We’ve all seen it on Pinterest. A bright picture of a girl in her pajamas, kitten on her lap, laying on her perfect white bedspread (seriously, who has a SPOTLESS white bedspread if they let their cat on it?). She has a cute coffee mug in one hand, and the other hand is casually typing on her laptop.
There’s a text overlay screaming, “How I quit my job and made 300 million dollars in my first week of blogging (and YOU CAN TOO!!!!!!!!!).”
Sounds fantastic, right? But if it were that easy, wouldn’t we all be doing it?
Unfortunately, blogging is HARD. It takes A LOT of work to develop a blog and to make it lucrative. Most bloggers give up before they taste any real money.
There must be some “special sauce” that a person has to have to make a blog work, right? Turns, out, there ARE some common traits among successful bloggers.
I did quite a bit of research and found several blogger examples of these unique characteristics.
Try to make these traits your own, and you’ll find yourself on the fast-track to the big time. Pay close attention, and I bet you’ll find that you have more in common with influential bloggers than you think.
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1. They are do-alls
As a blogger, I often think of myself as a Jill-of-all-trades, master of a small handful. That recipe seems to work well for me as a human being in general, and particularly as a blogger. But it’s taken some time to develop.
Consider some things you need to know to run a blog:
- how to build a website
- email programs
- social media
- how to create pins
- pin scheduling programs
- photo-editing software
- digital photography and editing
- how to market on social media
- keyword research
- how to write compelling emails
- how to WRITE
- how to get backlinks
- affiliate marketing
- how to create ads
And if a blogger wants to make the big bucks, they have to create quality products.
Oh yeah, and you also have to understand your audience and consistently develop high-value, compelling content for that audience.
I’m barely scratching the surface here. Each of the above bullet points could easily be broken into three or four more points themselves.
The takeaway is ANYONE can start a blog. But it takes a specific, unique, and quite an extensive set of skills to become a SUCCESSFUL blogger. You have to be a do-all.
2. Their thinking is unconventional
Some people call this “thinking outside the box,” but the correlation between creativity and “thinking outside the box” has been scientifically debunked. However, the principle remains: successful bloggers don’t think the same way as everyone else.
Have you noticed there’s a lot of the SAME STUFF out there in the online world?
Type in “spaghetti recipe” on Google, and you get 220 MILLION hits! How in the world is a professional spaghetti maker supposed to compete in that market?
Well, they don’t need to give up on making spaghetti, because dammit! They’re GOOD at making spaghetti!
Nay, what they need is to make their spaghetti a little different and a little better than the other spaghettis. How about this spaghetti from Netfeeddaily.com:
The point is, someone took something that has existed forever, and they put their own unique twist on it.
So it’s not that you need to reinvent the wheel. You can do what everyone else does, your OWN way (and better!), and you will have carved out your own special spot in the industry. Some people call this “standing on the shoulders of giants.”
The ability to think in an unorthodox way is a valuable skill. It’s something that can help bloggers to take certain risks that can potentially skyrocket their business.
“Taking risks?” you ask. “This is a business! I don’t want to take risks.”
Well, that’s the beauty of being an adult. You don’t have to.
But almost every successful blogger out there had to take several risks to get where they are. Whether it be quitting their day job, doing a complete rebrand, or launching a new course, successful bloggers understand that if they never take the leap, they’ll never know if they can fly.
Most bloggers also understand that in the online business world, it takes a while to see how a certain change plays out. They know how to be patient with their risk-taking.
So the key is to take calculated risks, not stupid ones, and to be patient.
Again, this is where a blogger’s ability to think unconventionally comes in. They’ve figured it out by trying to see things from a different vantage point.
3. They focus
With all the hats a blogger needs to wear, it’s no wonder that newer bloggers tend to be all over the place with their time and energy. Newbs often don’t know WHAT to focus on, so they try to do everything at once and get great at everything instantly.
Don’t do this.
This can (and almost certainly will) lead to burnout, and it surely doesn’t spell quick success for your blog.
You see, with a new blog, you need to narrow your focus down a couple of important things, and essentially ignore the rest until you’ve grown.
Take this advice from an influential blogger: Brandon Gaille (The Blog Millionaire) breaks down what new bloggers should be focusing on. On episode 104 of The Blog Millionaire podcast, he explains that for the first year you have a blog, you should focus your time like this:
- keyword research 30%
- writing new blog posts 35%
- building links 30%
- posting to Pinterest 5%
He mentions that with this basic blueprint of time management, many bloggers who were not seeing growth have found success.
