This is a guest contribution from Jerry Low.
There is one thing that all successful bloggers have in common with one another:
They all have habits that keep them focused and productive no matter what else is going on. They can easily navigate the highs and lows of life and still keep blogging away.
These habits force them to focus on things like learning new techniques consistently and seeking new knowledge about blogging, SEO and best practices. They also network with others restlessly.
In order to succeed in any area of life, you have to work on that area consistently. By building the right habits, you increase your chances of success. Think about some of the most successful people you’ve ever heard of.
As pointed out in a Forbes article about developing habits, Michael Jordan practiced jump shots even during his off season; and the Williams sisters practiced tennis every morning before school. To find great success, you have to do more than anyone else and you have to do it consistently.
Every habit you want to build can be broken into a specific sequence of steps. By focusing on these small steps, you build winning habits over time.
In the book “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard,” the Heath brothers suggest that to motivate the elephant (our emotion), you need to shrink the change.
What does that mean?
Build up the habit by taking steps to make it easier. Put your gym bag in your car’s trunk instead of focusing on the whole process of packing your gym bag, driving to the gym, sweating the heck out of yourself, driving back, showering, and unpacking the bag. Focus on one task at a time.
The same concept applies to blogging.
Focus on small tasks you can do, one at a time, and build the right habits. In fact, from my own experience and observations on other bloggers, having the right habit is the most important element in successful blogging.
When Ariana Huffington started the Huffington Post in 2005, people made fun of her. However, she had a vision. She consistently recruited celebrity bloggers and used some traditional, consistent marketing tactics. The rest, as they say, is history. She left many of her critics in the dust.
TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington provided solid technical information and news that anyone can understand. It is not the third most popular blog in the world. This was accomplished through consistent habits of posting about tech topics and being on the cutting edge of breaking news.
If you wish to have success as a blogger, here at the habits you should develop and keep:
1. Take notes anywhere, anytime
Find the most convenient way to keep all your notes together. There are many ways to do this. You can use index cards and file them. You can jot them down in your phone and transfer the ideas to DropBox or another online storage system. You can file them into folders on your computer.
The main point is to stay productive at all times. It doesn’t matter how you take the notes, just that you take them and make them easily accessible for future reference.
Personally I use Evernote to record all ideas and any reading online that I want to refer back to later. I use Evernote because it is easy for me to synchronize everything between my tablet, PCs, and mobile phones.
2. Ask the right questions, always
Robert Kiyosaki shares a trick in his book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”: he says you should always ask “How can I do this…” anytime you’re impressed by someone else or like an idea.
For example, you listened to one of Pat’s Smart Passive Income podcasts. You think that it’s the best blogging resource ever in the world. So, you ask, “How can I do something like this?”
When you look at another blogger’s income report, ask, “How can I make my blog better than theirs?”
By asking the right question (how?), you open yourself to endless possibilities.
By asking the right question (how?), your brain doesn’t stop at admiring others, but works to repeat what you admire. You keep yourself busy searching for a way to make others admire you as well and to emulate those you look up to.
3. Always optimize your content for search engine traffic
Even though we shouldn’t rely on search engines as our only traffic source, Google is still an important source for targeted audience traffic.
First, always include relevant keywords in your post headlines and titles. Do enough keyword research to understand what searchers are looking for typically and what other bloggers in your niche are writing. This means you should be doing keyword research just to see what is trending, what is getting the most traffic, and what you might want to write about in the future.
Some of the tools you can use for this research include:
4. Post your content to social media at the right time
Nearly all bloggers probably agree that sharing your content on social media isn’t optional. If you want to increase your reach, reach your readers, and get people talking, you simply have to have a social media presence at a minimum on the big three (Google+, Facebook, Twitter).
However, timing those posts just right can have a huge impact on how successful your social media campaigns are.
Generally speaking, if your targeted audience is mainly in the United States, the retweet rate could be 2x higher if you post at 6 p.m. instead of 6 a.m. according to KISSMetrics. Facebook shares on Saturday could be 100% better than shares on Sunday.
Not only does what day you post matter, but what time you post and even what words you use and the size of your image.
Figure out the best time to post on Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest for your profile by using freemium tools such as Adespresso and HootSuite. Then, simply share your important posts during prime time.
5. Stay away from distractions when writing
It’s easy to get distracted while writing. Whether you are in the kitchen and your daughter walks into the room and starts talking in the middle of that sentence you are writing, or you have a television playing in the background and something captures your interest, you may get distracted and lose your train of thought.
Our brains are not designed to multitask effectively. Apparently, our brains just don’t like to multitask. Doing more than one task at a time creates “splits” in the brain, which are called “spotlights” by researchers. So, your brain is just racing and trying to switch quickly between different tasks.
Researchers have found that it can take time for the brain to shift from one task to the other. Even if it is only 1/10th of a second, it reduces our attention to that task. While studies show that women are better at multitasking, it isn’t ideal for anyone. It is better to focus on one task at a time. You’ll actually get more done and get it done more quickly.
