How to Blog: The Top Five Habits of Successful Bloggers

July 3, 2011 · 5 comments

I’ve been seeing a huge influx of posts with titles like “How to Start a Blog without Ever Doing Anything” or “Blogging is Making Money Without Trying!” and… got a little hot under the collar. So, with that in mind, I really wanted to debunk some of the myths that have been popping up from so-called “experts.”

Here’s the thing: these “experts” –  some of whom actually have no experience in the industry – are not always giving great advice and, in some cases, what they are giving is detrimental to the health and growth of your blog.

Instead of just complaining and pouting, I chose the top five habits that every successful blogger has… they don’t offer any ways to cut corners, any easy money-making schemes or quick fame. They’re not what you normally see, and they’re not the popular opinion. And there are no shortcuts. But they’re the truth and they work…  if you’re committed, passionate and willing to try, fail and keep trying on your path to success.

A great blogger…

1. Researches his/her topics.

The thing about being an expert? They need to study, test, research, implement, explain…. well, you get the picture. To blog well about a particular topic, you need to put your nose in a book. Learn and engage readers, fans and current brands and bloggers to increase your knowledge base. Accept that you don’t know everything, admit when you’re wrong and appreciate those who take the time to help you.

2. Stays current and competitive.

To be honest, I’m not big on reading other blogs in my genre (I get really self-critical, and it hinders my abilities), but I do select a few that help me stay informed about the latest plugins, best practices and social opportunities. Mashable is a bookmarked site for me, as well as the NYT Small Business blog and Social Media Examiner. They keep me up to date, allowing me to not only stay competitive in my field, but also offer the best advice and guidance for my clients.

3. Has a Business Plan.

This is a no brainer: if you MAKE MONEY from your blog, you ARE A BUSINESS. And successful businesses have business plans. You might not have started yours because you don’t have time/knowledge/experience or believe you aren’t a blog/don’t need it, but you’re wrong. A business plan helps you decide the framework of your site, helps you choose the right path to take and eliminates the guesswork of selecting clients or advertising opportunities. They’re the ultimate must.

4. Puts readers – and quality content – over a quick buck.

Spammy guest posts from SEO companies. Anchor text links unrelated to the site or genre itself. False advertising, lying in reviews, falsifying discussion… the list goes on. But the reason your readers come to your site isn’t based on their desire to read lies and misconceptions. It’s easy to spot those who are what I like to call “Bottom Line Bloggers” – men and women focused solely on their ability to bring home a little bit more bacon. Smart bloggers – and those looking to build a sustaining relationship with both brands and readers – never put their wallet over their website.

5. Blogs. Yes, ACTUALLY BLOGS.

Maybe this sounds a little bit crazy, but bear with me: to be a blogger, you need to blog. I know, I know, it’s not what you want to hear. You want to be the non-blogging blogger who can just be a rockstar from day one. But if tying your shoes took you a while – and those were just your shoes – then imagine what it will take to develop a quality site with engaging content, loyal readers and a well-developed social media presence. It doesn’t happen overnight; anyone who tells you otherwise is just selling you marketing swill. Don’t buy in.

Let me close this with a disclaimer: I definitely do not know everything and I will absolutely admit when I’m wrong… and I’m wrong a LOT. But those errors – those failures – are what have taught me how to at least not make the same mistakes again. I love advice, tips and constructive criticism (and you should, too) because that means people are engaged and interested – hopefully for the right reasons.

What are your key tips for being a successful blogger?

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1 Janice July 3, 2011 at 4:25 pm

The fifth one is one that I think about a lot of the time. I have seen far too many people who talk about blogging, whine about nothing to write, sound overwhelmed when they have multiple ideas, etc. The just getting to writing thing is too often overlooked!

2 Jessica July 3, 2011 at 7:45 pm

I know it’s generic and almost cliche at this point, but I think the best advice is still to just be yourself. It’s so easy to want to try to sound like one particular “big” blogger or another that you like or admire. Just be you, and write about what you like. The end. :)

3 Sweetie Berry July 4, 2011 at 10:16 am

After blogging for eleven years in one location, we are beginning again as a couple. It’s a humbling experience to learn what the new audience engages with as well as how the continuing audiences seek new information in different ways. I think the most important thing is to start where you are. Don’t pretend to more experienced than you are. We may have over a decade as a step and blended family blog, but as a multi topic focus on first things first at home and in business…we’re just newborns! Thanks for a great post, and thanks to Tara of Feels Like Home for recommending you!

4 Laura in Texas July 4, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Thank you for sharing these thoughts. I’ve only recently returned to blogging, with a commitment to learn all I can and to try to create a blog that will be fun to read but also add value to the lives of those who choose to read it. I appreciate your concise and helpful tips.

5 Kristen July 5, 2011 at 7:18 am

LOVE this blog. Great tips…. can’t wait for more :)

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