75 Ways to Become A Top Ten Blogger (51-75)

As a writer one of your most important tasks is to create and maintain a working blog. In the next three posts I want to share with all of the secrets that got me to Top Ten Blogger status in less than a year. Some of these lessons were hard for me to learn, some were easy for me to learn, and still some (I am embarrassed to say) I find myself having to re-learn over and over again.

I am sharing my secrets with you today in the hopes that they will help you improve your own writing blog and make it a place that not only enriches you and your readers, but gives you all you could ever need to make you a healthy, happy, and connected writer.

Here we go. (Clears throat.) Ahem. Orchestra please:

(Turn up your computer’s volume and press play.)

(Editor’s note: this post originally began with the overture to 2001: A Space Odyssey.)

75. BECOME AN OBSESSIVE READER

Read everything. I mean everything. Personally, I read news articles, comedic articles, spiritual books, history books, science books, techie blogs, social media blogs, relationship blogs, athletic blogs, career blogs, finance books, entertainment websites, self-help books, writing blogs (of course), and even personal blogs.

Reading these different types of writing styles and genres has helped me become a better blogger. After learning from this wide range of reading material, I now feel confident writing in most of these styles whenever I feel like it: I could write funny posts, spiritual posts, technical posts, or even a post about relationships–without missing a beat.

If you add variety and diversity to your writing style it will keep your readers interested and looking forward to your next post.

74. FIND YOUR THEME

Even if you write in diverse styles you still need to make sure that each of your posts ties in with your overall theme.

If you just said to yourself: “What is this theme Ollin speaks of?” Then you are in trouble.

Okay. Before you start your blog, you’ll need to think long and hard about what your theme is going to be. A theme, as you may know, is a main idea that keeps coming up consistently throughout your blog. My theme is simple:

Writing a novel teaches you how to live a better life.

73. FIND YOUR NICHE

Think about who you want to target as your reader. My target reader, for example, is other writers.

Once you pinpoint your niche, DON’T FORGET to make sure you always provide articles that will be of direct benefit to your niche.

72. REFINE YOUR THEME

You’ll want to listen to your reader feedback to refine your theme.

For example: after a few months of blogging, I noticed that my readers would often use the word “inspirational” to describe my blog posts. When I started this blog, I didn’t intend to be “inspirational” per se, but now I realized that not only did my readers find my posts “inspiring,” but that this “inspiration” was something they were coming to expect from me. Once I realized that, I became an inspirational blog as well as a writing blog. From then on, every article I wrote was not only about how writing a novel helps you live a better life, but how the writing process can be very inspirational.

Each time you write a new post, listen to your readers responses. Which posts do they like? What key word keeps coming up in their comments? If the key word is “funny,” then make it a point to be funny in every post; if the key word is “practical” make it a point to be practical; if it’s “informative” make it a point to be informative. You get the idea.

Refining your theme is important because the reader needs to know what to expect from you blog, or else they won’t know why they should keep coming to you.

71. REFINE YOUR NICHE

After a couple of months, I realized that my niche was not just writers but specifically writers who needed motivation to write.

Personally, I had already found confidence in my ability to keep up a solid writing schedule. That meant that I had something to TEACH that my niche wanted to LEARN.

After I refined my niche, I was able to write much better posts because now I was aware of my reader’s specific needs.

Which reminds me:

70. DON’T TALK ABOUT SOMETHING YOU HAVE NO AUTHORITY TO TALK ABOUT

For instance, I can’t spend time on my blog talking about how to market your book, or how to land a publisher, or how to land an agent, because I haven’t done any of those things. (Not yet.)

Readers will see right through you if you start to make phony promises and claims. The first thing they want is proof that what you are promising on your blog IS attainable–and the most important proof of that is your own success. If you are not successful at what you are teaching, then say bye-bye to your credibility. Make sure you know what you have authority to talk about, or else, don’t talk about it.

69. FIND OUT WHAT YOU DO HAVE AUTHORITY TO TALK ABOUT

After reading number 70 you might feel like you have no authority to talk about ANYTHING, but this isn’t true. You still have a lot to share with people.

First, I want you to think about what you are really good that, something that comes very easy to you, but that other people tend to struggle with.

