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10 Habits of Highly Effective ProBloggers

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HabitsI was speaking via email this week with a professional tennis player about blogging and they asked me the question:

‘how do I become a more successful blogger?’

I like to answer questions with question and shot back one of my own:

‘how do I become a more successful tennis player?’

The conversation that ensued was quite insightful. Not only did I learn how to improve my tennis but I learned a thing or two about blogging.

One of the things that I noticed about how this tennis player spoke was that he used the word ‘habits’ quite a bit. His philosophy was that one of the keys to his success was that he’d taught himself a series of habits that had become a part of his ‘tennis life’. He practised these habits consistently over time (most of them did not come naturally to him at first) until they became automatic reflexes.

Over time as the habits became second nature he found they combined together in ways that began to lead to increased success.

We unpacked some of the habits he’d learnt over the next half an hour and I was interested to find that some of them were ‘skills‘ based habits (ie hitting a top spin serve) and some were ‘attitude’ based habits (ie always looking for opportunities no matter how desperate or hopeless the situation).

As I listened to my tennis playing friend I found myself reflecting upon the similarities of my experience of blogging.

Good bloggers don’t just happen.

Most emerge over time as they develop skills and attitudes that combine in ways that improve their blogging. Some of these habits seem to come pretty naturally but many need to be practised and intentionally worked upon.

So what are the habits that lead to effective or successful blogging?

I’ll start by saying that each successful blogger will have their own list of habits and rhythms that increase their success depending upon factors like personality type, style of blogging, topic of blogs, goals of blogs etc. For this reason I’m looking forward to reading the habits that others are working on in the rest of this group writing project.

But in the mean time here are some blogging ‘habits’ or attitudes that I’ve been working on and have seen in other bloggers that I admire:

1. Proactive

successful bloggers self starters.

One of the things I’ve noticed about blogging is that there are a lot of bloggers who talk a lot about the things that they are going to do with their blogging who never do much (if anything) of it and then there are a smaller group of bloggers who actually do what they say they’ll do.

The first group habitually have lots of dreams and little follow through and the second group habitually take initiative and actually put their money where their mouth is to see where their dreams lead them.

It’s these proactive bloggers who tend to find success more often than the habitual dreamers. I guess it makes sense really – if you actually do something you’ve got more chance of succeeding at it than if you just dream of it. I don’t know of anyone who’s ever succeeded just by the dreams that they have without taking action.

Successful bloggers are action oriented, they’re self starters and they’re willing to take their dreams into reality.

2. Strategic

successful bloggers don’t become successful by accident.

Actually I should qualify that statement. I know of some bloggers who have become quite successful by accident – but very few have sustained their success over time without putting some thought into how to keep things going it.

Perhaps a better statement would be ‘Bloggers who have ongoing success generally know where they are headed and have a way to get there‘.

Of course strategy might be a formal well thought out long term strategic plan – or it could just be an informal set of ‘next steps’ in their mind. Whether or not it’s formal or informal there is some level of planning going on in the lives of most effective bloggers.

This is increasingly the case as the numbers of blogs continue to increase dramatically and the competition for attention of web uses increases. Planning on how to stand out from the crowd, how to find readers, how to sustain the writing of content over the long haul etc are all factors worth doing some planning around.

3. Anticipators

successful bloggers look forward and let what they see determine their present activities.

A habit that I work hard at consciously building into my blogging activities is to intentionally keep an eye on the niches that I’m involved in and anticipate where they are headed next.

I find that there are constant opportunities and possibilities within most niches for those that look for them. This happens on both a small picture and big picture level and can range from writing posts a few weeks ahead of events to capitalise on search engine traffic to anticipating new trends that might be ideal topics for new blogs.

It is also worth keeping an eye on emerging trends in blogging and new media as there are plenty of opportunities to take in terms of how you communicate that are worth being ready for also.

Lastly successful bloggers have a knack for seeing things outside of their sphere of interest that they draw on to improve their blogs. They are often veracious consumers of information in many forms and have the ability to keep their minds across many different fields at once.

The world we live in is in a state of constant change and unless you’re on top of the changes happening around you a blogger can be quickly left behind.

4. Communicators

successful bloggers are effective communicators

Perhaps I should have started with this one but it almost goes without saying (almost but not quite).

While blogs are used for many different things blogging is at its heart essentially a communication tool (and predominantly is a written communication tool at present – although this is changing).

As a result of this most successful bloggers have some level of communication skills. They know how to write and more importantly know (either instinctively of by going out of their way to learn) some of the basics principles of how people learn, read and receive information online.

