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7 Habits of Professional Bloggers

Posted By Guest Blogger 11th of May 2011 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

This guest post is by Ali Luke of Aliventures.

Your blog isn’t growing as fast as you’d hoped.

You’re working hard—and trying to follow all the advice which you’ve read online—but you’re not seeing the traffic or subscriber levels that you’d like, and you’re not making quit-your-day-job levels of money. Actually, you’re not making much money at all.

Professional blogging isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme—and I’m sure you’ve discovered that for yourself. But although building a successful, income-producing blog might take a bit longer than you wanted, it’s far from impossible.

In fact, it’s just a case of slowly but surely improving your game. These are seven habits which top bloggers share. Are you missing any of them?

1. Learning

Being willing to learn, consistently, is crucial to success in today’s fast-moving world—but that’s especially true in blogging, where technological changes mean that last year’s top sites are this year’s has-beens.

As I’ve met more and more great bloggers, I’ve been struck how much they invest in learning. They go to conferences, they read ebooks and take ecourses, and they make sure they keep improving their skills in the two areas which matter most: being able to write well and being adept with technology.

First step

Become a regular reader of great blogging and writing related blogs. My top three are:

Take it further

Buy an ebook or take an ecourse that’ll help you take your blogging further. A great one to start with is 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, because it combines solid theory with practical exercises, and it covers a wide range of beginner-friendly topics.

2. Sustainability

Your blogging needs to be sustainable. While you might not be making much money to start with, you should aim to make enough to invest in some learning materials—and to cover your hosting, domain name registration, and other blogging expenses.

You also need to make sure that you’re being realistic about the time you can spend on your blog. Sure, you might have the energy to write all weekend when you first start out—but will you be able to do that month after month? An awful lot of would-be probloggers give up after a few weeks because their blogging schedule just wasn’t sustainable.

First step

If your hosting and other expenses mean that your blog’s currently running at a loss, find one simple way to monetize it. That might mean finding a great affiliate product to recommend, installing a donation button, or putting up Google AdSense.

Take it further

Plan out major purchases—like ecourses or conference tickets—in advance. Look for ways to cover the costs from your blogging income, rather than out of your own pocket. The first time I went to South by South West, I released an ebook which paid for the cost of my trip (you can read how I did it here on ProBlogger).

3. Consistency

Can you imagine reading a post like this on ProBlogger?

Sorry guys, I know I haven’t updated in a month, I’ve just been really busy…

Of course not. In fact, if even a couple of days went by without a ProBlogger update, I bet Darren would be inundated with emails from worried readers asking what was wrong. Professional bloggers post consistently—whether that means once a week or three times a day.

Posting consistently shows that you take your blog seriously. It gets readers into the habit of coming back to read new posts—and it gets you into the habit of writing regularly.

First step

Decide on a sensible, sustainable posting schedule. It’s fine if that means one post a week—readers would rather have one great post every week than seven rushed posts one week then nothing for a month.

Take it further

Write posts ahead of time, so that you’ve got some “banked” for busy periods. You can schedule a post to publish in the future using WordPress, so your posts can keep going up consistently even if you’re jetting off on holiday.

4. Self-discipline

The sun’s shining outside. There’s a show I want to watch. And I really should do the dishes…

It’s all too easy to think up excuses to leave your desk and your blog. Even if you love writing, you probably find it hard to sit down and stay focused while you’re working on a post. I write for a living and I still find it challenging!

That’s why self-discipline is so important for professional bloggers. You need to be able to work on your blog without checking Twitter every two minutes, and without getting distracted by everything else that’s going on around you.

Self-discipline doesn’t just mean sitting down and working, though. It also means knowing when to stop working. That might mean being self-disciplined enough not to check your emails during dinner, or not obsessing over Google Analytics.

First step

Next time you sit down to write a post, close your internet browser first. Don’t open it up again until you’ve been writing for at least 30 minutes.

Take it further

Find ways to bolster your self-discipline by changing your environment:

  • Take your laptop to a coffee shop that doesn’t have wi-fi.
  • Get up earlier so you can blog before work, rather than struggling to have motivation to blog when you get home.
  • Block websites which you find yourself accessing too often.

5. Integrity

This might seem like an odd habit to include on the list, but I think integrity is extremely important for professional bloggers. The best bloggers I know are people who I put a lot of trust in. I buy their products—and I’m confident that these will be worth my money. I buy products which they recommend—and I know that the blogger isn’t just hyping something in order to get a few dollars in commission.

I can’t tell you what integrity means for you and your blog. But I suggest that you give it some thought. It’s very easy to lose readers’ trust—and once you’ve lost it, they won’t be coming back. Worse, they might warn other people to steer clear of you.

First step

Make sure you always disclose affiliate links. This isn’t just to help readers trust you—it’s also a legal requirement if you live in America.

Take it further

Think through any moral grey areas carefully. For instance, would you run a sponsored post on your blog—and if so, would you disclose its status? Would you promote a product which you hadn’t tried out yourself—and if so, would you make that clear to your readers?

6. Courtesy

I’ve seen a few train-wreck situations in my time in the blogosphere, where comment threads have got out of hand, or where two bloggers have attacked one another in their posts. It’s never a pretty sight, and it always gives me a dim view of the people in question.

