The evolution of a blogger

By Srinivas Rao, Contributing {grow} Columnist

As I’ve observed bloggers from all walks of life, writing about every subject imaginable, and as I’ve taken the journey myself, I’ve found that there is an evolution that takes place.  In each phase of the evolution we develop essential skills, but without the courage to stay the course and go through all the phases of the evolution,  we’re unlikely to unleash the creative genius within all of us.  While it’s tempting to see ourselves as marketers, what we’re really doing is creating art. Through our digital footprints we’re attempting to create our personal masterpieces and leave a mark on humanity.

The Novice

As a novice you look to experts, mentors, and those who have come before you for advice. You follow that advice, almost to the letter and it actually works.  You also bring to your work a naiveté and a much needed fresh perspective that comes with a lack of experience.

The Mechanic

As a mechanic you’ve mastered the basics. You can do things with a certain precision and you’re sold on the notion that repetition is the mother of skill. So, rinse, wash and repeat is the formula you follow. And this formula works to a certain degree, until you realize that being a mechanic isn’t particularly unique and you’re just part of the echo chamber.  The response to your work is either lukewarm or positive. It’s not long before the formula that allowed you to make the transition from novice to mechanic stops working and you’re forced to evolve into the next phase.

The Artist

As an artist you start to find a voice. You stop looking to the mentors, experts and people who came before you. You realize that to be seen as an artist you must become one of those people. You realize that following formulas and prescriptions designed to create a similar result for every person who uses them is a recipe for mediocrity. The linear process which you have followed to the letter falls apart and you finally come to terms with the fact that creativity is not a linear process.  You take bigger risks with your content and the response is polarizing. People either love you or they hate you.

The Entrepreneur

The entrepreneurial evolution takes place when you realize that simply being an artist isn’t going to pay the bills or turn your blog into a business. Everything that came before was necessary to get to this point, and now you embrace experimentation because it’s at the core of growth.  You detach from outcomes, focus on process and let the chips fall where they may. You find it inside yourself to watch everything fall apart, pick up the pieces and start all over again, now as, part novice,  part-mechanic, part-artist, all of which combined turn you into an entrepreneur.

So, now I have a question for you? Which one are you and what are you going to do to make it to the next phase in your evolution?

Srinivas Rao writes about the things you should have learned in school, but never did and his the host-co founder of BlogcastFM.  You can follow him on twitter @skooloflife


All posts

  • Anonymous

    Can an artists become the entrepreneur?

  • Well I am an entrepreneur… so what’s the next step? Past putting ads on my site (which I am in the process of doing) I have “hit the limits” as far as where my blog can go. Sure, more traffic is a goal. But still. My blog is pretty much ALL about me and the things I want to write about. So until I can turn that in to a job, where I don’t also have to work for a living, I guess I will stay where it is.

    Nice to see you break this down though! Good read.

  • Glen Loock

    As a Novice moving toward the mechanic this at least shows me the road I nned to travel.


  • Catherine Denton

    Mechanic morphing to artist.

  • Absolutely. I’m living proof : ) 

  • Here’s something to think about. “Driving traffic” doesn’t necessarily build community. Community is who buys stuff from you. Are you really making enough money from ad traffic to make it worthwhile or should you nurture a community who loves you and will stuff from you because they care?

  • Go for it!

  • Good luck on your journey!

  • My inner artist is literally wailing to come out and play – raging against the external obligations and “shoulds” that tether me to my inner mechanic. This is the year that I let the artist out to play, and I believe that play will lead to my entrepreneurial evolution … and whole new adventure. 🙂 

    Love the post! 

  • The ads that are on my site right now are not making me any money. I am looking at Google ads because of the traffic that I have built. I understand the importance of a community, but I need traffic to be able to get access to the stuff I want to cover. It’s a big circle of life when it comes to my goals and what I need to do to accomplish my goals.

    I don’t get a pay check for my blog. I don’t want one, to be honest. That goes back to the “writing for me”. People just find the content I write interesting. That is my community. I focus on the content, because content is all that matters when it comes to someone reading my blog.

  • Yes you go through the stages, but do you go them more than once? Aren’t we always growing. Doesn’t our insights and experiences help us progress.
    My first blog was just to blog and learn. I did that. Next I am getting specific in a small business blog. One Inch Wide and a Mile Deep as it where.
    John Falchetto recently posted that you don’t create teenagers if you are a pop singer,but those teenagers might adopt you into their tribe.
    So, the tribe is there, or the community as Mark has stated it; and the process should refine your efforts to make you ‘likeable’ to a tribe.
    I think staying the course until you are reached out to by a tribe is the main drive.

  • As a blogger, I’m working my way up towards novice still, in search of the advice that works while finding some things that work for me. 

    Hopefully, as you mention, I bring a perspective from my background and my areas of expertise and will not become a card-carrying member of the echo chamber yet.

    This was brought into focus for me earlier this week. I posted about an acquisition in the B2B tech media space and my initial reaction to it. I had nearly a dozen phone and email responses to the post before getting a single comment. Usually, the ONLY feedback I get it is through social media channels. 

    If what I’m writing is only engaging in social media, I’m at risk of slipping into that echo chamber by following the advice that “works” from a blogging and social media perspective. 

    One of the things I really respect about the site Mark has built here, and many of your contributions to it Srinivas, is you have found your stride outside of the echo chamber. 

