The 4 Rules of Highly Successful Bloggers
By: Emily Vanderbeek

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How did they do it?”

 

This question frequents the minds of bloggers everywhere after visiting successful blogs, dreaming up possibilities for ours, and realizing we are so far from where we want to be. Will we ever get to the tipping point of blopularity (No, that wasn’t a typo! Blogger + popularity = blopularity) that we inevitably strive for?

What are the “tricks of the trade” to gain and keep readership?

I’ve done my fair share of analyzing the blogs that have stolen my heart. They’re role models for the rest of us and each success story has infinite lessons of its own to share. At the risk of oversimplifying a complicated and contextual subject, I’ve come up with four rules that most, if not all, big name blogs do well.

 

1. Keep Content Original

Originality is important because it makes your blog your blog while setting it apart from the rest. This is not to say that every post has to be earth shattering and never-been-done-before. That’d be unrealistic and, quite frankly, impossible.

What you can do is have your own spin on things. Whether it’s showcasing your writing style, cropping photos in a different way, being ahead of the curve on a trend, or creating a new DIY project, creating unique content will make all the difference – in your mind and in others. A lack of originality lacks staying power. Keeping things fresh will help your readers identify with you instead of the latest trend that everyone else is also writing about.

 

2. Imagery Is Key

 

Speaking of original, there’s no better way to create fresh content than with pictures. Using your own images will give you a fun, artsy outlet to explore and continually give your blog a spin that’s all your own. Images also help to break up text, making posts easier to digest. Their ability to provide a visual reference will help to tell your story, and who knows, maybe you’ll get a pin or two from your shots, helping to share your name with the vast internet world.

 

3. “Hi! My Name Is      PR    

In graduate school I had a teacher that always said, “The technical meaning of “PR” is Public Relations but the smartest of us know that it really means Personal Relations.” I love this saying because it’s so true. One thing that big bloggers all do well is stay active on social media, maintain relationships with other bloggers and brands, and (gracefully!) self promote.

No one will actively seek out all the wonderful things you are doing. You have to make it really, really easy for them to find. Did another blogger mention you in their post? Tweet it. Have you entered into a fashion contest? Call on your readers to vote for you. Wearing some fantastic heels from your favorite brand? @ tag them on Instagram. Share all your accomplishments and collaborations, no matter how big or small, and don’t be afraid to celebrate others when they do the same. The blog world is a supportive community and we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that encouraging one another, and ourselves, is essential. This is an idea that successful bloggers continually embraced and practice.

 

4. Persistence

Good things don’t just come. Most successful bloggers got to where they are by working really hard at it. They put in grueling hours, late nights, and networking to make it happen. Their success came after years in the making. There’s no way to cut corners on this. When feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, they kept their long term goals at the top of mind and never quit. Their blog was a canvas, and persistence painted the picture.

 

 

Emily VanderBeek is a digital advertising professional living & playing in Chicago. She is the blogger behind Isn’t That Charming, a lifestyle blog focused on style, DIY projects & inspirations that charm her socks off.   

Comments

  1. Avatar of Pinksole

    I spend quite some time analyzing successful bloggers as well and I would had most of all they are genuine they don’t try to be anyone else but themselves and they always keep the mood of their blogs positive. And if you go back to their archives you can clearly see their improvements.

    xo
    http://pinksole.com

  2. Jenny says:

    These tips seem so simple, but are so on point. I haven’t seen any real growth on my blog in months and I’m trying to figure out what I can do push it a little more. I think being original is very important but it’s not an easy task with so many other fabulous bloggers out there. I think tactful self promotion is also key, but I really struggle with finding a balance. I’m not one to promote myself so whenever I do, I fear that it’s being too pushy. Obviously, that’s something I need to learn to deal with. For me, I always try to be myself and be genuine. I hope that comes across in my blog and hope will lead to more readers, but as you said, we have to give readers a reason to want to visit our blogs, which definitely comes down to content.

  3. @Rachelle I do the same exact thing, two bloggers in particular is Blair from Atlantic-Pacific, and Claire from Fashion Bomb Daily.

  4. Avatar of Alexandra
    Alexandra says:

    These are so good! But it’s a jungle out there, with everyone doing “fashion blogging”. I recently saw a pic of a blogger wearing a shirt saying : “all bloggers post the same”. In fact, it’s a (very) true statement! Thriving in this world requires out of this world efforts (and money) !

    Alexandra
    http://theshoependant.com

  5. Avatar of Kimberly
    Kimberly says:

    “Most successful bloggers got to where they are by working really hard at it. They put in grueling hours, late nights, and networking to make it happen. ”

    Most successful bloggers are successful because of the way they look. That might not be what people want to hear, but it’s reality.

    • Emily says:

      I respectfully disagree, Kimberly. No matter how good looking someone is, without good content and correctly marketing themselves their blog won’t get very far.

