Home Blogging Blogging Tips Don’t be a Darren Rowse, Don’t be a John Chow

Don’t be a Darren Rowse, Don’t be a John Chow

what is in your hand
What is in your hand?

Note: Darren Rowse is a great blogger from problogger.net and John Chow from johnchow.com.

In the book of Exodus, God asked Moses “What is in your hand?”. He then made miracles out of Moses’ simple wooden stick. To be a great blogger, you also need to ask this question “What is in my hand?” and make miracles out of it.

You are what you are. You cannot do what you cannot do. You cannot have what you cannot have. These are the basic principles in being a great blogger. Often we want to be someone else, to be the same as our blogger’s idol whoever they are (hopefully, me?). You can and should learn from others but you need to appreciate what you have and use it to the fullest. A wooden stick could create miracles and so do your own “wooden stick”.

What is in your hand?

  1. Your Passion.
    Find out what topic you are passionate about the most. If you love staying healthy, then you should probably create a blog with a health niche. If you love teaching your dogs tricks and really good at it, open up a dog training blog. When you are passionate about what you are writing, it shows. Your posts cannot lie (or maybe it can, for a while) but when you do what you are most passionate about, your posts will shine by themselves.
  2. Your Writing Style.
    Each blogger has his/her own writing style and there is no requirement in the blogosphere to follow a certain standard of writing. Some bloggers write professionally, some bloggers write personally, some bloggers write with swearing words, some bloggers write with humor, etc. Surprisingly, I did find a popular blog with lots of swearing words in the post (surprised me!). So find your own writing style and don’t be discouraged if it’s different than the other great bloggers out there. This is of course, different than a writing skill. Writing good articles takes time and lots of practice AND you have to be better at it.
  3. Your Personality.
    If you love throwing a joke on a day to day conversation and people laugh at your joke, then there’s a good chance that your blog readers will, too. It is your strength and you shouldn’t hide it from your readers. Show it on your posts but of course, don’t overdo it. Just be natural and be yourself. Show the bright side of your personality.
  4. Your Knowledge.
    You know what you know. Although knowledge can be obtained through seminars, tutorials, or articles, some knowledge can only be obtained through experience. For example, I never learnt (academically) on how to write good reviews. However, I’ve got lots of positive feedback from my readers and the vendors about my review posts. I guess I just know how to properly use a product and tell the good/bad things about them to others through life experiences. I never realized this potential before and I’m grateful that I have it.
  5. Your Time.
    Not everyone has the spare time to write great blog posts every day. There are times to rest and there are times of inspiration. If you have a family or other commitments in life, you cannot do what other bloggers can do. Don’t force it. Even if you can, one day you’ll be exhausted and burnt out. Your great blog might die in just a matter of minutes (out of  depression). Write at your own time and don’t look at others. Squeeze as much as you can but know your priority in life.
  6. Your Friends.
    Your friends are the biggest “assets” in blogging (I put a quote because I hate calling you an asset to my blog :)). They are the ones who get the word out there. No matter how good your post is, there is no point if no one else knows about it. You can write a Digg-Frontpage-Worthy post but ended up with a Zero Dugg. Your friends are also there to encourage and help you in times of need. There were times when my blogger friends thanked me for the helpful articles they were reading and it helped me to stay on course. There were also times where my blog was in trouble and they were there to help and gave advice. You cannot buy other great bloggers’ friends, but you can appreciate who you have now. Okay, although technically you can buy Twitter’s Followers, they can never become your true friends that you got through genuine friendship.
  7. Your Traffic.
    You’ve got your own traffic sources. Although it’s good to see other bloggers’ traffic to motivate you, often we get discouraged easily (or become jealous). I feel this every time I see a few bloggers sharing their search engines traffic on this blog (Yes, you know who you are). Analyze, appreciate, and improve your own traffic sources. Of course, if you are motivated by other bloggers’ traffic sources, that’s good for you and I encourage you to expand your traffic sources.

You cannot be a Darren Rowse. You cannot be a John Chow. Just be yourself and become a unique great blogger of your own! Good luck!

