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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.
  1. Yep, that’s me :p

    • One of the biggest ones is consistency, most people can’t keep to a schedule so their blog ends up failing.

      • Agree with you at this point. Consistency is simply the key of success for bloggers….

      • Consistency is indeed one of the keys to nurture a starting blog but it doesn’t define success. No, not yet. Success comes overtime through other actions that a blogger takes to further promote his existence and relevance in the Blogosphere. Even crafting and publishing great contents (http://bit.ly/jOAgBT) can often times turn expectations upsy-turvy.

        In my opinion the real keys, in reference to this post by the author, would be Learning, Consistency, and Growth.

        Thank you Ali for bringing these points up. Surely there would be other additions to that list but did a good job in starting it.

    • Do you mean that in a positive way? ;)

  2. Thanks Ali for the brilliant post, I would like to add an eighth; VALUE. ProBloggers should offer value to stakeholders (audience, sponsors, clients, business partners) and not just think about making money blogging

    • Awesome one, Anthony! I think value is so essential — it really underpins everything that great bloggers do.

  3. I am beginning to wonder if there is anything new that can be written about blogging. No disrespect to you, the author, but I am getting to the point where most of these guest posts are beginning to all blur into one. It isn’t just here either, a quick wander around the A list shows the same overall lack of new ideas and insights.

    Maybe it is just me, maybe there is a demand for writing inspired by the real world or maybe things are about to take off in a new and exciting direction.

    There are of course honorable exceptions but there needs to be more.

    Sorry that I couldn’t be more positive.

    • Maybe nothing “new” is being said, but I think of it like going to church…The lesson might be the same, but it never hurts to hear it again because I might just need to be reminded. :o)

      I think all the points in the post are great, but I really loved the first one! I love learning!!!

    • Maybe that’s a sign that you have out grown “how-to-blog” blogs and it’s time to expand.

      • Steve, I’d agree with Tim here — I think you’ve probably learnt a lot about blogging already. New bloggers are coming on the scene all the time, and a lot of posts are inevitably targeted towards them. I know that’s frustrating — I felt the same way myself, and I find that I skim quite a few posts now (after 3+ years of blogging and 1000+ posts…)

        I do think that, while things may have been said before, a fresh voice, perspective or angle can sometimes be enough to help a blogger really “get” something, or decide to take action.

        I’d love to see your own take on blogging in a guest post! :-)

        • I agree with you Steve. I’m certain their is some unexplored ground, but so far it’s staying pretty unexplored. And yes, of course that’s partly because I now know a lot more about blogging then I knew in the beginning. But according to me that’s no good reason for repeating the same shit over and over again.

          How about a post about all those mommy blogs out there, who are all trying to earn some bucks from home with Wordless Wednesdays and linky posts. How about a detailed article about how to know if you’re blog is ever going to make it or not. What about a post about why some people will never be good enough writers to make money, never mind how much time and energy they spend on it. How about an article about all those boring blogs out there, who are all following this standard formula that’s been advocated on blogs like these. How about a series about bloggers who break all the rules but who rock nonetheless.

          (And yes, you can hire me as a guest blogger :p)

  4. Just came at right time, to make me realize my blog is important & i should not be ignoring it

  5. I loved this post. I decided this year that quality was more important than quantity. I’ve been averaging 1-2 posts a week and I do believe it’s better for me and my readers.

    For me learning involves community and how we can learn from each other. I am one of the co-founders of The Blogstress Network (http://theblogstressnetwork.com) which encourages bloggers to share their journey and help each other continue to grow and improve their blogs.

    It goes without saying that courtesy is very key. I’ve read some nasty arguments, as well, and my motto is, ‘Don’t be a coward… it’s easy to write something mean to someone you’ve never actually met. Would you say the same thing if that person was standing in front of you?’

    Thanks for great advice! I’m retweeting.

    • Thanks Barbara! I think courtesy is so important (and also quite tough at times — I know how tempting it can be to get angry in response to a snarky comment, but I try to stay cool and calm on my blog!) I think “Would you say the same thing if that person was standing in front of you?” is a great question to ask.