To work more efficiently and focus on the task at hand:
- Turn off phones, email notifications, TVs
- Logout from your favorite social media networks
- Use a distraction-free tool such as OmmWriter or Cold Turkey if necessary
6. Maintain a balanced life
Burnout can be a serious problem with bloggers. You may have been working on your blog without a break for months on end and seeing very little reward.
It is important to maintain balance in your life or you may burn out, walk away from your blog and never return.
Take time out of your schedule to spend with family and friends. If you are religious, allow time in your schedule to attend ceremonies.
Spend time on other activities you enjoy. You’ll also be surprised at how motivation will strike when you’re doing other tasks.
7. They take care of themselves
Life is busy for everyone. You may have an outside job and blog at nights or on the weekends. Perhaps you have a family or a busy social life as well.
It can be hard to find the time to take care of ourselves with so much going on, but if you aren’t feeling well it is hard to do everything from stay on top of the tasks you need to complete to focusing on writing the best content possible.
- Get regular exercise to keep your body healthy and your mind focused.
- Don’t get so busy that you skip meals.
- Get enough sleep. If you stay up until 3 a.m. every night working on articles, they may or may not make much sense to anyone else.
8. Network with others
Successful bloggers know that blogging can be hard and lonely. They don’t try to go it alone. Instead, they develop a network of like-minded website owners they can turn to for advice, guest posts, links and support.
For example, there are many groups on both Facebook and Twitter in just about any niche you can imagine that are solely for the purpose of networking. For example, if you are a garden blogger, you might join a group on Facebook for gardening bloggers.
Once you join these groups, fellow members will offer advice, tips and will like and share your content on social media. This expands your reach and it expands their reach as you return the favor.
Networking builds your audience and gives you a sounding board.
9. Last but not least, be consistent
In lists of habits of bloggers, there is one thing that comes up over and over again. Post consistently and be true to yourself and your audience.
- Use analytics to figure out high traffic times for your blog and then choose that time to schedule posts.
- Post on social media at the same time and on the same days so your followers know they can count on you.
- If you have a voice, don’t try to change it. If your view today is that widgets are the best thing since sliced bread, you better have an awfully good reason if you plan to change that opinion.
- Respond to reader comments. They should know they can count on interaction from you.
Your readers will come to trust your integrity and know they can count on you and will feel comfortable sharing your blog with others.
Look at Your Reasons for Blogging
In the end, it boils down to your reasons for blogging.
Do you actually have something to say or some unique knowledge to share? If you are only blogging to make money, then you’re a lot less likely to be successful.
The minute you aren’t making money or it takes longer than you thought it would to make money, you’ll abandon your blog. Instead, focus on reaching one reader you can help or building your audience. The monetization will take care of itself over time.
Great post Jerry. Coincidentally tomorrow I’m speaking at Inbound about 7 Habits of Lucky Entrepreneurs! I didn’t know this was going up today – a few similarities in our lists :-)
Hey Darren, I am glad you like the post. It’s an honour to guest post at ProBlogger.net :)
Awesome post indeed and i agree with you on this one. Success people are good in maintaining good habits because its only when you make something a habit that you will end up mastering it and then become very good at it.
Thats they said that “We’re what we repeatedly do therefore, Success is never an act but a habit”. I so much love that quote man.
The truth is that if you really want to succeed in life then, you should be very consistent at everything you’re doing and you to always be developing good habits.
Hi Jerry, great post on building habits.
Please change the not in this sentence to now—” It is not the third most popular blog in the world”
Hey Darren good luck for your speech. Will you be able to share the presentation here?
Ouch, bad typo. I can’t change a word in the article – hopefully ProBlogger editor is reading this. Thanks for pointing out my mistake though.
Nice Article Jerry. I am glad to know that the ways used to increase the chance of success through this article. Thanks for sharing this valuable article.
Great Post Jerry.I truly appreciated perusing your online journal, you have bunches of incredible substance. I anticipate perusing more posts from you.
Hey Jerry, I complete agree with you about avoiding any distraction when writing a Blog Post. You really need some friendly environment when you are writing something. As far as living networking is concern, A Blogger also needs to be a good communication so that he preach his lessons in a more better way. Thanks for the post..
The Topsy you mention in this blog is of great help.All the tips you have mention will surely improve any blogger for writing a great blog..keep it up. Thanks !!
Brilliant tips. I love the writing part, and have posts planned until the end of the year (practically!) but I need to get much better at the analytics/keyword research side of it. Reading through your tips, I’m thinking I need to block off time to do that. How often do you review your stats/carry out keyword research? Once a week? Once a month? Trying to get a balance of all the different aspects that I need to work on.
Great list of tools too. I love Evernote, and also use Pocket for ideas/interesting articles and so on – thanks!
I don’t have a fixed time table for market research but I do read a lot online (recently on Quora and Medium – go check out!) and always keep an eye on popular hashtags and mentions via Communi.it (about once every two weeks, I guess).
