Darren’s 18 Blogging Lessons +1–Backwards!

Yesterday Darren Rowse at Problogger wrote the best piece on the 18 lessons he’s learned from blogging. I was with him on every one, but our order differs. That’s the story of being ME.

I’ve frustrated everyone by being a right-brained, abstract creative thinker. Research shows that people like me get our ideas whole. So when teachers would say, “Show your work.” I didn’t have any work to show. I’d have to show the work I thought they would do. This ended up in my developing a sort of mirror image kind of thinking.

When I was an executive, my CFO was crazed with my spreadsheets. I could do the numbers, but I explained them the opposite way in. To him, the explanation was backwards. When my products returned unexpectedly well on their investments, he named my spreadsheets the Voodoo Test of Viability. So with that in mind, I offer you my own take on and rewrite of

Darren’s 18 Blogging Lessons +1 Backwards!

This work is proof that the 18 points Darren has already stated so well will return on their investment. They stand up to the CFO Voodoo Test of Viability–Liz restating them backwards. Just to kick up my personal challenge, I’ve added a Bonus Lesson at the end.

      18. There are no rules. . . . And there are no absolutes except for that one. :) The exception to the no rule rule is that you’re writing on the Internet. So it’s a good idea to remember that you can’t ever take it back. Whatever rules other folks might have, we don’t need them. People will just keep changing them to keep things messy anyway.

      17. Be Yourself. You’ll only be a bad facsimile of anyone else. Readers come for authentic insights, new ideas, and quality writing. As their host, your attention should be on your visitors, not on someone you’re pretending to be.

      16. Make Mistakes. Testing 1, 2, 3, Testing. Kick your curiosity up a notch. Failing fast and failing faster are two great ways to show you’re learning. Never try things, and you’ll never fail. You’ll also discover nothing, and stay in the same place forever.

      15. Get a Life. And make sure it’s your own. Getting a life means having one thing that you really like to do. Find something that causes you to lose all track of time and space while you’re doing it. Spend time with people who make you feel like you have more energy, not less.

      14. Beware of Hype. And don’t get righteous. Whenever an emotional response begins to rear it’s head remember that the blogosphere doesn’t need any of us to make it run right. Handle disagreements offline and steer clear of controversy. End of story. Amen.

      13. Don’t Read Your Own Press. And don’t become your own fan. Your blog is not you. It is just your words on a screen. Know the difference. You’ll have perspective and blogging will be more fun.

      12. Establish Boundaries. Show you know the world is watching. Understand that just as you are not your blog, your readers are more than the comments they leave. Keep in mind that your stats count lurkers who read you but don’t identify themselves. Do what my mother used to say to do, “Keep the family business in the family.”

      11. Relationships are Key. You can’t have a relationship if you don’t show up. Post and hide isn’t blogging. It’s holding readers at arm’s length. Be around when they comment. Make a point to visit their blogs. Take an interest in the community. That’s what blogging relationships are about.

      10. Be Light on Your Feet. Presto, Chango, Time to blog. The beauty of blogging is its flexibility. Use it to create opportunities. Have a great idea? Add a feature. Try a test. It’s easy to see whether it works and fast to change it, if it doesn’t.

      9. Have a Backup Plan. But don’t use it as a way to quit. This is just darn good advice whether you’re problogging or doing anything in life. Just be careful that your backup plan isn’t permission to quit when things get tough.

      8. Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin. Or you’ll be pulled like a guitar wire. A start up of anything takes longer than maintenance. Allow for that. Start with only as much as you can handle. Then add on the rest as the work levels off.

      7. Diversify. But don’t try to do things that you don’t know how to do. If you move into areas you don’t know, you add a learning curve to an already heavy load.

      6. Target a Niche. And call it home. Make sure it’s something that you’re passionate about. Remember in school when you had to narrow the topic to write about it? This is what you did that for.

      5. Provide Value. That means never losing sight of what readers hold dear. The only way to know what readers value is by listening to them.

      4. Differentiate Yourself. This is not school. After all those years when being different got you made fun of, now is when being different pays off. Make your blog a one-of-a-kind, memorable experience–whether it’s the content, your take on things, or your effervescent personality. Have something your readers won’t find anywhere else.

      3. Use the Power of Exponential Growth. See what you’re doing as an investment in the future. Everything you do contributes to what you will be. Darren shows how his investment grew over time. Even if it isn’t about money. You’re still investing. Everyday you work at it, you get better.

      2. Work Hard. The lottery is won by other people. Hard work shows, and people recognize it. They say when you blog you’re writing for your next boss. He or she is reading your work and going to hire you. More importantly, what you learn from hard work is something you will always have.

      1. Be Lucky. But know that not all luck is good. “If you count luck in the mix, be sure that you count on both kinds,” a friend of mind always says. Not bad advice.

Bonus Lesson: Remember You’re Not the Only One. Help out the new guy. Just like your blog isn’t you. You aren’t the blogosphere. Nor is it likely that you will dominate it or even make a massive and lasting change in it. But if you help out the new folks who come along, you might make the blogosphere a smarter place, a community where people actually have relationships and share what they know as a matter of life.

That would be so COOL.

Thanks Darren for giving me reason to think about all of this.

–ME “Liz” Strauss


  1. says

    no problem Liz. In actual fact they weren’t in any particularly order except the order it came out in. I don’t like to identify any one thing as being ‘the reason’ – nice rearrangement.

  2. says

    Hi Indie,
    Good to hear from you.
    I think those three are pretty important ones too. Though I’d have to say it would take me a while to figure out which three I’d pick if I had to choose three only to put on the list.

  3. says

    I like Darren’s list. He’s done his usual great job, which is why he’d be successful at whatever he chose to do.

    People think it’s pro blogging that’s made him and that too is backwards…he made pro blogging…not for everybody, for himself.

    My favorite, though, is your add-on, Liz.

    Blogs will come and go…friends are forever.

    I met yesterday with a new friend that found me through my blog.

    Like my singin’ friends from Van Zandt say ” Help somebody when you can… ”


  4. says

    Hi Mike,
    You’re right Darren made problogging not the other way around. Well said. He earned his place and his right to be there.

    You are my bonus lesson, Mike. You’re a perfect example of someone who does exactly that. You help out everyone–even grandmothers who are only buying $20 worth of bricks. You’re still a hero in my book.

  5. says

    Hi Liz,

    Thanks for sharing this and adding on. I’m a new, slightly uneasy blogger so this makes me feel more comfortable about creating my space.

    Thanks for this! Your add-on clenched it.

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