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How to Become a Blogging Success Story, Part 1 – Getting Started

How to Become a Blogging Success Story, Part 1 – Getting Started

    Blogging isn’t something that only the nerdy types or teens do anymore, and it most certainly goes beyond posting pictures of your children (or pets for the childless out there) and griping about your job.  Blogging is, for some, a business or a source of extra spending money.  It’s also a source of money, power, and satisfaction.  But as it goes in professional sports, there are millions playing in the neighborhood little leagues, but a very small minority will ever make it to the big leagues.  So how do you improve your chances of taking your blog from beyond just a hobby into something that you add to your resume and turn into cash?

    1. Be prepared to pour in your blood, sweat and tears.

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    Very rarely does a blog go from a readership consisting of your family, friends, co-workers, and admirers (or enemies)  that have figured out how to stalk you online, to an overnight success.  Sure, if you break a big story and CNN picks it up and gives you a shout-out, you might get an instant influx of visitors, but the chances of that happening are slim.  So instead of banking on a miracle, be prepared to slave away at it for a bit.  Know that you will at times doubt yourself and your ability to go on, that you will have to force yourself to blog when you really don’t feel like it.  Be prepared, perhaps, not to know what “free time” is anymore.  This may not be true in all cases, but for someone like me that runs a news oriented blog, it’s a 24/7 operation.  A blog focusing on, say, technology might not have to be so vigilant in covering breaking news.

    2. Before you start blogging, think about what you will be blogging about.

    My interests are so varied that I couldn’t pick just one topic to blog about, and I knew I’d probably get bored writing about the same thing day after day, week after week, year after year. That being said, if you want to establish yourself as an expert in a field or topic area, then a more focused blog will be most suitable.

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    3. Avoid free blog services.

    Resist the temptation to start with a free blog on Blogger, WordPress or any of the other free, hosted blogging services.  You will kick yourself later, trust me.  If you’re serious about taking your blog beyond a recreational activity, do yourself a favor and buy a domain and web hosting.  You can start with something as simple and cheap as GoDaddy, and move as your site grows. I started out with shared hosting, and since then I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been kicked off hosts due to my site’s growth and resource usage.  These days, we have our own server.

    4. If you use a premade template, at least customize some parts of it.

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    A unique design will make your blog more memorable.  If you do use a premade template that thousands of other people have also installed on their blog, which I have nothing against, try to customize it at least a little bit.  At the very least, pay someone $50 to make you a nice logo.

    5. Consider a collaborative effort.

    You’ll have to share the profits, but sometimes two (or three or four…)  is better than one.  It takes some pressure off of you as you’re not the sole blogger, and if you need to step away for a few days, there’s someone else to cover for you.  Just choose your partner or partners wisely, and strongly consider getting your partnership arrangement in writing, just in case things sour one day.

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    6. Socialize and network with others.

    Join Twitter and Facebook and start a conversation with your readers.  Make sure to reply to comments on your blog.  By talking with your readers, you’ll keep them checking back in and you’ll be at the forefront of their minds, making them more likely to become a repeat visitor.  Repeat visitors are very important in establishing your blog.  Fly-by traffic is still worthwhile, but building a loyal readership base is crucial.  Making friends with other bloggers and website owners can also be beneficial as they can help drive traffic your way.

    It’s not as easy as it looks or sounds.

    Many have tried and failed. It can be done, and it doesn’t take a huge advertising budget, a staff of writers, or luck.  However, it does take some degree of talent (if you are a horrible writer, I’d advise against pouring your heart into making a career of blogging) and a whole lot of dedication and drive. Having a plan also helps, although if you don’t have one you can still become successful, it just might take you longer as you figure things out along the way.  I’ve been doing this for years now, and I’ve learned a lot along the way.

    In Part 2 – Mistakes to Avoid of this multi-part series on becoming a blogging success I’ll talk about what NOT to do, and how to avoid some of the pitfalls.

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    Last Updated on January 15, 2019

    What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

    What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

    When I wrote my book Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide, I was surprised at the various layers of review and editing necessary to get the book to publication. Before I ever submitted the manuscript, I enlisted a former colleague to read and copy edit my work. Then, I submitted my work to an editor at the publisher’s house, and once she approved it, she sent it to her colleagues and then her company’s editorial board.

    Upon editorial board approval of my book, my editor sent my work to reviewers in my field, then a developmental editor, then a designer and layout team and, finally, another copy editor. There were a host of personalities with whom I needed to interact along the way.

    It turns out that getting a publishing contract was just the beginning – a lot happens between developing a concept, writing the book, finding an agent and publisher, and getting the book on bookshelves or on Audible or Kindle. Through every milestone of the publishing process, my ability to interact with others was crucial. This underscored for me that no matter what or how much a person accomplishes, you never do it alone – everyone needs assistance from others.

    While I conceived of the book and wrote the manuscript, there is no way my book could have hit booksellers’ shelves without the dozens of people who were involved in the publishing process. Further, interpersonal skills can propel or stonewall success.

    Even as someone who has written hundreds of essays, press releases, pitch notes and other correspondence, writing itself is not a solitary endeavor. Sure, I may write in solitude, but the moment I am finished writing, there are always clients, colleagues, partners, peers and others who review my content.

