Seven Mental Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers

1. Think big.
I really have to start living the the way I’ve come to blog. On unsure terrain in those early days, I put out safe posts, ones within my interests. On homeschooling, for example. I felt assured I was “doing the right thing” looking like other bloggers. But gradually, I began to tap deeper into the ideas that really grabbed me. Last year, blogging stopped being a train of posts I shot out one at a time wondering what I’d write about next. Rather than post linearly, I started architecting this blog, figuring out how many floors (that is, topics) I would erect in the next six months, going backward to furnish the rooms (the posts for each topic). The blueprinting gave me direction, control, and purpose. But I didn’t stay bound to these plans. Plenty of posts arose from whimsy and those moments where life happen.

2. Stay flexible.
Stay tuned to your hot topics and see what you can do with them. Moving into 2014, I watched the post on Black Santa generate enthusiastic discussion and was reminded that everyone has something to say about race. It is, after all, as close to home as you can get. So I bit the bullet and launched the ambitious Race Around the World. The cultural tapestry we pieced together those 80 days gave way to more series. On class, identity, belonging, guilt, shame, money, opportunity, hope.

3. Stay happily discontent whether it’s wanting more out of your content or your subscriber base.
We never arrive, do we? And success, especially in cyberland, is an endless stretch of horizon. A word on unfollows. I’ve seen funny posts with bloggers screeching that they lost three followers. I value every reader, especially the active supporters, but feel dependent on none. You will get unfollows. It’s the ease and democracy of blogosphere where people come and go. Don’t pin desperate hopes on anyone. Set your sights higher, and higher still. I tend not to reach out to readers who seemed to have stepped away. I don’t want to obligate them to visit if they’ve moved on, though I often discover life pulled them away for a season. Or WordPress wiped me off their radar, an unfortunate glitch in our system.

4. Don’t play it safe.
The empty post page is a blank check I write myself. Create opportunity, for yourself as well as others, which can birth more opportunities. Twenty-two months ago I never imagined I’d host a forum where a worldwide community of artists and thinkers could share their history, fears, and dreams. Blogs are a safe place to test the boundaries that in life you may not be able to play with. Experiment, try new projects. You’re limited only by fear and imagination. Staying static is like painting your whole blog one color and keeping it that way.

5. Remember how small you are in blogging and in life.
There’s always someone with more readers, someone faster, smarter, more talented and savvy. You’re not all that, and neither am I. That’s why I try to keep it real. For all the rewriting I do here, I don’t want to end up editing my image when you’re coming to me with a level of trust in my honesty.

6. Know how big you can be.
Not only are quantity and quality not mutually exclusive, they can feed one another. Have you thought about why it is you want to grow your readership? The answer can be more meaningful and fulfilling than your own popularity, your ego. There is a satisfaction that comes from resonating with a larger crowd, degrees of insight and perspective a larger following can offer. You expand possibilities for yourself, viewers, and your community.

7. Know why you’re here.
I got chills watching him carve in the sky the triple somersault and half-twist before slipping clean into the water. Last summer, the commentator said of Gary Hunt who was known for his inventive cliff diving, “He knows exactly why he’s in the air.” The power, the grace. The hours and hours Hunt devoted in the search for his best self. In the writing, dreaming, collaborating, I’m exploring my capacity as an artist and a community builder. I create something bigger than me, something that extends beyond the bounds of my own life. The extraordinary discussions, synergy, stats were not my goals but the unexpected payoff of one simple purpose: excellence. I’ll never be a medalist but my blog is where I test my reach, and enjoy visible and lasting rewards for the time I put in. Know why you’re in the air and why you want to get there. Doesn’t have to be serious or profound but if you don’t know why you’re here, we don’t either.


367 thoughts on “Seven Mental Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers

  1. I try to write from the heart and not change my voice . I’ve discovered the more passionate and engaged I become the blog grows to better show who I am and most importantly it allows me to connect with fellow trauma survivors. Your post gave me more insight into the world of blogging. Nice post! I look forward to reading more.

  2. Diana, I think this is my favorite one yet that you’ve written about blogging. I love that there are what might seem like contradictions here but really aren’t- that you can stay grounded and expand into your dreams simultaneously, which come to think of it, is really the only way to grow in form in the world anyway. Also resonated with this: “Experiment, try new projects. Youโ€™re limited only by fear and your imagination. Staying static is like painting your whole blog one color and keeping it that way.” I see myself trying this out more in 2015. Also, I would love to get a look at your annual, I think I would really learn a lot and be inspired. Thanks for the generous offer. Do you want me to email you with my personal email again (not the one where your last note got lost)? xo

  3. I like your post, Diana, especially number seven. Many times posts command too much of my time, and I wonder why I do it. Creating, the conversations, the community building makes my life worthwhile.