Thought about something? Guess what? THAT is your point of expertise. THAT is what everyone will want to learn. THAT is what you have authority to talk about.

Don’t assume that you have nothing to teach people. We all have something to teach people. We are all great and talented at something.

Teach people what you know. I’m serious. Try it. Share that thing you do every day, that thing you do so effortlessly. Then, share with you readers how you got to the point of being able to do that thing so effortlessly and watch how you’re “not-so-special” talent amazes and enriches your readers.

68. DO YOUR RESEARCH

Let’s face it, the skill of blogging can only be refined by studying other blogs and learning from the experts. Personally, I’m always on the look out for new ways to improve my blogging skills. My favorite place to go for blogging knowledge is Problogger.net.

Don’t leave it for tomorrow. Take some time today to subscribe to blogs that will teach you the advanced skills of blogging.

67. STUDY JAZZ

I’m serious. A Jazz musician is a blogger’s counterpart in the music world. What Jazz musicians did to music back in the day is what bloggers are doing to writing now.

Jazz is making music on the spot. No rehearsal, nothing old, every note is refreshingly, dangerously, urgently new.

Similar to jazz, blogging is writing on the spot. Blogging is improvisation. Blogging can’t be old. It’s gotta be hip, new, now. It’s gotta be adaptable, it’s gotta flow, it’s gotta be fresh but still well done.

Bloggers can learn a lot from our musical counterparts. Jazz musicians do a powerful thing: they meet skill with spirit. Listen to a scat by Louis Armstrong, for example, and hear how he uses all the skills he learned as a musician and then listen to how he blows those skills up, tears them down, mixes them up and creates something fresh and new right on the spot. In order to do what he did, Armstrong had to align his musical skill with his sky-bound spirit, a spirit that moved and surged within his living heart.

Study Armstrong and other Jazz musicians to find that mysterious intersection between learned talent and fresh soul–between that tired, old, skillful spot in your mind and that swift, temporary, urgent spot in your heart.

66. STUDY BRUCE LEE

I’m still not kidding. Read my post: “Writing Judo” to alleviate that constant worry you have that you might run out of ideas for your blog. Sometimes the emotions and thoughts you are experiencing at the present moment will lead you to the next article you need to write on your blog.

65. GIVE ALL YOUR SECRETS AWAY

You know when you were a kid and it was Halloween, and you made a point to note which houses gave you the crappy candy and which houses gave you the full-on chocolate bars? Next year, you made sure to visit those houses that gave you the goods, and skipped the houses that shortchanged you, right?

This habit from your childhood will teach you how to become a better blogger. When you give the goods to your readers, your readers will remember. They’ll come back to you because they know that YOU are the blogger that is willing to share all the secrets the other guys are too afraid to share because they think it will ruin them. But sharing your secrets won’t ruin you if you keep growing and improving your blog. Which takes me to….

64. KEEP GROWING AND IMPROVING YOUR BLOG

Don’t stop. Every day I think of ways I can make my blog more easy to navigate and less cluttered. I’m always trying to improve the kind of posts I write and the way I promote my blog. Don’t ever stop asking yourself how to improve you blog.

Constantly improving your blog also means that you are constantly learning new secrets, and that means you will never run out of secrets to share with your readers.

63. KEEP YOUR BLOG DESIGN SIMPLE AND EASY TO NAVIGATE

Remember, you want your readers to spend some time at your blog. Don’t make it harder for them, make it easier. Ask yourself:

“Have I made it REALLY easy for my readers to find exactly what they are looking for?”

Visit other blogs and see if it is easy to find out the information you are curious to learn. Take notes, then go back to your blog and ensure that, if you were a new reader to your own blog, you could easily find the answers to all of your initial questions.

You never know, both a High School teenager and a 80-year-old grandma might want to read your blog, so make it easy for the both of them–and for every kind of person in between. Don’t assume that everyone is as tech savvy as you. They may not be.

Finally, make it as easy on the eyes as possible. I don’t know how many blogs I didn’t read because their design was so cluttered or hard for me to read that it didn’t matter how great their content was, I wasn’t going to spend an hour just to try to find their most current post.