    What is more, even as a published author and contributor for this platform, I try to never submit final copy (content) that has not been copy edited. I send everything to my copy editor, whom I pay out of my own pocket, for her review, edits and approval. Once she has reviewed my work, caught unbeknownst-to-me errors, I am much more confident putting my work out in the world.

    How Interpersonal Skills Affect Relationships

    It is clearer to me now more than ever before that interpersonal skills are needed in every profession and every trade.

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    People don’t elect leaders because the leaders are smart. Individuals are motivated to vote when they have a hero and when they feel they have something to lose. If they seriously dislike the other candidate, they are much more likely vote according to a 2000 Ohio State University study:

    “A disliked candidate is seen as a threat, and that will be motivation to go to the polls. But a threat alone isn’t enough – people need to have a hero to vote for, too, in order to inspire them to turn out on Election Day.”

    In a work setting, interpersonal skills impact every facet of your development and success. Trainers must collaborate with a design team or the company hiring them to facilitate the training. During the training itself, the facilitators must connect with the audience and establish a rapport that supports vulnerability and openness. If the trainers interact poorly with the trainees, they are unlikely to be invited back. If they are invited back, they may be unlikely to inspire cooperation or growth in their trainees.

    Solopreneurs interactions with clients and subcontractors, and those interactions will, in part, support or adversely impact their business. If you enjoy a career as an acclaimed surgeon or respected lawyer, your interactions with patients, clients, health insurance agencies and a team of other practitioners – many of whom are shielded from public view – will improve or decimate your practice.

    As a hiring manager, one of the things I consider when interviewing candidates is their interpersonal skills. I assess the interpersonal skills they display in their content and face-to-face presentation. I ask probing questions to learn how they interact with others, manage conflict and contribute to a team atmosphere.

    When candidates say things like, “I prefer to work alone” or “I can hit the ground running without assistance,” I bristle. When candidates appear to know everything and everyone, I wonder if they will be receptive to learning or open to feedback. Could these statements be indications that these individuals lack interpersonal skills?

    It stands to reason, then, that interpersonal skills are among the most valuable and the bedrock of all talents and skills.

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    What are Interpersonal Skills?

    Interpersonal skills range from emotional intelligence, empathy, oral and written communication to leadership to collaboration and teamwork.

    In sum, interpersonal skills are skills that enable you to interact well with others. They include teachability and receptiveness to feedback, active or mindful listening, self-confidence and conflict resolution.

    From a communications standpoint, interpersonal skills are about understanding how colleagues prefer to communicate and then using the appropriate mediums to meet respective needs. It is about understanding how to communicate in a way to get the most out of different people.

    For instance, in my career as a public relations practitioner, part of what I am constantly evaluating is which colleagues, clients and members of the media prefer email, text or phone calls. I am assessing how much frill to use with each person depending on what has worked in the past and depending on what I know about the person with whom I am interacting.

    Making these decisions and being disciplined enough to follow each person’s known preferences helps me better connect with the various individuals in my orbit. Is this tiring at times? Yes. Is it necessary? Absolutely.

    How to Improve Interpersonal Skills

    There are tons of resources to teach interpersonal skills. I love books such as Leadership Presence by Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, and The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

    There are also a host of books and articles on emotional intelligence, which is the ability to manage one’s emotions and perceive and adapt to others’ emotions. Emotional intelligence is likewise a critical component of positive interpersonal relations. You can learn more about it in this article: What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why It Is Important

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    Active and mindful listening also support improved interpersonal skills. I recommend you take a look at this piece: Active Listening – A Skill That Everyone Should Master

    I have further found that humility helps a ton with interpersonal skills. It takes humility to admit you have more to learn and that you can learn from the people around you. In fact, everyone with whom you interact has a lesson to teach you. And employers are increasingly looking for team members who are lifelong learners, meaning they believe there is always room for growth and professional and personal development.

    Forbes contributor Kevin H. Johnson noted in a July 2018 article,

    “That’s why, when anyone asks what the next ‘hot’ skill will be, I say it’s the same skill that will serve people today, tomorrow, and far into the future—the ability to learn.”

    Don’t overlook introspection.

    While interpersonal skills may seem simple enough, introspection is critical to learning where and in what ways you need to grow.

    Through introspection and observation, I have learned that my interpersonal skills suffer when I am sleep deprived, because then I am short-tempered and irritable. I’ve observed this connection over a significant period in my life. Unsurprisingly, it is also true of others. Fellow LifeHack contributor, health coach and personal trainer Jamie Logie noted:

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    When you are chronically sleep deprived, it really does a number on you. A lack of sleep can keep your body in a constant state of stress and over time this can get pretty ugly. Elevated stress hormones can be involved in creating a bunch of pretty nasty conditions including anxiety, headaches and dizziness, weight gain, depression, stroke, hypertension, digestive disorders, immune system dysfunction, irritability.

    Additionally, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reported,

    “Sleep deprivation can noticeably affect people’s performance, including their ability to think clearly, react quickly, and form memories. Sleep deprivation also affects mood, leading to irritability; problems with relationships, especially for children and teenagers; and depression. Sleep deprivation can also increase anxiety.”

    The point is, even as you are identifying ways to improve interpersonal skills, think about what is getting in the way. While sleep deprivation is a trigger for me, your stumbling block may be different.

    The Bottom Line

    You cannot fix what you do not know is broken. Even as you work to understand and apply interpersonal skills, spend some time in mindful meditation to get clear on what is holding you back from developing solid relationships.

    Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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