Social media: from hobby to job – this stuff takes real work

June 16, 2008 by Jared Goralnick


Blogging, Twitter, social networks, RSS, videos… at a certain point this stuff is no longer just fun—it takes real time and can feel like real work.

So when your hobby morphs into a job, do you work harder or take a step back?

It Depends.  But Let Me Start At The End

This weekend I asked my friends on Twitter what portion of the time they blog out of obligation versus really wanting to post.  I was surprised when everyone responded that they only share when the mood strikes them.

I’m not sure that my friends were the best sample, or that anyone is immune from a sense of obligation (doesn’t everyone get writer’s block…but still fear letting their sites/ewsletters/etc get stale), but my point here is that it makes sense to offer some commitment to social media because…

You Get Out What You Put In

If you see a whole thing – it seems that it’s always beautiful. Planets, lives… But up close a world’s all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life’s a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern.
Ursula Le Guin

People who look like they’ve got it made put in a serious effort at some point.  Like the quote above, once you look closely you’ll see just how deeply invested these “social media rockstars” are.  Sometimes they didn’t want to put in more effort, but out of obligation (to themselves and eventually to others) they pushed forward.

You know it’s true: commenting on blogs takes time.  Emailing takes time.  Even just reading what others are sharing takes an enormous amount of time.  And no one says you have to be involved with this, but if you’re spending time doing it, why not get something out of it? 

Let me be 100% transparent: while I love sharing here and while productivity genuinely feels like my raison d’être, the reason I’m consistent is not because every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I wake up and think “I’d love to blog.”  (That’s likely the case one of those days.)  It’s just that if I’m going to put in this time, I want to put in enough to reap some of the rewards.

Those rewards come in many forms, and here are just a few I think of:

  • Relationships – both personal and business
  • Learning – engaging with others’ ideas, and spending serious time researching for articles
  • Money – I do get business from this stuff

So consider why you participate online; what are you motivations?  I’m not saying I don’t love this—I’ve been blogging since 2000 and have kept journals all my life—but without a little discipline and sweat I wouldn’t be getting out of this what I am.

“But This Isn’t About You, Jared”

Fair enough.  Some people participate when they want to and read when they have time.  There’s nothing wrong with that approach. If you’re interesting in learning and documenting, then wow is the internet a wonderful place for it.

Even with social media, there’s a lot of value in incremental participation. You will build friendships and you will grow your online presence.

All I’m saying is don’t be naive—if you want serious value it will take serious time.  Or at least forethought and quality.  It was amazing to see people like Clay and Tina spread their message so fast…but they worked hard.

Fine: Don’t Admit It

You’re hanging out on my blog, not ProBlogger’s because you’re not interested in making money online.  You want to be more productive, happier, geekier, stronger, better looking, whatever…

I just ask that if you do have greater goals for what you’d like out of your activities online that you define them and make some decisions.

Give It Your All Or Give Up

Whether we’re still talking about social media or we’ve moved onto bigger things, there’s an investment to be made if you want results.

In the last year I’ve given up on my book clubs, I don’t even think twice about guitar, and I dance a lot less often.  Clay’s going for broke—I’m just trying to avoid ambition creep.

The internet and this blog are important to me.  A big part of that is because you’ve read this far into this kid’s rant.  I want to make a difference, and I know I have a chance to here (unlike the guitar).  But I recognize that this takes effort.  Serious effort.

Give up.  Do more.  Or at least recognize that, even though everyone praises the power of getting involved online, it will take some real investment.

You should really subscribe to Technotheory via Subcribe via email email or rss.

12 Responses to “Social media: from hobby to job – this stuff takes real work”

1 Trackbacks

  1. Is now a good time for a change? « Marenated


  1. Charlie Gilkey | Productive Flourishing

    What people who don’t take their blogging seriously don’t realize is that there is, indeed, a grind to it. It’s work, folks – even if you enjoy it, there’s a lot about it that takes a lot of time.

    I’m glad you’re upfront about the process, and I like that you’re adding value to the community and getting some in return. And really, you should be awarded with some Top Commenter award.

  2. Jared Goralnick


    Thank you for this–especially in this lonely post. Strangely many people have emailed me about this and “ambition creep” but it’s been quiet online.

    But more on topic, you’re the great commenter here. And the much more disciplined blogger. I wish I were writing more on your site, too–but I haven’t been bringing my head above the water too much lately with all that’s going on. It’s a good problem to have, but hardly the “four hour work week.”

    Thanks for checking in and see you around soon!

  3. Charlie Gilkey | Productive Flourishing

    I wouldn’t really take the commenting thing personally. It’s the summer dip – I’ve noticed comments are down across the board, so smaller blogs like yours and mine are going to feel the pinch.

    On the 4HWW: it’s not a myth, but it’s misunderstood. If you’re doing something you love, then you’re probably not trying to get out of doing it anyways. I think Tim’s talking mostly about the stuff we don’t want to do rather than the stuff that’s filling us with purpose.

    Your business is filling you with purpose. Your new blogging endeavors and friendships are filling you with purpose. If the things you’re not doing were manifestly filling you with more purpose, you’d be doing them instead.

    Take care of yourself and what makes you come alive – we’ll be here when you come up for air. You’re right – your “problem” is a good one to have.

    I always forget to say it in my original comments here – great post. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Charlie Gilkey | Productive Flourishing

    Something I wrote in the comments has bothered me all day…

    I wrote: “smaller blogs like yours and mine are going to feel the pinch.”

    I should’ve said “smaller blogs like ours.”

    Besides not using the proper pronoun, it makes assumptions that I have no justification for making.

    Sorry ’bout that.

    Great post! (Making up for lost time here :p)

  5. Torley Lives

    Jared, we’ve already chatted a bit — thanx for your help with AwayFind and I really enjoy your site’s design. It’s so elegant and stood out the moment I came here. I knew I had to browse further!

  6. Jared Goralnick

    Thanks, Torley! You have quite the site yourself…and I hope to keep in touch. If I had your tutorials talent I’d be writing a lot less here :-)

  7. Aubrey

    I don?t usually reply to posts but I will in this case. :)

  8. Helen

    I’d like to subscribe via google reader but not sure how to do that. Can you explain please?

  9. irene

    Hi there I love your post, always trying to get social media to work for me and it’s been a serious challenge.

  10. matthew

    As a Newbie, I am always searching for articles that can help me. Thank you.

  11. Jane

    Blogging as a business does take a lot of work and planning. However, the advantage of it is that the results last a long time and it can be a very stable source of income.

Impart Your Theoretically Interesting Wisdom

Your Comments