62. BE ENTHUSIASTIC

I WAS SOOOOO EXCITED TO SHARE WITH YOU ALL OF MY BLOGGING SECRETS! YOU HAVE NO IDEA! I JUST COULDN’T WAIT! I LOVE SHARING! I LOVE BLOGGING! I LOVE MY NOVEL! I LOVE MY READERS! I CAN DO ANYTHING GOOD! I LIKE MY SCHOOL! I LIKE ANYTHING! I LIKE MY DAD! I LIKE MY COUSINS! I LIKE MY AUNTS! I LIKE MY MOM! I LIKE MY SISTERS! I LIKE MY HAIR! I LIKE MY HAIRCUTS! I LIKE MY PAJAMAS! I LIKE MY STUFF! I LIKE MY ROOM! I LIKE MY WHOLE HOUSE! MY WHOLE HOUSE IS GREAT! I CAN DO ANYTHING GOOD! YEAH! YEAH! YEAH! I CAN DO ANYTHING. GOOD. BETTER. THAN. ANYONE.

Be enthusiastic. Your enthusiasm will show in your writing. No one likes reading the thoughts of an indifferent blogger. Bo-ring.

61. DON’T WASTE A POST

Every post is a chance for a potential reader to be introduced to you for the very first time. That’s why most of the time I tend to write my updates on the bottom of a post, instead of creating an entire post dedicated to an update. That way, a new reader doesn’t encounter a post she has absolutely no context for and, instead, encounters a post that is a fresh sample of my entire blog.

60. REALIZE THAT YOUR POST TITLES ARE IMPORTANT

I learned that a post with good content and a great title will be shared more times than a post that has great content but only a okay title. No, this is not a superficial idea. People are very busy and they don’t have time to read every single post, so they might skim the titles to get an idea of what posts they might want to spend their valuable time on. If your post title grabs their attention they will click on that title, simple as that.

It’s also important to make sure that a title of a post tells the reader what the post is about in a clear, direct manner. Remember: some of your readers are subscribed to your blog through RSS Feed and that means that your current post is just a little, itty, bitty title sitting among dozens of other titles. That’s why your post title has to pop up as something they want to click on.

59. REALIZE THAT YOUR FIRST LINE IS IMPORTANT

You know that the first line of a novel is important, so why don’t you take the same idea and apply it to every one of your blog posts?

Personally, I try to have a compelling first line in each blog post, or at least a compelling first paragraph to draw the reader in.

Every second of the day a potential reader could come across your post by random chance. {It happens all the time}. The first line of your current post is the difference between that random reader moving on and forgetting about you and that same random reader sticking to your blog and becoming your next biggest fan.

58. MAKE EACH POST ABOUT ONE THING

Each one of your posts MUST have a single theme and everything in that post should discuss that SINGLE theme. Avoid having more than one theme in your blog post, or else your thoughts will be all over the place and that will make it harder for your readers to follow you. Keep it simple. Stick to one theme per post.

57. LEARN THE RULES SO YOU CAN BREAK THEM

Here’s an example: You know how I said post titles are important? If you read my posts you may notice that I don’t have all the titles that most blog experts recommend. Some posts have titles that are one word, some have vague titles, some have ridiculously long titles. I am aware of this. I’ll write some posts that have a title that will catch a reader’s attention {like this one} and others that might not do so well in the world of sharing and tweets. And that’s OK with me. I personally get title fatigue when all I see are titles that read: “5 WAYS TO DO THIS OR THAT” or “10 THINGS YOU MUST DO NOW TO DO WATCHAMACALLIT.” Every once in a while, I like to give my regular readers a break from those “flashy” titles.

As long as I am aware of what rules I’m breaking when I do this, then it’s all good.

Plus, in the midst of all those catchier titles, a smaller title like “Surrender” or a longer title like “The Story of How An Unfit Man, Allergic to Any Kind of Physical Activity, Fell in Love With Running and Became A Better Writer in The Process” actually sticks out, instead of being overlooked.

56. CHANGE YOUR MIND

There was a time (recently actually) when I was strongly against Facebook and Twitter. I changed my mind. Surprise, surprise. My readership didn’t protest and call me a “hypocrite” or a “flip-flopper,” and my credibility with them did not go out the window. Why? Because my readers know that life isn’t black and white. We grow and learn and sometimes what we thought was a good idea yesterday doesn’t serve us well today, and we have to be willing to change and grow. Your readership will actually appreciate you acknowledging that we live in a world that is complex and constantly evolving.

