This post is based on episode 155 of the ProBlogger podcast.
About five years ago I started using a new piece of software for creating and distributing surveys. As you probably know, I’ve been using surveys for a while to learn more about my readers and their needs.
As part of my testing process, I sent out a survey to a list of 50 full-time bloggers asking one simple question: “What’s the number one tip you’d give a blogger who’s just starting out and wants to become a full-time blogger?”
The software did what I expected it to do, and soon I had replies from nearly everyone on my list. What I didn’t expect was the variety of answers I got back.
Or rather, the lack of variety.
In the end, there was so much overlap and similarity in their responses that I ended up with five tips. And those tips are just as relevant as they were five years ago, so I thought I’d share them with you.
Here they are (in no particular order).
1. Be yourself
“Just be you. Speak in your own voice, and don’t try to be anyone else. Swim in your own lane.”
“Keep it real.”
“My best tip is to write about what you love and have experience in. Honesty comes out in your writing.”
“Only write about what you’re passionate about, your own unique experiences.”
“Don’t copy, find your own voice and use that. Remember, cover bands don’t change the world.”
“If you’re passionate about something, let it shine through in every aspect of your blog. Don’t get so caught up in watching stats and gaining followers that you forget why you started blogging in the first place. Be authentic and make those connections organically, because those are the people who’ll stick with you during your rollercoaster journey of ups and downs.”
“Write about something you’re genuinely interested in. In a crowded space, the best way to stand out is to be yourself. There’s no-one like you. Your story, your opinion, your voice, and your humor are all unique. Tap into that.”
I love this piece of advice. It may take you a while to work out who you really are. But that last comment is spot on: The way to stand out is to find out who you are and to let it come through in your voice.
2. Be consistent
Out of the 50-odd people who responded to my survey, almost a quarter of them mentioned being consistent.
“People like consistency.”
“Be consistent and be yourself.”
“Be regular with your writing. It really helps to keep the momentum going for both you as the writer and your readers.”
“Blogging is never about one post. It’s your body of work that you’ll become known for.”
“Keep going, keep talking, and keep taking consistent action no matter how small. When you look back in a year you’ll be amazed at how far you’ve come.”
“Be consistent with the content you deliver. Be genuine in what you write about, and how you deliver your message. If you do those things, the money and business side will naturally start to flow.”
“Keep going, and stay true to your voice and the info you want to provide.”
I talk about being consistency a lot here at ProBlogger, and that you need to keep creating content no matter how well you write. Sure, you may have a post go viral and bring you a heap of traffic. But unless you have a large archive of content to keep those readers on your site – posts, videos, tweets, etc. – that traffic will disappear as quickly as it arrived. And that’s why consistency is key to making a full-time career from blogging.
3. Be persistent
Along with being consistent, a lot of the replies talked about being persistent.
“It takes time to build a good blog.”
“Beware. It’s going to be a lot of work.”
“Slow and steady wins the race.”
“Keep going, it can take time to grow.”
“Keep going and keep learning.”
“Keep going. If you feel like quitting, reconnect with your why and keep going.”
“Persist for you, not the numbers.”
If you want to enough money to be a full-time blogger, you need to keep going no matter what. Make no mistake: it’s going to be a while before you start earning enough money to even consider going full-time. And the only way you’ll make it is to keep writing great content.
4. Give it a go
Of course, these tips won’t amount to anything unless you actually create your blog and start writing content for it. And that was the fourth tip that came out of all those responses.
“Jump in and give it a go.”
“My biggest tip is to just start. So many people want to start a blog. They worry about how they won’t be good enough, or compare themselves to established bloggers. If you don’t start, you can never build on it. Don’t worry it not being perfect because it will never be perfect, no matter when you start. So start now.”
“If you haven’t started, start. And then stick at it.”
Every full-time blogger I’ve met became successful by finding their own path and their own distinct way forward. But they all shared one common trait: they started out with nothing. No blog, no readers, no traffic, and no idea what the future held in store for them.
I was no different. My email list was just as empty as theirs to begin with, and I ended up subscribing just to get it above zero. Later on I subscribed my dad, my wife, and a bunch of other people I knew.
My first email went out to 17 subscribers, and I wondered why I’d even bothered creating and sending it out, especially as no-one had clicked on any of the links.
But my next email went out to 30 people, and a couple of people did click on the links. And the next week it went out to 45 subscribers, and I got even more clicks.
Today I have more than 750,000 subscribers on that list. And it brings in a lot of traffic to my blog, which helps me earn enough money to be a full-time blogger.
Will you have similar success with your blog? I can’t tell you that. But what I can tell you is that it will never happen unless you give it a go.
5. Do something meaningful
The last tip I got out of my survey results was to make an impact by doing something meaningful.
“Reach the heart of your readers because the more hearts you touch, the more the numbers will start to follow.”
“Do something meaningful to you and your readers. If it means something to you, you’ll be able to get through the tough times. If you do something meaningful to others, you’ll do something that people will want to connect with and share.”
“Know your why. Know why you’re blogging, and then write it down so you can wave it in front of anyone who tells you that you should be doing something else. You might blog to make money, to draw up business, to help others, to connect with others, to simply be creative. Figuring out your motivation for blogging will stop you from becoming overwhelmed by all the things you could or should be doing with your blog.”
This tip really resonates with me. Knowing your why will influence the direction you go, and help you to make wise choices about what to do.
What’s your tip?
Imagine you found my survey in your inbox. How would you answer my question? What would your number one tip be? Let us know in the comments.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash