Become a Blogging Wizard – 6 Lessons from Harry Potter


This is a guest post by Joshua Clanton, a freelance web designer who blogs about web design, creativity, and productivity.


Humble beginnings, a long arduous struggle, and ultimate triumph… The story of a young wizard? Or the story of a beginning blogger? How about both? Here are six lessons from Harry Potter on how to become a blogging wizard.

1. Everyone’s an outsider at first

When Harry first entered the wizarding world he felt like an outsider. Despite his fame, he knew nothing about how the wizarding world worked, and often made ridiculous mistakes. But with time, Harry learned how things worked and began to fit in. (At least as well as the Boy Who Lived could fit in.)

When you first start out in the blogging world, you’ll probably feel like a bit of an outsider too. This is normal. No one starts out knowing everything there is to know about WordPress, RSS, and the time-tested techniques for writing good content. But all you have to do is stick with it long enough and eventually you’ll learn what you need to know.

2. What you need most are friends

What Harry really needed most as he tried to navigate in his strange new world was someone to show him the ropes. Fortunately, he soon met Ron and Hermione. Harry didn’t choose them because they were well placed and had great connections. Despite Ron’s poverty and Hermione’s half-muggle ancestry, they were the two best friends that he could have made, because they were willing to stick with him and help no matter how bad things seemed.

Bloggers need friends, too. I don’t mean contacts you can network with. I mean people who are willing to help you out just because they like you. If you can find one or two people like that, you’re well ahead of the game.

3. Watch how others work their magic

Despite his natural talents, Harry never did do all that well in formal classes. Instead, he made most of his magical progress by watching others casting spells and trying it for himself.

When you see someone succeeding at blogging (however you define success), watch them closely. Study how they write, how they engage their readers. Then, once you’ve found something that you think ontributes to their success, give it a try!

4. Don’t be afraid to break the rules (but beware the consequences)

In Harry’s struggle with Lord Voldemort, there were many times that he had to decide what was more important: keeping the Hogwarts rules or making progress in the fight against the Dark Lord. Harry almost always chose to break the rules, and this usually turned out for the best, but sometimes it backfired.

In blogging school, as at Hogwarts, there are a lot of rules, especially about writing good content. But sometimes it’s worth your while to break them. The key is in remembering why the rules are there in the first place, and weighing whether the potential advantages outweigh the risks.

5. Shun the dark arts

There is, of course, a much more important set of rules in the wizarding world: the rules forbidding the dark arts. In this there is very little leeway. Use of the dark arts is what separates the followers of Voldemort from the rest of the wizardry world. And though Harry does succumb to the temptation to use them a couple of times, it is something shameful.

In blogging too certain things are forbidden. Things like plagiarism and black hat SEO will not only hurt your reputation, but may bring down the wrath of the Ministry of Magic, er… Google on your head.

6. Give without expecting anything in return

What helps Harry to triumph in the end isn’t his outstanding abilities. Though he is talented, both Dumbledore and Voldemort are more skilled. Instead, it is his willingness to help others, to give his life without expecting anything in return, that really makes the difference.

Giving to others isn’t just a technique for making yourself popular. Though it may help, if that’s your goal, there are probably better uses of your time. But if you want to become a blogging wizard who is not only successful, but also makes the world a little bit better, you need to learn to give without expecting anything in return.

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41 Responses to “Become a Blogging Wizard – 6 Lessons from Harry Potter”

  • Backlink Builder

    THIS is an great article, im a big Harry Potter fan and this instantly attracted my attention. great info you provide in the post aswell

  • Crystal

    Making HP references = Receiving my eternal love

    Loved the post!

  • Joshua Clanton – Design for the WEB

    @Ali: Yes, I think #6 is the most important of all, even though it isn’t as directly tied into success. Interesting how that works, isn’t it?

    @SolShine7: Glad you found it helpful!

  • SolShine7

    I haven’t seen Harry Potter but this was some nice advice.

  • Ali from TheOfficeDiet

    What a great way to make insightful points! Thanks, Joshua, excellent post. Like others above, I think #6 is especially important.



  • Joshua Clanton – Design for the WEB

    @Tom: Ha! Sorry about the mixup. And yes, you have surpassed my geekness. 😀

  • Joshua Clanton – Design for the WEB

    @Armen: I agree. But often even “old hands” at blogging can use a reminder. And the more vivid, the better. 🙂

    @Nick: That’s true. The more people who are part of your “network,” the better your chance of succeeding.