He should know. He gets more than 1 million visitors to his blog every month! By the way, I HIGHLY recommend listening to his podcast. It’s changed my whole view of blogging.
Whatever you choose to focus on, try to keep it to only three or four things in your first year. You will never become the master of anything if you spread yourself too thin.
Want to take the stress and headache out of pinning or posting to Instagram? Try scheduling posts and pins with Tailwind, and focus on the areas of your blog you actually LIKE!
4. They know content is QUEEN, and it ain’t about them anymore
Successful bloggers are great at creating high-quality content that is important to their audience. Their blogs usually aren’t just diaries or journals about themselves. In fact, a lot of blogs could almost read like the personal diary of their ideal reader.
That means they pay attention to the content that draws their readers in, gets more comments or shares, and seems to overall propel the conversation of their audience forward.
I hesitate to say successful bloggers create content that “adds value” to their readers’ lives because that term is so subjective (Marcus Sheridan hits the mark in my opinion when it comes to the “adds value” argument).
I have noticed that the term “adds value” is tossed around A LOT in the blogging world, but does anyone even really know what that means?
Picture this: you are in a public restroom washing your hands. The woman next to you hands you a paper towel so you don’t have to reach over her to grab one. BOOM! That woman just added value to your life.
The thing is, if your content doesn’t get many likes or traffic, but you are learning how to write better with each article, isn’t that valuable content, too?
Successful bloggers get this concept, so they prioritize content creation. They realize that the more content they create, the more they learn their audience’s needs. And that means their content gets better and better. It’s the circle of blogging.
Blogs that have a nice foundation of high-quality content tend to rank higher on Google. We all know Google traffic is the gold standard for bloggers (or at least, it SHOULD be).
So don’t get too caught up in the whole “adding value” aspect of content creation. It’s too much pressure to figure out ways you are adding value.
As long as you focus on creating content that is interesting to your audience and is designed to teach them something that will make their life easier, that is valuable.
How can you do that?
One way is by doing thorough research. How about including compelling statistics and/or images that help drive in your main points?
But the very BEST way to figure out what interests your audience is to ask them. Send an email to your subscribers to see what they’d like to read on the blog. Or drop a question onto your business Facebook page to ask your followers what kinds of articles they love to read.
Remember, you don’t have to create a $1000 course to add value (although that’s one way to do it). If you can give your audience a piece of information that’s the equivalent to “handing them a paper towel,” then I’d say you done good.
5. They are disciplined
Do you know what my dad used to say? “Wish in one hand and shit in the other. See which one fills up faster.”
Dreams, especially those that involve becoming financially successful and well-respected, take major WORK.
Successful bloggers understand that building an online business takes just as much work and time as building a brick and mortar business does. Somehow, it has become a common belief that anyone can start a blog with almost no effort and instantly make money.
Because an online business can be created from the comfort and privacy of your own home, for many this translates to “I can do almost nothing and the big bucks are going to come rolling in!”
But that just isn’t the case.
Motivation is like a sailboat. It’s wonderful, and when you have wind, you can go fast and really enjoy yourself, and actually cover a lot of ground (or water?). But what about when there’s no wind or current? Well, then you’re just stuck in a big hunk of junk in the water. What do you need? An engine.
Discipline is the engine for bloggers, and it’s what makes successful bloggers keep moving forward when the lack of motivation (wind) leaves all the other bloggers (boats) behind.
“Motivation gets you going, but discipline keeps you growing.” -John C. Maxwell
Yea, but how does that translate into real life?
Well, discipline! Discipline is what pushes bloggers to set goals, and then to back those goals up with a plan of action, and a routine. Routines take a lot of discipline to maintain, but successful bloggers understand that when their motivation wanes (and it WILL), their routine will prevail because they’ve made it second nature.
Don’t underestimate the need to develop discipline, because it’s not a trait that comes naturally to people very often. But it IS that extra element that will propel your blog forward when the wind is nowhere to be seen.
6. They are forever students
People who understand the value of continuing to learn and expand their knowledge and skill set, frankly, have a pretty big advantage over those that don’t.
