10,000 Hours of Blogging

I did the math…

Have you ever heard of the 10,000 hour rule?

What is the 10,000 hour rule? How long is 10,000 hours? Have you blogged for 10,000 hours? How?

This is a “rule” that Malcom Gladwell popularized stating that approximately 10,000 hours of practice are needed to master a skill (in the simplest terms). For now I will ignore the many arguments against this rule. Instead I will focus on the fact that it basically shows that a lot of volume is needed to work towards mastery of anything.

Many circles apply this rule to athletes, pointing to the amount of hours of practice that they need to get to the elite levels of competition or expertise. Volume is not the ONLY factor that contributes towards mastery, but 10,000 hours is widely recognized as a bar that many reach for.

How Long Does That Take?

Photo by Behy Studio on Unsplash
Photo by Behy Studio on Unsplash

Good question.

Some basic math (assuming 2 weeks vacation) showed me that if you put in 40 hours a week, you would reach this mark in 5 years.

10,000 hours / 40 hrs/week = 250 weeks

250 weeks / 50wks/year = 5 years

Is this realistic? Nope.

As a gymnast, growing up, I practiced for 3 hours a day 5-6 days a week (on average). That would put me at about 12-15 years to get to that mark of 10,000 hours.

This lines up well with high school athletes looking to compete in college. If they start young, like I did, they hit that mark just before, or during, college. I won’t go in to the various opinions on whether or not athletes should be multi-disciplinary in their younger years to round out their athletic foundation…I am focused on the raw volume for now.

Photo by Gentrit Sylejmani on Unsplash
Photo by Gentrit Sylejmani on Unsplash

Applying The Rule to Blogging

Does this mean you should blog full-time?


Why do you think the full-time bloggers are so good?

This was quite a realization for me. Largely because I’m not even close to 10,000 hours of blogging.

However, if you look at blogging as writing, then you can give yourself more credit towards that 10,000 hours. High school was hopefully a time to lay the first building blocks of your writing skills; with college giving you a serious boost towards the reps and volume you can’t avoid when honing a skill.

Let’s assume, for arguments sake, that by the time you have finished college you are at about 4,000 hours. (2 hours/day, 5days/week, for 8 years) While that is very optimistic, you still have 6,000 hours to reach the aforementioned Gladwell benchmark. Seeing as how most successful bloggers start off with a “regular” job and write on the side…let’s say you write for 4 hours per day. (That’s still a ton and probably not realistic for most)

6,000hrs / 20hrs/week = 300 weeks

300wks / 50wks/year = 6 years

6 years post college to become a “good” writer (blogger)!!!

That seems like a lot.

But it’s not. I would bet money that most successful bloggers didn’t find their success for at least that long…if not longer. I wrote about Jason Kottke not long ago and how he was running his website for 7 years before deciding to give blogging full-time a try. He has now been blogging full-time for 15 years and his blog is 22 years old.

Seth Godin…has been doing what he does for almost 30 years. He wrote his first book in 1999…his blog coming later. Talk about volume.

How to Get There

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

A couple years ago, I was traveling from Memphis to Portland with a connecting flight through Dallas Forth Worth. A cashier in DFW mentioned to me that I appeared to be in good shape and asked if I had any advice for him when it came to putting on muscle.

While the comment and question caught me off guard (because I was in a candy shop of all places), I assumed he was emboldened to ask because of the Crossfit shirt I was wearing.

In an instant, I thought of the thousands of hours of practice and working out I had accumulated for over 30 years. I asked myself, What one thing can I tell this random guy about my lifetime of fitness?

“Consistency man…go to the gym even when you don’t feel like it.”

I said as he handed me my receipt.

I couldn’t tell if the look he gave me said “true, true” or “that was lame” Nevertheless, it was the best piece of ‘gym advice’ I could think of as, ironically, I was walking out with a bag full of gummy bears.

Photo by Matthew Cabret on Unsplash
Photo by Matthew Cabret on Unsplash

I learned a lot about consistency and self-discipline from my years of gymnastics. Yet, I find I still need these reminders as I work on becoming a better writer:

  1. Becoming a better writer will take time…a few years by my calculations, probably more.
  2. There are no shortcuts…no matter how many Medium articles I read that promise me ‘5 Tips to Becoming a Better Writer’.
  3. Consistency is key…I have to write even when I don’t feel like it.

Now you’ve read this article and learned in 5 minutes what it took me decades to discover.

