Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers: Good and Bad

As bloggers, we face a wide variety of tasks each day related to managing and building our blogs. Productivity and efficiency are vital, especially for part-time bloggers. A number of extremely addictive and time-consuming habits stand in the way, though.

I’m sure all bloggers wonder, “How did others make it to the top? If only someone would share the secrets of becoming a popular blogger.”

Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers: Good and Bad

We all make mistakes, but learning from them and not repeating them will make you successful in every respect. The key is to control habits, good and bad. If you know how to change your habits, then minor effort can create major results.

Summing up and categorizing the good and bad habits of highly effective bloggers could be frustrating; you might begin to see that some successful bloggers have certain behaviors in common, while others absolutely don’t. What does it take, then, to become a popular blogger, to be accepted, trusted and followed by many? I’ve discovered some interesting good and bad similarities among the bloggers who I follow. Some traits are common, some unique.

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Bad Habits of New Bloggers (Which Needs to be Avoided)

instantShift - Bad Habits of New Bloggers

01. Don’t Blog in a Niche You Don’t Like

New bloggers read the success stories of others and start following them and writing about similar topics—but they don’t see how much work goes into those blogs. Bloggers don’t do well just by writing one post every now and again, and continuing to write about something you’re not passionate about is difficult.

Keep your interests in mind when you select your subject. Know your subject; don’t write about what you don’t know. Establish yourself as an authority.

02. Don’t Obsess Over the Subscriber Count

The most common measuring stick for determining a blog’s impact, importance or success is the number of subscribers.

While building a large base of subscribers is important for any blog, obsessing over the subscription count does more harm than good. For one thing, you can’t force anyone to subscribe; you don’t control the situation, as frustrating as that may be. Secondly, loyal and engaged subscribers are more valuable than subscribers who never read your posts. Getting a clear picture of an audience and its participation by looking only at the subscriber count is impossible.

Focus on finding active readers and developing relationships with them, instead of on the length of your subscriber list.

03. Don’t Check Stats Constantly

Traffic statistics can become addictive; it’s easy to slip into the habit of compulsively checking your referral stats, search engine traffic and page popularity rankings. Checking your stats every couple of hours won’t change the results.

Make a schedule; check your stats once a day or once a week and not at any other time. You could allot an extra hour once a month for more in-depth analysis; this will give you a broad perspective on daily traffic and SEO.

04. Don’t Chase Social Media Traffic

Social media brings traffic to a blog, but it can be a huge distraction. Too much social media involvement could take you away from the task of generating content. Remember that content is king; it is responsible for drawing traffic. And make sure to submit only your best work to social media. You’ll see more success.

05. Don’t Be a Social Networking Addict

instantShift - Don’t Be a Social Networking Addict

Most of us are addicted to our social networks. Keep your Facebook, Orkut, Twitter and other tabs closed while working. Switch off all instant messengers and connect only when necessary. Concentrate. Setting a dedicated blogging time helps.

06. Don’t Over-Indulge on Feeds and Forums

Web forums and RSS feeds are great ways to stay updated, so subscribe to feeds for blogs about your subject. Many people spend a lot of time every day wading through feeds that don’t interest them. Go through your subscriptions every couple of months and get rid of anything you read infrequently; don’t let a subscription waste your time every day.

Similarly, web forums are great for networking and helping others but if you’re not careful, you could spend much more time participating than you intended. Forums can become addictive, especially if you get email notifications whenever people reply to your posts. Stick to a schedule for forums as well. Opt to get email notifications only for important threads, and unsubscribe as soon as you’ve received satisfactory responses to your questions.

07. Don’t Be a Disorganized Communicator

instantShift - Don’t Be a Disorganized Communicator

Communicating with other bloggers is an important part of blogging, but many people find that they’re spending an increasing amount of time on it.

Staying organized will reduce time spent on email. Categorize the types of emails you receive often and make response templates for them, or set up a detailed FAQ page. Manage your inbox more efficiently by using folders. Check your emails just twice a day. Learn to work with your mail program or inbox window closed. You don’t have to respond to every single email you receive.

08. Don’t Skip Proofreading

Proofreading might sound dull, but it is mandatory. You might be able to get away with an error here or there, but a load of mistakes in every post will distract the audience.

