Blogging, Life and a Chick Flick

by Robb Sutton

Last week, my wife and I picked up a Sony Playstation 3 and a Netflix account to start having Blu-Ray date nights at the house. With the price of actually going out to see a movie making it all but not worth it…it made a lot more since to have the latest gaming system that also happens to play Blu-Ray movies (see how I pulled that one off!).

Besides, I had a bunch of Visa/Mastercard/American Express gift cards to blow, so it seemed like the logical course of action anyway.

What was the first movie on the que for Netflix? Julie and Julia. Besides being a movie that my wife has wanted to see for quite sometime, it also sealed the deal for her when my parents said, “It’s like you guys…just reversed!” Julie and Julia hit the Netflix que, arrived on our doorstep yesterday and made its way to the TV last night with a fire in the fireplace and a lit Christmas tree. The two dogs were ready to curl up, so we hit play and started to watch the flick.

Now…other than being a typical chick flick and a brilliant display of acting from Meryl Streep (you actually forget that you are not watching Julia Child), there are some actual blogging lessons filled within the movie that all bloggers should realize as they continue to grow their audience and success. I was actually pleasantly surprised on some the “blogging lessons” accuracy that was played out during the film. After hearing some bloggers irritated attitudes on how bloggers were displayed in the movie, after actually watching it…I thought it was pretty damn accurate…to a point.

What We Can Learn from Julia and Julia About Blogging

So as I watched this crazy movie, what did I rip out of the movie that are heart felt, meaty, blogging tips for your guys?

  • I Can Blog! – The whole reason Julie starts a blog is because a so-called friend did. The trick…she found something she was passionate about (cooking) and formatted it in a way that people would find interesting (524 Julia Child recipes in 365 days). Now…she didn’t do this intentionally…but it is something you need to consider as you develop your blog topic. And yes…you too can blog…but you actually have to put words on a screen and not procrastinate!
  • Setting Deadlines and Sticking to Them – In the movie, Julia sets the 524 recipes in 365 days as a deadline for herself. Throughout the movie, people tell her that she does not have to stick to the deadlines or she can just lie. In blogging, you are your own boss and you are only accountable to yourself. Deadlines are a great way to make yourself accountable so that you can actually realize your goals. Without deadlines (that used to be determined by your boss…now you are that boss), you are just floating in the wind without any real direction.
  • Writing When No One Is Listening – In the beginning of the movie, Julie gets really excited when she gets her first comment. Of course, that first comment goes something like “I don’t know why you are doing this, it still appears that I am the only one reading this thing. -Mom”. When you start a blog, you have to be prepared to continue writing even when no one is listening. Just because you put your blog out in cyberspace, that does not mean that people are going to gravitate to your words instantly just begging you to keep going. You have to put in the sweat and tears even when there is little to no external reward.
  • Late Nights – Blogging is filled with a ton of late nights in the beginning years. You are just bleeding for extra hours in the day as you continue to write early in the morning or late at night when you can just find 20 extra minutes in the day to put up content without being interrupted by work, family and friends. Julie is up late cooking, writing and doing other blogging activities to get the job done.
  • Flack from Work – Your office or place of employment may have zero clue you have any life online…or even care. For some of you, that might be a real problem as employers do not get “the whole blogging thing”. During my beginning blogging, there was some heat from the powers that be in my office. They are going to assume you are using their company time to do your work or you are skipping out on their work to do yours. They also might be worried that they are going to show up in your online exploits (like her boss was worried about in the movie). Be ready to catch heat from those that do not understand. They are going to make assumptions without asking and you need to be prepared for that conversation should it come up at a future date.
  • Cooperation from Spouse – In the movie, her husband is extremely cooperative (to a point) with the whole project. Julie does step into a narcissistic phase as bloggers sometimes do due to the selfish nature of always talking about yourself or your opinion. The cooperation of your family and…specifically…the one you choose to call your wife or husband…is essential to beginning success in life and in your new business. There is not a single blog on the net that is worth ruining life at home, so you need to make sure you work out the kinks beforehand.
  • Mental Breakdowns – Throughout the movie, Julie goes through several “mental breakdowns” in the search of completing her goals. Blogging can be really stressful at times as you deal with your readers, deadlines and other owning a business stresses. Remember…we have all hit that at some point in time even if it does not appear to be like that on the outside. Keep pushing towards your goal and you will make it there.
  • Dedication to the Cause – The entire movie is based around Julia Child’s life and Julia’s (the blogger) dedication to completing her year long project. While I do not recommend creating a blog that will be dead in 365 days, I do recommend staying dedicated to your cause and continue pushing forward. Both Julie and Julia in the movie were extremely dedicated to their task at hand.
  • Your Industry Might Not Be So Accepting – (spoiler alert) At the end of the movie, Julie finds out that the real Julia Child does not like her…or her blog. While this can be extremely devastating for bloggers, it is a lot more common than you might think. You need to be prepared for the realization that your industry is not too fond of what you are doing online even if you are seeing a massive amount of success. Many people do not understand blogging and think that it is just playing online. They are going to make assumptions about your motives and your dedication. They might even try to put you down or even bring a stop to your achievements. Having a successful blog does not mean that your industry is going to accept you with open arms.
  • Be Yourself – Julie’s blog was successful because of the extreme transparency she used with her life and her writing. When Julia Child wasn’t so accepting of her blog, Julia asked, “Is it because I drop the F-Bomb from time to time?” It is crucially important that your readers are connecting with you and not who you think they want to connect with. You can not fake it…it has to be real.