Knowing these 3 insights alone won’t guarantee your success…but they sure as hell will help.

This was first posted over on Medium. If you like these longer form posts, you can get early access to them by becoming a Patron for $1 a month.

Harness Your Inspiration

When you catch the wave, ride it as long as you can.

I’m not sure about you, but inspiration is very rarely a constant for me.

The Sprint

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

There are crazy bursts of energy that come with being inspired. Over the years I have come to realize I have to use those bursts to propel me forward. For example, if I am inspired to write longer form articles, I will do so at a maniac pace (for me). Much more than a brain dump, I ride these waves of ‘needing to act’ as long as I possibly can.

That probably explains how, a few months back, I wrote a bunch of articles on Medium and each one got noticed by an editor or picked up by a publication. Alas, these hyper productive bouts do not last forever.

After these shorter periods of increased inspiration, I often feel like I am a sprinter that just competed in a few different track events in one day – needing to rest and tone it down for a couple weeks afterwards.

The Distance

Photo by Steven Lelham on Unsplash
Photo by Steven Lelham on Unsplash

There are more steady states of inspiration. Like running my blog, my year of vlogging, a lifetime of staying in shape, and more. Yet these are more of a “long distance run” type of energy level. These kinds of projects are more akin to restoring an old car or remodeling part of your house. It takes patience, time, and the slow and steady burn of focused determination.

I find that my “distance” projects often start off with the sprint. It takes a lot of energy to get something started, and a lightning strike of inspiration is often just what is needed.

The Goal

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Everyone has a different goal. Perhaps a finish line that you set in your mind when you were a kid, in college, or even just today. Some goals are hard and fast:

  • Start writing
  • Make money with my blog
  • Get promoted
  • Start a Family
  • Lose 20 pounds

Yet some are more aspirational in nature:

  • Become a better writer
  • Inspire those who read my blog
  • Change the world through my work
  • Love my family and raise my kids right
  • Stay healthy in to my old age

Where Am I?

Photo by Ethan Hoover on Unsplash
Photo by Ethan Hoover on Unsplash

Are you sprinting right now or settled in for the long haul?

Either way, take advantage of your pace. If you are in ‘distance mode’, then use that time to store up some of that “sprint” energy. If you are sprinting, then haul ass and get to it!

We all need inspiration.

It’s what you do with it that matters.

This was first posted over on Medium. If you like these longer form posts, you can get early access to them by becoming a Patron for $1 a month.

You Won’t Believe My Morning

Straight out of a futuristic Gulliver’s Travels…

I went out on my daily excursion to sit on the front step of my building for ten minutes holding my breath when people walked by. Normally, I spend the time diddling around my phone, but I forgot to bring my phone this morning, so I just looked around.

As I was taking in the emptiness of the street, a little glint caught my eye in a patch of dirt on the sidewalk. I bent over to look closer, and there was the glint again. It wasn’t a normal glint like from a shiny rock or a piece of metal—it was a little pinprick of flashing light.

Intrigued, I was now on all fours looking closer. And I saw the most surreal thing.

Tiny houses.

Like tiny houses. Each about a millimeter high, like ornately carved grains of sand.

I was either dreaming or looking at the coolest, cutest little art project ever.

As I examined the microscopic village, I noticed what looked like a scrawl of teeny letters on the dirt next to the houses. It said:


You HAVE to read this.

Blogging Full-Time

Blogging full-time is a goal for many…he made it happen before it was a thing.

Not sure if you have ever heard of Kottke.org, but it’s one of the internet’s oldest and well-known blogs. Somehow I stumbled across a 15-year-old post over there, when Jason Kottke wrote about going “full-time blogging”.

After thinking about it for a few weeks, I had a bit of an epiphany. The real problem was the tension between my web design career and my self-publishing efforts; that friction was unbalancing everything else. One of them had to go, and so I decided to switch careers and pursue the editing/writing of this site as a full-time job.

I would imagine that was as terrifying then as it is now…probably more so. He had been working full-time and keeping up his blog as it picked up steam for about 7 years.

Think about that.

7 years keeping his blog up and running before he jumped in to it full time.

Ok, but why else are you doing this?

