How to Improve as a Problogger, Part 1

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Well, this is my second to last post for Performancing. I recently landed a new job that’s taking up a lot of my time. It’s a profit share position so the more time I work on it, the more money I can earn as passive income. Also, I’m starting to run out of stuff to say about problogging. I started writing about the industry about three years ago and it sometimes feels like I’ve said everything I’ve needed to say.

I’ve definitely enjoyed my time at Performancing and I hope Splashpress can find a great replacement for me.

Anyways, since I’m leaving soon, I thought I’d share some principles that have really helped me in my three year online career.

One of the main things that’s important to learn in problogging is how to improve your skills. If you’re not seeing the results you want from your online endeavors or you’ve hit a plateau, you need to improve your skills to attain better results. If you don’t seek to improve, if you keep doing the same actions, you’ll keep getting the same results. This may seem obvious but I haven’t seen much content about the process of improvement.

In this post, I’ll just talk about step one, since the step is so foundational and requires some elaboration. If you don’t get it right, then the other steps will be ineffective. In my last post next week, I’ll go over the other steps.

Step 1: Believe that substantial improvement is possible in any skill.

I think one of the things that holds many probloggers back is their perception of talent. Like many other people, they believe that talent is mostly a natural innate thing. You either have it or you don’t.

So for example, if you’re not good at writing, if you don’t have that talent, then you probably shouldn’t try being a problogger.

Or let’s say you are good at writing so you started a blog. You feel good about your blog posts but you don’t have a lot of traffic. You do some research and discover that SEO is an effective way to drive traffic. You try SEO on your blog for about a month. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out. You think, well I guess SEO is not my talent. Time to stop doing it and look for another method.

The problem with this mindset is that it doesn’t reflect the reality of how talent, skill, and ability works.

Carol Dweck is a psychology professor at Stanford University who has done a lot of research on the area of success and improvement. She published what she learned in a great book called Mindset. In the book, she talks about two different mindsets, fixed and growth. People with a fixed mindset believe that ability is fixed and innate. On the other hand, those with a growth mindset believe that you can become competent at any skill. Yes, it will take some hard work, practice, and effort. And you will fail a lot in the beginning. But after some time, you attain a new skill.

My Own Story

I’ve seen power of having a growth mindset in my own life.

Before I knew about problogging, I was unhappy as a cubicle drone. As my unhappiness grew, I started doing research on making money online so I could leave the corporate world. My brother pointed me to ProBlogger and I started learning about the industry.

Now if I had a fixed mindset, I would’ve rejected problogging as a viable option. See before I started blogging, I had no relevant writing experience since my college years. But even in school, I did not do much writing. I was an accounting major so I didn’t have many papers to write. Also, I never really liked writing. I never wrote in my spare time like people who keep a journal. My least favorite classes in high school and college were the ones where I had to write a bunch of papers. I even repeated one of my English classes because I dreaded writing the term paper so much that I dropped the class the first time around.

But fast forward to today. I’ve made my living as an online worker for the last 3 years and about 80% of my work involves writing.

How did I get to this point? The foundation of my problogging journey was the growth mindset. Also, I had a lot of motivation since I was pretty desperate to leave the corporate world. I always thought even though I don’t like writing if that’s what it will take to be my own boss, then I’ll become good at it and learn to like it.

And that’s what I did. I made myself write a personal blog to get some practice before launching more commercial blogs. I read books on writing to guide me. I asked some friends who were better writers for feedback. One of my best friends was a journalism major and my sister was an English major. They gave me great tips and I looked at their work as inspiration.

Did I experience a lot of failure? Yes. In the beginning, I didn’t get any compliments about work but as I learned the tips and tricks and got more experience, people started liking my content.

The same process applied to SEO. I didn’t get much traffic to my blogs so I immersed myself in the field of SEO. It took me months of reading, trial and error, and learning from my mistakes before I felt like I knew what I was doing with basic SEO principles. It took over a year before I was competent on the advanced stuff. Even now, I know that I have a lot of room for improvement.

I think that’s the best thing about adopting a growth mindset. If you have this mindset, you always feel like there’s room for improvement but you’re not intimidated by the process of change. Instead, you feel like you can reach new levels of skill and ability. You’re always seeking to grow and as a result, your blog is always improving.

Rethinking Your Weaknesses

With a growth mindset, you can look at your weakness differently.For example, you may struggle with monetization but with enough effort, practice, and knowledge, you can become good at extracting money from your blog. You don’t have to be mediocre at monetization for the rest of your life.

If you’ve tried to improve your weaknesses but you failed, ask yourself if you gave yourself time to learn the skill. Maybe you let the early failures get to you. Maybe you expected too much too soon.

Also, don’t be afraid of failure. In fact, expect it especially in the early days. Any new skill will be difficult before it become easy. It took me many tries before I started getting a lot of traffic from SEO. I failed a bunch but I’m glad I stuck with it because now SEO is my most effective traffic technique and I’ve gotten job offers for search specialist positions.

If you have a fixed mindset, there’s good news. You can switch to the growth mindset and reap the rewards of believing you can overcome your weaknesses and turn them into strengths.

Tune in to my post next week where I’ll talk about specific ways to apply the growth mindset to problogging.

Update 4/29/10: Part 2 is up.

Performancing offers blog management services.

One thought on “How to Improve as a Problogger, Part 1

  1. The continued development of blogs through careful study and step by step process on improving such really make the blogging world dynamic and very much alive. Thanks for all the efforts.

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