  6. Number 3 – Consistency and Number 4 – Self-discipline are the hardest for me :/

    I keep on changing my post dates and I keep getting distracted…

    Thanks for the reminder, very good article :)

  7. I think being a blogger is sort of like being an artist – you feel driven to do it. And if you don’t feel driven, but need to blog as part of your marketing plan (and most businessess should), then try to find something about blogging that appeals to you. It could be your need to create, express your opinion or communicate with others. Like art, the most overwhelming part of it can be just getting started. But once you’ve laid the first stroke on the canvas or put the first letters on the page, you might find you can’t stop…

    • I agree completely with you Martha. I am driven to write. It’s not something I need to make time for – I need to make time for the other things that blogging moves to a back burner. I have written nearly 400 posts in 2 years on my company blog and only rue the times when I was too busy on other things to write more. Writing is what I do, thank god there is an outlet for that now that can actually drive my business goals along.

    • Martha, I completely agree — blogging’s a great creative outlet. It makes me really sad when I see blogs that are so clearly just in it for the hopes of money (I find it hard to believe that many people *enjoy* writing about credit cards..?) Blogging’s hardly a get-quick-rich scheme, so having artistic as well as commercial motivations can really help you stick with it.

  8. Great article. First paragraph I was thinking “hey, he’s talking about me!” (lol)
    It all makes sense, some good, common sense points. Thanks for an informative article.

  9. Great article ! I manage 3 blogs and this article is a great memo !
    One of the most important is to be serious when you’re blogging, I mean you don’t have to check Facebook, Twitter, Gmail or anything else. If so you’re foutu (its the french for damn :))

  10. Wow

    You really sumed up everything so nicely together. I mean I knew all these thing, but I couldn’t put it into a system

    Great post!

  11. I have been sticking to writing a new post every two days. Once traffic picks up some more I would prefer to update my site daily.

  12. The hardest thing for me is not feeling overwhelmed by having to be consistent. I’ve read many posts that said you should update your blog every day. For me, that’s just not possible… but I’ve tried over and over over anyway, and have failed each time because it’s not possible.

    I like the idea of consistency based on your own situation. So thank you for wiping that post-every-day-or-your-blog-will-FAIL idea out of my head.

    • Glad to help!

      I firmly believe that “post-every-day” is a myth. It really depends on your blog, your audience, your goals … what really matters is that you find a comfortable posting routine which lets you write enough but not too much.

  13. Great qualities of a blogger here, especially the consistency one, as it plays a big part of any bloggers business, to be truly successful you need to have a lot of patience and be consistent in what you are doing.

  14. On the subject of consistency, should you have set days and times to publish? Should you simply aim at posting regularly regardless of the posting times?

    I’m new to blogging and plan on purchasing the Darren’s first week book this evening.

    • Up to you! Many blogs do, but I don’t think it’s essential to stick to specific days and times.

      The one situation where you should be consistent about the day, though, is if you’re doing a regular weekly post that follows a particular pattern (e.g. Copyblogger’s Friday wrap-up each week).

  15. When it comes to consistency I’ve definitely had to learn to be disciplined when it comes to setting a schedule. In the beginning my updates were all over the place but now I pre-schedule all my posts and make sure that there is always one update per day, whether it is a guest post or written by my own fair hand. Traffic seems to have increased by regular, steady posting. And I attended my first bloggers conference a couple of months ago :)

  16. Yeah, I’m of the me mind set that a consistent publishing schedule is flawed. It stifles creativity and makes the author rush to meet a deadline. If your writing is worth reading, your audience will wait for it just as long as you do write something. There’s plenty of crap out there to occupy time until the goods arrive.

  17. Excellent post that I’m bookmarking for future reference. I’ll probably print it out too. After a year of blogging, and with my memoir, the reason for beginning to blog, about to be released, I’m been thinking a lot about where to go with blogging. I have some fantastic followers/friends I never want to lose; but I’d also like to work with my daughter on a blog where we might earn some money. So the information in this post is just what I need. I’m now going to download the free mini-ebook. Thank you!

  18. I would say it depends on what purpose you want your blog to have. Knowing that will help guide your choices to making your blog effective and engaging.


