A couple of years ago I wrote a series of posts here on ProBlogger that looked at ‘Misconceptions New Bloggers have’. We covered:
- Blogging Takes Super Human Effort vs Blogging is Easy
- You MUST post Every Day!
- You Have to Write About Making Money Blogging to make Money Blogging
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?
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?