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The ‘It Factor’ – How to Get It as a Blogger

A Guest Post by Nathan Hangen of Making it Social.

Ah, the “It Factor…” that something successful people have that the rest of us can’t seem to figure out. To some, it’s an enigma, while to others, it seems to flow like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate river…boundless and with fervor. Well, until it was clogged by Augustus Gloop, but I digress…

We’re all looking for some of it. It’s obvious that you need it to get noticed and to hold your audience captive, but no one knows how to get it. Believe me, I’ve asked. But, that didn’t stop me from trying.

As part of another project, I’ve been studying a lot of A-List bloggers and I have been trying to figure out both how and when they were bestowed with this “It.” Furthermore, I wanted to know what it was so that I could try and quantify it.

Did I find it? I think so, but if my conclusions are any indication, it’s not quite as mysterious as you might suspect.

What is It?

It’s the buzz around your blog that gets people interested. It’s the special factor that makes people want to RT, share, and comment on your posts.

In my studies, I believe it’s that feeling you get when you find a blog that you know isn’t going anywhere. For instance, when I read Problogger, I buy in because I know that:

1. Darren knows what he’s talking about, we trust him.
2. His blog isn’t going anywhere. He’s invested, and it’s part of his life.

Other blogs feel temporary, like they’re an experiment. Those don’t have it…they can’t. People want to know you aren’t going anywhere before they invest energy into propping you up. That’s just human nature.

It’s also a style of writing that speaks to people on their level. It’s confident and unabashed. Those bloggers that have “It,” aren’t afraid to speak their mind.

Is there a way to quantify it? No, but you and I both know what it looks like. We can sense a blog that’s on the rise or at the top…that’s about as close to measuring it as you can get.

How Do You Get It?

This is the crux really, because this is what we really want to know. You might not care who has it, but you know you want some. You want to turn your blog into a success, and you want people to not only subscribe, but to hang out and comment. You want people to listen to your advice, and maybe even pay you for it.

It’s funny, but looking back to a year ago, I was an unknown. I had a blog, but it was all over the place and I was doing a terrible job of building an audience. Now though, although I’m not on everyone’s radar, I’m at least moving in the right direction. Whereas people a year ago commented just to be nice, people these days tell me that the future looks good. My blog is an entirely different place, and it’s starting to get some of that “It.”

I’m not saying this to toot my own horn, but as someone that has been on both sides of the equation, I think it’s important to say that I understand where people are coming from, because what I’m about to say might not be what you want to hear, but it’s the truth…

It is nothing more than hard work…

Disappointed? Surprised? You shouldn’t be. In fact, you should consider this good news. Why?

Because if “It” was nothing but a mysterious aura that to some was given and to others was withheld, than you and I would have no chance at it. However, if it’s nothing more than a little bit of elbow grease, then there’s hope for all of us!

Looking at the history of some of the most popular bloggers in the world, you’ll find a common element that binds them all. Yeah, there is luck involved, but more than that, there was a lot of hard work.

Hard work cranking out content on a weekly basis…hard work writing guest posts for popular blogs…hard work managing dozens of blogs until they found one that worked…hard work interacting with their 1 or 2 commenters until they got a 3rd, and then a 4th.

“But I’m working hard!” you might say, and I don’t doubt it, but are you working hard consistently? Are you learning, implementing, analyzing, and fixing on a daily basis? Are you doing everything that you can to become a successful blogger?

Are you networking? Are you honing your writing style and finding your true voice? Are you giving as much as you are taking away?

These are the questions you’ll have to answer for yourself, and only you know the truth.

I’ll be honest

Some people just might not make it, at least not the first time. Show me a blogger that did get it right on the first effort and I’ll show you another thousand that didn’t. The difference though, is in persevering and not giving up. If one project fails, start up another.

One of the most inspiring things any blogger ever told me was that he didn’t have a backup plan…he was in 100%. He said there was no way he was going to fail, because he couldn’t afford to. That man was Gary Vaynerchuk, and now he’s built an empire.

You too can have that “It Factor,” and can have your own empire, but you have to start building it first. It might be tough, but you’ve got to be more resiliant than the obstacles you face. Accomplish that, and you’ll have it, I promise.

I think Chris Brogan said it best, when he mentioned that being an overnight success required 11 years of hard work. Remember that when you see a blogger that appears to have come from nowhere. It was probably 11 years in the making.

Nathan Hangen is an entrepreneur, social media consultant, and co-author of the book - Beyond Blogging.

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. Marinka says:

    This rings totally true. Readers can sense if a blogger is not invested in his/her blog and is lackluster about it. And if the blogger is lackluster, why wouldn’t the readers be?

