How to be a successful blogger

November 11, 2012

I’ve seen a lot of nonsense talked about blogging over the past year, particularly by self-proclaimed ‘doyennes’ and ‘experts’ of blogging, and also by non-bloggers (I believe that if you’re not a blogger, you probably shouldn’t pontificate about blogging, because frankly, you have no idea what you’re talking about – and being a successful journalist or novelist doesn’t necessarily = being a successful blogger, either). But as a successful journalist and blogger *cough*, who has also done a lot of blogger outreach professionally, I think I’m fairly qualified to offer my tips on how to be a successful blogger. You may totally disagree. You may also take these tips on board, or not, or add your own.

1. Blog to your own beat.

The best blogs are the ones that are written from the heart, that don’t follow the crowd. We’re not lemmings, we don’t need to do the same thing as each other. If your entire blog is composed of you doing linkys it becomes very dull for anyone not in your corner of the blogosphere. You may be happy with that, but it’s good to get readers from outside your inner circle, too. And you should never feel under pressure to blog in a certain way, or about a topic you don’t really believe in. If that’s happening, it’s a good idea to take a breather and get back to basics. While we’re on the subject of content – be original, or if you’re not being original, credit the source of your inspiration. Imitation isn’t the sincerest form of flattery if you’re simply ripping off someone else’s ideas. Oh, and instead of feeling bitter, or jealous about opportunities being given to other bloggers that you’d like for yourself, take a step back, look at their blogs and think about what you could be doing differently (but don’t, obviously, rip them off).

2. Join a blogging network.

Whatever you’re blogging about, it’s worth joining a network where you can find support and inspiration, get clued up on technical issues and motivated, go to blogging conferences and tweetups. You could also make lifelong friends. By the way, 50% of my traffic comes from twitter. If you’re not on twitter, get on it.

3. Pay attention to libel law.

Over the past week I’ve spotted several posts which are in breach of our libel law. Being a blogger doesn’t make you immune to prosecution – you may feel as though you’re in a little blogging bubble, safe from the rules that apply to normal media, but you’re not, and it’s not worth the risk. There has been a rise in the number of defamation cases involving social media over the past year. Be sensible.

4. You don’t have to have perfect grammar and spelling…

but if you don’t, it’s always worth spellchecking a post, particularly if you’re mentioning a well-known figure. (And if you want to work with brands, using the ‘C’ word or ‘F’ word in a post or title isn’t a good idea, because they will look at your blog properly before deciding to work with you. I’m just saying. It won’t put all brands off – but some, it definitely will.)

5. Success is relative.

My idea of success may be different to yours. Some bloggers want to see their names in lights, some want to make money, some have a message they want to get across, and some want an outlet for their thoughts and ideas. Some bloggers want two, or three of those things, or all four. Whatever your reason for blogging, as long as it makes you happy, you’re doing the right thing.

So those are my tips. What would you add?

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  • Jodie May-Smith November 15, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    This is a great post!!! I am really trying hard to get my blog known… only have 3 followers 🙁 Early days I guess. xx

  • Rachael (Tales from the Village) November 14, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Great post, Liz. I agree with Susanna and Liz – being nice is vital. There’s no point in being horrible – there’s enough of that around in the world anyway!

  • A Modern Mother November 14, 2012 at 6:28 am

    I would add be nice. You can still be edgy, but in a respectful way.

  • Rachel November 12, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    I would add ‘write well’. I am astonished by how many badly written blog posts there are out there! (and, yes, I realise anyone is very free to read my blog and decide I should take my own advice….)

    But seriously, I have read so many posts that are sloppily put together, poorly proofed, and which generally don’t say anything interesting.It gives blogging a bad name… especially when there is stuff out there which is novel, startling, and beautifully written.

  • Liz Weston November 11, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    #MyTopTip Look for opportunities to celebrate the success of other bloggers.

    Why? Because there’s been a lot of negativity in the blogging world in recent months. In going positive, you’ll really stand out, and be seen as a beacon of hope, for the future of blogging.

    People will want to follow and engage with you. Brands will like your positive attitude. And you’ll feel good as well.

    I’m off to practise what I preach by writing positively, and to my own beat !! I liked that one 🙂

  • Crystal Jigsaw November 11, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    I think there are too many linkys about nowadays. I see new ones started nearly every other day and then I see folk complaining when hardly anyone joins in! I like some but I’m very choosy…

    I also think there’s far too much of ‘me me me’ and competing for the top spot and that bores me. From the outset, I’ve kept my blog ad free, sponsor free and honest. What makes a blog interesting is its originality but there are lots of blogs about now that are too similar. One of my biggest tips is being honest and sticking to what makes you tick, rather than trying to fit into what makes everyone else tick.

    CJ x

  • Mrs Teepot November 11, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Great tips *frantically scribbles them down*