Blogging — or personal publishing in general (not that they’re synonymous) — as a pursuit has been somewhat marginalized as a hobby or something one does to support other more worthy and/or lucrative pursuits. People leverage their blogs in order to write books, write for magazines or newspapers, pursue art or photography, go work for Gawker, Mediabistro, or Weblogs Inc., get jobs at startups, do freelance design (as I used to), start a software company, or as a vehicle to sell advertising. All worthy pursuits, but I’m interested in editing kottke.org as my primary interest; blogging for blogging’s sake, I guess.

I have always seen blogging as a way to share my interests…and I think most folks see it the same way. Many might see blogging full-time as a dream job, but I bet it’s a lot of work too. What’s the saying?…

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life

We have the benefit of hindsight and reading this post from 2005 is pretty cool to see. Jason’s write up still holds up all these years later.

Doing kottke.org as a full-time job

Note: I saved that post to read later and write about here and little did I know that just a couple days later (March 14th to be exact), Kottke.org turned 22.

Hello all. I know there’s a pandemic going on out there, but I wanted to take a moment to celebrate kottke.org turning 22 years old today. If you’ve been reading along the entire time or for only a few days, it’s been an honor for me to inform, provoke, entertain, and possibly even infuriate you all for a few minutes every day. Thanks for reading — and an extra-special thanks to those who support the site with a membership. As I said a few weeks ago, all this really means a lot to me.

Celebrating 22 Years of Kottke.org

Creative Intimacy

You ever wonder about who Albert Einstein hung out with?

Albert Einstein’s mind was the first to grasp the theory of relativity. William Shakespeare penned the timeless drama of Romeo and Juliet. Pablo Picasso’s brilliance brought cubism to the masses. Royal Robbins’ adventurous spirit drove him to the first ascent of the Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome.

image via Wikipedia (Pablo Picasso and scene painters sitting on the front cloth for Léonide Massine’s ballet Parade, staged by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, 1917)

These geniuses of their time are all credited with amazing accomplishments. But did they accomplish these things solely because of their own brilliance or were there others that deserve some of the shine credited to these stars? An article in the New York Times dove into the myth of the ‘lone genius’.

We’ve all seen it.

image via Wikipedia (Tom Frost, Royal Robbins, Chuck Pratt, Yvon Chouinard at the completion of the first ascent of the North America Wall on El Capitan.)

At one point in time we have all probably revered those figures from the past who discovered a law of physics, wrote a timeless song, created a masterpiece of art, or (in my old circles) established a classic climb. Often times these creations and discoveries are attributed to someone of genius who was probably known for their solitude and is still widely pictured in that same light. Yet the Times article brings to light the partners, confidants, and even rivals that helped these men push their generations into the future.

Birds of a feather flock together right?

image via Wikipedia (Also known as “Shakespeare and His Friends at the Mermaid Tavern”. The painting depicts (from left in back) Joshua Sylvester, John Selden, Francis Beaumont, (seated at table from left) William Camden, Thomas Sackville, John Fletcher, Sir Francis Bacon, Ben Jonson, John Donne, Samuel Daniel, Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raleigh, the Earl of Southampton, Sir Robert Cotton, and Thomas Dekker.)

If you steer away from the cultural icons and spend a little time learning about those around them, we can find some interesting characters that also theorized, painted, wrote, or climbed along side these pioneers.

Highly recommend reading the Times article. It brings a new perspective on the team work and community that genius can require.

This was first posted over on Medium. If you like these longer form posts, you can get early access to them by becoming a Patron for $1 a month.

How to Make Your First $50 on Medium

You can do this…here are the 3 steps you need.

Ok, as of publishing this I’ve only made about $43 and change…but looking at my Medium stats I’ll reach $50 soon. I am going to teach you the (less obvious) things I’ve learned, and 3 steps you need to start.

One of the things that I never expected when I first discovered Medium was that I would make money there.

I wrote on my own blog for a few years off and on, and thought the initial Medium experiment was just that…an experiment. The earliest posts on Medium were all about the clean design, typography, and quality content.

the very first Medium article
the very first Medium post!

A couple years ago when the Medium Partner Program started up, my interest swung back around. The program matured and the metrics for payouts moved away from “claps” to time spent reading content. A much better method. A little like YouTube video watch time for creators making money there.

How Do You Get Paid?

From the FAQ page:

Partner Program writers are paid monthly based on how much time Medium members spend reading their stories. Earnings are calculated based on two components:

– How long members spend reading your story. As Medium members spend more time reading your story (“member reading time”), you’ll earn more. When we calculate your story’s earnings, we’ll also include reading time from non-members if they subscribe to Medium within 30 days of reading your story.

