404 10,000 Hours

10,000 Hours

There are great bloggers and there are prolific bloggers. Rarely do you find both. Well today is your lucky day. Matt Appling is sharing about his journey in blogging. Specifically, blogging a lot and what it means to be an expert. So grab a bag of popcorn and enjoy. You might just learn something.
10,000 Hours To Perfection

10,000 Hours of Blogging

Okay, so I’ve been at this blogging thing for what will be three years in October.  Wow.  For something I started doing as a lark, it’s turned into kind of a big deal in my life.

Three years.  That’s…

156 weeks.  Three posts a week, that’s about…

468 blog posts.

Time spent writing, designing, commenting, tweeting, and reading other blogs…

About 1000 hours.

That sounds impressive…or sad, when I lay out the numbers like that.  But I suppose there are worse things I could be spending my time doing, like playing Dungeons and Dragons.  During those thousand hours, I’ve learned a lot about what it means, and doesn’t mean to be a blogger.

Blog Smarter, Not Harder

When I started blogging, I had a lot of time on my hands.  I could spend hours pouring over a single post if I wanted to, making it just right.  These days, I have a lot less time on my hands.  The demands of life give me a lot less time, which means I have to make the most of it.

But that hasn’t been a bad thing.  Has my blogging gotten worse as I’ve spent less time at it?  Not at all.

Spending less time blogging should actually be the goal of every blogger.  Sure, I have off days where I struggle to get a thought out, or I have to go over a post a few too many times to get it organized.  But your blog should not take up hours on end each week.  If you are practicing your writing craft, your blogging should get better and you should be getting more efficient at the same time.

The first key to enjoying your blog is to not let your schedule be defined by it.  In fact, the time you spend writing your blog is actually the least important time you spend as a blogger.  Those thousand hours I’ve spent blogging?  They’re a drop in the bucket.  The last three years were made of 26,280 hours.  My blog has taken up a mere 3.8% of my time.  The rest of that time was spent reading books, working, traveling, playing, and doing all the things that actually define me.  If you do not preserve time to do lots of things outside of blogging, your writing will suffer, and it will be a game of diminishing returns.

The Fame Monster

Everyone wants to be famous.  It’s easy to criticize people who obsess over celebrities or reality TV and wish they were just a little bit famous.

But the blog world tempts us with the same thing.  It gives us the possibility, however remote, that we could be famous…however you define it.

So bloggers waste additional time checking and worrying over their traffic numbers, time spent that does nothing to actually improve their blogging skills.

Here’s the thing: blogging is a lot like the lottery.  The chances of achieving blogging fame may seem close at hand, but are actually extremely remote.  Like lottery winners, blog land doesn’t always pick the most deserving blogs to be famous.  You probably think your blog deserves way more fame than it does.  Maybe you are right.

While there are small steps you can take to increase your blogging notoriety, the most important thing you can do right now is this: give up.

Stop trying to define yourself by your blog’s visitors or comments.  It’s shallow and trivial like any other obsession over beauty or fame, and it doesn’t make you a better blogger.

And guess what?  Even if you got any level of blog fame, nine out of ten friends and family members aren’t going to care one bit.  The world of blog fame is very small.

10,000 Hours

In blog land, three years is an eternity.  Of the millions of blogs, most end up quietly dormant within a few months.

I’ve given out tons of advice to dozens of bloggers who are just starting out.  It’s easy for me to think that I’ve put in my time, I’ve paid my dues.  I’ve spent a thousand hours at this.

I guess you could call me an expert.

But then I realized that in any other realm, a thousand hours means nothing.  It takes pilots ten-thousand hours to become “experts.”  At this rate, I’ll have to blog for thirty years to achieve “expert” status.

Of course, there’s no certificate to define anyone as an “expert” blogger, so how about this: I can just continue to learn and grow.  No matter how long I do this, or how many readers I have, or what opportunities or connections blogging brings, I can refuse to be defined by the cute little trophies that I’ve earned, and continue to be defined by the things I learn every day.

Let’s hear it from you!  How long have you been blogging, and how much time do you spend at it every week?  What keeps you going as a blogger?  What is the payoff or reward?

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Matt Appling @ The Church of No PeopleMatt blogs at The Church of No People. I highly recommend you check him out. You can also connect with him on Twitter.

Comments

  1. I’ve been blogging more than 2 1/2 years now and have about double of the posts and hours you have – can that REALLY be? Wow. Time flies and I wouldn’t trade ANY of it away! I’ve met great people like yourself 🙂 It’s never work for me – only pure pleasure and a passion that must get out on paper. Keep it up, Tony – it keeps everyone connected and that’s wonderful.

  2. I’ve been blogging for just over a month. I probably spend 2 hours total writing a post, although there is prep-work before hand, i.e. I keep a notebook where I jot ideas down. The passion of what I blog about is what keeps me going. I know that I have something to say and I just want to share it. The reward of blogging is that I get better at being a critical thinker, I get better at writing, and I have something to share that can impact people.
    Juan Cruz, Jr. recently posted..Just have fun!

