This is a guest contribution from Jerry Low.
There is one thing that all successful bloggers have in common with one another:
They all have habits that keep them focused and productive no matter what else is going on. They can easily navigate the highs and lows of life and still keep blogging away.
These habits force them to focus on things like learning new techniques consistently and seeking new knowledge about blogging, SEO and best practices. They also network with others restlessly.
In order to succeed in any area of life, you have to work on that area consistently. By building the right habits, you increase your chances of success. Think about some of the most successful people you’ve ever heard of.
As pointed out in a Forbes article about developing habits, Michael Jordan practiced jump shots even during his off season; and the Williams sisters practiced tennis every morning before school. To find great success, you have to do more than anyone else and you have to do it consistently.
Every habit you want to build can be broken into a specific sequence of steps. By focusing on these small steps, you build winning habits over time.
In the book “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard,” the Heath brothers suggest that to motivate the elephant (our emotion), you need to shrink the change.
What does that mean?
Build up the habit by taking steps to make it easier. Put your gym bag in your car’s trunk instead of focusing on the whole process of packing your gym bag, driving to the gym, sweating the heck out of yourself, driving back, showering, and unpacking the bag. Focus on one task at a time.
The same concept applies to blogging.
Focus on small tasks you can do, one at a time, and build the right habits. In fact, from my own experience and observations on other bloggers, having the right habit is the most important element in successful blogging.
When Ariana Huffington started the Huffington Post in 2005, people made fun of her. However, she had a vision. She consistently recruited celebrity bloggers and used some traditional, consistent marketing tactics. The rest, as they say, is history. She left many of her critics in the dust.
TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington provided solid technical information and news that anyone can understand. It is not the third most popular blog in the world. This was accomplished through consistent habits of posting about tech topics and being on the cutting edge of breaking news.
If you wish to have success as a blogger, here at the habits you should develop and keep:
1. Take notes anywhere, anytime
Find the most convenient way to keep all your notes together. There are many ways to do this. You can use index cards and file them. You can jot them down in your phone and transfer the ideas to DropBox or another online storage system. You can file them into folders on your computer.
The main point is to stay productive at all times. It doesn’t matter how you take the notes, just that you take them and make them easily accessible for future reference.
Personally I use Evernote to record all ideas and any reading online that I want to refer back to later. I use Evernote because it is easy for me to synchronize everything between my tablet, PCs, and mobile phones.
2. Ask the right questions, always
Robert Kiyosaki shares a trick in his book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”: he says you should always ask “How can I do this…” anytime you’re impressed by someone else or like an idea.
For example, you listened to one of Pat’s Smart Passive Income podcasts. You think that it’s the best blogging resource ever in the world. So, you ask, “How can I do something like this?”
When you look at another blogger’s income report, ask, “How can I make my blog better than theirs?”
By asking the right question (how?), you open yourself to endless possibilities.
By asking the right question (how?), your brain doesn’t stop at admiring others, but works to repeat what you admire. You keep yourself busy searching for a way to make others admire you as well and to emulate those you look up to.
3. Always optimize your content for search engine traffic
Even though we shouldn’t rely on search engines as our only traffic source, Google is still an important source for targeted audience traffic.
First, always include relevant keywords in your post headlines and titles. Do enough keyword research to understand what searchers are looking for typically and what other bloggers in your niche are writing. This means you should be doing keyword research just to see what is trending, what is getting the most traffic, and what you might want to write about in the future.
Some of the tools you can use for this research include:
4. Post your content to social media at the right time
Nearly all bloggers probably agree that sharing your content on social media isn’t optional. If you want to increase your reach, reach your readers, and get people talking, you simply have to have a social media presence at a minimum on the big three (Google+, Facebook, Twitter).
However, timing those posts just right can have a huge impact on how successful your social media campaigns are.
Generally speaking, if your targeted audience is mainly in the United States, the retweet rate could be 2x higher if you post at 6 p.m. instead of 6 a.m. according to KISSMetrics. Facebook shares on Saturday could be 100% better than shares on Sunday.
Not only does what day you post matter, but what time you post and even what words you use and the size of your image.
5. Stay away from distractions when writing
It’s easy to get distracted while writing. Whether you are in the kitchen and your daughter walks into the room and starts talking in the middle of that sentence you are writing, or you have a television playing in the background and something captures your interest, you may get distracted and lose your train of thought.
Our brains are not designed to multitask effectively. Apparently, our brains just don’t like to multitask. Doing more than one task at a time creates “splits” in the brain, which are called “spotlights” by researchers. So, your brain is just racing and trying to switch quickly between different tasks.
Researchers have found that it can take time for the brain to shift from one task to the other. Even if it is only 1/10th of a second, it reduces our attention to that task. While studies show that women are better at multitasking, it isn’t ideal for anyone. It is better to focus on one task at a time. You’ll actually get more done and get it done more quickly.
- Turn off phones, email notifications, TVs
- Logout from your favorite social media networks
- Use a distraction-free tool such as OmmWriter or Cold Turkey if necessary
6. Maintain a balanced life
Burnout can be a serious problem with bloggers. You may have been working on your blog without a break for months on end and seeing very little reward.
Take time out of your schedule to spend with family and friends. If you are religious, allow time in your schedule to attend ceremonies.
Spend time on other activities you enjoy. You’ll also be surprised at how motivation will strike when you’re doing other tasks.
7. They take care of themselves
Life is busy for everyone. You may have an outside job and blog at nights or on the weekends. Perhaps you have a family or a busy social life as well.
It can be hard to find the time to take care of ourselves with so much going on, but if you aren’t feeling well it is hard to do everything from stay on top of the tasks you need to complete to focusing on writing the best content possible.
- Get regular exercise to keep your body healthy and your mind focused.
- Don’t get so busy that you skip meals.
- Get enough sleep. If you stay up until 3 a.m. every night working on articles, they may or may not make much sense to anyone else.
8. Network with others
Successful bloggers know that blogging can be hard and lonely. They don’t try to go it alone. Instead, they develop a network of like-minded website owners they can turn to for advice, guest posts, links and support.
For example, there are many groups on both Facebook and Twitter in just about any niche you can imagine that are solely for the purpose of networking. For example, if you are a garden blogger, you might join a group on Facebook for gardening bloggers.
Once you join these groups, fellow members will offer advice, tips and will like and share your content on social media. This expands your reach and it expands their reach as you return the favor.
Networking builds your audience and gives you a sounding board.
9. Last but not least, be consistent
In lists of habits of bloggers, there is one thing that comes up over and over again. Post consistently and be true to yourself and your audience.
- Use analytics to figure out high traffic times for your blog and then choose that time to schedule posts.
- Post on social media at the same time and on the same days so your followers know they can count on you.
- If you have a voice, don’t try to change it. If your view today is that widgets are the best thing since sliced bread, you better have an awfully good reason if you plan to change that opinion.
- Respond to reader comments. They should know they can count on interaction from you.
Your readers will come to trust your integrity and know they can count on you and will feel comfortable sharing your blog with others.
Look at Your Reasons for Blogging
In the end, it boils down to your reasons for blogging.
Do you actually have something to say or some unique knowledge to share? If you are only blogging to make money, then you’re a lot less likely to be successful.
The minute you aren’t making money or it takes longer than you thought it would to make money, you’ll abandon your blog. Instead, focus on reaching one reader you can help or building your audience. The monetization will take care of itself over time.
Jerry Low is a geek dad who enjoys building web assets. Learn how you can grow and monetize your blog better in his recent post here.