    IMO, if someone doesn’t love blogging for blogging, I can’t see how they could possibly sustain their blog.

  2. Tips SEO says:

    Hey darren..
    Thanks for info, I really hope you give tips on blogging motivation

  3. Happy Christmas morning! Thanks for reminding us that the “it” factor is a result of a consistent approach and good old fashioned hard work. I’m laughing because I just had to check my blog and twitter and read someone’s post this morning before I get on with the rest of the festivities. Blogging is definitely an important part of my life. I love the immediate connection I feel with people I’ll never meet.

    Blessings to you and your family for this holiday season!

  4. HK says:

    Nathan, this is a great article and I can only agree! Hard work, dedication, motivation and a spice of creativity with honest to the gut blogging is what it’s going to take to get people to see that your authentic and you are here to stay! All the best! HK

  5. Gordie says:

    Hi Nathan,
    Good point near the end there that bloggers that appear to suddenly appear from nowhere probably have several years of hard work behind them. When I first started my blog, I thought it was going to be easy. I was so wrong. However, I’m loving it and learning something new everyday. I’ll get there.

    Merry Christmas to everyone at ProBlogger.

  6. I’d say that most bloggers won’t make it…

    Hard and smart work is key; I’d say hire or team up with 2 or 3 writers and gifted bloggers and take your blog to the next level as soon as possible, even if you’d split the profits with your team.

  7. Maybe everyone else would have a shot if people stopped mentioning the same over rated lamers 24/7 LOL:)

  8. Hi Nathan,

    I definitely agree with you. We shouldn’t judge anyone by only looking oh the surface.

    Sometimes, although they seems to be just blogging beginners, they actually the knowledge and skills which worth more than others that have been in the blogging world.

    This the time when branding and way we represent ourselves determine where will beginners will be placed in the blogging world in the first few months. If the foundation is not strong enough, it mat affect the position that we will be at in the future.

    One of the way is what you have mentioned – through guest blogging. It can definitely bring up our credibility exponentially and therefore bring the value of our blog content up.

    However, for quick and short term action, we can also build our credibility through the comment section. It is crucial that we have also our way of commenting and “branding” in our comment.

    What do you think Nathan?

  9. Awesome Nathan. I stumbled onto your blog awhile ago and have been following your writing ever since. It’s interesting looking at what you do to grow yourself. Teaches me a lot as a new player to the game.

    I agree that the only thing you need is hard work. It is easy to use it as an excuse, to say that someone like Darren “got lucky” and use that to not even put in any work.

    Sure, you’re probably not going to be an outraging success on your first try, but if you really want it, it will happen, in one way or another.

  10. marvin says:

    Your words are very uplifting. I always want to read something like this when I feed bored of blogging. Thanks!

  11. Ann Vevera says:

    It’s frustrating to be a beginner blogger. I have so much to learn! But already I know what you mean about the “It Factor”. Maybe it’s just another expression of being human, we like to be one of the gang, part of the “click” — a popular one!

    One of these days..; as I sigh and slip away into my dreams…

  12. George says:

    Fascinating. Thanks for the great info!

    I think it is like many things in life. People think that luck, intelligence or good looks are required to be massively successful. But ultimately it boils down to specific actions that have outstanding results. This is also known as “hard work”.

    Thanks for sharing. It is very inspiring and makes me want to build a blog with 111K readers. By the way, I love the Problogger book.

  13. Donny Gamble says:

    Hey nathan,

    Great post!

    I think the it factor is important
    when trying to be an elite blogger.
    For a lot of bloggers it comes natural,
    but for many others it takes time to develop
    and perfect.

    I think it comes natural to me in some aspects,
    but since I am a perfectionist, I want to hone
    my skills a little bit more

  14. Corrin says:

    Thanks, Nathan. It’s very encouraging to know “it” is hard work. I’m working hard and seeing steady growth. I’m not afraid to work hard especially if I know it will pay off eventually. I also have not backup plan. I’m fully invested and have not choice but to make it work. I figured putting myself in this position was the smartest thing I could do.

  15. Mike says:

    Great topic for a post. I think you’ve identified a major problem most bloggers have – even those who’ve been at it for a while. It’s always nice to learn something that’s a little off the beaten path.

    Happy Holidays.

  16. Mainak Jas says:

    Wow! Really inspiring post. I am already getting a feel of things. What has made Problogger or for that matter any A-rate blog what it is. Thanks a lot Nathan.

  17. rick says:

    Awesome timing for this post. With the New Year just days away, now is a great time to take inventory of your path as a blogger. Admittedly, I have struggled with motivation from time to time. However, I, too, have no back-up plan..Staying focused and persevering are key.

