What is a successful blogger? Are you one? What separates successful bloggers from the rest of us?
December 2016 marked the end of one year of blogging for me. My blog, MySideof50.com, is a lifestyle blog for midlife women. I LOVE writing for it, promoting it, talking about it, learning how to do it better EVERY DAY.
But as anyone who has been in the “blogging biz” longer than a few months knows – there’s a lot more to blogging than writing. There is hosting, your platform, security, photography, graphic design and social media to tackle. There are conferences and courses and Facebook groups. There is backlinking and SEO and creating the PERFECT PIN. There is your newsletter and live video. It’s exhausting.
And as a new blogger, I TRIED each and every one of those things. That was certainly appropriate. But beyond the “trying them”, I never took the time to evaluate how any of these things were moving me toward my goals. What they actually became was one long TO DO LIST and was getting totally burned out.
Something had to change.
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So at the end of the year:
- I lined up some guest posters for my blog and took a few weeks off.
- Turned my attention to the course Finish Big Start Strong from Sweet Tea LLC which was designed to help me analyze where I’d been and determine a clear course for 2017. (Sweet Tea LLC has been rebranded as With Wit and Wisdom. Although the Finish Big Start Strong course is no longer available, this is a great resource for blogging education.)
- Read the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, which I highly recommend to everyone, including bloggers who are serial “I must do it all to succeed type folks”. By the way – I am the president of THAT club!
Top 4 Things Succesful Bloggers Do
#1 Successful Bloggers Are Clear On Their Blogging Goals
When I began the MySideof50 blog, I was passionate about writing on topics of interest to mid-life women. Caring for aging parents, the empty nest, health & wellness, fashion and travel. And I am still passionate about those things. But I was just doing it for fun.
As I learned more about blogging and started actually paying for things that would support my blog, I became interested in monetization. So my goal for 2017 is to make enough income from my blog to cover my costs.
What do you want your blog to do?
- Drive people to your brick and mortar business?
- Get you clients for a service you offer?
- Attract companies that will pay you for sponsored posts?
- Give you visibility in a certain niche?
- Support your reputation as an expert in your field?
- Gain readers for your books?
- Connect you with others who have your same interests?
- Offer inspiration and hope to as many people as possible within a certain community?
The possibilities for your blog are endless. That’s why blogging is such a fun and creative endeavor. And you don’t have to set one goal and stay with it forever. As we grow and change in our lives, so do our blogs. And that is perfectly OK.
The point is to set a goal and do only those activities that support that goal.
Many of us start out without a goal or with one goal and change it later. That is OK. The important thing is to know what you are trying to accomplish with your blog NOW and focus on activities that will support that goal.
Successful Bloggers Action Step 1: Decide what you want your blog to do and set a goal.
#2 Successful Bloggers EVALUATE To See What Is Working
As part of Finish Big Start Strong, I looked at 3 things in Google Analytics to help me determine:
- The Top Ten – In the last year, which 10 posts had the MOST page views.
- The NOT Top Ten – Which 10 posts had the least page views.
- Traffic – What were the top 5 sources of traffic to my blog? Facebook? Pinterest? Search engines? Other blogging sites? You get the idea.
My results were surprising. Some of the posts that I JUST LOVED, had the lowest number of page views. Some that I thought were just OK, received lots of views. But the numbers don’t lie.
This exercise showed me what my readers were interested in. So if I wanted to increase page views (which was important to me for my goal of monetizing), I needed to hone in on these interests and produce more content!
DISCLAIMER – Your goal may not be increased page views! And that is OK. I only give this as an example of what I was looking at and how I had to evaluate it going forward for MY blogging goals.
I also discovered that most of my traffic came from Facebook and Pinterest. That’s where my readers were. So I made the decision to focus my efforts on those two social media sites, learn all that I could about them and maximize my efforts there.
Now, this could have gone a totally different way, depending on my goals. I did not get a lot of traffic from Instagram, so I decided to leave that platform out of my strategy this year.
But if my goal was to get the attention of brands for sponsored posts, I may have looked at those same numbers and said, “Boy, I really need to up my Instagram game”.
So again – your plan is determined by your blogging goal.
Successful Bloggers Action Step #2: Look at Your Google Analytics
- Your 10 most popular posts
- Your 10 least popular posts
- Your 5 best sources that generate traffic
Evaluate this information, then make a plan based on what you need to focus on to meet your goals.
#3 Successful Bloggers Know What to Eliminate
Based on your evaluation, ELIMINATE those activities that AREN’T giving you LARGE GAINS toward meeting your goals.
I looked at where my traffic was coming from and eliminated anything that wasn’t in the top 10 traffic drivers to my site. That was hard.
- I chose to eliminate submitting to some big sites in my niche that weren’t sending traffic my way. Even though they might give me “exposure”. In my experience “exposure” doesn’t always lead to page views or income.
- I chose to drop a link party that I enjoyed co-hosting because it wasn’t driving traffic to my site.
- I chose to quit signing up for every webinar and course that came my way and instead choose only those courses that would help me achieve my goals and enhance my learning in my areas of focus.
Successful Bloggers Action Step #3: Write down the things that you are doing now that are NOT moving you toward your goals.
That means even the things that you think “Oh, that doesn’t take much time.” Why? Because all those LITTLE things that “don’t take up too much time” add up.
#4 Successful Bloggers Work Toward Their Goals in the Most Efficient Way Possible.
Reaching our goals in the most efficient way possible means not always doing everything manually or doing everything yourself. Automate tasks that can be automated. And hire help for those tasks that can be delegated or aren’t in your wheelhouse.
Here’s how I am making the best use of my time so that I meet my goals in the most time efficient way:
- Automate my Social Media using Buffer, Tailwind and Social Jukebox.
- Switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit. In 2017, I added blogging tips to my categories of posts. Bloggers reading those are different from the MySideof50 audience. ConvertKit allows me to target specific people in my audience depending on the topic I am blogging about.
- Hired a Virtual Assistant to create social media graphics and other time-consuming tasks. I stink at social media graphics. My VA is good at that. And because she is good at that, it takes her 15 minutes to do well what it takes me an hour to do poorly. So when you balk at paying someone an hourly rate to help you, remember that someone who knows what they are doing can do things in less time than you can. You’ll be surprised at how little hiring a VA can cost.
Successful Bloggers Action Step #4: Decide which blogging tasks you can automate or delegate.
Take a look at all your blogging tasks. Which ones don’t you enjoy? Which ones are the most time consuming? Which ones can you automate? Which ones can you delegate? Make a list and find tools and people to support your efforts.
You can have a blog that meets your blogging goals without doing “all the things”. You can have a blog that meets your goals and have a life. It’s called #BloggerSmarter.
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