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5 Life Skills You Already Have that Can Make You a Great Blogger

This guest post is by Sarah Von from Yes and Yes.

If you’ve just started a blog you are, no doubt, using your best Google-fu to hunt down every last post giving advice to novice bloggers. There’s heaps of great information out there, but it can get a bit overwhelming for the true beginner. Tweeting and SEO and HTML, oh my! Never fear. Many of the skills that make you an awesome friend/partner/human being will also make you a great blogger!

Work your strong suits

When you sing karaoke, you know you can rock Bob Dylan, and when you’re buying jeans, you know you should stick to boot-cut because they makes your butt look great. The same approach goes for blogging.

We can’t all be Pulitzer-worthy prose writers. Nor does everyone have an unerring eye for good design or a never-ending fount of ideas for amazing posts. But you’re probably pretty good at one of those things, most of the time.

Make the most of your talents! If you’re a good writer but a bad designer, find a good template and then leave it alone. If you’ve got a great eye for design but tremble at the sight of an empty page, maybe you’re meant for tumblr blog rather than something based in Blogger or WordPress. If you’ve got heaps of great ideas but lack the words to convey them, take a writing class or have a writer friend look over your posts in exchange for a nice dinner

Rest assured that very, very few bloggers have got the market cornered on every area of expertise. While there’s always room for improvement for all of us, don’t make yourself crazy sweating the details on an aspect of blogging that doesn’t really interest you.

Be reliable

In real life, you wouldn’t back out of wedding you RSVPed to attend. Hopefully, you’d never forget to pick up your best friend at the airport. Showing the people in your life (whether they’re here in person or out there on the Internet) that you are reliable is super-important.

I am not exaggerating when I say that many of my favorite blogs have a special place in my heart because I know that every morning I will find new content on them. And I will find that new content every day at the same time. It’s such a bummer to find a blog that you love, only stop by on Music Monday or Food Tuesday and just see posts from last week. That’s how blogs get removed from my RSS feeds.

You don’t need to post seven days a week to develop a loyal readership, but if you say you’re going to post new content every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, well, for the love of Pete, do so! And if your posting is going to be spotty for a while, tell us. People will take you (and your blog) seriously when you take it seriously.

Be a considerate conversationalist

Being able to make conversation can open so many doors for you. And it’s not hard! Ask people questions about themselves, actually listen to their responses and talk about topics that are of interest to both of you (not your Atkins diet or your dog’s health problems).

The same goes for the Internet. It might be tempting to write that post complaining about your coworker who took credit for your new marketing plan. And if you really, really want to, by all means post away! But before you click the Publish button, consider what you’re hoping to accomplish by publishing a negative post, which is probably of interest to a very small group of people.

Many successful bloggers include personal content in their blogs and allow readers a glimpse behind the proverbial curtain. However, unless you are a hilarious and excellent writer, you will probably struggle to find a large readership if your blog consists solely of posts detailing who makes you angry, how you feel about Grey’s Anatomy, and what you bought at Target today.

Write about a topic that interests you and then ask your readers how they feel about it. Respond to their comments. Write posts that are useful to them. If they email you asking for advice, write a post answering their questions. Engage your readers and show them that you value their input.

Make friends and help them out

Life’s a lot more fun with friends, isn’t it? It’s great to have people around you who share your interests and get excited when good things happen to you.

Increasingly, the line between real-life and Internet friends is blurring and one of the greatest things about blogging is all of the wonderful, clever, talented people that you will meet. It’s incredibly easy to make friends through your blog. Leave comments on blogs that you like and respond to your readers’ comments. Email bloggers directly and tell them that you like what they’re doing. Link to great blog posts and include friends in your blog roll. Do post exchanges. Nominate your blogging friends for awards. Let your readers know who your Internet friends are — we all like to be in on the fun!

Be the most attractive version of yourself

I am not possession of rock-hard abs, Michelle Obama arms or a designer wardrobe. However, that doesn’t mean that that I’m ready to throw in the towel and spend the rest of my days in yoga pants and a ponytail. It’s a fact of life that people judge us by our appearance: when we take care of ourselves, people notice.

You don’t need to hire a personal trainer or a stylist to look great, and you don’t need a graphic designer to create a good looking blog. You’d be amazed what you can find by googling “free blog templates.” Keep your page clean and uncluttered and resist the urge to fill up all your whitespace with animated ads or buttons.

