This guest post is by Tony Hastings of The Top 10 Blog.
Whether you are blogging for profit, publicity, or pleasure, the basic building blocks of success are the same.
Success can be defined as, “accomplishing an aim or purpose or having achieved popularity, profit, or distinction.” (Google Dictionary)
Here are ten essential words you should consider constantly as a blogger, as they reflect the values you need in order to succeed.
A purpose is “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.” (Google Dictionary)
So why do you blog or want to start a blog? Your motive should determine the style of your blog, your style of writing, the frequency of your posts, and the subject matter of your posts. It’s important that you establish your purpose from the outset and make sure that your design and content fit that purpose.
The theme, layout, amount of advertising and type of content will all flow from your purpose, and they’ll set the tone that you desire. That doesn’t mean that you need to take it all too seriously if you are blogging just for fun, but it does mean that you shouldn’t dominate your pages with ads if your aim isn’t to make money blogging.
If you are operating in a niche, your purpose will be fairly clear and your content sharply focused. If, however, like me, you started to blog without any firm aims, then you might find that you need to be more flexible and allow your purpose to evolve and mature.
I started out aiming to collate Top 10 posts on all sorts of subjects, but now I focus on social media, especially blogging and Twitter. You don’t need to be too rigid—follow your instincts and go with the flow if you feel that could be the best way for you to discover your purpose.
Quality is “the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something.” (Google Dictionary)
Good-quality content is the foundation of all great blogs. That’s easy to say, but how do you measure quality, and how do you ensure that your content achieves the desired standard?
That is a very subjective question but I would say that a post should be able to inform, educate, amuse, or entertain. Any one of these is a basic requirement, more than one is desirable, and all four is blogging heaven!
Your content should be original—too often we can visit a blog which appears to have some killer content but which, on closer examination, is a copy of or an excerpt from something previously posted elsewhere.
Don’t just focus on content quality, but on presentation quality too. Poor spelling and grammar can ruin the best posts. Always check and proofread your content to make sure it’s as good as possible. Be proud of what you do and make sure it embodies the best quality in all respects.
Patience is “an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.” (Dictionary.com)
This is essential in blogging! It can take some considerable time for your blog to be noticed, or for changes you have made to show results. Sometimes you can make changes such as SEO improvements, new sharing options, or different ad types and become frustrated when you don’t see results overnight.
It takes time for changes to take effect, particularly with search engine results and rankings, so be prepared to let things run for a while before you judge the results.
Too many changes in a short space of time can annoy regular visitors too, so try to be a tortoise and not a hare: allow good time to see the benefits of all the positive changes you make to your blog.
Determination is “a resolute movement towards some object or end.” (Dictionary.com)
Surely you don’t need to be determined to run a blog? Well, if you are trying to make money from your blog, or are using it as part of your social media strategy for a business, you most certainly do. It needs to be kept up to date and monitored to see how it’s performing, and that takes time and commitment.
But even if you are blogging just for the fun of it, you still need to be determined to keep it going in the long run. There are so many distractions in “real” life. I know from my own experience that sometimes blogging can seem to be a bit of a chore, and the blog can take a back seat as life takes over.
But you need to be determined to log in again to start writing and constructing that next post, as a neglected blog will soon begin to whither on the vine.
Confidence is “belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities.” (Dictionary.com)
Self-confidence is a quality that is generally required to succeed in all areas of life—and blogging is no different. Just to put yourself out there in the first place takes courage and self-belief, and even the most experienced blogger may sometimes feel self doubt as their finger hovers over the Publish button.
Every blogger starts from the same place, and the key to building that confidence is, in the first place, to take that initial step to get started, and then to learn and develop from there.
You may not consider yourself to be the best writer or very technically minded, but by looking at what other bloggers do, soaking up the best of the amazing resources that are out there, and trying out new things to stretch yourself, your confidence will grow.
However, you must be prepared to fail and to learn from the inevitable mistakes that you will make. The blogger who hasn’t made a mistake yet may feel confident, but that confidence may be misplaced and will lead to an almighty fall when disaster strikes.
A better way to develop as a confident blogger is to take risks, be prepared to fail, and learn from the experience when it happens.