If English isn’t your first language and you’re writing for an English audience, be diligent about making your point.

Edit and proofread after writing. If you are both the writer and proofreader, leave a gap of at least an hour between writing and proofreading. Make a copy of the original version, and check the spelling and grammar in it.

09. Don’t Neglect Design

Many bloggers underestimate the importance of design. Every first-time visitor observes the overall look and feel of a blog. Three or four sidebars full of useless widgets, for example, will just confuse visitors. Visitors will stay for a while if they feel comfortable in an easy-to-use design.

Sensible color combinations are another important factor in a successful blog. For example, a bright and flashy interface for a business and marketing blog would seem unprofessional and irrelevant. Also, the fewer image files you add, the faster the page will load. This matters for SEO—and to your visitors.

10. Don’t Tolerate Plagiarism

instantShift - Don’t Tolerate Plagiarism

You’re free to visit your favorite blogs, read articles and even draw inspiration from them, but don’t copy. You’ll have to be original if you want to be known.

People who want to be full-time bloggers need to remember that copying and pasting random articles into a blog doesn’t cut it; you won’t gain recognition among readers or be successful by plagiarizing—or by habitually reposting.

Do thorough research to produce high-quality, unique content. A successful blogger has a unique voice and unique style.

11. Don’t Be Goal-Less

When bloggers fail, it’s often because they didn’t set out with a clear goal. Setting realistic goals is highly beneficial because they make great motivators. Whether the goal is to get a certain number of subscribers, comments, ads or anything else, having a goal keeps you from getting lost in a sea of endless tasks.

12. Don’t Write About Whatever

Every blogger has a personal life, a life away from the blog, and that’s not a bad thing. A business blog is not a diary, and it should be concise. Remember that readers stay away from things that don’t interest them. When it comes to writing about your personal life, know when and where to draw the line.

13. Don’t Just Share News

If traffic to your blog is substantial and steady, then you can post breaking news knowing it will get good exposure. If you don’t have heavy traffic and you focus on news stories, then you might lose visitors, because you’ll be in direct competition with giant blogs such as TechCrunch, Mashable and ReadWriteWeb. Several major blogs do this work properly and efficiently. Distinguish your blog from others by going a different route.

14. Don’t Spam

Don’t spread links to your blog everywhere you go, and don’t try to be the first commentator in every post on a traffic-heavy blog. Also, avoid replying to every comment on your own blog.

15. Don’t Put Ads Everywhere

instantShift - Don’t Put Ads Everywhere

Some bloggers make the mistake of thinking that they can put ads everywhere on the blog and double their profit. What they don’t realize is that this will affect their SEO and revenue. Too many ads will irritate readers and drive them away.

Don’t waste time trying to convince readers to buy products by peppering your posts with sneaky words. They’ll move right on. Minimize affiliate marketing and readers will stick with you.

16. Don’t Blog Without a Domain Name

Most new bloggers start their careers on a free domain (such as Blogger or WordPress)—but there are no free lunches. With a free domain you’ll never have complete control over your blog. I recommend that new bloggers set themselves up on their own domain from the beginning.

17. Don’t Post Irregularly

The key to success is regular and consistent posting. Many bloggers write every day at the beginning but after some time become irregular. Readers don’t have any idea what to expect or when. Make a master plan and a schedule, and post regularly!

18. Don’t Give Up Early On

Patience is crucial. Everybody wants to earn quick money online, and some think they can get rich overnight. Every aspiring blogger should remember that blogging is not as easy as it appears. It takes hard work and patience, and overnight success is rare. Don’t give up early.

19. Don’t Keep the AdSense Notifier On

instantShift - Don’t Keep the AdSense Notifier On

There’s a cool Firefox plug-in that refreshes AdSense stats every 15 minutes. Revenue boosts morale and motivation, and poor earning days dampen enthusiasm. Turn off your real-time revenue notifiers, and check revenue just once per day. You’ll have peace of mind and you’ll be able to concentrate on writing.

20. Don’t Let Ideas Slip Away

Ideas come and go quickly, so write them down somewhere instead of relying on memory. Prepare drafts for current and future posts; keep the waters flowing.

Good Habits of Successful Bloggers

The list is below. The accompanying tips are straightforward and relatively easy to put into practice. Following every one of these tips is not essential, but these are the things I personally strive for in my blogging.

instantShift - Good Habits of Successful Bloggers

01. Consistency

Consistency is a huge factor with successful bloggers. Bloggers stay in their niche, consistently writing about their subject with a singular approach. Even when they write about something that seems off-topic, they relate it to what they know their readers are interested in.

Top bloggers post regularly and in predictable patterns. Whether they post three times a day or twice a week, their readers know what to expect.
Consistency is not about quantity; posting too often can actually damage your reputation. Set a timeframe for preparing articles, posting them and informing your social networks. Stick to a schedule, and don’t give your readers something boring that hasn’t been proofread.

02. Perseverance

Top bloggers understand that success doesn’t happen overnight, and rarely quickly. Getting to the top takes persistence, hard work, serious study and perseverance. Successful bloggers just don’t give up.

It probably won’t be an easy path to travel. Creating your blog and building a following will take time and effort, and making your blog stand out from the competition will take perseverance.

Persistence creates demand. Be available, and build expectation and trust among your readers; they’ll know you’re there for them and will wait for you and ask questions of you.

Problogger.net, for example, might not be the most spectacular blog on the Internet, but it is one of the most reliable and respected—and the author’s perseverance plays a big role in that.

03. Interaction

Top bloggers often team up with social media power users for mutual benefit. Those friendships usually develop behind the scenes. Connections like these almost guarantee that even your not-so-good posts will be popular. The average blogger often overlooks the benefits of these relationships.

Start small: befriend some average social media users. Sometimes a group of people working together can be as valuable as one recommendation from a power user.

Every popular blogger is the superstar of some social network. Just look at their number of followers and you’ll feel like the silliest living thing on the planet. Remember that hard work got them those followers. Popular bloggers are social media enthusiasts. They talk to people and are open to discussion and suggestion, and this is reflected in their follower count on social media networks. So build up a powerful network.

A blog is not a one-way street leading from thousands of writers to millions of readers. A blog provides information, but it’s also a mode of communication between the blogger and their readers. Successful bloggers interact with their readers; they answer readers’ emails and comments and ask for feedback. Interacting with your readers builds trust and loyalty and encourages participation. It makes you approachable and accessible. Have fun when you write posts, and keep them lighthearted; you will connect with readers on a more personal level.

If someone reads your posts and leaves comments, then reciprocate: acknowledge and thank them. If a reader tweets one of your articles, thank them with a retweet. If they are a fellow blogger, then check out their blog and tweet a post of theirs that you think is worth sharing.

04. Passion

Blogging is not a day trip, and the road is not smooth; be prepared for discouragement and distraction. Only a strong passion for your blog will keep you going when times are tough. Successful bloggers are passionate, and they prepare for the challenge of blogging before they get into it. They blog about their passion and don’t care whether it makes money—which makes it difficult for them to fail after all.

Passionate people go the extra mile to make sure they achieve what they want; they don’t care about consequences. They burn the midnight oil, brainstorming and planning, and are ready to put in extra hours.

If you’re not passionate about your blog, you’ll have a hard time succeeding. Blogs attract like-minded people, and they will see right through you if you’re just in it for the money.

05. Response to Criticism

instantShift - Response to Criticism

Successful bloggers thrive on criticism. As your popularity increases, so will the amount of criticism you receive. Criticism is part of the game, and success without criticism is not so sweet. Keep the flame burning, despite the fact that critics increase in number along the way.

I can’t think of a successful person who has escaped attack and criticism from the media. It’s worse for bloggers because the Internet has made the world a global village; criticism can spread like wildfire online. Top bloggers have finally learned to recognize when criticism is worth listening to and when it’s not. Unfortunately, top bloggers have occasionally been on the receiving end of threats, and they’ve learned to keep private things private.

All bloggers experience both positive and negative criticism, especially in the early stages when their blog is making its mark, but successful bloggers don’t let it bog them down. Instead, they press on in the face of criticism, knowing it’s just a stepping stone on the road to greatness.

06. Humility

Remember that you’re not in this for a day or a month, so don’t be a phony; the public will see right through you. Be real, be yourself, and write about things that inspire you.