55. BUT STICK TO YOUR BELIEFS

Even though I rejoined Facebook and Twitter, I still stuck to some core principles that I will always live by. For instance, I am strongly against spreading negativity or wasting people’s time. I also think that private, sensitive information should be related to friends and familia in person, and not shared throughout the viral world. I’ve also stuck to my promise to make Twitter and Facebook an extension of this blog and another place for my readers to discuss the intersection between writing and life.

That’s how it is with me, how it always will be and I’m happy about that.

54. OH, AND, DON’T BE AFRAID TO CONTRADICT YOURSELF

Number’s 55 and 56 contradict themselves. I’m aware of that, and I don’t mind. We live in a very paradoxical world and, like I said in number 56, your readers will appreciate that you acknowledge that fact.

53. ALSO: DON’T BE AFRAID TO BE VULNERABLE

Your readers don’t want to follow a blog written by a robot. They want to read a blog written by a person who bleeds and hurts and cries like they do. So, be willing to bleed, hurt, and cry on your blog. Your willingness to be vulnerable will be met by your readers with warmth, understanding and kindness. You might even encourage your readers to be a little vulnerable themselves, which is a good thing.

I strongly believe that the more each of us, individually, are willing to open our hearts to each other, the more this world will be healed. Which brings me to–

52. ALWAYS HAVE THE BIG PICTURE IN MIND

Realize that you are part of the bigger picture. Helping others by inspiring them, informing them, teaching them, motivating them, or making them laugh is your crucial role in the entire human species. There are people who build, others who lead, others who mend, others who defend, others who organize, others who fight, others who make peace–your job is to blog.

Blogging fulfills a purpose. It is a new way we can connect with each other on a deeper level than personal conversation. It extends our way of sharing information and helps us grow as a civilization. Blogging is a revolution and it’s changing the way we think, connect, grow, and thrive. I’m still not sure whether Facebook and Twitter are good for us as a species, but I am CERTAIN that blogging is probably the best thing that has happened to human civilization in modern times. Blogging makes the world a better place. Remember that when you write your next blog post.

51. GIVE, GIVE, GIVE

Every time you write a post ask yourself what the post is giving to your reader. Will it give them motivation, inspiration, information, advice? Will it make them laugh, cry, love, shout in excitement? If it gives them nothing, delete it.

You’re not in the business of taking up people’s time. You are not in the business of taking. For the most part, you’re in the business of giving. So give, my friend. Give.

Stay tuned for Number’s 1-50.

much “2011: A Blogging Odyssey”

Ollin

What’s your blog’s theme? What’s your niche? Do you agree with me that blogging is a revolution?

Continue reading: 26-50

To follow the Courage 2 Create and find out what happens to Ollin and his novel, you can subscribe by inserting your e-mail into the subscription box in the top right corner of the sidebar! Subscription is completely free! Thank you for subscribing!

Like Courage 2 Create’s Fan Page.

Follow Ollin On Twitter.

Friend Ollin On Facebook.

34 comments on “75 Ways to Become A Top Ten Blogger (51-75)

  1. Marnie says:

    Sounds like this is going to be a great series. I love the part about breaking rules. My whole blogging platform centers around going against the status quo.

    Thanks for some great tips and I look forward to the next installment!

  2. My theme is physician bluegrass fiction. As far as I know I’m the only one of my genre in the world, so at least I have a unique niche. For a while my book, “The Mandolin Case,” made it to #1 in the Amazon country book category. Hope you’ll check it out. The story is a medical legal mystery resolved by musicians.

    And I agree with you; we have us a revolution.

    Dr. B

  3. timkeen40 says:

    I am tuned in for 1-50. This a great post. I can’t wait for the rest.

  4. Ollin says:

    Thanks Nancy!

  5. unabridgedgirl says:

    Keeping the look of your blog simple? So glad you have that on there! I can’t tell you how many blogs I have been to that are so pump full of graphics and this and that – man, it’s just confusing and not attractive.