      Do you really think that the main reason readers return to the most successful blogs is because of their appearance? I guess I just have more confidence in people than that. In my opinion great content will always be king. Sure, it helps to look good while you’re at it…but without hard work, looks alone won’t get you to the top.

    • Avatar of Michelle
      Michelle says:

      I wouldn’t say that’s the deciding factor of successful bloggers, but it doesn’t hurt to be good looking!

  6. Avatar of Bree
    Bree says:

    I definitely think this is on point. I also think always striving to improve is something that all successful bloggers have to be working towards. Standing still gets boring, evolution of ones style/writing/interests keeps me reading.
    http://www.theurbanumbrella.com

  7. Avatar of Nasreen
    Nasreen says:

    This is so true. The first point is especially important, because I know from experience that it’s easy to get mixed up in what other people are doing. If you see a successful blog and then decide to make your own, you begin to model your blog after theirs because after all, whatever they’re doing must be right. I’ve yet to overcome that but I’m working on my own ideas to make my blog more ME :)

    http://lazyobsession.blogspot.ie/2013/01/studded-slippers.html

  8. Great advice, always nice to hear a few pointers!

  9. Avatar of LaRue
    LaRue says:

    Well here’s some networking for you… Check out MY blog! http://www.blackhawaii.wordpress.com

  10. Avatar of Tiffy Diamond

    Personal relation is so important. Make sure that when you’re promoting yourself that you always strive to promote others as well. I support people all the time that may not support me, but I do it because I enjoy helping people and I know it feels good. If I read a post I always take a minute to comment. Since I know you put hard work into it. :)

    xo
    Tiffy
    http://www.CuteLA.com

  11. Belinda says:

    Some great pointers. I find it really hard to get my word out about my blog without being annoying. I also find it hard to shoot outfits as I work full time and with the dark nights it’s not so easy. I do try my best though to keep regular posts on my blog which is one of my New years resolutions :) hopefully in time, it will pay off

    http://www.fashioncrossing.blogspot.com

  12. Avatar of Petya
    Petya says:

    Great article! I really liked the third rule. Personal relation is so important and now I’m trying to work on them :)
    http://instyle21.blogspot.com

  13. Avi Valencia says:

    This 4 rules are so true. I always trying to be original and myself on my posts. Sometimes I felt very sad that my blog doesn’t grow up faster that I want but I love my blog and THAT was matters.

    petitefashionmonster.com

  14. I would add: STOP comparing yourself. Better to keep your head down and do what YOU do than looking sideways at everyone else (tip: this is also relevant for other areas of your life). Also, ‘you need money to be successful’. Rubbish! You can RE-STYLE your existing wardrobe, do DIYs, shop thrift, etc etc if you’re an outfit blogger. What do you think people like Susie Bubble did BEFORE PRs latched onto the bloggersphere? They used their creativity! And ‘you have to be good looking to be successful’. NO! I started blogging anonymously and maintain that BECAUSE no-one knew what i looked like, how old I was, what colour I was, whether I was fat/thin etc, I wasn’t affected by those sorts of prejudices. Only my content (and I guess social-media-slash-PR skills) got me noticed. And sheer passion and hard work. So just do what you do, try to be original (i.e. go with your heart) and the rest should follow! *Gets off pedestal*

  15. phiphis blog says:

    these are always such great tips. i always find it difficult to promote my blog without being annoying. there must be a balance and i hope to find it!

  16. Carla says:

    I agree with the tips but I think we need to be more honest…Depending what kind of fashion you like, beauty standards and how much you have to afford designer clothes counts a lot. I’m not saying you can’t do fashion without those things but you need to find your own way to overlap this things and I want to mean you need to be VERY original.

  17. Travelle says:

    This has got to be one of my favorite posts so far.

    Thanks Emily!

    My two cents….

    I’m not sure where it comes from, my stubbornness. I guess you can blame it on me being an Aquarius! Relentless has got to be one of my all time favorite words, and I agree that persistent is one of the major keys to success in anything. I may even argue that it is the ingredient that should be placed highest on this list.

    I can definitely relate to @Rachelle in regards to analyzing other successful bloggers. I have spent many nights, like you too, perusing the archives of some of my favorite fashion bloggers. Analyzing their changes in personal style, writing, exit data of their photography, structure and layout of their blog, and everything in between. Trying to find out what makes them special and hopefully gaining insight that may help me in my blogging pursuits.