I am lucky to have two great partners in my work at WHSR (my editor Lori Soard and social media manager Jason) to help me out in the latest market trends (we exchange emails almost every day and will just give a quick buzz to each other once we see anything worth digging deeper).
I do agree that getting a balance in all blogging aspects is very challenging. And, deciding where to channel our energy (and time) is never an easy job. Try focus on what matters the most for your (and your blog) at current stage (SEO? monetization? expanding readership? writing quality? market research? All these are necessary in different stage of blogging). It might be a good idea to outsource some of your work if you are okay financially.
I love #5 and #6. Writing in quiet allows my ideas to flow. Some dig listening to music; I prefer silence because my success grows the more I block out distractions to write posts, eBooks and to record podcasts. As for balance I am HUGE on personal development. Gotta do the exercise, meditating, deep stretching and icy cold shower bit to make my day POP ;)
Thanks for sharing,
Ryan – Yeah me too! I couldn’t focus much with music running on the background. How are you doing there? Are you still in Asia region these days or?
Thanks for your comment pal.
Thank you for sharing with us these valuables tips. For me, being a successful blogger has a direct relation with passion and patient. For sure, all the steps and tips that you have shared on this article a re important but without passion and patient we can reach our goals.
LOVE – thank you, Jerry! :D
By the way, Darren, I cannot believe that I didn’t notice this before, but ‘SPEAK YOUR MIND’ is a fabulous substitute for ‘Comments’ ;)
Hmmm, good observation. Perhaps I should do the same on WHSR blog.
Wonderful list. I must really follow habit number 5. ;) My phone always distracts me, but it is really hard to be without it for even a minute.
Vamsi – Well, we are in the age of smart phone after all.
I think forming habits is definitely the most important thing! Great tips, thank you for sharing.
Yep! In addition of what I have mentioned in the post – I remember reading somewhere that to form a habit that sticks you need to keep doing it for 24 consecutive days.
I guess whenever you want to try something new and form a new habit – it’s best to force yourself to do it for at least a month.
Great, great list. Thanks. I also use Evernote to document pretty much everything. It has proven to be very valuable to my workflow. There are many cool services out there that connect to your Evernote account and enable you to make the most of your Evernote data.
This is actually a really, really good post. Thanks for that. I particularly found #6 to be a reminder that I work way too much inside and need to find society once again. Also, I think I have to get on the #8 bandwagon. I happen to be somewhat of an introvert, so I find networking a bit of a challenge. The social thing never really took off for me. Perhaps I’ll look at some Facebook groups as suggested.
Thanks again for the post.
I am somewhat introvert in real life as well (guess that’s common for any guy who sits in front of a screen alone for 8 hours every day?) but after years of training I just get used to making a connection via emails, chats, or blog commenting.
Thanks for the compliment!
Well said that maintaining a balanced life is very important and but i am missing that one. So, i am going to take care of it and hope it will bring me some happy and tired-free moments for me.
Love the list.
I am a huge sports fan and I can relate to the Michael Jordan and Williams’ sisters example. Not only do they have a tremendous amount of talent, but they put the time in required to be successful and do it consistently like you said. Everything they do is designed around – How can I be better? What can I do right now to be better?
When something is your passion you tend to eat, breathe, and sleep it which affords you the opportunity to be highly successful.
You’ll definitely increase your chances of success if you make a concerted effort to improve by 1% a day.
Small changes over time produce big results.
Thanks for sharing Jerry.
Thanks Jerry for these helpful tips. Little improvements reflects greater results and this list have shown me to apply much more improvement in my working style. Got new tricks like taking notes which i never do and after some i struggle what idea was that. Also social media (right time) thing is what i am planning to master. Many of my friends said that i should post in between 2 and 3 pm in day time or 7 to 9 pm in evening.
Thanks a lot again.
Excellent Tips Jerry, I’ve found that using techniques like Pomodoro technique or don’t break the chain has helped me commit to consistent writing and effective sessions throughout the day.
Ha!, what a great post! I am especially guilty of not avoiding distractions. I will definitely make an effort to avoid distractions going forward. Thanks a lot for sharing.
I think networking is very important. It can help turn blogs from having no visitors to being a smashing hit.
Superb post, indeed!
I liked all these habits. There is nothing wrong with these. Health problems are the most vital thing if too much sitting. I’m aware of this, that’s why I do exercises regularly to move my body.
Talking about building networks, I think blog commenting is one of the best ways to realize it. It worked for me though. ;)
Last habit is my favorite, consistently. I completely agree with this. I have no doubt about it.
Thanks for sharing this great post with us.
Have a great weekend!
Well, I suppose it`s so simple.
As well as being focused you should be totally aware how to express your opinion appropriately – keeping up to the tips above! Success comes when you really want it so just do your best!
Great post, really helpful! Actually when I first began writing, it could take me 6 to 8 hours to write a short post. Today, I can start and finish a post in under an hour minutes if I’ve been thinking about it during the week-writing has gotten easier to do because I keep it up as a habit.