« Forget Resolutions. The Secret to Freedom and Focus this Year. | Home | One thing. »

Want to Be a Better Blogger? Treat it Like the Job it Is

By Tiffany Monhollon

The challenges of holding down a full time gig while maintaining a professional presence are no small feat. In fact, in reality, it’s more like holding down two jobs, although one may not pay the same way the other does (if at all). Being a successful blogger requires time, creativity, and consistency. And if you’re maintaining a presence elsewhere – like on Facebook or Twitter, the amount of time you spend online can become overwhelming. But that’s no need to give up. Realize that, whether or not it’s on your resume as such, blogging is a job, and start to think about it that way.

As you’re thinking about your goals for your blog this year (or month, or quarter), think about your blog like the job it really is. Use these seven steps to help you along the way.

1 - First, write a job description. Want to know what it takes to be a great blogger? There are countless formulas and definitions of excellent blogging, but before you sign on to someone else’s ideal, first, ask yourself what a great blogger is. Sit down and write a brief job description for blogging on your site, as though you were going to advertise out the position. Include at least three things:

Taking time to write a basic job description for your blogging will give you a better feel for exactly what you expect of yourself as a blogger and help you define your niche. It will also give you a better idea of the amount of time you need to invest in your own blogging efforts to get everything accomplished.

But it has another added bonus, one that can help your career: a perfectly summarized description of what you do on your blog is a perfect start for adding your blog to your resume.

2. Interview yourself for the position. Now that you know what you think it takes to be a blogger, take a few minutes to mentally interview yourself for the standards you’ve set. You don’t have to talk to yourself out loud – but if that works for you, go for it. Write out your answers if that makes you feel more comfortable, or record your answers on your computer so you can play back and watch yourself. Ask yourself classic interview questions such as: What makes you the best candidate for the job? What is your vision for the position? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Why do you want this job?

Though it may sound a little out there, taking the time to interview yourself for the position of blogger on your site is a great exercise that can help you identify your motivators, diagnose challenges you may already have, or simply help you create new energy for your current blog.

3. Create short-term and long-term goals. Hopefully, in the two steps above, you can identify some creative ideas and vision for your blogging efforts. Use this vision to establish at least three long-term goals you have for your blog this year. These could be overall themes or emphases for your blog (or life) – Chris Brogan’s chosen three words to focus on this year. You could do the same.

I’ve been thinking about this, and right now, I like these words: Climb. Tree. Burn. Tree stands for growth and branching out – in relationships, in blogging, in life. Climb would be for exploring –  my own tree and maybe other trees. But it’s about interjecting creativity and exploration into my life and work. And burn is the essence of my overall theme for the year – discipline. Burn is for passion, for taking risks, for taking control, and for getting rid of things that don’t matter.

Now, to make these words more than just great sounding ideas, set short-term goals you can complete and measure. For example, I’ll take my word tree and apply it to this blog. Some short-term goals I have are 1) apply a creative re-write to my tagline 2) revise my about page 3) grow my daily readership by posting more than once a month.

4 - Set and follow deadlines. For these short term goals to work and move forward my long-term themes, I have to set deadlines. It may just be me (I’m a very deadline driven person), but I doubt it. Creating deadlines is an important part of any job, so use this technique to help your blog. Set deadlines for your goals. I’m going to accomplish these short-term goals by the end of this quarter (this works for me because my work goals are on a similar calendar). You can also set deadlines for your writing calendar. Here’s an idea, try writing a loose editorial calendar for your blog each month, and then at the end of the quarter, give yourself a bonus if you’ve met your deadlines.

Here’s another secret to having deadlines for your blog: make them functional yet flexible. Try this: set dates that work with your work and your life so you will know when you need to post. This will help you prioritize and give you creative boundaries to propel you forward.

5 - Surround yourself with great co-workers. One of the hardest aspects of blogging is that it’s not just a job, but usually a virtual one. I don’t know about you, but when I’m writing for my blog, it’s much different than when I’m writing for my full-time job. I’m not surrounded by co-workers to bounce ideas off of or have proof my work before it’s published. For me, this is one of the greatest challenges for regularly writing on my blog. But there’s one sure way to make sure this excuse is no longer an issue: find some great virtual co-workers to hold you accountable for your blogging efforts. You can be as informal or formal as you like with this, but I find that a casual e-mail or gchat with a blogging peer can be just the motivator or inspiration I need.

Another great resource for this is Twitter. My Twitter network is purposefully a manageable size and made up of people who are generous and helpful, which is amazing, because when I need feedback or help or creative ideas, or just someone to affirm that I’m not the only one thinking about something, I can turn to my Twitter network and get the feedback I need to move forward.

