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.
25. READ THIS BLOG
I know. I should be ashamed of myself right? But I’m not. Why? Because one of the only ways to get to become a Top Ten Blogger is if you plug your own blog.
Listen, if you have great content that is useful for your readers, you should not be ashamed to have to plug your blog.
Also, don’t think that JUST because you write great content, your readers should be able to find your blog all on their own. They’re not homing pigeons. Don’t make your readers have to swim the Atlantic Ocean or climb Mount Everest to find you. Make it easy for your readers to find you and make it easy for them to share you with their friends and family.
24. DON’T PUNCH YOURSELF IN THE FACE
I don’t know how many times I heard a blogger mention that they don’t “update their blog very often” or that they tried to blog publicly like 10 times, and that, in each one of those instances, they gave up on their blog and left.
Listen, I understand that people are busy, but–unless you are going through a personal tragedy or personal emergency–please DON’T PUNCH YOURSELF IN THE FACE.
Think of it this way, if you went on a first date with a guy, would the first thing you tell them be:
“Oh, I had three boyfriends before, and I wasn’t very reliable to any one of them. In fact, I cheated on each one of them. Just letting you know.”
Uh. No. You would NEVER say that.
Telling your readers you failed at blogging several times, or that you post an article every once in a blue moon, is the equivalent of putting a sign on your face that says: “I AM NOT RELIABLE.”
Don’t send that message to your reader, even if it’s true.
23. BE CONSISTENT
You don’t have to post every day. In fact, if you just have a weekly post that might be enough. A weekly update is better than no update at all, or no update in a month.
Try 2-3 times a week. The posts don’t have to be long, and you can always write them beforehand and then schedule them for the future, when you know you’ll be busy.
22. REALIZE THAT YOUR COMMENTS ON OTHER BLOGS ARE AN EXTENSION OF YOUR BLOG
If all you are doing is creating content on you blog then that means you are only half of a blogger. You need to read other blogs and comment on their posts.
21. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP OR ADVICE
WordPress and other hosting sites are not perfect. They have glitches. Not often, but sometimes. Which mean sometimes the problem you are having has nothing to do with your computer, or your Internet connection, or your browser. It’s your host site.
If you are on WordPress and have a problem you can’t find the answer to, you can always visit their Community Forums page.The people at The Community Forums are VERY helpful and you’ll usually get an answer to your problem within minutes. If you’re in a complete panic and can’t find your answer anywhere, you can contact WordPress Support directly by going here.
(In case you are just starting out, here’s a great WordPress tutorial kit: “Learn WordPress.com.”)
20. PREPARE YOURSELF
Guest bloggers might bail on you. Glitches might happen. You computer might crash. Crap happens. Prepare yourself, then, instead of waiting for crap to happen.
Most importantly, back up your blog. (Find out how to back up your blog on WordPress by going here.) You should also back up your post images and links by saving them on your hard drive. Just to be safe.
19. TELL A STORY
People love a story. Tell stories about yourself. Tell stories about the people you interview. Tell stories about how you learned the lesson, tool, or outlook you are about to share with your readers. A story is more engaging than a pamphlet, diagram or PowerPoint presentation. Most people don’t spend hours eagerly scanning numbers on sheets of graph paper. But a lot of people do spend hours eagerly flipping through the pages of a novel. That’s because storytelling is the best way to learn.
18. TUTOR ENGLISH
I think what has really helped me become the best writer I could be is not learning how to write, but TEACHING how to write.
I taught the SAT English to High School students right out of college and it did wonders to my understanding of the English language. It’s true what they say: TEACHING something is the best way to truly LEARN something.
If you want to write well-written posts, I recommend tutoring English for a year. You can easily fit this into your busy schedule by taking up tutoring assignments on the weekends. Each appointment will only last about 1-2 hours and, hey, you can get some extra cash in the process.
17. DON’T HESITATE
As soon as an opportunity comes up, take it. Don’t over think it. Just do it. You over think it and that opportunity will swim right past you, and you’ll regret it.
16. BUT TAKE A MOMENT TO MAKE SURE IT’S THE RIGHT OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU
Ok, so if a great opportunity comes to you, take it. BUT, if this opportunity doesn’t fit you, then you shouldn’t take it.
That’s why it’s important to know who you are and know what you love, so that you can be on the look out for opportunities that match your passion and match who you are.
Don’t just take up any opportunity–focus on the opportunities that are right for you.
15. GET YOUR READERS INVOLVED
Make them part of the process. I always enlist my readers to help me get more readers, and they always come through for me in a big way.
14. LISTEN TO YOU READERS
This is why people who are naturally self-centered can’t make it in the blogging world. If they just spend time ONLY listening to themselves speak, they’ll never learn what is bothering their readers.
That’s why you need to read your reader’s blogs. Listen to their worries, fears, and problems. Look for a solution to all that plagues them and then give them that solution. They will be grateful that you took the time to listen.
13. REALIZE THAT YOUR READERS ARE BETTER AT BLOGGING THAN YOU ARE
Many of the things I learned on this list I learned from my readers. Why is that?
Because they are better bloggers than I am.
Each of my readers has a talent in one specific thing. I learned something from each one of them, took those lessons to heart, then I mixed all those lessons up, added my own spin to it, and tan-tan! I’m a Top Ten Blogger.
My point is this: you have to be humble. You don’t know everything, and sometimes you have to–
12. REALIZE THAT YOUR READERS KNOW MORE THAN YOU DO
That’s why you need to read their blogs. Seriously. Check them out. You might learn a thing or two.
