How to succeed at blogging: 4 essentials

I help people start blogs every week. No matter how much advice or how pretty the website is, most will not make it.  Succeeding at blogging is a rare and beautiful thing. It’s just a fact that there are millions of blogs. And nearly all of them are read by a handful of friends and relatives.

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Who makes $$$ in advertising revenue? Who turns it into speaking gigs or gets picked up by publishers? Who can afford to leave the day job? Who really succeeds?

When I think about the similarities of everyone I’ve met that has made it at blogging, there are four glaring ones: similar goals, influence, talent and investment. And I mean, very very very similar.

goal

The Elusive Blogging Goal

If I ask, “Who do you write to?” or “Who is your audience?” The successful blogger will always know the answer. If they’re new, they’ll know it intuitively. Articulating the answer is sometimes more difficult if they haven’t been through a million seminars on SMART goals and elevator speeches like some of us. That’s okay, we’ll tow them along for the swag bags.

Another glaring similarity is that they always know what they’re writing about. And they are always passionate about it.

The ones who write about whatever makes money will fail every time. I have seen it time and time again – there must be personal investment into the topic. The logical side of me can’t really put a finger on why, but it’s definitely a factor.

influence

Circle of Influence

Bloggers like readers! Interaction is their currency. The bloggers that succeed started with a circle of influence, even a small one.

Some examples that I’ve seen:

  • One lady had a Bible Study group of women that followed her and loved to read her daily thoughts.
  • One lady ran in some pretty literary circles and they saw her talent and encouraged her to begin blogging.
  • Another friend was a past magazine editor, talented author with a passionate message. But her passionate topic is also a pop culture hot topic and has her site flooded with readers every day.
  • Another lady has a huge circle of friends and several contacts in the foodie field from her day job. When she started a foodie blog, it was natural for everyone (100’s) to check it out. It took off from there because of her talent, passion and consistency.

If you have an audience, whether church, friends, family or social media profiles, you have a circle of influence.

There is one caveat here – if you have all the other factors in your favor, especially the talent, but do not have people that hang on your every word, it’s still possible to make it. But there is usually a significant building period.

grow

Talent

This one is non-negotiable. If you are not a great writer, you will not get very far with your new blog. And you will definitely not make full-time dollars from writing a blog. Period. The End.

Can you learn this talent? Sure, maybe. But I think you need to have a certain je ne sais pas, and then build on that to become a GREAT writer. The great writers are the ones that can leave their day jobs.

invest

Investment

You can have an audience, a passionate message and the talent to write like Charles Dickens, but if you don’t put the investment into the blog you will fail. And I am not talking about money.

You absolutely must be consistent – whether it’s once a week or 5 days per week – consistency is what keeps the audience engaged. This will take your time and sacrifice when you’d rather do something else.

You must write your best stuff. Successful authors of blogs and anything really –  are continually striving to be better. This takes personal investment.

You must build your audience – on marketing, social media, any connections at all – online or offline. You must learn how to do this and spend the time doing it. This is a huge time investment.

Financially – you need a domain name that you stick with. These are $10 from GoDaddy. You should start on your own if possible. By this I mean your own hosting and your own website. But if you need to go to wordpress.com because its cheaper, thats fine. The most important thing is that you start.

It’s more important that you start than that your site looks pretty. Craigslist? Not pretty. But pretty darn popular. Facebook? Not at all that nice to look at. But we all use it. Ebay? Etsy? Pretty is in the eye of the beholder; and just a perk. It is not necessary to succeed at blogging.

These four: goals, influence, talent and investment. And the greatest of these is talent.

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