don't want to.

@Michael: I do agree with your idea [...someone might use their blog as a tool of self-discovery]
Regards, Mary Ann


24
gaurav
Great article..


25
Rick Minerich
I would add "What readers want is a moving target. You constantly have to redefine yourself as the community changes or you risk being left out in the cold."


26
Krediet
I do agree with your statement: [...Blogging Is Profitable, But Rarely in Financial Terms].
Most of my blog-friends use their blog to promote their ideas and get in contact with people who share the same thoughts. Most of the bloggers serve a niche market, where no (or not much) money is made...
Regards Kimberley


27
güzel sözler
I would add "What readers want is a moving target. You constantly have to redefine yourself as the community changes or you risk being left out in the cold." ..


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What is all this?
My name is Samuel Ryan and I make websites. Sometimes, I write about it. I disappeared from this blog for a couple years, but I'm jumping back in now -- even began using my twitter account. If you care to know more, go here.