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Blogging Pitfalls: Blogging and the Cult of Personality

False WorshipLike any industry or competitive environment, blogging has its share of superstars and top-tier performers. They are the names every blogger knows and everyone who has installed a copy of WordPress wants to be like.

But while it’s fine and great to have heroes, goals and even people you want to emulate, many of these superstar bloggers have built up a cult of personality around themselves, including empires of ebooks, guides, personal coaching and much, much more.

The promise of these guides is that, often for a price, you can be more like them and learn their system and their approach. The pitches often border on infomercial territory and promise outrageous results for almost no effort and time. However, even the more down to earth systems come with problems and concerns.

As a blogger, it’s easy to get sucked into this cult of personality as the lure of making large amounts of money and building a huge fan base are tempting to just about anyone. But it is a dangerous path to follow and a mistake you most likely can’t afford to make.

The Pitfall

The obvious problem with nearly all of these systems is that very few bloggers, including those who follow the systems to the letter, have anything near the kind of success of their founders. If every blogger could achieve that kind of success, then the results of the superstar blogger would be merely average and, thus, no one would be interested in learning how they blog.

In that regard, most of these systems, articles and ebooks are a lot like diet claims and get-rich-quick schemes, a few shining successes but mostly false promises. Those promises might not be deliberately false, but mathematically there is just no way the results obtained by the leader could be typical.

However, even worse than the time and possible money wasted on chasing the cult of personality is the real risk of missing out on your personal method of success.

The simple truth is that no other blogger holds the key to how your blog can and will succeed. They might be able to help with elements, but every blogger, every blog and even every blog entry is different in what it needs to do well.

Trusting someone blindly to guide you through the murky waters of growing your site is a virtually guaranteed way to sink your creation and run it into a dead end.

In short, if you want your site to succeed, you have to find your own way, not try to follow someone else’s and hope for the best.

How to Avoid it

As a blogger, you have to accept that there is no “one true path” to success. Though the system used by person X or Y may lead you to bigger and better things, it probably won’t. With so many options and opportunities ou there, limiting yourself to one approach just because it worked well for someone else doesn’t make any sense.

Instead, you are much better off carving your own path. This may mean doing something old or trying something altogether new. But it will definitely involve a good deal of trial and error and being willing to abandon things that aren’t working for you.

in short, you need to be prepared to honestly evaluate your efforts, find out what is going well what isn’t and then cut out or tweak the areas that aren’t going as hoped. You should never keep doing something just because it worked for some other famous blogger or it’s a part of the system you’re following.

This isn’t to say that you can’t or shouldn’t learn from the success (and failure) or others. Those who came before you can be a very valuable guide but you should always take the information with a grain of salt and, when implementing such strategies, keep an eye on the data to back up and support the claims of success.

With that in mind, here are a few tips when trying to learn from the lessons of others to avoid taking in bad advice.

  1. Define Your Blogging Goals: Don’t let others dictate to you what will make your blog successful. You need to decide what your objectives are and not be swept up by the success others had with their sites.
  2. Be Wary of Claims: If a claim sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Claims that something can triple your traffic or double your revenue without work or overnight are usually just sensationalist claims designed to get clicks or sales.
  3. Look For Bloggers Like You: If you’re a niche blogger, taking hints from a more mainstream site may not be wise. Find bloggers in a similar position to you and learn from their growth as it may more closely mirror a good path for you.
  4. Be Careful With Your Credit Card: Most “secret guides” aren’t that secret and a lot of the paid systems and courses are little more than staple blogging tips that, while solid advice, are hardly unique. There are very few true secrets when it comes to building a successful blog and even fewer worth paying large sums of money for.
  5. Don’t Fear Failure: If you fear failure and dead ends, then you find yourself trying to emulate others successes. However, if you don’t fear failure, you’re free to try your own ideas and abandon them when they don’t work without feeling hurt. Remember, even good ideas can fail miserably.

All in all, blog success is not about emulating what others did, but carving your own path to your own goals. It’s not an easy task by any stretch and there’s not neat roadmap or system to get you there. But if you make it work, you’ll be much happier and, most likely, much more successful when you do reach your goals.

Bottom Line

The Internet has a tendency to make people seem larger than life and to hide the hard work from success stories. When we’re all faceless entities and domain names, it’s easy to lose sight of the hours of toil that goes into a site. Furthermore, when we are only seeing the sites that successfully got our attention, we can easily overlook the dead ends and failures that took them to their more successful strategy.

However, blogging is very much a human endeavor. It’s one fraught with many pitfalls, including the ones we’ve covered here, hard work and more than a few blunders. There are no sure-fire paths to success and no guaranteed ways to make a fortune.

The quicker we all realize that and get away from the cult of personality that seems to have grown around certain bloggers, the quicker we can all find our personal success.

Categories: Blogging: How To

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  1. Jupiter Jim ) says: 5/25/2011

    Thanks so much for this article. There is just way too much hype out there. We need someone like you to just tell it like it is. There is no cookie cutter key to success. We each have our own voice and need to let it shine through our blog to build followers. And, yes, there is too much generic information, even if it’s good, that is packaged as exclusive and esoteric and priced accordingly. What a rip-off! And as you said, the hours and hours of dedication and ‘hard work’ needed to achieve the success are never mentioned on the Landing Pages! LOL
    Thanks again,
    Jupiter Jim


    • Jonathan Bailey ) says: 5/26/2011

      Glad you liked the article. This was a pitfall I admittedly got sucked into. When I was starting out the “How to be an Adsense rockstar” approach was HUGE and I, naively, went that route. I barely made enough to buy a soda. My success financially was in consulting and that’s where I’ve been working the past few years.

      Now it seems everyone is preaching that approach. I guess I’m something of a trendsetter but if you say that to my face I’d be upset…


  2. Brandon | Sacramento SEO ) says: 5/26/2011

    Every blogger (and company, if you think about it) should avoid trying to mimic others – they end up driving sales to the owners of those brands rather than their own. Who wants an imitation when you have the real thing nearby?

    Great points, thank you.


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