11. LOVE YOUR READERS
Remember, love is a verb. I tell my readers I love them often, and sometimes dedicate posts exclusively to them. Why? Because without THEM, I’m nothing.
10. ACKNOWLEDGE THAT CONTENT IS KING
Without great content I would have no readers. Without great content I would not be a Top Ten Blogger. Period.
9. TRASH EVERY IDEA THAT YOU ARE NOT IN LOVE WITH
About half of the articles I have written for Courage 2 Create you have never seen. Why haven’t you seen them? Because I trashed them. Why? Because I wasn’t in love with them.
You are going for the best, and the only way to do that is to consistently write the best posts you can. “Okay” posts and “good” posts have no place on your blog. If you hate it, think it’s okay, or just think it’s “good,” trash it. Make room for the posts you love. Because if you love it, your readers will love it, too.
8. REMEMBER: YOU ARE A WHOLE PERSON
If you can’t write this post today, maybe it’s not because you are a bad writer or a bad blogger. Maybe it’s because you need to find peace or feel empowered. Or maybe you need to go for a run. Maybe you need to take a break from your work, or maybe you need to reconnect with friends and family.
Remember that blogging is just “a part” of you, and you are not “a part”–you are a whole. To paraphrase the great Lauryn Hill: you can’t walk into a room being one-fourth, or two-thirds of who you are.
You are a whole person. All the parts of you need to be addressed and nurtured in order for each part to shine on its own.
I had forgotten about this, but for four years I had a personal blog. It was private so no one could ever see what I wrote. But I updated it often with observations about life, stories and poems.
At one point, I decided to practice making every post the best post possible, just for fun. Turns out I wrote some pretty great stuff that no one may ever see.
Those four years of practicing blogging on my own little private blog prepared me for my very first public blog. That’s why I strongly recommend having a private blog for 6-12 months, just as practice. Write your best stuff. Get used to the feeling of writing posts just for the sake of writing them. That way, when you have your public blog, and no one comments or shares your posts (which will happen at first), you’ll be used to it and this won’t get you down.
6. WORK REALLY HARD
Let’s face it. Blogging is hard work. That cute name doesn’t do it justice.
5. BE A GOOD PERSON
As a person, I am naturally emphatic.
Unfortunately, when I was growing up, my naturally empathic nature was not always welcomed. I was often told to be more “tough” and less open about my emotions. Other men saw my tenderness and empathy as a weakness.
Because of this, I closed up this natural side of me for some time.
But when I found blogging, I swear, it was like we were meant to be together. Blogging fit to me like a glove. Suddenly, I found this outlet that utilized everything about me that I had been told was a weakness of mine.
My empathy suddenly became my strength, and my natural tendency to be a good person, to be thoughtful, to be loving and willing to be vulnerable was welcomed in the blogging world. Instead of hindering me, my empathic nature actually made me a BETTER blogger.
Luckily, in order to be a good person, all I had to do was be myself. Which leads me to Number 4:
4. BE YOURSELF
You don’t need to struggle or strain to be someone else in order to please.
If you are trying to be someone else in order to be a successful blogger, stop that now. You are wasting your time.
Your readers actually NEED you to be you. Because when you are YOU, you can solve problems that only YOU can solve. Because being YOU means being HUMAN, and guess what? Your readers are human, too. So if you feel sad sometimes, you readers feel sad sometimes. If you feel like giving up sometimes, so do your readers.
A robot can’t solve the problems that plague the human heart, only you can.
3. BE WILLING TO TAKE RISKS
Let’s face it. My competitors had better, flashier web designs. They had 10 times more readers and Twitter followers than I did. They had more experience and were around a whole lot longer than I was. An outsider could have made a strong argument that I really had no business entering that competition.
But the funny thing is that if I hadn’t taken the risk to join that blogging contest, I wouldn’t be here to talk to you about it.
That’s the strange thing about risk. Most of the time it disappoints you, but the one time it doesn’t–it’s absolutely stunning.
2. DON’T GIVE UP
My regular readers know that I entered a blogging contest before this one. They also know that I lost that competition.
If I had given up after losing that competition, and had not tried for anything ever again, I wouldn’t have discovered that there was another competition out there, a competition that I could win. Consequently, by the simple act of not giving up, I was a success.
Here’s a story to help you better understand what I mean:
When I was training for my 5k, I was having trouble increasing my level of endurance. It was then that my friends told me a nice little running trick: they told me that when I had reached the moment that I felt like stopping, that was the EXACT moment I HAD to keep running.
Not giving up was the only way to increase my endurance. Not giving up was the only way that I could actually discover that I could run longer than I thought I could–that I was stronger than I thought I was.
Learn from this story, reader.
At the moment when everyone else drops away, and gives up, YOU HAVE to keep going.
It’s not easy. But if you push a little harder instead of stopping completely, you might find that you can accomplish a lot more than you ever thought you could.
AND NOW THE NUMBER ONE WAY TO BECOME A TOP TEN BLOGGER IS….
1. GIVE THE CUSTOMER MORE THAN THEY ASKED FOR
I learned this trick from my Dad, who’s been a Part Salesman for longer than I’ve been alive:
You need to give your reader something they didn’t expect, something more than what they asked for. You want your reader to leave your current post saying to themselves something like:
“Is this a list of what Ollin learned about blogging? Or is this a list of what he learned about life?”
Read it again, and you’ll find that it’s both.
Are there any questions you have, or issues I haven’t addressed about blogging for writers? I’d love to hear what YOU think makes a great blogger.
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!