This article was originally published on May 23, 2006 and is being republished as part of the Technosailor 3-year Blogiversary series. This was part of a Group Writing Project.
As part of the ProBlogger writing project, Habits of highly effective bloggers, I thought I’d offer my own thoughts on the topic.
Darren asked for Habits and I think I’ll twist his words because I believe habits flow from character and character is what makes the man. Instead, I’ll blog about 7 characteristics of a successful blogger from my perspective. All of these are areas I personally strive for in my blogging and, though I fall short sometimes, I hope I learn from my mistakes and take the steps to be better in these areas.
Respect is key in blogging. It makes the assumption that others have something to contribute to my blogging. It realizes that no one cares who I am until I demonstrate that I care who they are. It demonstrates that I understand that another blogger who I might have a disagreement with has something to contribute to my blogging career if I let him. Steve Rubel is one such blogger who defers often to others and for that, he is widely respected.
Yesterday, I discussed credibility in blogging and how important it is. How people percieve my writing and the authority that my writing has is what credibiltiy is. Does my opinion instill trust in readers and other bloggers that I have some baseline understanding of the topic I am writing about. Bloggers become subject matter experts not by who they are, but what they write and with what credibility they write with. Arianna Huffington was one such blogger who came on the mainstream of blogging and did not succeed based on who she was but with the credibilty in which she wrote.
Teachability and Mentoring
I’ve found that no blogger has the corner on the market and can always be taught something. Whether it’s search engine optimization, or monetization, or technical details of blogging, every blogger can learn in some way. In fact, the best kind of blogger is the one that openly admits to constantly learning. To be teachable, a blogger must be willing to latch onto another blogger or two and soak in everything they demonstrate. This is not to say that they copy content, but techniques and methods can be mimicked.
Likewise, some bloggers have so much to give that they want to give it away. Maybe they allow another blogger to write on their blog for a period of time while the writer find his own voice. A Mentor will help a younger blogger find that voice, and offer constructive criticism with the knowledge that one day, the student may be better than the teacher. There is no shame in this. Personally, I have not always had a lot to give, but I’ve tried over the years to incorporate guest blogging on this blog to help other bloggers find their voice. Some of those who have blogged here have gone on to their own blogs.
Some bloggers think they are an island and what they write is all about them. I don’t find this to be a very good approach to blogging. I think this mentality eclipses all the other characteristics found here and prevents a blogger from becoming successful. Writing is good for the blog, but relationships are good for the blogger. Knowing people and even more so understanding them is important to a blogger becoming all he can be. Blog networks are particularly effective in this area. At b5media, we have an internal forum that has gone on to be a water cooler for our bloggers. We talk about our kids and our cars and the things we did on the weekend because blogging is more than writing. It’s relationships.
As a blogger grows in the trade, he can become more comfortable in the blogging setting or he can maintain an awkwardness that questions how people will recieve him. While I don’t encourage brashness, confidence is something that is essential to building trust and relationships with readers. My wife used to ask me what I found sexy in a woman and besides the physical attributes, I always told her that I thought confidence in a woman was sexy. A woman who worries about what people think of her appearance or who slinks to a corner in a group of people does not demonstrate sexiness, but one who is comfortable in who she is and what she contributes is extremely attractive. Be that woman.
Humor and Wit
Of course, the most easily read blogs are the ones that are injected with some humor. Folks who can take the world with a grain of salt, not get so introspective and serious that it’s not fun. With and charm are something that readers relate to and having the ability to look at the world through the lens of humor will gain more readers that can relate.
The last characteristic I value in bloggers is loyalty. Loyalty to friends. Loyalty to mentors. Loyalty to proteges. Loyalty to those whom you have travelled the blogging world with. The “long tail” of blogging is such that there are millions of blogs out there. People come and people go. Staying true to a core of people to whom you value strengthens the core of people and strengthens the individual blogger. You;ll often see me cite the same sources. My frequent reads are in my RSS reader and out of 238 feeds, there are under 50 whom I will regularly quote, cite or otherwise link to regularly.
These are my values and the charachter traits I see in bloggers that I see as successful and they are traits I try to cultivate in myself.