Less really is more. Many people will fall all over themselves to navigate away from a blog with tiny white text on a dark background, oddly sized photos and animated flower that keeps blowing kisses at them.

Think about blogs you love and their visual design. Do they have a uniting color scheme? Are their pictures always the same width as the text column? Is the text fully justified? Take a few cues from the bloggers who seem to have it figured out!

There are many, many things you can do to create an great blog. But if you’re already an awesome human being, you’re more than halfway there!

Sarah Von posts daily about travel, style, design, and adventure on Yes and Yes. Sometimes, she really is waiting for you to stop talking about your Atkins diet so she can tell you her funny story.

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Comments

  1. Sudeep says:

    I like this article Dareen. The most important point that you spoke is about making new friends by helping people that come on your way. It has helped me a lot ..

  2. Kate says:

    I can’t talk about my dog’s health problems? FAIL! My wiener dog plays a big part in my humor blog. But, it’s NOT a dog blog. Love the wisdom you give about blog design. I’m definitely a fan of keeping it simple and concentrating on good content.
    Thanks for the helpful post, Sarah.

  3. I am already doing what you said, I design logo, theme ebook covers and many more thing for people for free but that is not helping me much, I am still where I started.

    But thanks for other tips I am going for that.

  4. Sarah – Great life comparisons

    It is interesting how we think we can hide behind our computer screens, when this is the perfect time to let our good points shine through.

    This post reminds me of a tweet by Chris Garrett:

    “When did the phrase change to “If you can’t say anything nice, blog it.”?

  5. Gosia says:

    Great post, valid advice – down to earth and real. Thank you for reminding me that I’m half way THERE. Gives me hope!

  6. I just followed through to your blog, Sarah. Saw your 32 things to do before you turn 32. I am so inspired! :) I’ll make a list of my own. Subscribed!

    Thanks !!

  7. Well done, Sarah. I agree with all your points, and am trying to be more reliable on my own blog. Which isn’t always easy for a non full-timer. But I know how important it is. The most frustrating thing is to go to a blog you’d like to follow and see that they haven’t written anything in a month, but before that it was three times a week. Inconsistency is a killer on any blog, no matter how good it is.

    Asking people about themselves is also a great tip. People love to talk about themselves and when you show genuine interest they will more naturally tend to like you. Listening will build a relationship much faster than talking will.

  8. Rae Gateley says:

    Thanks for the helpful, encouraging advice! It’s as if you are speaking directly to me, as I sit here on the couch in my yoga pants and ponytail.

    Yeah, your crack about my favorite attire shook me a bit, but I can totally rock yoga pants and a ponytail, so I’m actually “working my strong suits,” see?

  9. Nice article Sarah. Every individual already has skills. The crucial point is to identify them and improve them. Inspiring thought.

    As to keeping the blog clean, yes that’s where most of the new bloggers fail. They either want to make more money or attract the attention of the visitors. Neither happens, sadly.

  10. SusieBee says:

    As a newbie, I really appreciated your post today! All good points to take to heart. Thanks.

  11. Alex says:

    Very usefull article for a “just starting out” blogger like me. Thank you!

  12. ER says:

    Definitely some great advice. The “be reliable” idea is one I’ve struggled with in the past. Hoping to make some changes in that area in the near future

  13. A really special post that will help me a lot. Im reading again and again the last paragraph. I am a newbie, and a newbie should absolutely read something like that. Thanks!

  14. Be the attractive self. It’s easier to be a true self, not sure if that’s attractive or not. But I agree, cleanness and easy navigation are what we should shoot for. Speaking from personal experience, choosing a design for a site is not an easy thing. I tried to get some good things about different sites and put them together but then when it came out totally wrong. It’s just not me. So now I settled back to the first theme I love and stopped tweaking the theme. I am not sure how long I can fight back the temptation but it has been a while so it’s good so far. I love the way you apply life principles to blogging. It shows that there are, after all, only a few truths that can be applied across many mediums of communications and interactions.

  15. Sashe says:

    I agree with your approach to blogging succes — I guess it really boils down to the fact that everything worth doing has a value attached and work involved. Thanks for the reminder.

  16. Reliability is key. I appreciate being told WHEN to expect posts, if it’s not daily.

  17. Thanks for the great post Sarah. I think that people that run blogs should start off with their strengths and parallel their real life expertise.