There are of course many different styles of communication and I’m not advocating any one of them but successful bloggers tend to have a knack of putting across their message in a way that is received well.

5. Creators of Useful Content

successful bloggers give their readers something that they need

The blogosphere is filled with millions of blogs, many of which that talk almost aimlessly about anything and everything associated with a given topic. They often are very reactionary to what others are writing and in many instances aimlessly recycle other people’s content in a way that adds no real value to readers.

Effectively bloggers attract readers because they offer them content that is useful and they meet a need of their readers. This need can be a need for information, a need for someone else’s opinion, a need for entertainment, a need for instruction, a need for community etc.

Good bloggers tap into one or more of their readers needs and work hard at being a part of a solution.

Not only is their content useful but in many cases it is looked at by others as being original and something that makes them a ‘thought leader’ in their niche rather than just a recycler of what others are saying.

I’m not saying that reacting to or recycling what others say and write is always bad or second class – but unless a blogger adds some value to what others are saying then they are less likely to give their readers anything unique or useful that they can’t get elsewhere.

6. Persistence, Consistency and Discipline

successful bloggers work hard and are in it for the long haul

I’ve said it once and I’ll continue to say it – blogs rarely become successful without hard work over a sustained period of time.

In the same way that my Pro Tennis player friend has worked daily on his game for many years, most successful bloggers put in a lot of hard work behind the scenes over significant time. Much of the work is behind the scenes in reading, networking, researching and looking after readers in a similar way to the many hours of practice a tennis player puts in before the few hours they play in a public forum.

This calls for self discipline and the ability to put aside regular time. As we all know in the busy world we live in, this doesn’t just happen. It’s a habit that most of us need to practice.

7. Optimists

successful bloggers turn threats and weaknesses into opportunities and strengths

From my study of marketing a decade or more ago I remember very little but one of the things that’s stuck is the lesson one lecturer gave of SWOT analysis (the analysis of a business or venture by looking at Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). The line that sticks out from these lessons is that good marketers learn to see ‘weaknesses and threats as possible strengths and opportunities’.

Many bloggers give up when blogging gets tough – but successful bloggers tend to go forward in leaps and bounds in these times as they find creative ways to flip those things that could crush them into things that bring life.

8. Conversation Conductors

successful bloggers initiate and facilitate conversations

One of the metaphors for blogging that I’ve been pondering lately is bloggers as conductors of a symphony (bear with me – I’m not sure where the image came from – but it’s stuck in my mind for some reason). Good conductors have the ability to draw together many musicians of different varieties and blend them together in a way that produces something wonderful.

Good bloggers take the ideas, experiences and voices of their readers (and other bloggers) and create spaces where these ideas come together in a way to makes ‘music’.

They have the ability to draw others into their conversations and guide those conversations in useful directions. In the same way that musical instruments all played out of time can be chaotic and noisy so too can poorly held blog conversations – but an effective blogger often has the ability to bring something of worth out of the babble of noice happening in their niche.

9. Networked

successful bloggers often intentionally work collaboratively with others

Extending upon the metaphor of a blogger as a conductor comes the observation that many successful seem to go out of their way to work with other bloggers. This happens on a variety of levels ranging from the informal and unorganised linking that bloggers do among themselves through to formal networks and partnerships that many bloggers are now arranging amongst themselves.

One of the reasons blogging has taken off as it has is as a result of it’s relational nature – bloggers who work with this strength of blogging stand to gain a lot as a result.

10. Good Boundaries

successful bloggers know what they blog about and don’t stray outside of these boundaries

Associated with this strategic nature of many successful bloggers is that they know not only what they do blog about but also what they do not blog about. Most successful blogs that I’m aware of have a range of ‘boundaries’ which associate both with the topic or niche that they cover but also boundaries around how personal they’ll get and what ethics they operate within as they blog.

With such boundaries established (and it’s rarely a formal set of boundaries) a blogger has a framework to move forward with.

The list goes on:

As I’ve pondered the above 10 habits I’ve come to the realization that it’s not a complete list (I could go on for another 10 or so habits quite easily) and that it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ sort of list either. Some of the habits I’ve identified above will be common to many successful bloggers but there are always examples that come to mind of bloggers who’ve broken one or more of the above and who have been incredibly successful and effective either despite it or because of it.

This is what led me to the desire to conduct the Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers Group Writing Project this week because the only hope to make some sense of what makes a blogger effective is to open the conversation up and put our ideas together in some way to see what commonalities appear and also to celebrate the diversity that the wider blogging community has.