    Yes, overnight successes are years in the making! Best of luck to everyone in 2010.

  18. Vivek says:

    you have sighted some of the great points. As i am also suffer a lot from this because my blog focus the information about education, blogging, wordpress, seo and technology. Whenever i update about any of the topic i get more subscribers but at the same time i loose to many subscriber of the other topics. I couldn’t understand it how will i stop loosing subscriber.

    And finally blogging requires hard work and time management. If you fulfill both of them then you can see the changes in your blog statics in a week.

  19. Dear Nathan:

    Very timely post for me personally. Just like you said, we see the “overnight” successes and we just think that these people just came up of nowhere and they are just here by sheer luck.

    Most of the time, however, we fail to see what happened in the background, the struggles that these people went through to get to where they are.

    Right now, I am struggling. I am not where I want to be in life, but I am trying to get to where I want to be. I know that I will get there and that it is just a matter of time.

    Often, seems like I am not going anywhere. It seems that I am stuck and that no matter what I do I get the same results. But I guess I just have to be persistent and keep going and keep doing.

    Action always beats inaction.

    So thank you for such a timely reminder of not giving up and how to keep going and working hard. Sometimes, it is all a person needs. A timely reminder to keep working. Then you realize that you are not alone.

    Others have gone through it and so can I!

    Happy Holidays Nathan!

    Best of luck next year,
    Tomas

  20. Eric says:

    Wonderful article here.

    You’ll see a lot of websites out there and blogs out there that tell you they have a special secret for you if you’ll pay them a dollar or give them your email address and your name. Ok, the last one is better than the dollar.

    All the same, the real secret is what you have to do in order to make it and what THEY are doing in order to tell you their special “secret”. It’s called work. Hard work. Constant work. Work and whatever it takes for you to become as successful as you imagine becoming. There is no special secret to building success.

    Sure, everyone has quotes they share and we all love to hear those because quotes that are worth anything inspire people. There are also strategies and experimenting and risk taking. But what it all boils down to in the end isn’t a secret unless you have honestly never heard of the word work before in your life.

    I could say a lot more here but I’ll stop with what I have. After all, it’s work and today is Christmas so Merry Christmas and I’m now going to relax.

  21. turisuna says:

    Wow very inspiring post, I know that hard work is the key to get success in every fields, especially as a blogger, but I realize that we also need to work smart and continuously. Work hard without consistency and analyze will make us take lot of time to get the success that we want. Thank you for sharing this post :)

  22. Cylblog says:

    Practice , Practice , Practice is all it takes . My new cylblog is my 2nd attempt at blogging . I hope all goes well :)

    Thanks for the info Darren.

  23. Asim says:

    Excellent post, very motivational!!

    I just started my own blog earlier this month, and I am having a hard time focusing and working hard on this blog. It’s been frustrating to find a niche to talk about, and to get traffic. But I will take your advice to heart and just work hard and stick with it.

  24. Agent Deepak says:

    Quite deep thinking. May be I can learn something from this.

  25. fat mum slim says:

    Thanks Nathan.

    Overnight success is due to 11 years of hard work. I love that.

    I’m off to click on your links now and rea some more. x

  26. Darren, what a great Christmas present, thanks for the opportunity!

    Going into the New Year, we all need a little pick me up. Someone mentioned giving the little guys a chance, and I agree…but even if they don’t, sometimes you just gotta snatch the spotlight from them.

    Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year :)

  27. My *new* favorite quote: “I think Chris Brogan said it best, when he mentioned that being an overnight success required 11 years of hard work.”
    I’m a work in progress!
    Thanks for the inspiration.
    Lynn

  28. MrCyberSmart says:

    Love it!

    “Yeah, there is luck involved”

    Luck is the place where hard work intersects with an opportunity.
    Hard work is what we tend to avoid as people, and yet it holds the answer to many of our questions. Nice job, very well written.

  29. Fiona @ BSF says:

    I agree with Ann, I am but a beginning blogger but posts like this and websites like this have really helped me get a good start. I can only hope that one day I will be able to help people as much as this blog (and yours too, Nathan) helped me.

    Thanks. =)

  30. Robby G says:

    “But I’m Working Hard!” Where’s that luck you were talking about. Bah, keep working and keep pushing out content. Now all I need to know is how to create a successful prelaunch for a product.
    Very well written post, Nathan.

  31. It all comes down to hard work in the end, not just hard but smart.
    Working and learning at the same time.

    In my case, I still learn more than I work, than I take action, than I simply DO.