Integrity is “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” (Dictionary.com)
I like a blog post with a bit of spice in it as much as the next person, but as bloggers we need to know where the boundaries, both moral and ethical, lie—and to act accordingly. What is considered to be offensive material is in many ways “in the eye of the beholder,” however the blogger should be wary of springing surprises on their readers.
For instance, a visitor to an erotic literature review site might know what to expect but if they come across explicit material on a web design blog they might be somewhat surprised. Similarly I see bloggers use offensive language and get away with it, but most would agree that it needs to be used sparingly and in the right context to be acceptable.
Do you have adverts or affiliate links on your blog? If so do you make it clear that you might be earning from these and do you ensure that you are not advertising products and services that most of your readers wouldn’t approve of? To preserve our reputation as bloggers it’s vital to make sure you make the appropriate disclosures and to ensure that you are happy with your ads and promotions.
We all hate to see our work copied elsewhere or images used without permission, so don’t do it to others. Again, we should all try to maintain good standards and do something about plagiarism when it does happen.
We all, as bloggers, have a responsibility to act with integrity and honesty to maintain our reputations. If we don’t, then we are unlikely to be successful.
The definition of communication is “to give or interchange thoughts, feelings, information.” (Dictionary.com)
This is one of the most important words for a blogger. Sharing, networking, commenting, reacting to comments, and connecting and interacting with others are vital ingredients of the blogging experience.
There are two aspects to this. The first relates to your own blog and the second to your own actions. A successful blogger must make sure that it’s easy for their readers to comment on and to share their posts. There is endless (often conflicting) advice out there about the best way to achieve this, so do your research, experiment, and find out what works best for you.
Get out there into the big, wide online world too. Connect with others on whichever platforms work for you. But don’t just use this as a way to make yourself known—promote other people too. Share great content from other bloggers, comment on their work, and interact with them. Doing that well not only means that you have a better chance of blogging success, but that your experience will be enriched, and b,logging will just be more fun.
Character is “the essential character of a person.” (Dictionary.com)
A great quality of any successful blogger is that they allow their personality to shine through all that they do. Don’t hide behind a logo—take a peek out and show your face.
Tell the world a little about yourself and add your image to your About page, and people will relate to you as a real person rather than as a corporate or anonymous entity. Let your own personality show in your writing and the things you write about.
People relate to real people, so showing your personality to the world will be of benefit when you do get out and about connecting and interacting on your chosen social (and real-world) networks.
Consistency refers to the “steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.” (Dictionary.com)
In my early blogging days, I tended to make quite a few changes to the design and format of my blog as I found my feet and decided what worked best for me. I progressed from a Blogger blog to a free WordPress theme, and then through two premium themes until I finally settled on my blog’s present layout.
My guess would be that it didn’t matter too much initially, as I had very few visitors, but it’s important, as your blog grows, to create consistency so that your readers are comfortable visiting your place and know, to a degree, what to expect from you.
I’m not just talking about consistency in design and layout, but also consistency in content and post frequency. You don’t need to be posting all hours of the day, but try to achieve a consistent style and frequency of posts so that people get used to seeing you around.
Consistency of topic is a little harder but still very important if you are blogging in a niche. I have always had posts on all sorts of subjects, from blogging and social media to chess and Halloween games, so readers are used to that. However if you blog about cookery, for instance, and suddenly a post on car maintenance appears, your readers might wonder what you are up to.
Flexibility is “characterized by a ready capability to adapt to new, different, or changing requirements.” (Merriam-Webster.com)
Since I just sung the praises of being consistent and patient, flexibility may seem a strange word to include, however the ability to be flexible is vital for the successful blogger. It’s all about recognising when something isn’t working and having the courage to make changes to try to improve what you are doing to meet your aims.
The social media world is changing and developing around your blog, so you need to be willing to be flexible—prepared, for example, to make changes to your sharing options, or to integrate a new development that would benefit you and your readers.
The key, though, is to try to maintain that consistency by not making too many changes at once, and being patient enough to allow the changes to take effect. Those three key words of flexibility, consistency and patience are most definitely interlinked. You need to keep them all in mind.
What do you think are the key words a successful blogger needs to focus on? Have I included any you don’t think are important? Are there others I have left out? Let me know in the comments.