    Thanks for making me stop and think and for the inspiration!

  • I am fairly alone in my SEO resistance but I think if you focus on insanely great content the benefits you’re looking for will take care of themselves. I realize this is an unconventional view.

  • Thanks for the kind words. I think if you’re getting attention outside of traditional social media channels then you are definitely on to something. One of the most interesting pieces of advice I received from somebody was to ask people who shared something of yours that’s extremely popular they liked it so much.  Doing that also gives you a great opportunity to have a more  intimate conversation with that reader outside of your blog. 

  • Bill, 

    You make a great point here. I think we absolutely go through them more than once. Each time you go through the mechanic phase you become a more skilled mechanic than the first time and sample appplies for all the other phases. I had about 3-5 failed blogs before any of the ones I have now. The ones I have now are still a work in progress. 

  • Awesome. I think one of the things that will happen when you’re an artists, is you’ll alienate people for the first time.  The thing with becoming an artist is it involves risk and vulnerability. But the people who fall in love with you will fall madly in love with your work. 

  • IN my mind making that transition comes down to connecting your passions with somebody else’s needs. As Mark said below you can drive plenty of traffic without building a community. In fact you can buy traffic if you really wanted to. 

    But in the long run, the question is whether or not that traffic sticks. 

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  • Well quite confidently I can say I fit in all 4. Does that make me feel good!? I am not sure!
    But I am happy learning, pushing the boundaries and I have no fear of experimenting and subsequently falling flat on my face only to pick myself up and go again.

    Like any skill, understanding blogging, will not be an easy process – it certainly wasn’t for me – but if you stick to it and believe in yourself then you WILL evolve.
    Great post!

  • I’ll vouch for that — I still remember your first blog video! 

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  • I LOL-ed when I saw the featured image. That aside, I actually think that at every stage the Novice (or at least, the Novice mindset) should still live because we can never really get out of learning from others. Also like how you described the entrepreneur. Made me think and re-evaluate myself. Definitely a great post!

  • Like surfing! Each season of surfing brings new mindsets, skills, attitudes and abilities. Or… YOu take up something else.:)

  • How can I make you forget that? : ) 

  • Love that attitude!!

  • Tenacity is so important.  There is no easy way to success. Thanks for adding that point James! 

  • This reminds me of a post a did a while back about blogging like baby!  It is good to hold on to some of that innocence and fresh-eyed view of the world. “pre-echo chamber” : )   Thanks for your always-wise commentary Jan!

  • I am definitely the “entrepreneur” in this lineup. I’ve been in my own business since 2005 and have had the greatest opportunities to work with some of the most well-known bloggers in the world. Each mentor has taught me both the good and bad that comes with being a blogger. It is always a learning experience.

    Today I own 4 blogs that I am the sole writer. I also contribute on a number of others blogs as well as offline publications. The most exciting part of this journey is writing my first book (do out Fall ’12). Each experience has left me with a greater sense of understanding, passion and purpose.

    I absolutely love being a blogger and writer. Word have a power indescribable by man.

  • Hahahahaaaaa! As if I’d want to! I was cheerleading!

  • I think that we can learn a ton from the true entrepreneurs out there. In fact I think the success of our evolution depends on it.  That’s crazy that you’re the sole write for 4 blogs. Do you write daily on each one? 

  • To some degree I think we’re always in all Four to varying degrees. As Bill said above it’s kind of like surfing. You’re in a constant state of evolution. 

  • I would consider myself a novice mechanic that is quickly being spiced with artistry. I love the interaction with others and sharing and being taught something in every conversation. I love my life and all the possibilities in it.

  • Only 1 of the 4 blogs is daily – my SEO blog. The other 3 are when something new happens as they are related to interests.

  • Eve

    I really enjoyed this reading. I am way late on starting to blog, but loving it. One thing that I have found true for me is that as a novice is that the only way I was inspired to write was through looking at blogging as an art form. I blog to share stories about living and working abroad and moments in life that I have learned from–in the hopes that others might relate to as well. As long as I stay true to that voice and this goal, I am engaged and enjoying the writing process. The idea of transitioning into an entrepreneur (or mechanic-even) is something I have not really considered. Looking forward to exploring this…

    3-5 failed blogs? It never even crossed my mind that a blog would fail. What made them failures in your perspective?

  • My friend RT this post in twitter and yeah, this great article i have read.
    In Malaysia, i’m do small business for develop small company blog and advertise them. Some project i have close deal, and i can see can grow up that =)

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  • Hey Srini,

    So we evolve into a funny looking bird? 🙂

    I still consider myself in the Freshman class, but figuring out a few things has helped and I feel I’m getting into more of a flow now:

    1. How in the world will I help people?
    2. What the heck is my purpose for doing this?
    3. Is there anything unique about my experience?

    I love this outline, but my problem is I almost want to skip the “Mechanic” part and go right to the role of the “Artist,” which comes more naturally.

    But if we are discussing blogging only, the biggest struggle is becoming an  “Entrepreneur” in this realm. I’ve been lucky to find people (like you and Mark) who’ve played the role of mentor and helped this novice along. 

    I want to get to the entrepreneurial part, but first have to really figure out how to be a good mechanic 😉 Will continue to put in the work AND have fun though.

    Nice post!

  • Very nice blog…! “said the novice who lacks in experience”…lol I am new to the blogging side of things so I enjoyed your advice:)

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