It Looks Easy from the Outside: When Starting is Hard

Some things are hard no matter how much people say they are easy. WordPress (Automattic the parent company) for a long time advertised setting up a blog as a fifteen minute task. Theoretically, getting the first post published can take a few minutes. Yet writing one good post every week and promoting in social media seems hard to most marketers. Writing, publishing and promoting is simply hard for most marketers. I noticed this both as a freelance (temporary) technical writer and full-time writer-publisher. Writing is even more difficult for many professionals with no marketing experience. WikiMeida┬ámarketers (the platform of Wikipedia) and Wikipedia editors have tried to proclaim how easy formatting and publishing a wiki page can be. Yet even their simplified tagging to create headings, links and word-processor like formats gives many people trouble. We have wonderful tools, but still the work is hard. Most skills are not taught in classrooms and practiced in apprenticeships. The work itself has changed so much, we simply don’t know how to do it effectively. Internet professions with deep skills and experience: SEO, PPC, affiliate sales, project management, account management and WordPress cyber security and site maintenance come only from real experience. So you need to get started. If you can get help from someone with experience, then start. Even if you are starting “from the bottom”. Then you need to get over the first, second and even third hurdle. Whatever it takes get going. Start over and over again until you get it right.

Do Something You Like, or Fake It ’til You Make It

It may help to start something hard by doing something you already like. A friend who likes guitars started selling them on a blog. He didn’t know much about internet technology, but he liked putting up pictures of guitars and finding sources to link and review exotic guitars. What he learned a bit slowly is how to run a full content site with advertising and promotion. Slowly he realized how complex and capable a WordPress platform became over the last few years. Configuring plugins and interaction between web services (i.e. social media and news feeds) is notoriously awkward and hard to get right the first time. The same is true when you need to edit PHP and HTML/CSS template files. But not everything will become easier. You will need to spend time and effort making it work.

Faking it is not talked about much. Yet it comes ups all the time in bar conversations. It also comes up in interviews when asked about the depth of experience in a specific skill. Writers, editors and publishers need to understand in some depth SEO, PPC and affiliate skills. But in most projects today, the skill “bubble” is different. The skill bubble is what a certain job title (profession) is expected to know. If you write and add some SEO (buy links, develop satellite sites, use affiliate programs) you may also have to do some analytics. If your last job was more centered on email marketing, you may not have done analytics and SEO as much. But the work of analyzing mail bounces is similar to analyzing Google analytics bounces and tracing click pasterns to conversions and buy completion. Give a job which needs these skills a try. Even if you have not done PPC and SEO full-time in the past. You may learn quickly. Internet skills and definitions are fluid and they change with time. In a recent established company I still hear “webmaster” and “data entry” job titles. This may mean you should NOT answer no to questions about a skill you have not mastered. So “faking it” is not 100% lying about your knowledge.

Hard May Just Be Change

Change by itself is hard. But changing how your work is very hard. If you are a programmer it is very different from a writing, editing, publishing and advertising. If you sit hours in front of a screen it is much different from working with people directly or through messages. But if you have a product to promote or support, you may have to give up the security and comfort of programming to work with people. I ran into programmers who refused to write or present to a video camera. I also see people who are perfectly comfortable writing a technical paper but are afraid to interact in LinkedIn or blog discussions. The reverse is hard as well. If you worked with people easily, sitting and writing alone can be solitary, even depressing. Technology has made many jobs differently. It gives us amazing opportunities but we have to do things differently. Very few people talk about this change. Older workers see the change more clearly. Yet younger people also have to learn how not to work as their parents have. Once you understand how your habits and work values. We are all experiencing change in how the world works, just some of us are having a hard time at it.

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