Do you have what it takes to become a successful blogger?
I bet if you’re already blogging or considering starting one, you’ve asked yourself this question. So are these 6 qualities really necessary? What if you don’t have them, does it mean you’re bound to fail as a blogger?
Let me put it this way. While anyone can be a waiter, not everyone is a natural. Some people can learn quickly how not to drop food on people, while others (like me) will never truly understand how on earth you can carry a tray full of food and not spill it on the customers. That’s why I’ve decided I’m never gonna make it as a waitress.
It’s the same with blogging.
Some people are natural writers and photographers, but for the rest of us that may not be the case. While I don’t think being the best writer or photographer guarantees you a stellar blog, I believe you need to develop other essential skills and qualities to make it as a blogger.
What exactly are these essential skills? Well, no one has written a job description for blogging so far. So I decided to create mine and shed some light on the day-to-day of bloggers.
Here’s my ‘Essential skills’ list. If you don’t have all of these qualities, that’s perfectly okay – you’re not doomed to fail! All I want to do with this post is break one illusion that many people have.
Blogging is not a 1-hour a week hobby and it doesn’t only take Starbucks latte selfies to succeed (although, they do help!).
I don’t want to be trashing anyone’s dreams, but to give you a realistic perspective that will help you develop whatever skills you may be lacking, so you become a successful blogger. And in case you wondered, I am not perfect and I’m still working on some of them myself.
Initiative + willingness to learn
Firslty, your initiative is the desire to start a blog. If someone is forcing you to start a blog, please DON’T. The inital push should always come from you. Otherwise blogging will quickly turn into another thing on your to-do list, which is probably already pretty full, right?
If you really feel like giving blogging a go, you have to be very willing to learn. And by that I mean VERY, VERY keen to sit down with a notebook and start researching online. Blogging is one of the fields where no matter how much you already know, there’s always something new to learn, since the whole industry is changing daily.
What if you are a complete newbie (like I was at the beginning)? Then you have to be prepared to learn even more! At the beginning all the tech jargon sounded like gibberish to me (self-hosted blogs, plugins, API), so you need to be prepared for a whole new world you’re going to enter.
If you love learning, then blogging is a fantastic opportunity to do so. Just a couple of the things I’ve dipped into in the last year include creative writing, affiliate marketing, HTML, social media marketing, SEO and photography. Maybe you don’t know any of these things, but as long as you’re willing to learn and implement what you read, you’ll be a successful blogger. I can promise that even if you didn’t love studying at school or Uni, learning something useful as a blogger is 100% more rewarding.
Why do you want to start a blog?
Do you have enough time (at least 4-5 h a week) to spend blogging?
Are you willing to feel super unprepared and learn things from scratch?
Do you mind not knowing a lot about something?
The second super important blogger quality is adaptability. Unlike many other industries, blogging is not very structured (yet). Different areas are evolving super quickly that sometimes it’s hard to keep up. Just look at how much things have changed in the last 5 years, and compare it to the finance or construction industry.
You won’t find an economist worried that the theory he learned 2 years ago is outdated. But for bloggers an article about Pinterest tips from 2014 is pretty much useless! So one of the essential blogger qualities is the ability to thrive under this uncertainty and being able to make the most of every situation.
As a blogger, you’ll need to be adaptable and ready to try different strategies. This includes writing different types of content to see what works for you and what doesn’t. Same goes for photos, social media, even affiliate marketing. You need to be able to get out of your way and experiment, and that is really hard if you don’t like change!
Do you like when things change quickly, or do you prefer a more structured work?
In the past, did it take you lots of time to adapt to new studies or work?
Are you able to ideas that are different from your own?
Lots of lovely people (including my mom) have never tried blogging, so for them it all seems like a stupid, easy to do hobby. At the same time, if blogging was so easy, why isn’t everyone doing it?
The truth is, blogging requires a lot of skills (that’s what this whole post is about, after all!). But besides certain qualities, it really takes a lot of courage to start putting yourself online. It’s a scary thing if you’re the type of person that cares a lot about what other people think. In fact, it took me a long time before I decided to share my blog on my Facebook, because I was just so afraid of people judging me and the fact that I write about fashion.
One of the things that take a lot of courage is preparing to be disliked. This may be especially hard if love praise as much as I do (and who doesn’t). At the same time, the more people that read your blog, the more different opinions there will be. Big bloggers get hate under every post or video, some even have dedicated threads on gossip forums. So if you’re not prepared for the occasional negative comment (or simply ignorance from a friend), you may become easily discouraged.
The good news is that courage and fearlessness can be cultivated. I’m the living proof!. I’m no Beyoncé, but the more I thought of it, the more I realized that it takes a lot of balls to expose your thoughts, personality, and face for the whole world to see.
So if the mere thought of putting your blog online makes your belly go funny, don’t worry – the excitement after you receive a positive comment makes all the nerves worth it! Just remember, you should always be proud of the content you publish online!
Do you care about what people think? If so, will a negative comment stop you from blogging?
Are you ready to stand behind your words and opinions?
