There are a number of habits that separate top bloggers from the rest. They’re not often talked about, though the benefits they yield are very real.
I’ve worked with a number of top bloggers, either through writing for them, corresponding with them, or collaborating in other ways. Others that I haven’t dealt with directly, I’ve observed for quite some time.
Throughout my dealings with top bloggers, I’ve noticed they have some distinct habits which have allowed them to build and maintain a popular blog.
In this post, I wanted to focus only on the habits that many of us are lacking, or have difficulty developing. Other habits (like producing great content) don’t belong to top bloggers alone, so they’re not mentioned here.
How many of these top blogger habits could you develop?
1. They’re super-efficient emailers.
If you’ve ever communicated with a top blogger you’ll notice that they’ve mastered the art of using email to say exactly what’s needed and nothing more.
The skill is one borne out of necessity, because top bloggers can receive hundreds of emails in a 24-hour period.
What if we developed the top-blogger habit of becoming super-efficient emailers, even though we don’t receive quite as many emails? We’d save time every day.
2. They network with social media power-users.
Part of it is solid content, but the other part occurs behind the scenes in the form of mutually beneficial friendships with social media power-users.
These power-users will submit the top blogger’s posts and almost guarantee them to become popular. The benefits of these relationships are something average bloggers often overlook.
Social media power-users have more to gain from a partnership with a top blogger, but we can start small by befriending a network of everyday social media users.
Sometimes a group of people working together can carry as much weight as a vote from a power-user.
3. They blog like clock-work.
Except in unusual cases, top bloggers rarely disappear or go on hiatus. They blog when they’re sick — they even blog when they’re on vacation!
If that’s not possible, they organize guest-posters to cover any holes left by their absence. While it demonstrates enviable tenacity, it also displays a respect for the audience they’ve built up.
They know that thousands of people will be let down if they get lazy or unmotivated. They’ve got something to lose.
What if we treated our dozens or hundreds of readers with the respect that most top bloggers treat their thousands (at least in terms of posting consistently)?
4. They develop multiple income streams.
Most top bloggers earn an income for their efforts. Because it tends to be a decent amount, they’ve become good at protecting it by diversifying.
Online incomes can be fragile and top bloggers know not to put all their eggs in one basket. Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, for example, monetizes through advertising, donations and his eBook (Zen to Done).
This means that if one of those income streams peters out or is cut off, others exist to make up for the loss.
Because most of us don’t make thousands online, we can fall into the trap of having only one income stream.
This might not matter so much now, but if our online income grows in future, it would be devastating if that one stream was damaged or cut off. One lesson top bloggers teach us is to start diversifying sooner rather than later.
5. They outsource to others.
While not all top bloggers are in the practice of outsourcing, many are. From moderating comments, to paying writers, to handling email, to technical issues and administrative tasks, there’s a top blogger out there outsourcing it to someone else.
It’s the result of the simple realization that the cost of outsourcing tasks to others is less than the benefits of freeing up time to concentrate on other things (whether those benefits are financial or otherwise).
The average blogger usually isn’t in a position to do paid outsourcing, but you may have skills you can leverage in place of money.
I recently negotiated with someone to handle some forum moderation for me in exchange for writing posts on his blog. For the average blogger, you can outsource by exchanging skills rather than money for labor.
6. They know when to relinquish control.
One thing you’ll notice about most blogs run by top bloggers is that they showcase a number of different writers.
Many average bloggers struggle with the idea of temporarily relinquishing control to someone else, usually because they fear the resulting content won’t be up to standard.
Top bloggers have generally realized that there are some great writers out there.
They also understand that allowing others to contribute content can free up valuable time.
If you’ve previously been nervous about letting others write for you, why not give it a shot?
If a post isn’t good enough, you can ask the writer to revise it, or simply say no. Ultimately, you have the right to decide whether an idea or submission is up to scratch.
7. They invest in a high-quality design.
Not every top blogger has a slick looking blog, but most do. That’s because they realize the importance of branding and presenting well.
A high quality blog design can make your blog worthy of a second look to someone who would have passed it by otherwise.
Not every top blogger with a great blog design paid for it, either. There are plenty of really well-made free themes out there if you take the time to look.
8. They know how and when to say no.
Top bloggers receive pitches, requests and questions all the time. If they complied with all of them, they’d have no time left to do anything else!
Once again, the ability to say no is one that top bloggers develop out of necessity. They know how to treat their time like it’s worth something.
The ability to say no can be a difficult one for the average blogger to develop.
When you don’t have thousands of readers, losing one through your own actions (or inactions) can seem like a frightening possibility.
Despite this, it’s important to realize that saying no kindly will rarely lose you a reader. When you find yourself making a sacrifice without reward, that’s when it’s time to say a polite no.
9. They stay humble in spite of their successes.
With thousands of readers and subscribers it would be easy for top bloggers to become arrogant. While some have fallen into this trap, most of them aren’t top bloggers anymore. Arrogance is a big turn-off.
Top bloggers who’ve been successful for a while stay modest because they know their success is and was entirely dependent upon others.
Top bloggers wouldn’t be anything if they didn’t get readers, links and social media votes from people all over the world.
When you start to experience some successes with your blog, remember that it’s only because others have championed you. Success in blogging will never come from you alone.
10. They don’t let criticism bring them down.
One of the few inevitable laws of blogging is this: as your popularity increases, so does the amount of criticism you receive.
Yes — even if you blog about woodwork, or pegs, or fluffy bunnies. Throw 10,000 people at a page and you can bet one of them will have something whacky to say (which explains a lot of the criticisms leveled at the Digg-effect).
Top bloggers deal with criticism daily, but they’ve learned to recognize when it’s worth listening to, and when it’s not.
In unfortunate cases, top bloggers have also been on the receiving end of threats. Because of this, they learn the importance of keeping private details private.
You might not be receiving much criticism at the moment, but it’s important for any blogger to protect their privacy.
This means that when you are criticized (and it will happen eventually), you know that it will only ever be words and nothing more.