    @Meredith: It must be the eye of newt that I mixed into the content. 😉

    @James: Absolutely. I know that this is one of the places that I turned to when I was trying to figure out this whole blogging thing.

  • James Chartrand – Men with Pens

    @ Armen – Newcomers to the ‘net arrive every day. Who knows? They may end up right here, and it’s good not to forget them 🙂

  • Meredith

    Nice post! A post that is lengthly yet interesting as it has a magical aspect to it. 🙂

  • Nick

    2. What you need most are friends…
    I would say that it is important to develop your network (and not friends)…Being part of a network community – your virtual circle – is necessary to expand the reading audience and get more traffic.

  • Armen

    Nice guest post, Joshua. No earth shattering info for those who have been going for a while, but it’s still great info. Made better of course, by the parallels.

  • Joshua Clanton – Design for the WEB

    @Matej: Thanks!

    @Tom Beaton: I think if you look carefully, you’ll find lessons like this even in non-children’s literature.

  • Tom Beaton

    Harry Potter books are great! That related to blogging surprisingly well. Just goes to show all childrens books are packed with double meanings.

  • Tom

    How do you know you are real geek? Because you read another geek’s post on Harry Potter and want to nitpick the details. Argh!!! I’m a real geek. Sorry, dude, but Hermione’s parents were both full blown muggles. She’s not half, she’s all muggle-born. Harry and Voldemort are half-bloods (same with Snape, too).

    I think I’m going to go start Book 1 again. 🙂

  • Matej

    I’m impressed, great post!

  • Joshua Clanton – Design for the WEB

    @ James: Thanks! Can you tell that I like to read a lot yet? 🙂 Those are some excellent suggestions as well. Figuring out what works for others is just the first step in figuring out what works for you.

  • Joshua Clanton – Design for the WEB

    @Barbara: Very true!

    @Adam: Yes, I was really channeling my inner geek, here wasn’t I? Maybe next time I can “use the force.” 🙂

  • Adam

    wow, that’s even geekier than something i’d write !!!

  • Barbara Ling

    My favorite lesson from Harry Potter was mentioned at the end of Book 1, when Dumbledore told Harry what it was that protected him – ‘love, Harry…’.

    Applying that to our lives, I’d have to say (and this ties into your point 6), give without expecting anything in return is of great importance.

    The people to whom you give generally never asked for it…therefore they have no obligation to appreciate it. Once you internalize that, it frees you to give without expectations. And that will only create more and more appreciation in interactions.

    Best wishes,


  • Joshua Clanton – Design for the WEB

    @Jeremy: Well, ever since I wrote about how reading a novel can help your business, I’ve been looking at some of my favorite books in new ways, trying to figure out how to apply those lessons to my life. Personally, I think having the analogy helps make me more likely to follow through.

    @Everyone: Thanks for the kind words!

  • redwall_hp

    As a long time Harry Potter fan, great post!

  • Carla @ WordPlay

    This made me both smile and think. Good article. 🙂

  • Jeremy Steele

    Awesome comparison. What made you decide to write it?

  • mayooresan

    ha.. ha.. I love the way you combined the wizard with blogs.. I like it man!!!!

    Breaking rules… !! ha.. way too cool!

  • Michael

    This is a great post. The comparisons are very true. I’m going to watch all of the HP films now to get more tips!

  • OldSailor

    Lesson 4 is interesting. At times a blogger has to break the rules to keep up consistency in posting. Good content needs to be compromised after assessing the consequences. Well brought out post.

  • Joshua Clanton – Design for the WEB

    @Sumesh: Thanks! Remembering to that it’s not all about getting from point A to point B is tricky sometimes, isn’t it?

    @TzuVelli: I’m glad you like it!

  • James Chartrand – Men with Pens

    Ha! I loved this one and you bring forth some great points in an easy to understand manner. “Shun the dark arts…” Hehehe

    I’ll note one thing: “Watch what others do”

    Yes, but remember that Harry made his own magic in the end. What worked for others didn’t always work for him or turned out in ways he didn’t expect. Watch what others do – and prepare for the fact that it might not work for you. Your own magic works better than anyone else’s 🙂

    Well done, Joshua!

  • TzuVelli

    Excellent post. Great use of parallels.

  • Sumesh

    I am no HP fan, but good post. I liked #6 a lot – something that most of us pragmatists forget.

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