What makes a blogger successful? What are the common traits of highly effective bloggers? If you’ve even remotely tried to launch your own blog, that question surely popped into your head at some point. And I bet it was rather sooner than later.
I have more than a year of blogging as a pro. And before starting to blog for a living I was an avid consumer of other blogs. I think I have in my RSS reader feeds I read for more than 5 years now. Gradually, I developed my own set of blog appreciation rules. And of course, if you’ve carefully read the title of this post, those rules are no more than 7. In today’s article I’ll write about what I think is the recipe for being a successful blogger.
This is what makes a blogger believable.
Authority creates trust. And trust makes you spend your precious time on that specific blog instead of doing something else. Because you know it’s worth doing it. You know you’re in for something. You’ve been there before and you weren’t disappointed. Your expectations were met again and again.
Have you ever wondered what makes you click the links of a popular blog? What makes you follow that advice or buy that product? What makes a blogger believable?Â It’s not his identity, nor his persistence, although both are part of the success mix, but his authority. You believe a blogger because you trust him.
Without authority a blog will be floating. It may jump every now and then if it touches some hot topics but if it doesn’t build a significant level of authority, it will drift away, at the mercy of fashion.
I think one of the most respected blogs in the marketing niche, for instance, is Seth Godin’s blog. Seth’s authority was previously built by his books but it somehow spread over his blog. The person vouches for the blog in this case.
This is what makes a blogger accepted.
Being honest. Being human. Being able to make mistakes and accept them publicly. Blogging is such a fantastic media revolution not because it created a super hero, like cinema, but because it made the normal, average, human guy able to openly express his intentions, dreams, challenges. And made those opinions instantly available.
Authority without authenticity won’t build a successful blog. It may create a solid corporation, but not a sustainable blog. With any interaction, people are unconsciously trying to find themselves in the other guy. It’s a human need, called validation, we all need that. If, as a blogger, you don’t reach out openly, without being afraid, you’re in the wrong business.
One of the most famous examples ofÂ authenticity is, at least for me, Steve Pavlina’s blog. If you read it just for a few minutes you couldn’t but notice that vibe of authenticity which makes Steve so popular even when he’s allegedly “deluding” in some of the not-so-mainstream explorations like polyamory or, recently, BDSM or alike.
This is what makes a blogger palatable.
Accessibility makes a blog available, ready to be consumed. It’s the way you write, the way you wrap up your message, the package by which you deliver your goods. If you want to be popular as a blogger, keep in mind that your audience is extremely diverse. It takes much more work than you think to write in an accessible way.
This quality is often overlooked in almost all bloggers rankings I saw. Usually, authority and authenticity are the main criteria, but there’s no point in being an authority if you can’t deliver a readable, straightforward message to your readers. Regardless of your expertise, a clear, accessible blog will always increase your chances to a broader audience.
The most brilliant example of an accessible blog is Brian Clark’s Copyblogger.com. It amazes me how Brian writes in such an easy to understand way about really complicated topics, like the art of persuasion. Copyblogger.com is popular because it provides easy to understand access to incredibly complicated issues, not the other way around.
This is what makes a blogger wanted.
Persistence creates demand. Showing up constantly and doing what you have to do will build a sense of expectation among your readers. They will know you’re there for them. They will wait for you, call for you or ask things from you. Constantly broadcasting your message will create a certain frequency in your readers minds. They will just tune in.
Now, try to imagine a blog with only one article per month. How would this feel to you? Like a joke, I know. Or imagine a series of 5-6 fantastic articles in a week and then several months of silence. No way. Being there is fundamental, can’t be avoided or faked. They say showing up is 80% of success. I doubt it will be exactly 80% but it’s without a doubt compulsory to show up persistently in order to build a successful blog.
Few people know that several years ago, when he started Problogger.net, one of the most visited blogs on the planet, Darren Rowse only wanted an increase of 10% in traffic from month to month. That tells a lot about how far he was ready to go with it. Problogger.net may not be the most spectacular blog on this planet, but it surely is one of the most constant, reliable and respected. And the persistence of the author plays a big role in that.
This is what makes a blogger available.
Connectivity creates links. All kind of links, from plain HTML, PR-juice enabled links, up to human contacts. One of the fundamental characteristics of a successful blogger is his ability to be broadcast as far as possible. And here’s where connectivity plays a fundamental part. All A-listers are virals, without exception.
Have you ever wondered how many interactions a successful bloggers has in a normal day? My wild guess is that this number is at least 10 times higher than the average. Just imagine reading dozens of comments (and perhaps responding each of them), interacting on Twitter, or Facebook or Digg. You can’t really do that if you’re socially impaired.
One of the bloggers who could always be studied in schools for that is, in my opinion, Chris Brogan. I’ve been following closely his work in the last few years and his growth was literally explosive. I think he directly interacts with more than 500 persons each day. Guess what? Those persons are also the broadcasters for his message. How many persons are broadcasters for your message?
This is what makes a blogger valuable.
Creativity triggers admiration. We admire a blogger not because of his authority or authenticity, but because of what he brings new and beautiful in this world. For his capacity to innovate, to re-create his environment, to embellish and refine. Many successful bloggers actually created their niche from the scratch, they built something out of nothing.
This ability to re-organize the Universe in a new form, to create value and to touch others is by far my favorite trait from all 7. Without this ability a blogger would offer no more than a Wikipedia entry, valuable advice but flat, with no human touch, no improvement, no spark.
My favorite creative blogger right now is Gary Vaynerchuk. For a guy who makes a living by drinking wine (joking, of course) he’s unbelievably creative: he re-inventedÂ video blogging and he wrote a book not about Chardonnay, but about how to follow your passion! That’s creativity, that’s building something where there was nothing before.
This is what makes a blogger recognizable.
I chose the word identity because “personal branding” would have been a little bit too precious. But personal branding is what I meant by it. Identity is what makes you unique. It’s that square centimeter you own in your readers’ cortex, the same way you own real estate. It’s the instant link they make between a certain niche and your name as a blogger.
Did you observed how many times we actually use the name of a successful blogger to identify a niche? In blogging, the capacity to build a unique, easily recognizable identity (or brand, for what matters) is the difference between two identical copies of a newspaper. You may talk about the same things, have the same level of authority and the same creativity as other bloggers, but what makes you different is your brand. Your personal brand.
For instance, Leo Babauta identity would be tied up in my brain with the following concept: “minimalist productivity”. Whenever this concept pops out in a conversation, the first person I think about is Leo Babauta, creator of ZenHabits.net. That’s his identity. His brand. I’m sure there are a lot of other bloggers writing about minimalism, but their identity may not be as strongest as his. At least for me.
Of course, all the aforementioned bloggers are sharing all the 7 traits, I just had to chose which one was the most representative for each.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you have any examples of successful bloggers where you can identify one, two or all of these traits? Do you, as a blogger, have all of them? Would love to hear your comments.