    • With anything (meaningful and so time-consuming), it is so helpful to be self-aware. That’s really what all the broohaha about mission statements are, not that we have to draft something so formal for our blog. =) You’ve created a beautiful space for your enlightening thoughts and informative recommendations.



  4. “Experiment, try new projects. Youโ€™re limited only by fear and your imagination. Staying static is like painting your whole blog one color and keeping it that way.” —Reminds me of something else I read online, “On the other side of fear lies everything you want.”

    Thank you, Diana. I’m dedicated to pushing myself and that blog of mine beyond what it is currently. I’m not very certain how I’ll manage that, but there’s a lot of positivity about where it could go.
    Thanks for keeping me (us) motivated.

    P.S I’d love to see your annual too. Sending you a mail asap ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I was just thinking about my blog this morning, wondering whether I should post something with racy words that seem to make posts go viral. I wish i had more followers. I wish some of the posts I thought for sure would be pressed would have been, but that’s not why I wrote them, and when I think of the 177 followers that I do have, I think about hosting a party for all those people, and my heart…stops, because that’s a lot of people. And, you’ve taught me that it doesn’t matter how many followers we have, and the content of our posts should reflect honesty and hard work. That is what resonates, whether its with 10 people or 1,000 (but, boy it would be nice for it to be 1,000, but not to host a party for that number!!!) Love you, D.


  6. This is a good perspective to have on blogging. It’s a continuous process. We gain and lose followers, build on what we’ve written in the past, learn on a daily basis, and we are always searching for something. That’s what makes it so thrilling–the process is never over. There is always something we are reaching for.

  7. Love this one, Diana, especially #6, the part about resonating with the community. Once I got past my early “forget this, no one’s reading anyway” phase, I came to realize that one of the reasons I keep on posting is because I so eagerly await the feedback from my more dedicated readers. Sometimes the comments chain on a post is more fun than the post itself. And I’ve “met” so many wonderful people through the blogosphere. Who would’ve known?

  8. Thank you. I needed to hear this. I’m just over the 4 month hump and have a good foundation of readers and niche, but have been feeling unsure if I should actively pursue more readership or allow it to come naturally. You have given excellent tips and made me feel more confident in what my plight. Great piece. Shared.
    May I ask, in general, weekly, how much time do you spend reading other’s blogs?
    Thank you.

    • Oh wow. Good question. It’s the better questions I have the weakest answers for. Sorry I can’t pull up a number. My week is so fluid as I fit in the blogging (which includes reading/commenting/all of that) in the spaces between homeschool lessons and while my son does his work independently. I can tell you it’s a bloody battle for time – and the dishes always lose. My blogging schedule will look entirely different from others’ and yours, probably. When my husband and son are out on a Saturday, I have chunks of hours to read and visit back but am also scrambling to write. It’s a crazy dance, never in one place long. Which platform did you share this at? Thanks. =)


  9. Excellent points made, including some Iโ€™ve realized butโ€ฆI have fear and limited imagination. Wah-wah. I will never be a real boy. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks for writing another article I’ll have to reread.

  10. Very nice post. I started blogging just to write out my truth, didn’t think I cared if anyone read it or not. Realized later that the feedback was an important component. I enjoy all the comments, sometimes, for sure, more than the original posts. โ˜บ

  11. This was much needed for my upcoming blogging year:). Thinking big, but knowing I’ll never be big enough is just the amount of discontent I should be good with this year. I plan on diving into collaborative posts, so lets see how that pans out. For that, I have you as an inspiration:). And well, the most important part for me here is knowing why I am here. It has everything to do with how much writing is a part of me, a part that I don’t think I can ever live without. My blog made me realize that. And how much I am willing to learn from other writers along the way. I feel so lucky to have an entire universe of thoughts, perspectives and opinions only because of my blog. Like I said, I desperately needed to read this today:).

  12. Love how you call it “Seven MENTAL Habits” Diana. So often we have what it takes, but are defeated mentally (including running) ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thank you for sharing of yourself through these 7 points. It is amazing how far reaching your blog has become in these 22 months. It shows in the character you have. You are so personable with your readers, and have built a beautiful community.


    • “It is amazing how far reaching your blog has become” Appreciate the kudos, Carl, but it’s as I said. I am keenly aware of those who’re more savvy and “faster” out here. Only to say I don’t think of myself as a rockstar or anything. =) I’d love to be Oprah in my own way ha ha ha. Maybe someday.

      Thanks so much for the thoughtful input, C. I’m glad we journey together.


  13. Diana,
    Thanks for graciously sharing with us the tools you’ve developed as a blogger. Your post has inspired me to keep on learning and to expand my life and my blog in ways only God knows I can.
    I am looking forward to the journey.