Always believing you’re only scratching the surface of your industry, and that you have so much more to learn, can be one of the most beneficial principles to add to your business plan. You want to always be seeking more knowledge, tips, and expertise. Growth is contingent on this.
Schedule out chunks of time to do some reading or take a course. There are some great paid courses, and also a ton of high-quality free courses you can take (like this one, this one, and this one) if you aren’t in a position to invest in your learning yet. Brandon Gaille (The Blog Millionaire) takes four courses a year now!
Successful people tend to read A LOT. Check out the reading habits of some of the most successful people in the world. I swear, it’ll make you want to set aside the time to start reading every day.
Here’s a nice little list of people I would consider successful, who have specifically credited reading as part of their success:
- J.K. Rowling
- Elon Musk
- Tony Robbins
- Albert Einstein
- Mark Cuban
- Warren Buffet
- Bill Gates
- Steve Jobs
- Oprah Winfrey
- Mark Zuckerberg
- Malala Yousafzai
- Jeff Bezos
- Sheryl Sandberg
I don’t know about you, but having my name on that list seems like it can ONLY be a good thing.
7. They put their eggs in different baskets.
One beautiful thing about the blogging world is the sense of collaboration instead of competition with one another. I’ve seen this especially when it comes to bloggers posting income reports. I tell you what, that information is unbelievably valuable for new bloggers. Which brings us to this trait.
Most successful bloggers have more than one income stream, and they often have quite a few. They tend to get their income from things like affiliate marketing, ads, creating courses and other products, coaching, and doing sponsored posts.
This is smart. If one area isn’t doing so well, then the entire business doesn’t suffer. Plus, it affords many bloggers the opportunity to make blogging their full-time job.
One great thing about having multiple income streams is that your money-making potential is virtually unlimited. Who doesn’t want to be a part of that?
8. They have a healthy relationship with receiving criticism
I hate the word criticism because it has such a negative weight to it. Even “constructive” criticism sounds like an oxymoron. I prefer the term feedback.
Some of the most successful bloggers out there regularly rely on feedback from their audience, friends, and fellow bloggers.
I recently used the word “fares” instead of “wares” in a campaign email to my subscribers. I had a lovely reader correct me in a lighthearted and gentle way, which I appreciated SOOOO much.
What if I had gone on to use parts of that email as a template, and KEPT sending out the misused word to my whole email list? How embarrassing, and not good for business! Genuine feedback equals value for your business.
Most successful bloggers are grateful to have those mistakes pointed out in a respectful way, and they also encourage feedback in the form of ideas, suggestions, comments, likes, and so on.
Ultimately, successful bloggers realize that those corrections aren’t personal, and what’s more, they play into the success of the overall business.
“Take criticism seriously, but not personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, try to learn from it. Otherwise, let it roll right off you.” – Hilary Clinton
9. They blog for more than the money
Let me start this section out by pointing out that we all want to make money with our blogs. Of course we do! We love our blogs, and if we can turn them into legitimate businesses that provide us a comfortable life, what’s wrong with that? Nothing.
The point here is that new bloggers probably aren’t going to make money for a while.
The bloggers that make it through the tough beginning tend to have a stronger motivation for blogging than just money. That motivation carries them through those times they aren’t making money.
What kind of motivation? It could be anything. Like helping others, or helping themselves. Sometimes it’s their family that motivates them, and sometimes it’s their health. But generally, it’s something other than money, or something in addition to the money.
When you see stories floating around about people who start a blog and make a bunch of money in their second month., consider that the exception, not the rule.
Millions of people every year start weight loss programs or set New Year’s resolutions. However, the actual amount of people who see their goal through to the end is pretty low. (BTW, I have an awesome article on KEEPING you New Year’s resolution here).
This is because goals take time and humans like instant gratification. If they don’t see their desired results at lightning speed, they move on to the next thing.
Truly successful bloggers understand this human inclination. They don’t get caught up in the idea of “quick success.” Instead, they use the proper motivation that will carry them through to success.
Here is an awesome infographic of these 9 traits, so you can easily remember them. Feel free to pin!
In business (and in life, for that matter!), it’s always a good idea to look to what others are doing that works and to make your own version of that.
So study these traits, and work on them in yourself. I can tell you from my own experience that doing so will not only change the way you look at blogging, but it will help you to get that blog off the ground and FINALLY start making money!