    Well, things are definitely going to change in 2010… definitely

  32. Dan Smith says:

    I am grateful for this post. As a guy who wants to have the “it factor”, I know how painful it is to still be working with the 1-4 commenters, but it makes all the difference if I can hope for something more someday…

  33. That is the key to understanding what you are doing and why you are doing it.

    Merry Christmas

  34. Nick says:

    Nathan, I can only agree! Readers can see if the blogger is lackluster. Hard work, and passion is what get people that you are a serious blogger. Several years of hard work behind a blog always win.

  35. Eric Nishio says:

    Thank your for the inspiring tips, Nathan. In the end, bloggers fall into two distinct groups, winners and quitters.

    To not let go of the force that motivates us to persevere and continue, it is an an important daily practice to also envision oneself in the position of a “problogger” (or whatever position one is trying to achieve) and see how life will be in the garments of one of the winners who actually breaks the finishing line.

    The temptation to quit is strong when we fail to see any signs of success even after long periods of hard work. And nothing can be as discouraging as realizing that no one is reading our texts even though we’ve put so much effort into them. But those who take failure as a positive incentive to straighten out their faults have a higher chance of joining the winners’ box.

  36. Excellent post, Nathan. You can work as hard as you want, but if you’re working on the wrong things, it’s not going to help much. It seems an awful lot of bloggers are doing a lot of work on everything except what matters most: personality, positioning, networking, and, most of all, writing.

    Put your effort into those things consistently and you’ll have “it.” :)

  37. Bjorn says:

    Thanks for a great post

    Work smarter not harder is the essence in almost any online presence. However, you don’t get anywhere unless you have defined a goal you DESIRE to achieve. In my opinion its “easier” to do the right things/work smarter when you know where your heading. Meaning, hard work is usually required, but you are more constructive and have the “killer instinct” needed to take action and get what you want for less work.

  38. Carolyn says:

    You hit the nail on the head! It’s hard work indeed. That, and having goals that when reached build up to something greater. That’ll help that hard work pay off. I’ve spent lots of time moping about my blog’s performance, but finally realized that if I don’t work hard at it, of course it’s not going any where. Recently I’ve buckled down and have gotten to work, changed my goals, and put a work schedule in place.

    Thanks for a great post that reminds us all that we’ve got what it takes to succeed.

  39. Darni says:

    What you’ve said is so true,Nathan.I always believe that hardworking is the only secret that lead to a successful blog.Also,if we want to be better than others,we must work hard than others.The overnight success only exist if you put years of hardworking in it.

  40. Craig says:

    N, Boooya brother, IT is it!! Im reinvigorated once again and you my friend are the won that raised the bar. Lit that proverbial fire with IT and let the ashes lie where they must……
    merry freakin xmas
    & happiest of new years!!!!
    C

  41. Rita says:

    Hi Nathan,

    I tried to load your link to “Making It Social” but it took too long.

    The link under your name loaded faster.

    I’ve been working hard at my blog The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide for nearly two years now. I’d really like to have more traffic.

    Rita

  42. Thank you for this great post. As a beginner in the field of blogging, it really inspires me to put a lot of hard work on my blog especially the content. Recently I put a lot of effort on writing my first post and ask people from the problogger forum to look it up and show me things that I can to improve.

    I think if I put consistent hard work on it I’ll be able to succeed with it. Well, I have promised myself that I’m going to put a lot of hard work on my new blog, anyway. Again, thank you for the post.

  43. spring says:

    [quote] Other blogs feel temporary, like they’re an experiment. [/quote]

    Mine is one of other blogs.lol.
    Thank u for reminding me

  44. But I thought blogging was easy and probloggers had super powers!?!

    So this means I’m actually responsible for my failures? haha.

    But seriously, good post and a humbling reminder to us all. Back to the grindstone I go….

  45. Well said! Now, back to the blog grinder… :)

  46. Pamela Miles says:

    What a great gift–the truth. AMEN!

  47. Lively says:

    As with others, timely advice! My little freebie blog has always had 1 follower… my sister! lol Gotta love family. But, I wasn’t serious about blogging when I started it – it was, at best, a half hearted experiment. I ddin’t even send the link to my blog to friends and family – how bwack bwack chicken is that??

    Great advice on this site for a newbie who is literally taking her very first real baby step – time to stop cruising on the couch and let go!

  48. Joi says:

    Great article, Nathan. We only deceive ourselves when we think that working online doesn’t require hard work. It does – and plenty of it!

    Thanks for the reminder, I honestly needed it.

  49. This is a great post, and it came just at a time when I needed to hear it. Thank you

  50. scheng1 says:

    Great post, to borrow a sentence from Jesus, we have to blog with our “whole soul, whole heart, whole mind and whole body,.