    I also love your “contradict yourself” – we’re always changing and growing, and yes – you’re right – it’s a paradoxical world.

    Love this post, and I can’t wait for the rest!

    xoxo

    • Ollin says:

      I know it’s been said before, but it NEEDS to be repeated. So many bloggers make this mistake, and it’s such a simple one to fix.

  6. Pico says:

    My love for your blog is growing by leaps and bounds🙂 This was so helpful and I can’t wait to read the rest! Thank you thank you thank! The biggest thing I took from this was the importance of remembering who you’re writing for, and to try to bring a benefit to someone else. I’ve been on and off blogging in different attempts for a year, and in my head it’s always been ‘hey this is my life, you might be interested, or take something useful from it’. I think I was missing out on half the fun of blogging though! Hey, more than half! Haha. SO much food for thought. (Is my enthusiasm showing ;)?)

    • Ollin says:

      I’m glad you found it helpful. Don’t worry, I didn’t discover that lesson over night. So you’re not doing bad. It took me a while to realize that I had to give something to my readers for them to want to come back and visit me. Having the willingness to grow and learn, as I said, is one of the biggest lessons for any blogger. You seem to be on the right track, keep going!

  7. Addy says:

    Well you have to listen from the “expert”! Seriously amazing post Olly! I definitely agree with you on the blog and clutter part, am not sure if mine is really that good but I decided to go with that theme! And I also wanted to know how to add the Facebook menu option by the side???

    Keep it coming!
    Thanks & Best Wishes,
    Addy🙂

    • Ollin says:

      To add a “Facebook menu” option on your side bar:

      Use the “text” widget in wordpress and add it to your side bar. You can grab the HTML code for your Facebook profile by using a “Facebook Badge.” Go here to grab that code: http://www.facebook.com/badges/

      Personally, I don’t like having badges {they come out looking oblong on my blog}. I prefer instead to use the buttons you see on my side bar.

      If you want to create those buttons you’ll have to find “Twitter” and “Facebook” button images online {search Twitter/Facebook button at Google Images}.

      Then follow this link to learn how to use those images and link them to your Facebook and Twitter profiles.

      http://en.support.wordpress.com/widgets/image-widget/

      Let me know if that answered your question. By the way, I’ll be talking about getting help with the technical problems with your blog later on in the week. So make sure to check that out.

  8. wow…You embarrass me. I was blogging for a year and probably have only 4-5 rules. You introspect very well. This was very useful. Now if I can find a way to remember these ideas🙂

    • Ollin says:

      Don’t be embarrassed, Keshav! You’re doing great, just bookmark this post so you can always come back to it.

      Good luck!

  9. inkspeare says:

    Great points and very useful to bloggers and writers in general🙂

  10. Ollin says:

    Find moments when you are waiting in line, or in route to some other destination to read more. You may have to eliminate and make sacrifices unfortunately. I have come very close to eliminating Television completely. I’m going to try to go without television and news for 2011, it really takes up a lot of time and that’s all energy I could use to read more, improve my blogging skills, and work on my writing career.

    Also, if you can manage it, waking up earlier really gives you a lot more time in the day. Good luck!

  11. nkeda14 says:

    Thanks for the tips! You have some good points that I will have to go try. I will be looking for part 2😀

  12. Awesome information, Ollin. You are a master blogger and writer!🙂

  13. Hi Ollin,
    Thanks for the great tips! I’m so glad you’re sharing your secrets. I’ll definitely keep them in mind as I continue on my blogging journey. Already am getting some good ideas!

    Jenny

  14. Kick arse! Congratulations! I’m finally getting caught up after my holiday hiatus, and what a great post to help motivate me to keep the Monkey going in 2011. Thanks for always giving, Ollin🙂.

  15. […] Read: “75 Ways to Become A Top Ten Blogger {51-75}“ […]

  16. jannatwrites says:

    I got a little behind on my reading and found you in the middle of this series – great tips! You’ve obviously put thought into the suggestions and it’s organized very well. Thanks for sharing. And of course, I’ll be back to read more🙂

  17. Great post and suggestions. I’m definitely going to return to this entire list and see what I can do to improve my own blogging experience.

Comments are closed.