Everyone wants to be taken seriously. But when you are building a popular blog and an influential role in the blogosphere, this becomes a matter of life and death.
If your readers, other bloggers and potential advertisers don’t think you are here to stay, they won’t bother investing their time and effort – not to mention their money – to your goals. Which means hard times for you.
To get where you are trying to get to, you need to convince a significant group of people to believe that you’re not just more wannabe blogger, but someone to look out for. Someone who will make a difference.
But how can you show your seriousness, then?
This is a big topic, and I’m still working on it as we speak, so I decided to ask a few of my favorite big shot bloggers for their insight. Skellie, Leo Babauta, Brian Clark, and James Chartrand are all recognized as authorities – serious bloggers, in other words.
The official answer: Be consistent
Here’s what they said, in two words: “be consistent”.A serious blogger is one who comes in day after day, pounding out quality content, and sticking through the hard times.
Skellie, who has written many articles for NorthxEast, says: “If they produce good content on a steady basis, without big gaps and hiatuses, I think that’s the first sign you should look for. Erratic blogging usually leads to extended breaks and eventual abandonment.”
Most blogs don’t survive past the first few months, so the first step in showing dedication is keeping up throughout the hard days. Just like in everything worth doing, there is a dip, a test of dedication, after two or three months of blogging.
Fight against writer’s block, time constraints, self-doubt and the feeling of not moving anywhere. Publish fresh, quality content often – maybe even every day.
And you will see results. This is the first and most important sign for seriousness that will show your readers and other bloggers that blogging is a high priority for you.
Leo Babauta agrees: “If you’re a new blogger, there’s no way to convince others that you’re serious about blogging except to just do the best job you can, day in and day out, for as long as you can.”
And Brian Clark echoes: “I think the consistent quality of your content is the only way to truly show you’re serious AND effective.”
How about a shortcut?
Officially, there are not shortcuts to anywhere worth going.But it doesn’t mean that you can’t do your best today to get your results as soon as possible, rather than waiting for a chance sometimes long in the future.
After all, some bloggers become authorities almost overnight while others take years to get a small following and still no respect from bigger bloggers?
Yep. There is more to being seen as serious than just good quality.
The big question isn’t whether you are serious or not, but whether you are perceived as such. And yes, there are some simple ways to make you look more serious as a blogger.
James Chartrand, the blogger best known for his unbelievable commenting activity sent me two lists full of signs that he looks for when estimating if someone is serious or not.
The points in the lists are his, but I filtered out the items that we have talked about already and added my own comments to each of them.
- A Blogger blog: Anyone can open a blog at Blogger, WordPress.com or any other hosted blogging platform. That means that while many of the people blogging on those platforms are serious, there are at least as many who create a blog in five minutes, invest a few weeks to it and then give up. By skipping the first obstacle of putting in some money into your own hosting they give the first sign saying that they are just a bit too interested in shortcuts…
- A cluttered, non-professional look: The path to being perceived as a serious blogger is full of small obstacles, each stopping a bunch of bloggers from getting to the top of the game. Making your blog look good is one of the early ones. If you pay a professional designer to that sends a clear signal: I’m investing money in this. I won’t be giving up quite yet.
- AdSense all over and lots of monetization gadgets: Advertisement is a delicate matter. With the help of ad revenue you can spend time and money to creating great content for your readers. But when you overdo it, the message changes. Now, instead of saying that you want to help your readers, you are telling them that you care more about money than their satisfaction. Not a sign of a serious blogger, is it?
- Cheap posts of no value or regurgitated content: If you have nothing to say, there is no way you can become any kind of authority in a world where what you say is how your value is measured.
- Poor writing, or a tacky teenager tone: It’s amazing what spell checking, re-reading your posts a few times before submitting them, and getting feedback from your readers can do. Even though it’s true that your ideas matter more than your writing, one of the best ways to give yourself a serious look still is good writing.
- Whines and complains in posts: This is one of my favorite points. Whining and complaining doesn’t mean that you aren’t serious. Maybe you are even a bit too serious. But there is still something to it that makes the reader think that this is not the kind of person who will survive through the rough times and see light at the end of the tunnel.
- Doesn’t post when gets busy or apologizes for not posting: If you have done everything else correctly and miss a few posts every now and then, no one will even notice. Until you apologize for the few days of silence. So, don’t apologize. Just continue as if nothing happened.
- Implication in the blogging community – a “regular”: When you look at all the bloggers we think of as serious, there is a pattern. They come out from their blogs. Skellie has two blogs of her own, writes to NxE, ProBlogger and FreelanceSwitch (among others), Leo Babauta also has two blogs, and guest blogs all over the place. James posts comments at every blog I follow. This way people can’t miss them. Repeat this enough times and you can’t be seen as anything else than someone passionate about blogging.
- Willingness to improve: Serious people want to become the best. Not just look best. If you are serious about playing the piano, you practice. If you are serious about programming, you go to courses. You ask for feedback from the regulars, and then fix your course based on the comments you get.
- Participates in discussions: First, do this on your own blog. Reply to every comment on the blog and if you have the time, e-mail your commentators personally. Then, get out and post thoughtful comments on other blogs. Not the ones that say “great post, please check my blog too” but real comments that bring value to the discussion. This positions you as someone serious about helping others and forming relations.
- Confidence: When you know what you are talking about, say it so. Don’t apologize or be too careful. Having a strong voice tells people that you stand for something. And people who stand for something are usually the ones worth listening to. Not the ones who just echo what others say.
The solution: Be consistent, but smart
Blogging success doesn’t happen overnight. There is no magic formula you can apply to your blog tonight that would make you look serious when you wake up tomorrow morning.You have to be serious in order to be seen as such.
But, there is a big difference between gaining your authority in two years and gaining it in four months. That’s where your image comes to play. By playing the blogging game smartly, you don’t just lie down waiting for food to walk in your mouth, but go and get the food where it is.
There is no point in being consistent doing something that doesn’t bring the results you are after. Make sure you are doing the right thing. And then, be consistent. That’s what it means to be a serious blogger.