  19. Great Post. This one really helped to know more on building blogs. These 7 habits can almost give you what you want. I really like the Consistency tip. Thanks

  20. I’m with Ann–I’m also bookmarking this post. Luckily, I am working on all 7 habits you have mentioned, especially my growth as a blogger. You have to take chances! I almost chickened out in entering a blogging contest for writers, and my article is now one of the eight finalists. It has given me the confidence to begin planning and writing guest posts. My next step is to put together my first e-book; I’ve been going through a lot of firsts, and it’s only scary when you start–once you delve in, it’s very exhiliarating and quite fun.

  21. This could also be titled “The 7 habits of professionals”. Good reminders although 1 and 7 seem pretty synonymous to me.

  22. Its the absolute worse when I visit a blog and there hasn’t been any new content in 4 days. You don’t have to post everyday, but if 4 days past, and there’s no new content, it makes me wonder if the blogger has given up on their site.

    This really only apply’s to smaller blogs, but those are the ones I like the best because the content is interesting. Don’t give up, just keep posting…somebody is reading it…. I’m reading it

  23. Hi Ali,

    I like Point no. 1 – Learning and no. 4 – Self-discipline.
    Great post ali, any one can follow all these golden rule of blogging, you had described all points very well.

    Thanks for sharing interesting post

  24. Yes, no matter how much successful, a blogger is always in a “keep learning mode”. The day he stops learning he is left behind. Web is quite dynamic. What was relevant yesterday has lost it’s its charm today. The ways of traffic generation, monetization keeps changing. Remember – Digg, Reddit etc, now they are replaced with Twitter & FB :)

  25. if people spent the same amount of effort that they do on blogging in a real world job, they could make far more money!

  26. Archan Mehta says: 05/11/2011 at 5:54 pm


    Thank you, as usual, for writing this guest post. It is always a pleasure to read your work.

    A blogger must invest in personal growth and professional development: it is a symbiotic relationship.
    Equally important, work smart instead of working hard. Otherwise, you will burn out in no time.

    That means taking breaks, intermissions and recess. It means enjoying your hobbies and interests and having down time. That means taking care of household chores and running errands too. That means having enough time to pay the bills and attending a party. That means having time for exercise or working out to take care of your body. So, it is really a delicate balancing act and you are the trapeze artist.

    You have already made these points in your own way. I am just paraphrasing here, or trying to do so.
    Wish you great success in your literary efforts. We, your readers, appreciate your contributions. Cheers.

  27. I always see consistency as the key to success, truly it is. Keep it up!

  28. I like the bit about Integrity best. You can tell by the writing what kind of a person he and she is by their post. Integrity shines through. You have to have it on the inside first though for it to come out in your writing.

  29. I could find myself in all of these a few months ago. I either made a new post every second day or once in two weeks, it messed with my real life schedules and I bet visitors didn’t like it either.

    Trust is in my opinion, the most important factor to become a good blogger. You want your readers to trust you, that way, you can pretty much do anything.

  30. Thank you for writing this post! All valid points are made here. The ones that stood out for me was blogging schedule and learning.

    Since my day is filled from sun up to sun down, I try my best to put a post out every day. Not just something that I threw together, but an honest, thoughtful post. I rather be “late” a few hours with a post, then put out a post that doesn’t sound together.

    As for learning, i don’t think any one person knows everything about any particular topic. We are always learning new techniques and new things about our interest. For example, teachers always learn something new from their students.

    • I think it’s far better to be a few hours (or even a few days!) late with a post than to rush out something half-finished.

      It sounds like you’ve got a busy life! Is daily posting working for you? I started out posting every weekday on my first blog, but I found my stride better when I moved to doing three posts a week in a Mon/Weds/Fri pattern. Up to you, but you might want to experiment a little bit with posting frequency.

  31. For me it’s having the consistency which is something I struggled with. Being able to get in a position where I’ve got a constant stream of posts took a while to achieve. Now I’m doing it, it enables me to work on other parts of my blog.

    Thanks for the post Ali.

  32. This is an interesting post.

    I think every blogger needs some reminding about the dos and don’ts once in a while.
    I believe that one of the most important things is courtesy and respecting other people’s opinions. It’s difficult when an author has a totally different perception of things but that doesn’t mean you can go and just be angry about it. I say constructive criticism is still the best way to tell someone how you feel about their post.

    Besides, the kiss-and-kick strategy never goes old.

    Well, good job and keep ’em coming!

