It seems to me that bloggers, especially when they’re starting out, have a hunger for two types of advice:
- The how-to, step-by-step guides towards fame and glory
- The case study, the “I’ve Earned $XXXXXX in 5 seconds” or the “I’ve got a billion new email subscribers in 10 days.”
There are two big problems with reading about what made other bloggers successful:
1. We often think correlation is the same as causality
Looking back at my almost nine years as a full-time blogger, I can say that I have succeeded because of my passion, consistency, and my simple and concise writing style.
Also, looking back, I can tell you that I’ve failed because I didn’t care much for headlines, introductions, or properly building relationships with my readers.
But, you see, while looking in the rearview mirror does offer us a much clearer vision of what happened, it’s still subject to a number of cognitive biases. The hindsight bias makes me think that, yeah, it was so obvious all along, when, in fact, I had no idea what I was doing.
The advice I give, the advice anyone gives, is flavored by the so-called confirmation bias.
Even when writing about our firsthand experiences, we tend to gravitate towards an often irrational explanation of what happened and why.
And, in order to provide value to our readers, we often deliberately neglect the importance of luck, or being part of the first wave on a platform, or just knowing the right people who can help you build an audience.
For instance, one of my first articles ever, way back in June 2012, went viral because one person decided to share it with their Twitter following of over half a million people.
Most people aren’t that lucky, and while, yes, I can certainly say that it wasn’t the only contributing factor to my success as a blogger, in choosing to ignore this element almost everything else I write becomes but speculation.
If I choose to ignore one of the factors, all the others lose their importance. Maybe, maybe not…
Something to ponder about.