– How much of their monthly reading time members spend on your story. By calculating a share of member reading time, we support authors who write about unique topics and connect with loyal readers. For example, if last month a member spent 10% of their monthly reading time on your story, you will receive 10% of their share (a portion of their subscription fee).

Imagine an author writes about fly fishing. She finds an audience of fly fishing enthusiasts who subscribe to Medium primarily to read her stories, meaning she receives a strong share of reading time from each of her readers. In contrast, a generalist author might receive smaller shares from his readers, who also read a variety of other authors. The fly fisher can earn relatively more through the share calculation, even with a smaller audience.

Pay close attention to the last bit. My own earnings seem to confirm that writing towards the interests of a specific audience is important. Almost 70% of what I’ve earned came from 1 article. That story was about when I almost died rock climbing. It got picked up for Medium’s “Outdoor” section…thus getting pushed to more people with that interest.

my highest earning story on Medium

How can you make sure your articles pop on Medium?

1. The Push and Pull

This is my term but others may call it the flow. The reason I call it the push and pull is because that is how you write something engaging. Good articles start off with the author’s position, promise, or a primary question for exploration.

To engage readers past that initial push, you pull them in with a story that almost takes their mind off of that first promise. Then you push them back to the main point. This cycle can repeat throughout your post. Done well, this makes for an engaging read…especially for long articles.

And on Medium, higher “member reading time” is how you make money.

2. The “Medium Format”

This may seem obvious to some but it wasn’t for me at first. Yet I have learned that there is a format that works well here. I came across another author that spells it out quite well.

This article is FULL of great tips, tricks, and advice. After reading this and adjusting how I format my posts on Medium, I started getting picked up by Medium editors for distribution.

I recommend reading this article. Using images and white space, linking to your own work, and having a strategy for choosing the right tags…it all matters. Trust me.

Read that article and save it. I still go back and refer to it every now and then.

3. Spend Time (but not too much) on the Title

Obvious I know but it’s important.

On YouTube they say to spend a lot more time than you think on your video thumbnail. After all, if people never click on your thumbnail, they will never watch your video. The same advice applies for titles on Medium…or anywhere. Luckily titles don’t need photoshop expertise.

But you do need a cover photo that matches the tone of your title.

BE AWARE though. I came across the above article that did a statistical analysis on all the “standard title advice”. The author boiled it down to this:

The only thing that matters is writing about a subject people care about, and writing a title that suggests you’re giving them something of value. That’s it.

Great advice and a valuable read that will save you some time in the future. I skimmed past the data science parts of it to the meat of what most of us are looking for. What works, what doesn’t.

Topic + Simplicity + Value Proposition = Good Title = Clicks = Readers = $$

Photo by Gia Oris on Unsplash

Where to Start

  1. Sign up for the Partnership Program!! – It’s easy and I was surprised when I started getting paid. Although I guess I shouldn’t have been.
  2. Save this post for future reference – Click that bookmark or archive button. I saved the articles that inspired me and you will be happy you did too.
  3. Start writing – You can even import old stuff you’ve written from other websites. Don’t be afraid to share your free ‘friends and family link’ with…your friends and family. Sharing is caring and helps get your article read.

I hope this has helped give you that push to start writing here. YOU CAN DO IT!!!

This was first posted over on Medium. If you like these longer form posts, you can get early access to them by becoming a Patron for $1 a month.

Patreon for Bloggers

I’ve only ever heard of this for YouTubers…

One of the things that I have been very honest about when I started up this website was that I was going to try and make some money with it.

The tricky part is making money without being obnoxious, bringing down the quality of my site, or generally putting out garbage. I refuse. I don’t know about you, but I cannot stand websites that are riddled with ads and hurt your eyes with all of the click bait and pop-ups.

My initial goal is to be able to get enough income streams from various sources (affiliates, Medium.com partner plan, tee spring, etc) to be able to remove ads from here and break even on the cost of keeping the site going. The google Adsense advertisements that come with wordpress plans are ugly in my opinion…but I’m still trying to see if they have any benefit. If they don’t…perhaps I’ll get rid of them anyways. Luckily…quality content is always king.

When I was going hard on YouTube in 2018 and pumping out vlogs, I saw a lot of YouTube creators talking about their Patreon pages. I finally got curious enough to check them out but never signed up for one. It never really clicked for me until I came across Dusty Porter and his YouTube Creators Podcast. He is always talking about his Patreon page and calling out his patrons, encouraging folks to join his Discord channel to chat with likeminded folks.