I’d love to hear your thought on what habits you’re working on as a blogger or what you see in other effective bloggers. Write it up as a post as I say in my introductory post and I’ll highlight it here at ProBlogger. Otherwise I’d love to hear your reactions to my list in comments below. Which of these habits do you agree or disagree with? What habits do you need to work more on in the coming months?

This is my submission for the Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers Group Writing Project

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Interesting you mentioned SWOT analysis. Been covering this more in depth on my blog. I am interested in what others have for a list of character traits they think effective bloggers acquire.
    Steve

  2. Well Darren, that just about sums it up as well as it ever will be. Excellent and thought -provoking.

  3. I would add: 11. Passion for both writing and the subject being written about. But I am not sure if this can be called a Habit. :-)

  4. Darren, Dude:

    I would like to comment on Problogger’s ability to educate people based on points 4, 5. Ability to communicate and the creation of useful content.

    I just started my own blog about a month ago: Alternative Medicine Blog at http://cam.typepad.com and the education I get from problogger’s content and style of communication in fine tuning the site is indispensable.

    I can’t wait to have enough traffic so I too may enter the realms of pro-blogging. With your tips at hand I am confident that this will happen sooner than later. Until then, thank you for educating us fellow “amateur” bloggers and keep the posts coming.

    Werner

  5. anty says:

    You mentioned good points, I think the most important point is to be unique and useful to your readers.
    You should provide content that your users want to read and most important in a way they want to read it. I made some experiments and came to the conclusion (I’m not the only one that “discovered” this) that you have to write also for the eyes:
    * Bold text to catch visitors eyes
    * Using lists
    * short and clear paragraphs
    * pictures
    These are the points I always keep in mind when I write a post on my blog. I hope it helps someone ;)

  6. Superb guide. A habit of researching what you post to create trust is also a nice one to tag along.

  7. James says:

    I have a question for you Darren. Since you maintain several blogs, do you have some sort of “checklist” you have developed to help you stay on track each day – and not get distracted by other things?

  8. K says:

    Thank you for pointing out useful content (and more specifically useful to the target market).
    One of my pet peeves are rehash posts that don’t add any additional value or input (the me-too’s).
    Posts like “I read a great article (link)” and no reason why he or she thinks it is a good article or relevant to the blog.

  9. Mr. A says:

    Great post! A lot of useful info. Thanks!

  10. Great ideas, Darren (and everyone). I hope to add my few cents to this project today or tomorrow at Business Blog Wire. Hopefully we all get to be a bit more effective at what we are trying to do with our blogs as a result.

  11. Ned Porting says:

    About habit number 4, and partly about number 8:

    I am more geek than social, actually, more than social. I don’t talk much, I get bored at parties, I prefer solitude to crowds.

    Yet, I find it easy and fun to write. I’m not sure about my produce, of course. Although been writing code for long now, I am new to blogging.

    What I want to ask is, am I the only one? Do bloggers need to be highly social and talkative story-tellers, or can geeks get good at it as well?

    Nice post Darren, just made me wonder..

  12. Darren Rowse says:

    James – no real checklist although I am getting a little more into setting goals and not going with the flow.

    Ned – you sound a lot like me. I’m actually a real introvert and enjoy my own company. I don’t dislike people but it drains me.

    Having said that sometimes us introverts need to get out of our comfort zone and put ourselves into relationships – when we do this there are side effects. For one we might get tired but secondly we and those around us will benefit greatly from it too.

    I actually find blogging is a great medium for introverts. We can put ourselves out there without having to do it all face to face….

    They are my muddled pre coffee thoughts this morning.

    Thanks for the feedback everyone

  13. Sandra says:

    I have started blogging a few months ago but not seriously until I found out about Darren’s problogger. I spend several hours on most evenings reading problogger & I’ve learnt a lot from Darren. I’m glad I’ve landed on your page after taking part in adsense.
    Thanks Darren for all your hard work & generousity in sharing useful information with us.

  14. Warning this in an english for dummies comment, witnessing another habit for all non anglophone bloggers. I write and read from Rome Italy and started blogging more or less a year ago. In the last year my posts are moving form the random thoughts reigne to the pro blogger path and Darren’s pieces of writing are vey useful. Thanks Darren. but you and other good bloggers as Lorelle on WordPress write in english and blogosphere is 80% written and read in english.
    I subscribe your list entierly but from my point of view I need an extra effort to write in a good english to try to reach english readers and make a good music.