6 - Use feedback, and follow up. One of the greatest things about blogging is the abundance of regular feedback, in the form of comments, conversation, traffic, and participation with your content. So to improve your blogging, treat comments from readers, network, or Twitter friends like you would feedback from your boss at work. Follow up on suggestions for other content or requests for resources. And if you’re not getting feedback, then ask for it. Try creating polls for your readers or use creative comment-building strategies to encourage readers to engage.

7 - Regularly evaluate your efforts. I was going to title this tip, “have an annual review,” but the performance review process in the workplace is arguably broken, so I won’t put a broken metaphor on this point. Instead, let’s focus on the desired results of a review. Evaluation is an important process in the workplace, and it’s just as valuable when it comes to blogging. So, once every few months, take some time to evaluate your efforts – just like an employer would evaluate his workers. Look at your progress on short-term goals, you vision, meeting deadlines, and feedback you’ve recieved. Be honest with yourself about your strenghts and weaknesses, and consider getting a trusted peer in on the action by giving them a list of things to evaluate you on throughout the year.

If this sounds like work, it is. That’s the point. But remember, it’s work that’s worth it.

Here’s what blogging like a job doesn’t mean: that you have to blog 40 hours a week to make it. That you have to sell ads on your blog for it to be worth your time. That you have to be a consultant or business owner with something to promote other than your ideas. That you have to sacrifice your life and relationships to your blog.

These ideas are already outdated in the workplace, so don’t carry this baggage over to your blog.

Here’s what it does mean: Starting today, you can embrace the freedom and possibility of working for yourself. Realize that your blog is not just any other job. It’s yours.

So treat it like the dream job you want it to be.

By Tiffany Monhollon | January 2, 2009

Topics: Blogging, Business, Goals, Leadership, Tips |

21 Responses to “Want to Be a Better Blogger? Treat it Like the Job it Is”

  1. Andrea Emerson Says:
    January 3rd, 2009 at 3:41 am

    Good advice, Tiffany. I’ve recently renewed my commitment to make my blog work for me (and my readers) rather than me being a slave to it. It certainly requires an investment of time and focus, but it’s all worth it and I’m already seeing a spike in readership and new relationships in the blogosphere.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    January 3rd, 2009 at 4:13 am

    @ Andrea - Thanks for sharing your experience! Focusing and investing are two key messages, and it’s so lovely to see when your hard work pays off.

    What do you think is the biggest contributing factor to your success so far?

  3. Andrea Emerson Says:
    January 3rd, 2009 at 4:28 am

    Thanks, Tiffany. I think the biggest contributing factor is consistency — I always knew what I had to do but I didn’t do it consistently before; it’s a habit I’m still working on.

    After that, looking for ways I can help other bloggers (whether through links, leaving thoughful comments, etc) has helped attract new readers as well. In short, generosity and consistency pay.

  4. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    January 3rd, 2009 at 4:31 am

    @ Andrea - Consistency is a great point. I think the idea of generosity has a lot to do with that I write about. I believe building relationships and sharing ideas is the key to so much that people hope to accomplish in their lives - blogging is just one of them!

  5. Rebecca Says:
    January 3rd, 2009 at 6:14 am

    Fab post, Tiffany! Blogging is one of my top 5 things to do and I can’t believe I only post 1-3 times a month - shameful. I think a bunch of us original Gen Y bloggers are revving up to start the New Year off right :)

  6. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    January 3rd, 2009 at 10:14 am

    @ Rebecca - Well, how’s about a little of that accountability we used to dance around with? Can’t wait to comment on your next post, chica!

  7. Michael Henreckson Says:
    January 3rd, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    All great tips for anyone seeking blogging motivation, but in my mind it raises another important consideration for any blogger. If blogging is a job, then it should probably be like a typical job which provides some sort of income or return. This return is usually not as obvious when you’re blogging, because you’re probably not getting a paycheck.

    Every blogger needs to know what they want to gain for themselves from their blog. This should be an important part of their goal setting process for their blog. Once this purpose is firmly in their minds, then it becomes much easier to budget time spent blogging, and budgeting is very important for most bloggers who have a traditional job in addition to blogging.

    Bloggers need to decide whether time spent on their blog is getting them what they want from their blog. If it’s not then they can focus on the things that will be beneficial. It sounds like a selfish motivation for blogging, but it needs to be kept in mind for every blogger who wants to preserve some sort of life away from the computer. :)

  8. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    January 5th, 2009 at 8:39 am

    @ Michael - Great points. Blog-life balance can be difficult, especially if you haven’t set clear expectations for yourself about what you expect, what you want, and what you’re willing to do.