I’ve encountered two types of bloggers: the genuine and the hyped up. Genuine bloggers are down to earth and are highly respected and admired by their readers. Hyped-up bloggers have a penchant for portraying themselves as bigger than they are and make exaggerated claims.

You could entice readers with big claims and bold words, but eventually they’ll realize that you have nothing real to offer. They’ll see past your marketing fluff and go back to the bloggers who deliver on their promises. An excellent blogger doesn’t exaggerate, lie or make unfounded claims. Readers appreciate honesty and stick with trustworthy bloggers.

It’s easy for top bloggers to become conceited, what with their thousands of readers and subscribers. But those who have fallen into this trap aren’t top bloggers anymore. Arrogance is a big no-no. Successful bloggers stay modest because they know their success depends entirely on others (particularly, readers, links and social media votes). When you find success with your blog, remember that it’s only because others have championed you.

The thing about top bloggers is that they’re willing to share (knowledge, links, etc.). If more bloggers were like this, then networking with them would be a lovely experience.

07. Networking

Socializing is vital to success. Top bloggers link and refer to other posts frequently; they spread the “link love.” If you do the same, you’ll be praised and thanked for being helpful, and the people you help will feel indebted to you. They’ll post links to your website, mention you in their posts and maybe even introduce you to their blogger friends. Helpfulness can be rewarding.

Successful bloggers put the concerns of their readers ahead of a Google ranking. They don’t have a problem linking to a blog with a low PageRank. Too many bloggers are caught up with SEO and link counts; they want only high-ranking blogs to link to them, and they won’t link to low-ranking blogs. Top bloggers link to hundreds of brand new low-ranking blogs, and many low-ranking blogs link to them.

08. Brand Identity

Successful bloggers know how to brand themselves. What makes your blog stand out? It’s not what you write about. The answer is simple: it’s you! Your identity makes you unique, and your readers will connect your identity to your niche.

Brand matters. You might talk about the same things as some other bloggers and have the same amount of authority and creativity, but brand differentiates you from the millions of other blogs out there.

Your brand would also benefit from having its own domain name, which means upgrading from your hosted URL.

Note that very few blogs get big without some kind of press coverage.

09. Concision

instantShift - Concision

People come to your blog to learn something. No one wants to read fluff or burble, especially online.

Effective bloggers know how to get people’s attention and maintain it. They favor short posts, break up their copy into short paragraphs, use compelling headings and use lists to facilitate scanning.

10. Dedication and Accessibility

Top bloggers rarely disappear; they blog around the clock, except in extenuating circumstances. When such circumstances arise, they arrange for guest posters to cover for their absence, which itself demonstrates enviable tenacity and respect for readers.

11. Efficient Emailing

Successful bloggers are super-efficient emailers and interact with their readers actively. They reply to genuine questions and suggestions. We should all aspire to that level of devotion.

You’ll also notice that they’ve mastered the art of using emails to say exactly what’s needed and nothing more. They are precise, concise and to the point in their email responses—all skills born of the necessity to save and manage time better (top bloggers can receive hundreds of emails a day).

12. Clear Limits

You’ll run out of time if you try to respond to every email. Top bloggers have to develop the ability to say no. They must respect their readers’ time and manage their own.

It’s not easy to develop time management and communication skills. When you’re just starting out, losing a reader because of your own action (or inaction) is a frightening possibility. Realize that politely declining a request is unlikely to lose you a reader.

13. Staying Informed

I’ve come across a number of successful bloggers who advocate reading as much as possible. Reading keeps you apprised of new developments and widens your perspective. Top bloggers never stop learning and reading. They’ll say it’s about staying up to date with the blogosphere.

14. Creativity

Creativity breeds admiration. We admire creatives because they bring the new and beautiful into this world. Many successful bloggers actually carved their niche from scratch; they made something out of nothing. Top bloggers have also mastered creative cooperation; their interactions with readers have refreshing results.

15. Importance of Content

For successful bloggers, content is king. It sounds obvious, but so many bloggers go on and on without saying anything. The reader’s reaction? Hit the “Back” button faster than the blink of an eye.

Top bloggers are concerned about their content. Highly successful bloggers usually provide useful, hype-free information that stirs readers to action. Effective content attracts meaningful traffic, and if yours doesn’t measure up, then more effort is needed.