    I’m no photographer (does a college level intro to photography class count!?), artist, designer, and anything else related. While, my passion is the arts, I am actually a full-time hospitality professional and radiologic science student (where in the heck are you gonna’ find time to blog?!). With that stated, I know that I have a lot to learn in order to reach the level of professional blogging but I will not let that deter me. The power of investing is priceless. I have made it my priority to learn as much as I can, including:

    1. Reading countless articles and subscribing to amazing sites such as IFB, Problogger, and Copyblogger.
    2. Buying books such as:
    a. eBay Business for Dummies by Marsha Collier
    b. Secrets of a Stylist by Sasha Charnin Morrison
    c. Photos That Sell by Lee Frost
    d. Photography by John Freeman
    e. Blogging Your Way to the Front Row by Yuli Ziv**
    f. Blog Inc. by Joy Deangdeelert Cho**
    3. Securing a part-time fashion related internship (Applying to one right after posting this)
    4. Subscribing to fashion magazines and free online sources to stay ahead of the industry, trends, and general business (The Cut, Style.com, BOF, SCORE, to name a few)

    I also agree that PR is essential as well. Given the fact that my blog is still in it’s beginning phase, I get estatic from every mention/retweets/repy/comment/follower/reblog/etc I receive, be in from a reader, a follow blogger, or a industry professional I admire. I believe that if you work hard, produce great content, and are nice and genuine to people (even through social media) eventually people will begin to notice, and something good may develop from it.

    Points 1 and 2 I feel will eventually fall inline as long as you develop a strong sense of self. Know your likes, your dislikes, your body, your style. Take a huge deep breath and objectively evaluate yourself. Recognize your strengths and learn from your weakness. Everyone is as different as the next person, allowing that shine through with ultimately distinguish everything you do.

    In response to @Alexandra and @Allison, *ANNNT!*, I’m going to have disagree. I don’t believe that you have to have a lot of money to be successful at blogging, or anything for that matter. It sure does help if you do though! With the obsession of “fast-fashion” chains like Forever 21 or H&M, discount sites such as Gilt, RueLala, Beyond the Rack, Fab.com, etc, and a little creative mind (Helloo! DIY?), I feel there’s no reason to go broke over trying to become a successful fashion blogger. You can call me cheap, but I call it being shopper savvy, when I saw that the list of sale alert items on my Shopstyle, Svpply, Nuji, Lyst accounts are EXTENSIVE… But don’t get my wrong, if I love it, I’m gonna’ buy it..

    Also, you don’t need to be a super model to be successful, otherwise, we all would be failures–me included. Looking good is being healthy, and for everything else, there’s styling tricks and make-up!

    On a last note: Don’t give up!

  18. Avatar of Flash For Zonzon

    Hi! If we talk about original content, my blog Flash For Zonzon really have it.
    No photos at all. All images are illustrations made by me, about streetstyle-genre of Helsinki, catwalk-pieces, fun things and more…
    It’s a add-free territory of inspiration.
    Welcome to visit.
    http://flashforzonzon.blogspot.com/

  19. Avatar of Lydia
    Lydia says:

    I guess the most important thing is to stay true to yourself and remember why you started a blog in the first place…never lose sight of whats important!

    ravenmaidenmaven.blogspot.com

  20. Avatar of Tr-opicalfaux

    This is such lovely advice!! It’s good to have such insightful advice especially for a starting blog as mine. xx

    tr-opicalfaux.blogspot.com

  21. Matt says:

    Thank you for the insightful article.

    I’ve been researching successful blogs to figure out what makes a blogger successful. And your article certainly covers those in just a few short points.

    1. Content
    2. Images
    3. Interactions
    4. Time

    No long list required. Straight to the point. Great job.

    As for two things I must comment on about your article, which you do cover but I wanted to provide more knowledge on the subjects.

    1. Content is great, but a single image puts a thousand more words on the page, especially if it closely relates to the content on your post. It could be a stock image or a personal image, but it should resemble what you wrote about. I’ve been making use of Featured Images, and it changed my entire blogs’ look for the better… not only does the visitor get to read a short summary about the post that may interest them, but the picture entices the visitor to continue reading the story. Not only that, but an image mixed in with content stimulates the mind to remember a lot more than if there were no picture. The mind will associate the picture with the text. This could prove useful for #2 on my list.. when it comes to sharing content.. people remember your content and will be more likely to share the link.

    2. Bloggers would love to have instant success overnight. The reality of it is.. it’s going to take months and a lot of work for your blog to get noticed. You must write some quality articles that people want to read. You will also need to utilize Social Media. The spread of your word and a few friends can go along way. Especially if you approach those friends directly, and ask them to share your link or an article. If you get personal with people, it goes even farther because then they will feel the desire to want to see the success in something you did. Afterwards, never forget to thank those who have helped you along the way.

    3. I know I said two.. but the third is providing people with actual Social Media links. Believe it or not, visitors want to share your content. But if you don’t provide them with the tools to do so, then they are likely to move on and forget about your article.

  22. Stephanie says:

    Great pointers! The 4 points are super basic but great to always keep in the back of your mind!

  23. Alaina says:

    Great article and in the fashion blogging world originality and the quality of writing and the imagery are going to be at the top of the successful attributes list.

  24. Dhorine Janvier says:

    Hey,
    I just started a fashion blog and would love it if someone would look at it. thanks.
    http://forevercollect.wordpress.com/

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