Become a Top Blogger Tips By Glen Allsopp It has been almost 3 years since I started my first blog, I knew nobody was reading and it was a simple operation from my bedroom. Each day I would wake up and see if anybody had left a comment (nobody ever did) and then check my Google Analytics stats to see how many people had visited (nobody ever did). Each day I would read as much as I could about an industry I loved at the time and then proceed to share the things I had learned on my blog. Nobody was reading, nobody was commenting…I didn’t care. Being quite new to blogging, I loved just having a voice and the ability to write something which was instantly viewable to the world if I ever became so lucky. To me, there was just something about blogging that made total sense, something about saying what you want with no restrictions that I enjoyed. In fact, I did more than enjoy it, I absolutely loved it. In this post I want to share the reasons why I think you all should at least try blogging at sometime or another and my guide to Zen blogging. Whether you know how to set-up a website or not, please take the following points into consideration before you decide against what I’m trying to share. 5 Benefits to Blogging 1 ~ You get to be creative – most of us get stuck in boring jobs where our only creative daily task is deciding how to put our sandwiches together. With blogging, there are hundreds of ways you can put together a post and there are no rules on which topic you want to write about. Great creative, use words you’ve never tried to use. Cover subjects you didn’t think you could cover and mindmap post ideas that you think your potential future readers will enjoy. A little creativity is good for anybody. 2 ~ You join the community – people my age (I’m 19) tend to forget that not long ago there was a time where there were no PCs in every home and there was certainly no internet. What I love about blogging is that we can connect to people with similar interests and learn more about the things we enjoy. Blogging opens you up to meeting some amazing people and reading what they have to say. There are so many talented individuals out there and when you’re a fellow blogger, you feel like you’re apart of an amazing community. It just feels right. 3 ~ You gain a new hobby – although some people blog solely for the money, not everybody blogs for that reason. In fact, I would say that only a small percent of people blogging are expecting that they can do it full time one day. Why? Because it’s fun. Being creative is fun, being part of a community is fun. Being able to create something out of nothing on a regular basis has to be one of the best hobbies out there. Sadly, fun is a feeling that we rarely think we can get paid to have. For all of you out there who are regular readers of WritetoDone / Zenhabits but don’t blog, what is stopping you? I see blogging as something that is relaxing, zen-like (if you follow the next part) and challenging. Every time you write a post it’s up to you what you want to say or what you don’t, but if you give it a try I’m sure you’ll come back to your blog again and again. 4 ~ You can earn a side income – earning a side income is actually an understatement, if you are willing to work hard and take your passion to your next level then it’s definitely possible to make blogging a full-time gig. Just ask Leo. Even if you only make $100 per month from your blog, that’s quite a chunk of change which can help go towards your monthly bills or your weekly grocery shopping. Who doesn’t want to earn money doing something they enjoy? 5 ~ You learn new skills – I like to think that the day I’m not learning anything new is the day I’ll be dead. As humans, we are creatures that are designed to pick things up very quickly and apply what we’ve learned into all areas of our lives. With blogging you can learn how to: Improve word-processing skills Improve general computer skills Learn how to build a website from scratch Work out how to increase visitors to your website… …and a whole lot more. If you are just starting out the last 2 can seem a little daunting, but you’ll be surprised at how easy it all is. The beauty of it all is that you can take things at your own pace and not have to rush for anybody, because it is your website. Zen Blogging To continue my story from earlier, I actually went on to dislike being a blogger. In fact, for almost a year I didn’t write a single blog post. The reason for this is that I set so many rules on my self and hit so many challenges that I simply gave up, I didn’t know where to turn. The main message I wanted to get across in this blog post is that you don’t have to follow the rules, I set my own and didn’t realise I was doing it. I HAD to reach X visitors per month or I was a ‘failure’ I HAD to get comments on a post or I was wasting my time My design HAD to be perfect or I would keep tweaking till it was I HAD to write the best post on a topic or I was just like the people doing it for the money These aren’t rules, blogging has no rules. These are the rules that I set-up for myself because at the time I had a ridiculously high standard for success. I can’t control exactly who comments on my posts, how many people visit my site or whether my design would be perfect, it will never be perfect. Instead of continuing to blog in a way that I enjoyed, I started to look at hitting targets and aiming to make a decent income. Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with hitting targets, but when they start putting you off from doing the thing you love then you need to look a little closer to home. And that, my friends, is the beautiful thing about Zen Blogging. You create the rules, you write whenever you want to write, your posts are as long as you want them to be and you write for your own reasons. If you want to create a photo blog then go ahead, if you decide after 10 posts that you want to move to video blogging then go ahead. Bare in mind that if you ever do decide you want to make a career in blogging then you’re definitely going to have to learn a little more and possible tweak things to cater to a wider audience. When you think about it, which income source doesn’t require greater skills or knowledge when you want to move up the financial rungs? I’m 19 years old, I dropped out of college and made the scariest decision of my life last year to go and live in Africa without knowing one single person. If you’re reading this now then I’ve just managed to write a post on WritetoDone, one of my favourite and most inspiring blogs. I don’t do it for anything other than loving what I do, which is the only rule in Zen blogging. I made the mistake in the past of putting too much pressure on myself, now I work hard but know that there are limitations to what I can achieve, at least in the short term. If you started blogging and gave up, what was the reason? It’s likely that your situation is very similar to mine and if that is the case then I urge you to give things another chance. I’ll leave you with some resources that can help you take the leap if you do decide you want to give blogging a go: WordPress.com – Free blogging platform WordPress.org – If you want to install a blog on your own domain Namecheap.com – The place to register your own domain name Godaddy.com – a cheap and reliable hosting solution for your blog WordPress Installation – a guide to getting setup if you go the domain & hosting route I want to thank Mary & Leo for this opportunity, and thank you all for following me to the end. I know there are a lot of bloggers who frequent the site, but I’m sure there are many more who are just regular visitors. If that’s you then please update me if you give it a shot, I would love to know that I’ve inspired at least one person.