So courtesy is a vital habit. That means responding politely and pleasantly to people—even if they’ve said something which makes you angry. If your blog is still small, courtesy might also mean replying to all your comments. If your blog is too big to do that, courtesy might prompt you to explain on your “About” page that you can’t reply to everyone but that you do value their comments.

First step

If you’re ever tempted to post a blazing angry comment, stop. Walk away for a while—at least an hour if you can.

Take it further

Consider having a comments policy which encourages (or requires) all your blog’s readers to interact respectfully. That doesn’t mean that everyone has to agree—but they have to avoid using aggressive language or posting personal attacks. Remember that many readers may read the comments, even if they never post one.

7. Growth

Finally, professional bloggers don’t stay in the middle of their cozy comfort zone. If they did, they’d never have got far. They keep on growing—stretching themselves, trying new things, bringing in new readers, and launching new products.

Growth isn’t always easy. There’ll be plenty of times in your blogging journey where you’re nervous about taking the next step. Perhaps you’ve never sent out a guest post, because you’re worried about being rejected. Or perhaps you’ve not made a start on that ebook you’ve got planned, because you know it’ll be a lot of work.

But every single problogger had to write their first guest post, launch their first product and go to their first conference. I’m sure they were all nervous—there’s nothing wrong with that—but what matters is that they did it anyway. And that’s how they, and their blogs, grew.

First step

Try something which challenges you: maybe emailing a blogger who you admire, or sending out your first guest post.

Take it further

Keep looking for new ways to grow. That might mean trying a joint venture, taking an ecourse, going to a conference, writing an ebook, hiring a personal assistant … or almost anything. It’ll probably feel scary the first time you do it, but it’ll quickly get easier.

So—which of these seven habits could you work on today? And if you think I’ve missed out a vital habit, add an eighth (or more!) in the comments.

Ali Luke has just released a (totally free) mini-ebook, Ten Powerful Ways to Make Your Blog Posts Stronger. It’s packed with great advice, clear examples and quick exercises to get you to take action. Click here to grab your copy now.

About Guest Blogger
This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above.
Comments
  1. Great post! I’d like to add one. Although this word gets almost over-used sometimes, authenticity is very important. Ali, I think you do a great job of being real and conversational when you blog. I am guessing you blog like you talk (I am the same way!) and that makes me want to continue and read more. No one wants to read dry, sterile, rehashed marketing stats as blog posts. Peel back the layers and let readers see YOU. :)

  2. #8 Treat your blog as a business, not a hobby. Open business checking account, maintain your books for tax season, get some free Vistaprint business cards, and get a PO box so you don’t have to disclose your personal address in your mailing list.

    Great tips!

  3. This is a great list whether you are a beginning blogger or a long-term veteran.

    Out of all the suggestions I think #4 is, without a doubt, the hardest for a new blogger to master. There’s always something else you could be doing.

    Allison Duncan
    The Nerd Connection

  4. #4 can be very difficult. I’m a fan of drafting my posts in Notepad++ to help limit distractions. My browser is closed, my mind it focus on nothing but my writing in front of me. I’ve even tried a few of the distraction free writing apps, but Notepad++ seems to get the job done just fine.

    Over time it gets easier and easier to drown out the distractions and focus. I find that writing at the same time every day really helps! My mind is getting into the cycle and knows when I need to focus on writing. It was a challenge at first, but after sticking with it for a while, I can tell a difference.

    Thanks for the excellent list.

  5. Archan Mehta says: 05/25/2011 at 3:39 pm

    Ali,

    Thank you for contributing this guest post. A timely reminder of what writers should be thinking about.

    The title reminded me of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey: a catchy title.

    Your suggestions are useful, down-to-earth and practical. We also need to keep in mind that continuous quality improvement is a must. Treat learning as a life-long journey instead of a destination, because you can never quite “arrive.” You don’t disembark at a gate or a station, because round the bend there is always something more to learn.

    Equally important is to attend seminars, conferences, convocations, parties or even informal get-togethers. There is no substitute for face to face communication, and you never know who you will bump into at such events. A lot of deals have been clinched due to such networking opportunities.

    It is also important to read outside of your niche. You are not just a blogger, after all, but a writer as well–a literary artist. It is important to be a voracious reader outside of your comfort zone. For example: if you only read books in the area of personal development and self-help, maybe it is time to read a novel or a book of verse. Pick up that book on the philosophy of science or about cultural anthropology or Egypt.

    Reading widely and deeply and broadly helps to stimulate the little, grey cells. Especially when you are a professional writer, you never know when such information can come in handy. Maybe you can use that information in your next blog post or to impress a client who has a hobby or just for general knowledge. A mind that is curious devours information. And such people tend to be valued. Cheers.

  6. I agree with all of the above, but there’s one thing I have trouble with. I’m a very cyclical person. I will work really hard on something – like my blog but then I sometimes need to concentrate on something else for a week or two, like getting a product together or working on my own art.

    Part of my feels like – hey, that’s why I chose to be independent, because my personal work rhythm is different than a daily schedule. I always work hard, but my focus cycles. I’m trying to determine how much I honor my personal best rhythm and how much I buck up and stick to a schedule.

  7. Thank you for this very useful post on bloghabits. I have some improvements to do :)

  8. Thanks for these great tips, I’ll practice it.

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