PS: Know a blogger who might be encouraged by this post? Please help sharing it :)


  1. I re-read this article twice to make sure I got it all. You are quite correct, we can only be ourselves, we cannot be anyone else. This simple truth does not stop many bloggers from attempting to be just like their heroes. This might be one of the reasons why blogging also has a negative side. Here I am thinking of the selfishness, the rudeness, the no-care attitude and the ‘all-for-self’ attitude we all have to deal with so often. Be yourself and have fun – that is my idea of blogging. Lots to think about here, thanks.

    • It’s good if you want to try to be someone else but each of us has our own gifts :) I think lots of bloggers miss that simple point and try to be someone that they cannot

  2. Great post Mike. You are exactly right. If only more bloggers would not attempt to emulate popular bloggers from the past, and just do what made them popular. Be yourself.

  3. Michael: Some fantastic points here. Thanks for reiterating what we should know in our heart of hearts, but need to be reminded of from time to time.

    It’s definitely killer to your blog if you force your content. Your lack of passion, lack of true interest shows in every word and phrase. You are so on track here, Michael!

    • That point goes to me too Nihar and I don’t think it’ll stop me from getting jealous of your search engines traffic every month (and yours on my referring sites traffic) lol

  4. Wow great article Michael. This really puts blogging into perspective! Its good question to ask yourself and the answer could determine if you should keep blogging or not. This is also a great blog post to help other bloggers find out more about themselves and their blogging style!

    Socially Engaged!

  5. Fantastic post and so dear to my own heart.

    Anyone can take some junky old plr stuff or lift posts from other people’s blogs or even invite guest bloggers to write for them but the WHOLE purpose of blogging (IMHO) is to develop personal relationships with people.

    In the real world that’s done by conversing! Do you try to be someone else other than who you really are? I hope not. So why should it be any different online.

    Find your true voice. Don’t be afraid to be you. Many people won’t like you for sure but many others will.

    Pleased to meet you Michael
    .-= Wizzer´s last blog ..Sad News – A Tribute To Maggie =-.

    • Pleased to meet you too, Wizzer. It’s true that many people won’t like you for what you are, but ironically, you have to like yourself before you can move on to the “next stage” of life :)

  6. I did have a feeling of where this post was going when I read the title. No we don’t want to be like them but a lot of us (myself included) were motivated to start a blog thanks to their great achievements.
    Nice to know meet you Michael.
    .-= Asswass´s last blog ..Free Review Post with John Chow =-.

  7. Great post Mike :)
    I think I have allowed myself to be real and share things that most normal people would of known better not to :)
    Blog Trivia
    What do both those bloggers have in common?
    They’re sites are NO FOLLOW ? yes but not that
    They Both don’t visit people’s blogs like they should ?
    They have years ahead of us
    and in this universe
    Stars come shine then fade be ready when your time comes
    because it’s coming.
    thanks for the friendship
    I remember us getting cool many months ago
    when you switch these comments to do follow
    we can hang LOL :)
    just playing I know your good people and a respected blogger.
    I always respected your work :)
    .-= John Sullivan´s last blog ..Link building =-.

    • Thanks John and sorry to disappoint about the do-follow :) It invited too many spam comments unfortunately (comments from real people but it’s only a few words)

      Don’t really want to waste my time moderating “spammy” comments. Would rather use it for something else more productive!

  8. Good post with some very applicable advice that I can personally testify to,
    I spent nearly two years trying to be someone I wasn’t.
    A lot of that was due to the advice I was given that is so popular with the online marketing crowd, “Find the untapped niche”,
    I am happy to say that I now have some clarity and am starting to find my own voice online.
    Thanks Great Post.
    .-= Jeremy Young´s last blog ..Building An Online Ministry From Idea To Traffic. =-.

