When I was a kid, I took piano lessons. So did my little sister and brother.
None of us particularly enjoyed practicing at first. After a year or two, they both quit. I’m not sure why, but I kept with it. Soon I loved playing. I played all through high school and college. Even got a scholarship from The American Guild of Organists to learn to play the organ; apparently churches are short on organists. (Side hustle alert: Churches are always looking for pianists and organists for Sunday services, and they pay a pretty penny.)
Years after my sister and brother gave up the instrument, I was talking with my piano teacher about why I succeeded and they didn’t. (I don’t mean this in an egotistical way; they succeeded at plenty of extracurriculars that I failed at quite miserably.)
My teacher, a sweet yet fiery woman with a petite frame and gray hair, said there’s a certain hump you have to get over when you’re learning to play the piano. It can be tough at the beginning, an uphill climb, but once you get over that hump, it’s downhill (if only slightly) on the other side.
For some students, it takes a year to get over the hump, she said; for others, it takes more. Once students get over that hump, they begin to enjoy the ride.
That was the difference between me and my siblings, my teacher said. I’d managed to get over the hump.
[Update: My sister says she probably never would’ve gotten over that hump because she doesn’t have rhythm. That made me laugh, but it’s a good point: we’re all good at certain things and not at others. Sometimes it’s smart to veer off course before getting over the hump to conquer something else.]
This same analogy applies to blogging.
Blogging can be hard as hell at the beginning. It can be frustrating, wondering whether anyone is reading what you’re writing. You might feel like you’ll never get where you want to be.
But if you stick with it, if you practice consistently and put in the work, you’ll get over that hump. And from there on out, you’ll actually — gasp — enjoy it!
Can anyone attest to this? If you’re over the blogging hump, what helped you get there? If you’re still climbing up that hill, what are you struggling with?
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16 Replies to “Getting Over That Blogging Hump”
Great questions as always, Lexi. I think what made a difference for me was a slight shift in understanding online sharing. I used to write posts that could offend nobody – they were politically correct and sensitive to the point of blandness. And then, slowly, I started putting my heart into them. I started letting a little more of myself slip into the writing process. This helped me develop a writing voice that was authentic to who I was, and fostered closer relationships to my readers as well. Getting over the hump, as you put it, was a process of learning how much of myself to put out there.
I find blogging to be a series of humps. There’s that initial hump where no one is reading your stuff and you feel all silly talking to yourself. Then you get more readers, and some more, and a few more. And you think you’ve got it down. But you want to push yourself to the next level. So you try something, and it fails. You try something else with a little success. And then you try one more time and find some big success. Then, repeat, repeat, repeat.
But I do think you are right in that that initial hump is the hardest. It takes a lot of tenacity to keep going – but a lot of reward on the other side!
Yes — Lots of humps! Great point.
I agree with Sarah. I’ve found a few humps along the way. The more I get into it, the more I want to grow my blog, make it more visually appealing, etc. I keep running into roadblocks, then find a way around them, then move on. Not sure if I’ll ever make any money doing it, but that’s another story.
Kim — What types of monetization strategies are you considering?
Good article Alexis, just starting out in blogging and interested to see how we keep the content fresh and infomative and get over that hump!
Go, Ben, Go!
Great topic, and so applicable to other areas beyond blogging. I think the month when I decided to blog every single day was when I became truly addicted to blogging and started to feel creatively ON all the time. Another thing that comes to mind right away, though, is the language-learning process. I’m on my fifth language now and I’m an English teacher… I see people hovering right at the hump all the time and it is one of my biggest goals to give people the motivation and self-confidence to break on through to the other side. (Yes, cue The Doors. Most uncool person ever.)
Anyway, great post, and now I have to read through your archives to find out what this “posting on the fringes” thing is. 🙂
Hey Kate — So true! Learning languages is another good example.
I briefly explain “blogging on the fringes of your topic” in this post: http://alexisgrant.com/2011/07/28/the-umbrella-is-you/
For me, there’s another big difference between playing the piano and blogging. When I was about 8 my mom put me in piano lessons. She had been a piano teacher and airport organist (side hustle alert: apparently she earned big bucks doing this in the 70s) and wanted so much for me to follow in her footsteps. I started with one teacher, who she found too un-technical, then I had another, more serious teacher, who eventually fired me because she wanted to reduce her load of students, then two more teachers who came to my house.
I didn’t like the piano, mostly because it was mom’s idea, not mine.
Blogging is different. I CHOOSE to blog, and I think I’ve gotten over some kind of hump. Now I have readers who are not blood relatives, and people I don’t know find me and send me sweet, question-filled emails. But I’ve been blogging for longer than I took piano (almost 3 years with few teachers, vs. 1 year with 4 teachers!)
Yes, good distinction! I guess it’s different for all of us…
How to become a successful blogger? Two points:
1) Consistency. In 2010, I wrote 365 lessons while writing a book. I wrote every single day. I watched my blog readership go from a few to thousands. I never stopped and I kept the content consistent. I attracted the interest of a NYT bestselling author and eventually landed not only an agent, but a book deal too. My book, Lessons from the Monk I Married, will be published April 3, 2012 by Seal Press/Perseus Books.
2) Authenticity. When you are real and you are YOU, people will read. So many people are out there trying to sell themselves. I believe there is a point this. After all, we want people to read what we write, but it’s only a small part of the equation. When you become what you write and all of you is in IT, people will find you. It’s inevitable.
Yes! GREAT tips. I’d agree with you these two are the most important.
Alexis, this is a HUGELY well-written post. Nicely done!
That said, there are a few things that get me over the hump:
1. Writing about what I want to write about.
2. Writing about what I don’t want to write about.
Basically, if I’ve been writing a lot of personal posts, I take a turn and spend a lot of time researching a how-to (something I’m doing right now, actually). And if I’m burned out from how-tos and feel like they’re not helping my site at all, I spend 30 minutes on a quicky post about something I did over the weekend.
I switch it up. And so far, it’s worked out okay 🙂
Oh, I like this tip! I’m getting some good ideas from these comments 🙂
I watched my blog readership go from a few to thousands. I never stopped and I kept the content consistent. | 😛