Are you comfortable with people disliking you (sometimes very openly)?
Do you get easily discouraged or more motivated when someone criticizes you?
I’ve heard so many people saying they’re ‘not creative enough’ to be bloggers. Let me put this straight – you don’t need to live and breathe art, know how to write a page-turning novel or sew your own clothes (but if you can, I’m secretly jealous!). Some people are born creative, but even if you’re not the next Picasso, you can still become a successful blogger.
We’re all creatives of some sort, you just need to find what you’re naturally good at and work on the areas that don’t come easy. If you never tried to write anything (a blog post, a novel, even a script for a video), how do you expect to be good at it? If you never really took photos of yourself, how would you know your good angles?
For me, I’ve never really tried photography until I started my blog. My first photos were less than spectacular, but the passion to improve led me to take photos I’m really proud of. This wouldn’t be possible if I never really tried, right?
Creativity is a muscle, and as any other muscle, you need to practice if you want to get better. Gradual improvement is much more important than natural talent! If you have all sorts of negative thoughts about you being creative, I honestly recommend reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. It helped me embrace my creativity and got me rid of fear of being not-good-enough.
However, as a blogger you should always be YOUR OWN creative self. I’ve seen so many people blatantly stealing others’ ideas. In an industry where ‘intellectual property’ is still a very grey area, you may get away with copying what other bloggers are doing. But honestly, if you can’t even come up with 5 blog post ideas on your own, maybe blogging isn’t the right thing for you.
Do you often come up with new ideas?
Do you get easily inspired by others? If so, do you prefer to copy them or alter their approach?
Can you turn an idea to make it a reality?
Persistence + Patience
Persistence and patience come hand in hand with blogging. Unlike what many people believe, in the blogging industry overnight success is rather rare. The people who you see killing it online are some of the hardest hustlers I’ve seen. These girls work relentlessly, often until the early hours, sometimes balancing a job or a baby with a blog. Hard work pays off but only if you keep at it.
The trick is to not get discouraged when you constantly give in time and money without any significant pay-off. Patience is a virtue, especially as a blogger – hardly anyone sees 10,000 page views in their first month as a blogger. You’ll probably make tons of mistakes (I surely did not only in my first month). But being prepared to learn and experiment with different strategies pays off eventually.
If you’re more of an instant gratification type of person, you may find blogging quite hard. It surely takes more than just a selfie of your Starbucks latte to become a successful blogger with an engaged audience. But don’t get discouraged: there’s light in the tunnel! Blogging allows you to keep your gratification monkey happy (with Instagram likes, blog comments and retweets) while you work on your persistence chasing a long-term goal of growing your blog.
Do you get easily discouraged and quit after a couple of tries?
Are you ready to change your strategy if it isn’t working?
Are you willing to work really hard to make blogging happen, or do you prefer it just as a hobby?
Independence + Time management
Blogging is an incredible industry without many set rules for now. There’s no university degree or a structured path for you to follow. This means that you’re free to do whatever you want as long as it’s not illegal or affecting others. But with this freedom comes a lot of procrastination and self-doubt because no one is going to grow your blog for you.
Blogging involves spending a lot of time by yourself writing, editing, taking photos and promoting your work. As social as some bloggers may seem, what you don’t see is the incredible amount of emails, paperwork, responding to comments and general life admin behind the scenes. That’s why independence and supreme time management are essential if you want to be a successful blogger.
Being a self-starter (and finisher) is crucial for bloggers – in fact, you have to find out early if you’re able to work for yourself or if you prefer a more structured working environment. Of course, if your blog is just a hobby, you don’t need to push yourself as hard as when your blog is your only way of paying your bills.
So ask yourself: can you motivate yourself easily, or does the temptation to watch just another YouTube video usually wins over doing a more boring blogging task? If so, you can either work on your time management skills, or decide that you’re only doing it as a hobby. Because unfortunately, it’s 2017 – it’s really hard to make waves if you’re only stirring the pond once in a while!
Do you work better when you’re given a task and have to report to someone?
Can you motivate yourself enough to complete a boring task (such as replying to emails or comments)?
Do you struggle to juggle 5 different tasks at the same time?
The verdict: Can you be a successful blogger?
If you don’t think you possess all these qualities, don’t worry and quit blogging overnight. Just because I said you need to be adaptable and you aren’t, it doesn’t mean you can’t work your way through it. Yes, blogging is much easier if you already are creative and good with time management. But if you really want it, I truly believe you can work on yourself and develop the skills you’re lacking. Below are some of my favourite books that have helped me become a better blogger!
However, if you find it hard to imagine staying until 2 am just to finish up a blog post, that’s completely fine. We all have different priorities. I just want to break the illusion that blogging is easy and can be done by ‘everyone’. It can, but as with waiters – you have to judge for yourself if you want to be great or spilling drinks onto customers.
If you honestly don’t think it’s the right thing for you, I’m glad I could save you some time (and money).
But if you answered all of the questions above with ‘Yes yes and yes I can’t wait to start blogging’, I’m having my fingers crossed for you.