I’ve spent 2011 hacking the code to blogging success Like many bloggers, I’ve watched the Super Bloggers expand their blogs and readership at a steady clip throughout the year. I’ve been obsessed with figuring out how they do it.
During my research, I’ve applied many of the lesson’s I’ve learned (stolen) to Pushing Social. The tactics I’ve uncovered work. As a result, I’ve been happy to meet 87,000 new readers (officially called the PS Posse).
After hundreds of posts and hours of writing and research, I’ve concluded that growing your blog will get more difficult 2012. To succeed, you will need to master the tools and the mindset of the professional blogger.
First, let’s talk about the professional blogger.
The Rise of The Professional Blogger
In Technorati’s latest “State of the Blogosphere Report”, they revealed that 60% of bloggers were hobbyists. These bloggers write to express their feelings or influence a community. Their goal is not to make money.
Another 18% of bloggers publish their posts to make a living and earn extra income. I predict that this group will grow over time. Their use of social media outposts will evolve and attract new readers. Their writing styles will become more concise and compelling. The profit motive will compel them to differentiate their blogs and compete for attention in novel ways.
If you were wondering, the remaining 22% are corporate bloggers and entrepreneurs who use blogging to attract leads and awareness for a business they work for or own.
The hobby bloggers will not face any challenges in the future. Blogging will get easier and more enjoyable as WordPress and the alternatives get easier and more exciting to use.
Professional bloggers, however, will have a fight on their hands. The major challenge will be coping with the “Attention Recession.”
The Attention Recession
Your reader’s attention is being sliced and diced into smaller pieces.
Instead of minutes, you now have microseconds to capture attention and attract a click to your blog. Social media combined with smartphones and tablets seduces your audience with a constant flood of fascinating information. All of it competes ferociously for every waking second of your reader’s time.
Your blog is just one factoid in this shifting sea of information.
Simply learning headline templates will not be enough. You will need to adopt the mindset of a 24-hour cable news publisher who has the skills of a “teacher of the year” award recipient. Only then will you be able to consistently stand out and own a position in your reader’s mind.
Showing Up Isn’t Enough
As a professional blogger you need to compete not just show up.
Showing up means slaughtering sacred cows and breaking some rules.
PS has grown by breaking rules. In 2012 I plan to break more.
I’ve learned that many of the rules, etiquette, and guidelines have been designed for hobby bloggers and not professionals who must feed families, make payroll, or deliver monthly results.
To win, you must be focused and productive. I want to share with you some proven and practical ways to keep moving forward in the face of distractions.
Warning! The productivity tips I will show you are not for hobby bloggers.
The end goal is to create a business, make money, boost donations, and establish a loyal and profitable readership. Even though the goal is clear, the journey still requires authenticity, collaborations and empathy. We’re serious but we’re not aloof. Social doesn’t work like that.
Read and decide how you will implement these productivity tips:
1. Create Goals
Goals make you accountable. Set one and then move heaven and earth to achieve it. Behind every productive entrepreneur, executive, and artist you’ll find simple goals that are religiously created and achieved.
2. Write Your Goals Down
You enlist the help of a deeper science when you write your goals down. They become real and difficult to discount and ignore. I’ve never failed to achieve a goal that I’ve written down. I challenge you to do the same.
3. Prune your Idea Sources
Creative ideas are the lifeblood of content publishers. In order to keep the pump primed, we need a constant influx of creative material. Routinely evaluating, cutting, and adding new voices to your twitter stream and RSS reader will keep you sharp and productive.
4. Run With The Winners
My Dad always told me to “Run with the winners.”
We tend to take on the habits and strengths of our friends, peers, and mentors. Be super careful about who you choose to listen to. My Dad always told me to “Run with the winners”. His advice hasn’t failed me yet. Be deeply suspicious of anyone who give you permission to settle for anything less than greatness.
5. Master Focused Work
Train your mind to work in 20-30 minutes sprints of intense activity. I use the Pomodoro Technique, a type of interval training for intense concentration. The key is to get your best work done over several focused sessions. Complete your task and move on to the next. Once mastered you’ll find yourself knocking off tasks that have been alluding you for months.
6. Understand Your Readers
You can’t be productive if you can’t anticipate your reader’s needs. A vague notion of your readers desires turns into writers block at worst and pointless writing at best.
Spending time with comments, routinely polling your email list, and hanging out on other blogs that cater to your audience will give you a feel for what drives your audience. Use this knowledge to write concise editorial calendars that direct your writing for the year.
7. Establish Productive Habits
I believe that blogs falter when the writer fails to establish productive habits. For example, they don’t set times to write. They ignore basic research and idea mining. They fail to act immediately on new content creation ideas. Without consistency they stumble about wasting time and watching opportunities slip through their fingers.
8. Use the Right Tools
I’m a big fan of automation. I automate tasks that eat up time and distract me from concentrating on what I do best. Pay the social paparazzi who demonize automation tools no mind. Social businesses need to have soul and be efficient.
For example, I use Triberr to gather great articles in one place. I use Twitterfeed to automatically tweet my blog posts and posts of authors I trust. I use Scribe to optimize my blog posts for maximum search engine visibility. Find the tools that work for your strategy, test them, and then roll them out. Use the time saved to hone your craft.
9. Become a Student of Productivity
I’ve flirted with, used, and discarded dozens of “productivity systems.” I suspect you have too. While there are some excellent strategies and tips out there, it seems that the best ones are customized to your specific work style. The best way to find a system for you is to study productivity and constantly apply what you’ve learned to your situation.
Reveal Your Favorite Productivity Tip
C’mon time to give it up. What is your favorite blogging productivity tip?
(Thanks f_mafra for the awesome image)