Being based on two true stories, Julia and Julia is proof of just another way bloggers can make it big online and off. After her article in the New York Times, Julie hit it big through her words and her online blogging. The key is finding something that people can relate to…and then help them and help yourself at the same time. The rest will be history.

18 comments

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18 comments

Shawn December 30, 2009 - 10:47 am

Great reminder to take action without an audience: Write when no one is reading. Sing when no one is listening. Cold-call when no one is buying.

Thanks Robb.
Shawn @ MindOfChampions.com

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Robb Sutton December 30, 2009 - 5:53 pm

Absolutely…things do not come on their own and you have to go out there and get them. Readers included.

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Aaron Mielke December 30, 2009 - 11:15 am

Great post Robb! I’m just starting my blog and I have already had some great moments as well as negative input from others. I’ve already found it difficult to stick to my schedule & deadlines due to interruptions, the holidays, and family but we have to put the time in! This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Great work.

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Robb Sutton December 30, 2009 - 5:53 pm

It’s going to happen Aaron. The holidays are a tough time to really put in the effort…so many temptations to be lazy and eat.

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Amanda December 30, 2009 - 12:50 pm

I just re-watched this movie last night and then quickly posted about its life lessons after:

http://www.dishevelledstars.com/2009/12/julia-child-high-heels-julie-powell.html

I didn’t even think about the movie in terms of blogging lessons. Great insight – thank you!

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Robb Sutton December 30, 2009 - 5:52 pm

Thanks for sharing that Amanda!

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DoYouDaveRamsey December 30, 2009 - 1:16 pm

Good stuff here Rob, thanks for sharing. Found your site in the comment exchange to Peter’s recent article on making money blogging. He commented on your book – which I’ll be checking out – and thought I’d click over.

I really identified with many of the items you called out in the piece. The idea of writing even though no one is listening is so very true. In my early days I just expected gravitational pulls to my “great content” just because I was putting forth the effort to compile it. I’ve since learned that it doesn’t work that way. But the writing is fun and eventually the traffic will come.

Thanks for sharing!
Dave

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Robb Sutton December 30, 2009 - 5:52 pm

Thanks Dave!

The “writing when no one is listening” is one that I had to beat in my head back in the day. Traffic and subscribers come with time, and if there is nothing to read…you won’t get either. Keep it up!

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John Paul Aguiar December 30, 2009 - 4:09 pm

Nice move, puching the PS3 “Save Money On Movies” feature..lol

Great post, on seeing blogging inspiration in a movie

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Robb Sutton December 30, 2009 - 5:50 pm

She lets me think I am getting one over on her…but she likes it too!

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Mike Crimmins December 30, 2009 - 10:22 pm

The girlfriend wants to see this one, maybe we’ll end up watching it this weekend.

It’s interesting how you put the industry might not be so accepting. I know a lot of people, even a lot of coffee snobs accept my blog…while there’s more than a few look down.

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Robb Sutton January 4, 2010 - 9:01 pm

There will always be those people that have nothing good to say about anything. Apparently we are all supposed to fit into their mold. Did you not get the memo?

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Ilada Hensley January 2, 2010 - 7:12 pm

GREAT idea! The ONLY reason we got a PS3 is for the Blue-ray. It by far is the cheapest way to buy one. We have a few (yes, 3) games for it but it is mostly used for the BR player to complement having our Netflix subscription. Plus, we can use our Xbox 360 to watch the “instant view” movies on their too since it is now linked like the Microsoft love-child family saga it is! Great post & I will pass the idea on to my followers too!

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Robb Sutton January 4, 2010 - 9:00 pm

A lot of my friends picked up the PS3 for the same reason. We don’t have that many games for it between all of us…but a lot of Blu-Ray movies.

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Srinivas Rao January 3, 2010 - 11:19 am

Rob,

All really interesting lessons. I’ve been fortunate in that the job that I’m starting tomorrow morning is very social media driven and was primarily a result of all the efforts on my blog. But one thing is the criticism you face from others. The other day I received a pretty nasty fb message from some woman who surfs at our local spot about “people laugh at your stupid blog, blah, blah” and all this nonsense because I’m not a life long surfer. I had to detach my ego from that and just keep writing. I’m gonna have to check out this movie.

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Robb Sutton January 4, 2010 - 8:59 pm

Detaching is a hard part. There are going to be those people that just have to bring other people down. Just remember…it is always easier to be a critic than a creator.

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Walter January 3, 2010 - 11:40 pm

I have been blogging for five months and it’s really hard. All of the lessons you have stated about the movie I am now experiencing. But I believe that if we stick with our goals, a day will come when we will succeed.

This is an inspirational post for me. 🙂

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Robb Sutton January 4, 2010 - 8:58 pm

Glad I was able to help out Walter! Keep at it.

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