After gaining a bit of inspiration from this creator…I have launched my own Patreon page.

But Scott…you post everything here for free…why a Patreon page? First, I do plan to offer early access to my longer form write ups. I haven’t mentioned it often, but I’ve posted some of my longer articles over on Medium and made a few bucks along the way. One thing they give writers that write for their partner program is a family and friends link for each article writen and published behind their paywall. This gets anyone with the link behind that paywall.

Medium has a ton of great content and I pay for the annual membership. I’d check it out if I were you. Hopefully $1/month is worth early/free access to articles I spend more time writing up. They’ll still get posted here, just a week or two after they go up on Medium.

Patreon Benefits

  • Get free access to my Medium.com longer form articles with a  Friends and Family link posted for Patrons only
  • Get a shout out on my next YouTube video
  • Access to chat with the community in our Discord channel

Not a bad start in my opinion. Honestly, I’m going to try it out and see where it goes. Let me know what you think about a Patreon channel and writing. I’m not sure how it will work out…but stick around and I’ll tell you.

Scott from California Patreon Page

The Battles Within

Exploring your call of the wild…

Travel writer Tynan wrote a great article a while back that feels like he plucked it right out of my brain. As someone who still has a passion to climb as much as I can, yet can’t, there is always a push and pull balancing act that I bet almost everyone deals with in life. Tynan gives a good analogy.

A wild horse is a beautiful thing on its own, but isn’t very useful to a person. To create a symbiotic relationship with the horse, the owner must break the horse, training it to give up some of its wild instincts and replace them with conditioned responses.

I rode a horse a few weeks ago in Chile. She was generally well behaved, but had her quirks. Sometimes, riding along in the desert, there would be a tasty looking shrub. If we were walking slowly enough, she would stop and eat it. I’d have to yank on the reins to prevent her from doing it, but that didn’t stop her from trying again next time.

It feels like my brain is the same way. I train it over and over again, but it’s never completely broken. There are battles that I fight every single day, knowing that winning doesn’t mean eliminating those battles entirely, but just winning them more often than not.

I too never feel like I truly win that ever present war with my brain, but maybe I do win most of the battles day by day. In past years my wife has understood that “call of the wild” for me and would graciously take the kiddos for a week or so and say “Just go climb”. I’ve been able to take trips to climb Half Dome, El Cap, Leaning Tower, and other lesser known climbs.

While it has been a while since I’ve been able to climb, that call is still there. Today I encourage you to explore your own Battles Within.

You Don’t Have to Be an Expert to Write

Sometimes it’s better if you’re not…

Sometimes it’s better if you’re not…

At one point in my career I thought I needed a PHD. I had thoroughly enjoyed my Master’s degree and thought that if I wanted to set myself up for a second career, I should pursue a PHD in the same field. My last research paper was published in Proceedings Magazine (the actual printed one), and I had even garnered enough attention to warrant a public radio interview on said published article.

I obviously should keep learning more right? Furthering my education at the doctorate level was the logical next step.

But then I started researching what kind of jobs PHDs got you.

Research, teaching, and more research.

Photo by David Travis on Unsplash
Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

Don’t get me wrong, diving in to a problem or topic that I find interesting is one of the things I love to do. But being a “researcher” or teaching in “academia” are not careers I am currently looking for.

Before Moving Forward – Step Back

Pause a moment and consider your goals when you write something for publishing?

  • Is it to teach?
  • To entertain?
  • Share a thought or perspective?
  • Help solve a problem?
  • To earn money?

Regardless of what your goal is, I have realized that the majority of what I read online is not from “experts”. I can learn just as much from someone writing about what they don’t know as what they do. My most read story on Medium is me recounting how I almost died (or could have) when climbing El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. My other articles that were picked up by Medium publications were either my perspective on career goals, or what lessons I have learned as a leader.

No PHD required.

Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash
Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

What it Takes

Passion is more developed than discovered.

Dan Miller

I found this quote recently and love the implication behind it.

Our interests are where we dip our toes in to the water. Our passions are where we have waded out chest deep and finally dive in and start swimming for the other shoreline.

Writing skills take time to develop. Being an expert in an area can often be viewed as being seen as someone with an immense passion for something.

So remember, you don’t have to be an expert to dive in.

Photo by anouar olh from Pexels
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