  3. I have been blogging since 2005 and consistently since early 2008 and have written 429 post at my current site. I blog because I like the give and take i learning and sharing ideas as well as the connection that comes in blogging.
    Jim F recently posted..His Grace and His Healing

  4. Been blogging “informally” off-and-on at various sites for the past 5 years, but have just recently started a “formal” website for blogging (if that makes any sense). Sure I’d love a zillion readers right now, but ultimately I just love the process and how it helps hone my writing craft with every click of the “publish” button.

    I’ve also noticed that it doesn’t take nearly as long for me to type a decent-sized post compared to days of old, so that’s been a cool thing to notice.
    TMZ recently posted..TMZ: Brother

  5. Thank you, Matt, for reminding me why I blog and why I shouldn’t blog. You put it into perspective very well. I’ve been blogging for a long time, but not consistently. I’m working on getting more posts up in a month rather than once a month. Tony, good choice for a guest blogger!
    Sandy Sandmeyer recently posted..Never Beyond – Even Darth Vader Was Forgiven

  6. I’ve been blogging for almost three years. The growth of my writing and my thinking has been exponential to say the least. I post about 2-3 times a week and spend about an hour or two on each post.

    What keeps me going is the continual expression of my thoughts and beliefs. I’m a processor my nature. I don’t communicate well verbally because I need to process the information in my head. I’ve found writing to be the most important tool for processing.

    Great post Matt, thank you for sharing.
    Ryan Tate recently posted..Questions I’m afraid to ask, part 2: the Kingdom

  7. I’ve only been blogging for a year and I spend way too much time on it. I’m not a fast writer but most of that is because I have to think really deeply about what I’m writing. But that’s also allowing me to grow my knowledge at a decent rate.
    Loren Pinilis recently posted..Why I Don’t Use My iPhone as a Capture Device

  8. I started my personal blog 2-1/2 years ago because I wanted to share what God has taught me with my grown kids. I figured they’d read my blog (and they do), but it wouldn’t be Mom directly giving them unsolicited advice! 😎 Pretty sneaky, huh?

    Now I write because it keeps me growing. I need to keep close to God, hearing His voice, in order to have something worth writing about.

    I also have a gardening and birding blog which has more readers. I offer garden tips specifically for our area (Colorado Springs), since so few resources are available for our high and dry climate. That’s at http://blogs.icta.net/plover.
    Leslie recently posted..Unbelief

  9. Matt, this is a fantastic post. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    I’ve only been blogging since January. Set myself to post 3x a week (for the most part) and just had #100 this week.

    I’m an introverted person, so sometimes it’s harder for me to express myself…. I’ve found blogging has helped me in that area, personally… just giving me an outlet to share my thoughts, speak my voice, and connect with other likeminded folks.
    dustin recently posted..The Big 100

  10. Thanks for guest posting here, Matt–it’s always great to find good, new-to-me blogs!

    I’v been blogging for five years. I’m not as consistent as I’d like to be–in fact that’s something my husband and I were talking about just last night. I’m debating whether I want to put the time into it to blog more regularly.

    Mostly, I blog for myself. That is, I write to process and think (I’ve kept a journal for years), and having it in a format that others might possibly read forces me to slow down and organize. I love the process of writing and the beauty of a well-written phrase. Those are the main reasons I blog. Though I won’t deny that the false allure of fame and the ego-boosting of positive comments are nice, too.
    Jenn recently posted..Literary Break-up

  11. Nice insight Matt,

    Is it just me or is it weird reading your words in a different light? you know, not teal and gray. LOL…i’m just joshing you!

    I’ve had a blog under my name for 3 years….BUT…and thats a big BUT! The kinda a but that makes you want to stare but look a way really quickly…

    BUT, I’ve only gotten serious about it for about 6 months now. See before I only blogged to family and friends…and then I thought to widen my audience if you will, cause I felt I had some pretty good things to say…so …so far so good.

    I used to blog 4 times a week, to gain momentum…now I just stared the 3 times a week , this week actually, and it feels pretty good. YOU”RE right,, the contect does get better, enough to endure for a couple of days on it’s own…

    I not to sound to clicheish…I blog for JESUS! it’s true. LOL…

    Thanks Matt.
    Arny recently posted..Weekend For Thought # 21: Jesus To The Child

  12. I’ve only been blogging for about 3 months now. I’ve got about 60+ posts up. So I’m still really new. Sometimes what I want to say just flows out. Other times I end up going and researching a quote, a Bible verse, something… recently I’ve been adding pre-amateur graphics to the end of a post for a certain project, so that takes up time. So what keeps me going? I guess I still have something to say. I have been blogging as a way of staying accountable to the lessons God is teaching me. And when I feel Him telling me to write, I write. So the payoff or reward… I guess feeling some obedience. People dropping by and saying nice things in the comments is good, but not necessary to the accountability factor. I wrote what I thought was a really good piece that talked about my faith journey vs. science the other day. Nobody stopped by to comment. But I think I still accomplished what I had set out to do, so it’s okay. I’m still eligible to fall into a lot of the “blogging traps” just because I’m so new, but right now, it is working just the way it is.
    Carolyn recently posted..Five Minute Friday – Rest

  13. How long have you been blogging, and how much time do you spend at it every week? I started back in the MySpace days of 2005. It was mostly rants. In 2006 I decided to write a book and thought a blog would be a great place to put together my thoughts and short stories. My blogs now take about 20 minutes for approximately 500 words. Now that my book is done, I am not sure what is next.