    It’s great to know about people personally, but unless it’s a wild adventure like Casanova, most people aren’t interested. However I believe it depends on the ultimate goal of the person. Some people I know like to write about themselves without caring about others, though I would caution what they write about. After all, if it’s a public blog…it’s public.

    But if people are blogging more as a serious hobby and business, then those bloggers have to treat their blogging with great respect.

  18. Hey Sarah,

    I think so many people needed to hear this message(read).

    Anytime you can get (folksy) or nostalgic, people will tap into your message immediately. And trust is earned. Everyone responds to common talk.

    Being real is the key to success.

  19. Asghar says:

    Nice post.. thanks to take care of we beginners

  20. Bill says:

    If you are reading ProBlogger, you are demonstrating #6 – the willingness to practice your craft. You will not get good and stay good without continual practice.

  21. Mike A says:

    Michelle Obama Arms….Really? When did she become the poster child for Good Arms. There are plenty of Woman with better bi’s and tri’s than her. (Take Barbara Bush for example)
    http://cache.boston.com/images/bostondirtdogs//BDD_BB_firstpitch_3.12.08.jpg

  22. andy says:

    Very nice article Dareen. Thank you for reminding me that I’m half way THERE. Gives me hope!

  23. Great post. Make friends and help them out is the most effective skill in my opinion.

  24. Matt Duggan says:

    Really great idea for an article this, and very well executed by Sarah.

    I really like the last two points especially. I’ve recently noticed that I’m developing relationships with people on facebook, who are then coming over to my blog and commenting. It’s amazing how these people are becoming friends that I want to help.

    I’ve also noticed a growing trend whereby the conversational e-mails that I send to my list are the ones that get a better response and higher click throughs. I give people a window into what I’m doing and my life and they reward that open-ness.

    And the point about the simple blog design and being your best version of yourself is not to be underestimated. I’ve modelled Yaro Starak and of course, Darren to get a simple, effective design.

    Thanks again for a great piece of inspiration.

    Matt

  25. Steven says:

    Exactly, especially when we are coming up with content it is important to ask ourselves, “What are my strengths? What can I offer useful information on?” Your readers can tell when you are trying to be something you are not. I see this in 70% of the blogs I read. It’s unfortunate, because the blogger may actually have a lot to offer if they weren’t follow some cookie-cutter advice about how to get more readers or make your blog more SEO friendly.

  26. Hi Sarah,
    There is an old saying in business ‘under promise and over deliver’. When I started blogging recently I remembered not to over promise. For example, everyday there will be a new posting is something I never promised. As I work with clients I recommend they promise what they will definitely achieve and not push themselves beyond what they have time to do. It is always about balance inside and outside work.

    Thank you for your sharing,
    David

  27. donny says:

    good advise for all blogger..tq

  28. Teddy says:

    Karma is the word. If you do good, then that will come around and reward you. The secret advocates to making the universe give you what you want by aligning yourself to receive. Two good points you highlighted here,
    1.stick to a schedule as far as your posting is concerned don’t be erratic. I also hate erratic posting trends on blogs I visit.
    2.Talk to your people and help them. That is another of life’s lessons. If you have a couple of friends who rely on you for advice that relationship lasts for life. Blogging is about building relationships. Personally I am not good in that but I am learning.

  29. Good advice for new blogger like us.

  30. The post has given lot of points which needs to be followed sincerely. Only thing is that, what should be the frequency of new posts in a week for a new blog to grow positively.

  31. titan says:

    yah. If we have this life skills, it really can help us to become great blogger.

  32. bendedspoon says:

    Thanks for this Sarah!

    I am only more than 3 months in blogging and I would say I have applied most of it. And it’s working if my more than 6,000 visits and more than 10% of that are comments exchanges, are proof.

    I may not be a great blogger based on someone else’ standard but I don’t worry about that so much as long as I can just be myself and enjoying what I’m doing.

    Here’s to happy blogging for everyone!
    :)

  33. Angela says:

    if i can have these wonderful lift skills, my life will become new and better , i think so, thanks for your great release

  34. greg urbano says:

    my blog design “look” is a constant ever evolving thing

  35. I believe I’m following all five just now. It is important to help others and make friends when blogging.

  36. Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll need them on your way down.