  9. Thank you. I love your analogy as a miracle is a shift in perception of how we see things so I appreciate all points you have made – especially #5 with regards to time. The times I put pressure on myself to “crank” out another post because I feel I need too only produces a lackluster piece. When I just work within my own natural time frames (between kids and other professional commitments), my end result is better…or at least I think so and am more pleased with my efforts.
    .-= Jeanne´s last blog ..Going Green for the Gold! Green Samaritan of the Month =-.

    • I’m lucky that I’m still living a single life. When I have a family, I wonder how much time I can spare for blogging. I’m sure I’ll have to revisit my own post to remind me of this. Say hi to your kids for me, Jeanne :)

  10. What a great post. I’m not going to lie… I saw someone I follow on Twitter send it to Darren Rowse, who I also follow (I can see these things because I only follow a few people), and I thought it was going to be some drama haha.

    There is some great advice here and it hits home with me. When I first started my blog, not only did I buy the Thesis wordpress theme because Darren was using it, but I even designed mine to look like his with just different colors.

    Big mistake. After a few days I felt like such a bum! I’ve always had design skills so one day I decided to make a change. For immediate motivation, I completely erased my css file and my functions (php) file (Thesis users know how much this will do to your design)and left myself with a blank canvas… and my site was live!

    From the ground up, I built my own design and that’s when I learned that trying to be someone I’m not is no longer my goal. Now, I can actually follow Darren’s work with a clear head rather than try to steal ideas that he wasn’t willingly giving out.

    Whoa… I’m rambling.
    .-= Sean Davis´s last blog ..Time Management Is An Entrepreneur’s Biggest Challenge & Best Friend =-.

    • Hey Sean. I almost bought the Thesis theme simply because all great bloggers (including Darren) are using it. Thankfully I didn’t and still stick to this theme (which I love and I think suitable for my blog)

      When I do, I’ll make sure it’s not because of following what others do.

    • lol I wasn’t planning to cheat or took an advantage but somehow I just knew this post would be spot on to both Darren’s and John’s fans (including myself)

  11. By just reading the title, I thought you were gonna smear Rowse and Chow, but apparently it’s nothing like that :) But hey, the title got me in here, while thinking “what’s this guy up to!”. Turns out to be a good article though.

  12. You know, I really, really appreciated this post. It was sort of a blogging pick-me-up, and I could use one.

    On the other hand, it’s shown me that I need to read more blogs, because I had NO idea who john chow was. *sigh*

    Thanks again.
    .-= Salem´s last blog ..Free Google Voice Beta Invites! =-.

    • Well he was the one who “corrupted” my mind to start monetizing my blog and giving me the affirmation that you can make money online “easily” :D

  13. Good information. Thanks.

    I have a small story about Darren. The other day I was “Tweeting” and I ended up conversing with Darren. Only back and forth a few times. Cool enough. Next day I look and I see that he visited my blog. It was cool to see that he took it one more step and looked at my site.
    .-= Deals´s last blog ..20% off coupon @ Gamestop. HURRY! exp. 7/16/09. =-.

  14. Michael – I couldn’t agree with you more! It’s so easy to become completely distracted by the success of others. Truth is, Darren and John had to start from somewhere. They were in our shoes once.

    This distraction can be futile. Our main concern should be writing quality content that truly benefits our readers. If we write just to compete, we will have already lost.

    I would like to add onto the point about friends. Rather than waiting to hear back from that top dog guru or lusting after the big name connections, create your own. By sharing ideas and supporting one another, you can create your own A-team full of fresh faces capable of shooting to the top!
    .-= Keller Hawthorne´s last blog ..Review of the Top Blog Directories You Should Be Listed In =-.

  15. Hi,

    Excellent post. I think new bloggers are often caught in the trap of “write like X person to be successful.” Its a dangerous trap and frustrates many potentially good people. When I first started blogging, Jogn Chow was the be-all-and-end-all to blogging…

    This perception can drive anyone nuts…
    .-= Mar Matthias Darin´s last blog ..My words oft flee =-.

  16. Emmmm…. really encourage me to get back my blogging soul. All your words just remain me to the time when I always update my blog three times a week :) Sad to see that now I can’t make a post regularly.

Comments are closed.