  14. Words of wisdom. It’s funny how the timing of these ideas have lined up with something I’ve been mulling over in my mind. I’m pretty new to blogging and mostly started due to the love of writing, creating and expressing myself. It’s easy to get discouraged at the beginning when building a blog (and I am learning there is a lot more to it than just cranking out posts) and looking a single digit views some days. But then, when someone connects and says what I wrote resonated with them, well there you go, that is the cherry on top of the sundae! So rather than be discouraged about numbers, I’m just going forward writing about what gives me the warm fuzzies and to branch out, as you discussed, into other topics that can bring value to others’ lives. Will I be making a living from this blog? I don’t know…I am absolutely clueless about monetizing a blog. I think the payment I receive is the joy of writing and for now that’s enough. Thanks for your insight.

  15. Here here to striving for excellence D. And that’s just it. Doing our best. Giving our all. I try to also, although I’m far from perfect. I have a long way to go, but I’m having a blast in the journey.

  16. Even though your topic might seem mundane your writings are interesting and informative. You are right about the folks that complain when losing a follower. So what? It’s not the end of the world and as you’ve written folks come and go for various reasons.

    I still follow some bloggers but I no longer comment because some of the things that they wrote in the past were offensive to me. So it is in everyday life. We avoid things that we don’t like.

  17. A lot of very good advice contained in a very concise post. I thought all the points were worth considering, and there are at least three or four that I need to take action on myself. Thanks for the heads-up.

  18. Diana, I think this is my favorite post yet. So much to think about. Realistic inspiration is sometimes hard to come by. You’ve served it up well. Thank you. May this be your most rewarding year ever.

    • Terribly sweet of you. I love the realistic inspiration and appreciate the blessing. I told a few readers last wk that ’14 was so amazing on the blog I was tempted to fear it was downhill from here LOL! Have had to control my thinking ha ha ha.

      Hope you can apply some of these principles.


  19. Seeing the annual is a kinda motivation for your followers. please post the annual. about today’s post. I needed it

  20. Happy New Year Diana!
    Some really great thoughts here. The one that really spoke to me was about purpose. Why do I write and don’t be afraid to try new things!! Good things to think on for the new year!

  21. Thank you so much for posting this. A great start for a new year. I have a feeling I will come back to this for inspiration time and time again.

  22. Diana… Only 7 habits needed?!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Surely, you must have more in your back pocket. Thanks for sharing your insight. As a “small-time” blogger, I am learning from your example of engaging the reader with thoughtful posts and real discussion. I am so looking forward to 2015 together! ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Pingback: Seven Habits of a Highly Mental, Ineffective Blogger | The Dependent Independent

  24. I appreciate the open discussion of your own process. I think I might even organize my blog instead of letting posts pile up in a hand to mouth economy as I go along. I fit into the write and see who shows up category of bloggers. My writing is an end in itself. You mention the democracy of blogland. I love this nonjudgmental and supportive community. And I allow myself to un-follow and to begin new followings as time passes. Thanks.

  25. โ€œI started architecting my blog. I figured how many floors (that is, topics) I would erect in the next six months, going backward to furnish the rooms (with posts for each topic). The blueprinting gave me direction, control, and purpose. But I wasnโ€™t bound to my plans. There were plenty of posts that arose from whimsy and moments where life happened.โ€

    You may not realize it but you have described the perfect planning process which incorporates flexibility for those โ€œwhimsicalโ€ moments. May I suggest one additional step to the planning process? How about a formal review of how the year went? I know WP does the Annual and stats tell their own story, but since you are behaving like a blog CEO, how about getting together some followers (online or in-person) for a formal review? Maybe you could also put together an advisory board as many businesses do to provide ongoing feedback during the year? Do let me know if you are contemplating merger and acquisition activity so we can discuss strategy and how to raise capital.

    • “Do let me know if you are contemplating merger and acquisition activity so we can discuss strategy and how to raise capital.”

      *Laaaugghing* My husband and our mutual friend had wanted to monetize my blog when I started out. Me? Smitten and ill with the StaRviNg ArTisT syndrome. And just whom, praytell, would I acquire? (LoL…..)

      • In response to the “acquisition” you brought up, I was asking whom in the world I would take over =). But goodness, for all my talk of dreams I would hang my head in shame if I did not come out the other end of the Holistic Journey with some gold in my pocket with the kind of support I have. =)

  26. This is wonderful. SUch great advice . i hope to put it to good use. Thank you so much! My being organized is something I lack in greatly when it comes to gathering my thoughts or putting writing in any sense of order. You helped me see where I am in the process. I may be able ot climb out after all!

  27. I used to worry about having material for blogsโ€” not any more. In fact I normally have about three months worth of material waiting.

    Think big, be willing to take risks, know yourselfโ€” all good advice. I’d add, recognize it is going to look a lot like work at times.


  28. Nice. Liked that. I think over the years I probably evolved similarly. I always tell folk the best thing they can do in the face of newbie-ness and uncertainty is simply continue and they will find their speed.

My Two Gold Cents in the Holistic Treasury

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