  15. Ashley Ryan says:

    I liked the part about being OPTIMISTIC, it is a MUST!

    Thank you!

    Ashley

  16. leostanley says:

    very good, thanks for the motivation.

    visit my blog

    http://www.leopix.wordpress.com

  17. Optimism without perserverance and discipline is just wishful thinking

  18. charles says:

    Yes. Being optimistic in everything that you do could be a tool in putting up good results. Optimism with perseverance and discipline can produce extraordinary ideas that will enhance and modify your good results.

    Thank you
    Money Making And Blogging TIps
    Charles
    http://www.resourcesandmoney.blogspot.com

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Darren of Problogger lists down some of the qualities required to succeed in the blogosphere. [...]

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  3. [...] Darren Rowse has posted today about the 10 habits of highly effective bloggers as part of an ongoing group writing project. His post makes very interesting reading. I personally think point five is the most important of all: The blogosphere is filled with millions of blogs, many of which that talk almost aimlessly about anything and everything associated with a given topic. They often are very reactionary to what others are writing and in many instances aimlessly recycle other people’s content in a way that adds no real value to readers. [...]

  4. [...] Darren Rowse of ProBlogger has a blog post today called 10 Habits Of Highly Effective ProBloggers . Many of the basic habits Darren talks about are just as applicable to successful eBay sellers as they are to effective bloggers. [...]

  5. [...] problogger: 10 Habits of Highly Effective ProBloggers Auch dieser Artikel beschäftigt sich damit, wie man ein erfolgreicher Blogger werden kann. Darren Rowse ist allerdings nicht irgend ein Blogger, sondern der führende Blogger in den USA rund um das Thema: “Geld verdienen mit Blogs”. [...]

  6. [...] 10 Habits of Highly Effective ProBloggers: ProBlogger Blog Tips An interesting read, even if you don’t want to monetize your blog. (tags: blogging career) [...]

  7. [...] The key to developing expertise is noting whether what you’re doing makes you any better at it and then modifying what you’re doing to get closer to the desired results. One reason Darren Rowse is so successful at blogging about professional blogging is that he’s constantly searching for ways to be better. Check out his 10 Habits of Highly Effective ProBloggers. Not only does he reflect on how to be effective, he invites other bloggers to participate with him, generating interest and links in a layered display of blogging virtuosity. This reminds me of cookbook author Lisa Yockelson’s approach in Baking by Flavor, where she achieves unusually delicious results by combining multiple compatible ingredients. For example, not content with standard chocolate brownie flavor, Yockelson’s recipe for Bittersweet Chocolate Brownies includes cocoa powder, melted unsweetened and bittersweet chocolate, and chunks of bittersweet chocolate that form “pools of goodness.” You can just imagine her in her kitchen thinking, “these brownies are good but they could be better.” [...]

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  9. [...] Así titula Darren Rowse en Problogger una serie en la que invita a sus lectores a dar sus opiniones. Es decir, los hábitos que a su juicio tiene un blogging o un bloguer que puede considerarse eficaz. Hay una serie de elementos que convierten a los blogs en existosos y tras pensarlo bastante intentaré enumerar algunos que me parecen importantes. 1.- Se consistente. Es importante establecer una frecuencia de posteo y cumplirla, no olvides que los lectores establecen una rutina de lectura y no hay nada más frustrante que ver un blog sin novedades durante más de 4 o 5 días. [...]

  10. [...] Desde la página problogger, nos poroponen una serie de consejos para mejorar nuestros hábitos y así convertirnos en unos fantásticos bloggers. [...]

  11. [...] Darren Rowse who runs ProBlogger.net has recently been written 10 Habits of Highly Effective Probloggers, a series of 10 tips utilised by Bloggers to increase their productivity, quality and value. [...]

  12. [...] I’ve just now started looking at his latest series, which started with his idea for a blog post on good blogging habits, and wound up a habits of highly effective bloggers group writing project. [...]

  13. [...] ood bloggers don’t just happen. Found in problogger. [...]

  14. 10 Habits of Highly Effective ProBloggers

    This is my submission for the Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers Group Writing Project. I was going to post it as a series but think it flows better as one piece – as a result it is a little longish…

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  18. [...] An interesting article that lists 10 points that help make a problogger. I personally have three points I follow: Post often, posts must be interesting, and posts must be short. [Link] Filed under: Other Posted by Mark on 07.31.06 | Related Entries [...]