07/10/2012 06:48 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Blog, Sweat and Tears


Anyone can become an Internet blogging sensation. All you need is a good idea, a keyboard and the odd half an hour. Once you've cracked that you just send your work out into the ether, sit back and wait for the fame, money and slots on Day Break (God forbid) to start rolling in.


I've written in previous posts about how the open nature of the web -- and in particular, social media and blogging -- presents us with an incredible opportunity. Everybody has a platform to air their opinions, share their work and connect with each other like never before.

But I also can't help but feel that this openness has made many people expect too much - especially when it comes to achieving quick success. There are 339,088 blogs currently listed on Wordpress, and I'm sure each of those authors believed they had a chance of gaining a huge following when they first started writing. As they wrote that first sentence they could picture their future: the thousands of hits, the retweet by Stephen Fry, the book deal... All they needed to do was get lucky.

The Internet moves so fast these days that it can feel like anyone can go from zero to hero overnight. All it takes is for the right person to chance upon your blog, retweet it and boom! You've got twenty thousand followers. But this attitude is far from accurate -- at least for most people -- and it trivialises the successes of those who have managed to carve out names for themselves with hard work over time.


Niamh Shields -- a.k.a @eatlikeagirl -- boasts over 18,000 followers and runs one of the most acclaimed food blogs in the UK. Last September, she saw the publication of her first cookbook, Comfort and Spice. Her online profile has propelled her from a part-time food-lover to a full-time food expert who, having given up a secure job in tech project management, now earns a living from what was once her hobby. She's a real success story, and owes her career to the power of blogging and Twitter. But it would be unfair to label Niamh -- and other bloggers like her -- an "overnight success." Without the Internet and social networks, she admits, she'd never be doing what she's doing. But they merely served as a platform -- her achievements are down to two old-fashioned qualities: hard work and talent.

"There's no such thing as an overnight success," she tells me. "An overnight success is usually down to five or six years hard work. It might seem easy but it's like a swan gliding on the water -- what you don't see is its legs furiously paddling below the surface."

She didn't achieve 18,000 followers all at once. It took her years of patient writing, tweeting and networking, slowly forging a reputation as one of best food bloggers around. She has built up an incredible online following for her recipes, in part because she's never been afraid to get the word out. In the period since she joined Twitter, she has tweeted an incredible 84,293 times. Sore thumbs.

So what advice does she have for anyone attempting to emulate Niamh's blogging success? "First, don't be afraid of anything -- if you don't know something, ask. Second, try not take things personally." And her third? "It's not easy. Expect hard work."

The Internet is a competitive arena: An easy place to get started, a hard place to get going. Don't expect it to do you any favours. To build a profile, maintain a following and carve out a living takes a lot of blood, sweat and coffee, and requires as much dedication as you would afford any other career. It doesn't make a blind bit of difference how talented you are or how great your idea is -- it's never going to work unless you do too.

We need to stop looking to the Internet for quick-fix success. There's no such thing. Yes, it has made our work infinitely easier to show off, but what good is that if you can't get anyone to listen? If a blog post is posted but there's no-one around to read it, does it make a sound?

So if you're reading this, bloggers -- turn Day Break off, pick up your laptop and start pimping yourselves. You never know, someone might actually notice...

@eatlikeagirl is part of The Remarkable Women Programme, connected by Nokia @RWbyNokia