The Secret Traits of Successful Bloggers

We all know the “rules” of blogging. Produce consistently high-quality content, position yourself as an authority, cultivate relationships with your readers and other bloggers…

But some of the best and most popular blogs have traits that might surprise you. Here’s how being negative, angry, and stupid (in the right ways and at the right time) can create breakthrough success on your blog.

1. Don’t over-explain

When you’re using a blog to establish yourself as an authority, it’s easy to think you should answer every possible question. You’re the big shot after all, right?

Writing a kitchen sink post that nails down every possible answer is authoritative. It’s also pretty boring.  In your day-to-day content, leave room for other answers and other points of view in your community comments.

As you’re writing, when you think of potential unanswered questions, don’t necessarily answer them in the post. If they don’t get brought up in the comment section, you can always write a follow-up.

2. Don’t know everything

Authority is attractive, but so is vulnerability. 21st century readers aren’t looking for a silver-haired guy in a white lab coat to solve all their problems.

Authority still matters, but it has a friendlier face now. Today’s trusted authorities are dorkier and more openly flawed than they ever have been.

Self deprecation will always create a stronger relationship than chest beating. Write what you know with confidence, but also make some time to share your screw-ups, your insecurities, and your downright failures.

Your readers will learn as much (or more) from what you got wrong as they will from what you did right. And you’ll come across more like a smart, trusted friend, and less like a doctor in an aspirin ad.

3. Get mad once in awhile

Even Gandhi got cheesed off sometimes. Taking the high road is all good and well, and being able to keep your head is a very useful quality in social media. But sometimes you also want to take a stand.

Go ahead and get angry sometimes.

4. Don’t be overly consistent

Standing for something is one thing, being a damned pigheaded fool is another. If you change your mind, let people know. If you have a forceful point of view and you then read an interesting alternate position, go ahead and point that out.

Respect for other ways of doing things, even when they’re not in line with yours, shows your essential confidence.

It’s also good for conversation. If everyone is perfectly consistent and in agreement, there’s not much to talk about. And the conversation that does take place is unbearably smug and tedious.

5. Break unbreakable rules

Blogging rules are guidelines. A smart blogger knows when what they’re trying to communicate doesn’t fit within the rules, and when they should leave those rules behind.

Breaking unbreakable rules is risky. But when it’s done intelligently and strategically, it can also be remarkable. Know the rules, then think carefully about whether or not they support what you have to say.

6. Repeat yourself

A blog isn’t a book. Readers don’t start at the beginning and read their way through in 2 or 3 sittings. New readers have no idea what you wrote last year, or even last month.

Sometimes it’s useful to repeat yourself. Also, you might sometimes say the same thing twice.

Knowing how to come up with fresh takes on a well-worn subject is a cornerstone of a great blog. If you have some strong central themes, they’re worth repeating.

7. Be negative

Positive, “do this” posts are great for spurring readers to take action. But what not to do posts are terrific for attracting attention and interest.

8. Get a little stupid

This is the age of the class clown. No, don’t be an idiot. But don’t take yourself so damned seriously either.

A little pure entertainment goes a long way to building your community. Making the occasional stupid joke (and then tying it to a point or two worth making) gives your blog some fresh air and makes it an enjoyable read instead of homework.

9. Don’t pay too much attention to “how to blog” articles

It’s great to absorb how-to articles that speak to you, and to try new techniques. But at the end of the day, the thing that makes your blog great is you. Don’t get so caught up in technique that you forget what makes your content worth reading (and talking about).


The most “perfect” blog in the world would be deathly dull. Great blogs are quirky, weird, and hard to predict–just like interesting people are.

Learn the rules, get advice, then write from your heart and see what happens.  The great thing about a blog is, there’s always another post to write tomorrow.

41 thoughts on “The Secret Traits of Successful Bloggers

  1. My favorite part of this blog is the section, Get a Little Stupid. I love reading people’s blogs where I can get a glimpse of their personality. It makes me feel as if I’m reading something from a friend rather thAn Wikipedia or something.

    Liked by 8 people

  2. I definitely like this list! I’ve done most of what’s on it, but being a perfectionist, I have often second guessed myself. I often think “Maybe I shouldn’t have said that–” But this list shows that blogging is not about being perfect, a blog is actually a lot better when the writer has human flaws. 🙂

    Liked by 7 people

      1. I was looking for the linked posts if it is about the secrets you mentioned in this post but non of them seemed to for example show your mistakes, or try not to educate etc… I would think you linked them here for us to see…

        Liked by 3 people

      2. What linked posts?

        And what mistakes?

        I do have more blogs, so I have different kinds of blog posts, and some of them are the kind I wrote about.

        This entire blog is about educating folks about what I learned about blogging by actually blogging… about other stuff.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I mean I was lookin for your past posts about “don’t over explain” or “Get mad once in awhile”… but haven’t seen them linked.

        I wanted to see what it translates into an actual blog post, and how successful they seem among your other posts…

        Can you show me examples for the above categories or any other?

        It would be useful to see how you turned this into an actual post!

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Now I see what you meant 🙏🏼 in these examples I understood the advices better. Thanks for taking the time to look for these articles for me.

        Maybe you could involve it in the above post somewhere so people like me who were clicking on each hyperlink would find these examples too.

        Thanks again.

        Liked by 5 people

  3. Get mad once in a while is probably my favorite piece of advice.

    Passion in anything will draw people in. People can see (or read) the passion in your words, and it moves them. That is why people often say to do a job you love, write about what you love, or even start a business based on something you are passionate about. The more passion you feel, the more drive you will have!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. It depends on your niche and all that, but it is kind of low.

      Focus on two things:

      1. To write better content.
      2. To network with other bloggers. Make friends with them, read their posts, comment on their posts.

      And NEVER, EVER, EVER beg someone else to read your blog or offer feedback. It’s disrespectful.

      Liked by 4 people

  4. Thanks you for your excellent advice. You’ve actually inspired me to take a new angle on an idea I was having trouble putting down on paper. The “What not to do” hook will work really well!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I know you said we shouldn’t pay attention too much to these how to blog posts but that’s like asking a poor man to resist gold. I can’t promise anything. This is too awesome, not to read. Sorry, not sorry.

    Like

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