    The point you bring up about making money through your blog is a tough one. I would disagree that for blogging to be a job it has to have a literal paycheck. A great blog can turn out forms of payment eventually, though a variety of ways. But I do agree with you for it to be worth your time, you have to have defined what you want it to do.

    For me, blogging pays dividends in relationships and opportunities. Most of these, money couldn’t buy. :)

  9. Ari Herzog Says:
    January 5th, 2009 at 8:46 am

    I was agreeing with the first part of your comment, Michael, when you spoke about a return on investment; but then you meandered into paychecks and lost me and apparently Tiffany, too.

    If you look at my blog’s visitors six months ago compared to today, there is a significant increase. That alone is enough of an ROI to tell me I provide value. No paycheck can tell me that.

  10. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    January 5th, 2009 at 8:49 am

    @ Ari - I think a lot of the way we define our value (to ourselves as bloggers) depends on our goals and individual perspective. I’m with you though that viewing the value I provide to others is a sense of meaning that’s powerful and motivational. More so than a simple monetary incentive.

    Though the kinds of cash some bloggers get is nothing to shy away from, that kind of cash simply won’t be a reality for most bloggers. So we have to find value in ways that are meaningful to us and that will help us create a meaningful, valuable product.

  11. Michael Henreckson Says:
    January 5th, 2009 at 9:02 am

    A paycheck is the most obvious return from any job, but there are many other reasons we work or enjoy working. When it comes to blogging, I can see many benefits that are not tied to simply bringing in the dough. Like you mentioned, making contacts and learning of opportunities, are huge. Another blogging benefit that comes to mind is the chance to hone writing and communication skills which will prove useful in an enormous range of careers. You could also blog for the experience of designing and maintaining your own website. . .

    But with all these different reasons, the most important thing is that each blogger determines their own goals and how much time should be put into blogging before the investment is greater than the return. But you already know what you want from your blog, so I probably didn’t need to say anything. :)

  12. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    January 5th, 2009 at 9:59 am

    @ Michael - It’s all good - and a good discussion, at that! Thanks for helping spark it.

  13. Lisa Courington Says:
    January 7th, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    Tiffany-

    The renewed enthusiasms you’ve brought to this blog are nothing less than a gift to those of us who are lucky enough to read it. You’ve upped your ante, logging in a message that is not just inspiring, it’s motivating.

    Thank you.

  14. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    January 7th, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Lisa - That may be one of the most encouraging comments I’ve ever recieved. Thank you so much - sometimes I write what I need to hear myself, and it’s an incredible bonus to encourage other bloggers as well. Thank you for sharing - and your encouragement - kind thoughts always help keep me going!

  15. uwanz Says:
    January 10th, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    you said “Being a successful blogger requires time, creativity, and consistency”

    Ouggh..I never thinking about thi sbefore, maybe all points you said surely must I do now. because I never do it. Thanks keep sharing your experience.I’ll visit this blog..

  16. Modite by Rebecca Thorman - The four truths of blog and social networks to use to your advantage Says:
    January 13th, 2009 at 9:35 am

    [...] only allowing more people into your world, but by listening to them, hearing them and responding. It works by participating and figuring out how you win with your post and how the community does [...]

  17. The four truths of blog and social networks to use to your advantage | Bizzy Women Says:
    January 14th, 2009 at 2:04 am

    [...] only allowing more people into your world, but by listening to them, hearing them and responding. It works by participating and figuring out how you win with your post and how the community does [...]

  18. Nisha Says:
    January 16th, 2009 at 10:48 am

    I love this post! Definitely helpful advice…it’s really easy to slack off on blogging sometimes when we get busy and other things get in the way, especially when you don’t have co-workers to push you to do it and hold you accountable, but you’ve definitely got some great advice on that :)

  19. William Mitchell, CPRW Says:
    January 25th, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    I have definitely “sluffed off” of my blogging over the past two months. I get a good run for a few weeks and then *POOF*, resume writing and website work will steal away my momentum. If there is something I need to work on, this is definitely it!

    William Mitchell, CPRW
    The Resume Clinic

  20. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    January 25th, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    @ Nisha - Accountability is critical to me - and I find it’s best when it’s a give and take :)

    @ William - I definitely understand! I blog and write a lot as a part of my full-time job, so that always has to have priority over writing here, and sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed :)

  21. tommy Says:
    June 7th, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    That is interesting.

    is it blogger jobs or job for blogger.
    Even both of them are for make money.
    Lol.

    Maybe i will try to make one blog for me.
    But , currently i use job board script to
    make money.

    keep good posting.

Comments