    • Thanks Daryl! I think constructive criticism is useful when bloggers have asked for feedback … but sometimes, saying nothing at all is best.

  33. It is not just about sustainability. Perseverance is equally important. A lot of would-be probloggers quit because they don’t see quick results. In fact, patience and perseverance are my number 1 advice for all bloggers.

  34. Hi Ali,

    Consistency and self discipline are what I lacked during my earlier days of blogging and that is the #1 reason it took so long for me to “get there”. However, once I started developing good practices and strict schedules, now I can’t help myself following them :)


  35. I enjoy reading posts like this because it reminds me that I am on the right track when it comes to being organized about my blog. I have gotten better over time with becoming more and more consistent with posting articles, and I know that I will only continue to improve in that area. Also, I love learning in general and sometimes I think I spend too much time learning about blogging then actually blogging myself. LOL….but no doubt this post has added to my knoweldge about the world of blogging!

    Thanks, Kendra

  36. Great advice. I have used some of the $$ I’ve got from my blog to take blogging courses. I have the writing down–it’s the social media that I need to learn. It’s not that hard, and there are numerous workshops to participate in.

  37. I love that you include “integrity” as one of the habits! It’s something the internet is really lacking

  38. Ali,

    That is an absolutely excellent arsenal of habits to work on! I really have no complaints or objections about any of them.
    I truly believe that blogging is a wonderful opportunity to grow a virtual business. It takes work, but that work is challenging, adventurous, social, and growth-inducing. And, oh yeah, very low overhead!

    Know your topic or niche as well as you can, set up your blog with a design that fits your personality with a photo of yourself right at the top, add dynamic pages (“about”, “contact”, “recommended”, etc.) to flesh it out, post consistently (at least once a week! preferably more often..), and engage with other bloggers on practically a daily basis = the road to blogging success!

    Thanks, Ali!


  39. I think the most important point here is SELF DISCIPLINE. I have found that it is quite a task to motivate myself (and my clients) to post regularly. That’s why I recommend making a calendar entry to write, turning off email and social media, and FOCUSING on what’s important. Try it, it works!

  40. This is an excellent Blog!! I am sorry I had not found it earlier! Great information and tips. Consistency and self discipline are what I lacked during my earlier days of blogging and this is definitely a ongoing process!

  41. Hello,

    I am new to blogging and this was a good read, site visits are down but I guess its only been about a month, our site is only small at the moment but I’m happy with the name, perhaps I will have to broaden the items we write on them just our day/week. Perhaps start some reviews of games, movies, shows, etc; I guess its all about Learning, thanks for the post, I will be a regular visitor.

    B from CZ

  42. Many thanks Ali. I like what you said on courtesy in replying all comments and consistency in blog postings

  43. Thanks for an insightful post. I would agree with most of the points- especially consistency and self-discipline. I’m off to put this advice to practice and will be SWITCHING OFF the browser for a while!

    • I’m with you on this one. If you don’t have self-discipline, forget about consistency. Without consistency, all those other points do not apply.

  44. and also, if you find an opportunity, never worry to try it rather than lose it :)

  45. Ali,

    The schedule aspect is something that really helped me. I set myself a schedule of a post every 3 to 4 days and try to keep 5 posts ahead of the game. Sometimes I get down to 1 or 2 (writers block) but then bust my way back into the lead.

    I remember trying to pass this info on to another blogger. They responded with, “Oh I’ll never run out of things to say!” I certainly hope he doesn’t for his sake!

  46. Awesome it makes super sense and I will be applying these to my blog.

  47. Really nice post…
    I realize now that I’m missing most them.
    Now, I’ll apply all of them.

  48. I am amazed to read your whole post. You did a great job for all of us who’d need to learn about professional blogging. I am from Bangladesh I am also a professional blogger in my native blog. Here I think you miss to mentioned one thing about “Commenting”. Professional blogger need to say a high rating comment as like as they are. For their this kind of comment can encourage newbie bloggers to inspiring them to start their blogging career in the right way from the very begging. Hope u have got what I meant?



  49. This was great advice. Thank you!

  50. Oh gosh, #4 can be SO challenging sometimes! I live in Florida, and while we get some bad weather during the Summer/early Fall, when we have nice weather it’s REALLY nice. Makes it hard to want to stay inside and get some writing done.

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