16. Personal Betterment

Most successful bloggers I’ve worked with live a healthy lifestyle and are up to date with technology.

A clear mind and healthy body increases efficiency, so cleanse and sharpen it. I find that working out and walking help me tremendously. You can’t understand how much this helps until you do it.

As for staying on top of tech, join forums, read articles and follow other blogs.

17. The Drive to Write

instantShift - The Drive to Write

If you want to be a successful blogger, write a lot. Good bloggers are prolific.

The more you write, the better your writing gets. The more you post, the more compelling content will appear in search engines. And more content means more visits.

Effective bloggers work hard. There’s no way around hard work. Putting a successful blog together requires a lot of time in front of the computer. You’ll have to put serious time into planning, researching, writing and editing posts.

You don’t have to be the most qualified in your niche. You do need to be good at getting your ideas across. Readers will disregard occasional grammatical errors as long as you can get your point across. If readers have trouble understanding your points, then work on your writing skills.

18. Patience

If you follow the path of a successful blogger from the beginning of their journey, you’ll see that they were blogging for years before they found success. There’s no such thing as overnight success, so you’ll have to be patient.

At some point in your blogging career, you’ll encounter challenges. Never succumb to pressure. Cherish these moments; they are golden opportunities to learn. Adapt to difficult situations by adjusting your blogging habits and strategies.

19. The Drive to Succeed

Highly successful bloggers are visionaries, and before they even began, they knew where they wanted to be. Set realistic goals, and imagine the future; the more aware you are of your future, the harder (and more efficiently) you’ll work to achieve it.

Jumping straight into heavy blogging can be tough. You could get lost in a sea of posts, replies and updates. Keep your goals in mind, and don’t get sidetracked by smaller tasks and everyday operations. Plan what you want to accomplish with your blog and then do it.

20. Authority

How many times have you wondered what makes you click on a popular blog’s links? What makes you follow advice or buy a product? What makes a blog worth following?

It’s a sense of authority. Authority builds trust and reliability, which attracts a readership that returns again and again, because their expectations are being met.

21. Routine

Manage your time well. Organize, prioritize and schedule so that you don’t run into conflicts or set impossible deadlines.

Create a master plan and a posting schedule, and then stick to it, no matter what. Maintain a healthy balance between personal life and blogging; don’t let one affect the other.

Not every blogger needs a set schedule, but it can keep you on track. If you’re maintaining more than one blog, routines are especially helpful.

22. Initiative

instantShift - Initiative

Think like an entrepreneur. Successful bloggers are always finding ways to get the edge on their competitors. They have an eye for trends and are opportunists. They don’t wait for others; if they want something, they go get it, with determination and zeal.

23. Investment in Design

Top bloggers realize the importance of branding, interfaces and design, and their blogs are appealing because they include the latest features. High-quality design can make your blog worth a second look to those who would have passed by otherwise.

Be proactive about improving your blog. If you think you need a new design, work on one. If you want more visitors, do some research and apply what you learn.

Conclusion

I wonder what makes people think that blogging is an unskilled profession. I say, don’t knock it till you try it. And I’ve done my bit by posting this article.

Think of yourself as a business entity, even if your blog’s purpose is not to sell products. Visitors reading your blog for the first time will quickly decide whether you offer what they’re looking for. Simply by publishing online, you have entered a competitive environment. Use it to your benefit.

If you have found any of these tips particularly helpful (or crazy), or you feel that something has gone untouched, free to talk back in the comments section.

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9 Comments

  1. I think all of the points are equally, if not identical in their importance. I am a neophyte to blogging and these tips are indeed an eye opener.

    Excellent post!!

  2. Quite informative and well written and presented. Thank You, I shall keep in minds the points mentioned when I start my website up.

  3. gamil :)

  4. In my writing, I subscribe to a quote from Oscar Wilde — “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.” ;)

  5. really good points. I can see myself doing some of the wrong things. thanks for a good read.

  6. Great insights Anders. I really had an habit of checking stats often which i have stopped recently and consistency is one thing which i miss always. Recently i had a chat with one popular blogger, he said that “put your 100% efforts for 6 months and publish quality articles consistently, also don’t bother about stats”. Hope this time, i post consistently.

  7. Excellent post!!

  8. Brilliant and very informative post, thanks a lot!

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