    What keeps you going as a blogger? That is a good question. It used to be the comments, and then the relationship with regular commenters. I got into the numbers thing a few years ago and was up to a few thousand visitors a month. That took a lot of commenting on other blogs. I don’t have time for it anymore. I read Kingdom Bloggers, Charlie’s Church of Christ, Tony C Today, and TCoNP regularly. I try to fit in Arny’s blog, and Nicodemus @ Nite as often as I can. I am a lot more inspired by others and am always looking for guest bloggers. Truthfully, after my first week off in over 5 years, I am thinking about giving it up.

    What is the payoff or reward?
    I feel good about putting my thoughts in writing. I love it when my wife reads it and we talk about it after dinner over tea.
    David recently posted..The Call of the Wild

    • Much appreciated david…keep it up!
      Arny recently posted..Weekend For Thought # 21: Jesus To The Child

    • I know the feeling of wanting to give it up after taking a short break. It definitely is an investment of time.

      However, I always come back to feeling that its worth it. If nothing else, it helps me think and organize my thoughts.

      I also find that when I’m talking with others on a specific subject, I find myself saying “I wrote a blog about that”. And because I had written out my thoughts, I was able to contribute much more to the conversation.

      Thanks for coming over today!

      • Thanks for the encouragement, Tony.

        I have a lot of those feelings about the blogging and I rarely talk about things I haven’t blogged about – well with my wife I do. 😉 The truth is that I am starting to say the same things over and over, and I need to get out and experience the Kingdom for some new material. That is why others inspire me so much.

        I actually write for 2 other blogs as well as my own. I think I would like to write about some new subjects; maybe travel and fitness. It is just internal artist at work.

        Let me know if you’d like to do a guest blog, I’d love it.
        David recently posted..The Call of the Wild

  14. I’ve been blogging seriously for about a year now. I post 5 times a week. I think the positive feedback, loving my niche, and enjoying the creative process keeps me going.

    Love your tips, Matt.

  15. I’ve been blogging for a little over 2 years now. I typically post 4-5 times per week. On average I spend about 30 minutes writing a post and about 30 minutes reading blogs.

    A few things keep me going. I love writing and fleshing out things and I love the interaction and community aspect of it.
    Michael recently posted..The Heart of the Story (Book Giveaway)

  16. Been going at it since ’08, but lately I’ve spent way less time at it due to a myriad of a bunch of things, which is a good thing.

    In my time spent away, what I’m missing is the encouragement from different people who comment, as well as the non-documention of my life for my kids/family. This is pretty much what keeps me going, knowing that my kids and their kids will get to know me more by what I write, although it makes it a little difficult because I don’t get to see the immediate reward.
    Ben recently posted..Community

  17. I’ve been blogging for more than four years. Today was my 465th post. I probably spend 3-4 hours a week blogging (sometimes more). I’ve been fairly consistent this summer in blogging most week days. I have found that the on-line community that has been growing around my blog as been keeping me going. I love to see people connecting, and I love the ideas and comments that people have to share. Hopefully, the ultimate payoff is that my readers and I are growing closer to God. All other payoff items are gravy!
    Jon Stolpe recently posted..Be Generous

    • The online community has been a huge motivator for me as well. I’ve blogged off and on since ’02 and it wasn’t until this past year that I got serious about it (i.e. consistent). Doing that helped me grow a little community and they push me to bring my best on a regular basis.

  18. As a Boy Scout, I read “Dracula”, Bram Stoker’s novel written in the form of diaries and journals. That sparked my interest in keeping a dairy of my own (just in case I ever ran into a vampire).

    Now, for over 40 years, off and on, I’ve kept a journal of my activities, jokes I like, and things that interest me. My handwritten diaries fill a bookcase. About six years ago, my grown kids, Geeks all, urged me to keep that diary as an online journal or blog.

    Hardly anyone in the blog world seems to read over my shoulder, so to speak, but I continue to record my world. About 500 readers check it out each week.

    My target reader I call The Kid In The Attic, a boy who may live 50 or a hundred years from now who will find my diary in an old trunk in the attic on a rainy day and sit down to read a few pages. I want him to glimpse what a Christian life is like for one lone guy back in the 20th Century.

    I hope the kid in the attic is not too disappointed; I never have run into a vampire.

    Yet.

    John Cowart

    • I’m always amazed at the most unlikely of people that come across my blog and read it. I get emails out of the blue about how something I wrote resonated and I had no idea the person ever read it.

      Many times we measure our readership by comments but actually only a small fraction of readers ever comment.

      Thanks for coming by today, John.

  19. Wow…I’ve been blogging for probably close to six or seven years in various incarnations. I just write because it’s who I am.
    Jason recently posted..Day 244: It’s definitely a far cry away

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