The 2 Secrets of Successful Bloggers

By Mary Jaksch

Do you have dreams of becoming a successful blogger? Maybe you want to become a better writer, grow your subscriber base, become known, earn money – in short, become successful as a blogger?

The problem with goals like these is that we keep on comparing ourselves with others. And there are always people out there who are better writers, and have bigger blogs.

Comparing ourselves to others can be dispiriting.

It can kill motivation, and it can makes us feel that we’re not good enough. My suggestion is to let go of comparisons.

There are two secrets to becoming a  successful blogger: you need to enjoy learning, and to be tenacious.

Enjoy being a learner.

When I started my blog Goodlife Zen,  I didn’t know what a blog was. I wasn’t computer savvy, hadn’t got a clue about how to set up a blog, or tackle any of the technical problems a blogger encounters. In short, I started with a knowledge base of below zero!

The love of learning helped me to enjoy the journey, without wanting to be somewhere else all the time. It’s like climbing a mountain: if you keep on looking up at the peak – wishing you had already reached it – the climb will feel arduous. But if you just focus on one step and then the next, you’ll be surprised how far you’ve come when you next look up.

Each tiny step on the steep learning curve of blogging is hard won. It’s good to celebrate each one. Otherwise we miss the beauty of beginning. We miss the struggles and the tiny breakthroughs, and the laughs and tears along the way.

Be tenacious

If you want to be a successful blogger, you need to be tenacious. Because one of the factors of growth is very simple: it’s time. A blog grows in time. At first it will seem like nothing is happening. But then your blog will start to grow. Slowly at first, and then faster.

The great thing is that blogging is forgiving: you can make a lot of mistakes, and still come out on top.

I can say that with authority, because Goodlife ZEN was a lousy blog when I first started. Really lousy! I actually found a site that showed exactly what my blog looked like when I posted my first post. And so I made a video of the evolution of Goodlife ZEN. You can watch it here:

How a Lousy Blog Got 12,000 Subscribers

(If you’re worried about your blog not being good enough, watch this video and you’ll feel a lot better …)

Yes, so it’s actually hard to fail as a blogger. But not everyone survives. Why? Because you need to be tenacious. You need to keep going, no matter what. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers who I think have a lot more talent than I do, but who stopped somewhere along the way. Maybe it just wasn’t for them, or maybe they wanted to refocus their lives.

Like Jean Sarauer who created this beautiful blog (and is a much better writer than I’ll ever be.)

Could I please enlist your help for this blog?  I would love to hear from you in the comments below. My question to you is:

What is your biggest challenge as a blogger?

Mary Jaksch is the Editor of Virgin Blogger Notes. Read more by Mary on Goodlife ZEN. You can find out more about Mary’s journey here: How a Rookie Blogger Became an Accidental Entrepreneur. Together with Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, Mary founded the A-List Blogger Club.

27 Responses to The 2 Secrets of Successful Bloggers

  1. Mary Jaksch October 30, 2010 at 1:49 am #

    Oh, OOOPS – I turned off the comments by mistake… Now they’re on.

  2. Devesh - October 30, 2010 at 10:03 am #

    Hi Mark,

    Great Post. These are awesome secrets mark.
    I really like your first secret.. “Enjoy being a learner” Greatt 😉 !!

    Thanks for sharing this great Post. Great Job.
    Devesh – recently posted..Weekly Roundup- 10-30-2010

  3. Dia October 30, 2010 at 8:30 pm #

    Hi Mary,

    Very nice post. I believe the ability to keep going is the key to success, so we really have to be tenacious. For me personally, right now my goal is to get more, more, and more traffic. Thanks for sharing

  4. J.D. Meier October 30, 2010 at 8:32 pm #

    > Otherwise we miss the beauty of beginning
    Well put. I used to rush to go from the sapling to the mighty Oak … now I savor my sapling time.
    J.D. Meier recently posted..Top 7 Lessons Learned on Dealing with Bad Emotions

    • Mary Jaksch October 30, 2010 at 9:22 pm #

      Hey JD – I like the sapling/oak analogy! It reminds me of being a child and teenager: I always wanted to grow up fast.

  5. Jean Sarauer October 30, 2010 at 9:37 pm #

    Hi Mary. I’m just popping in for a quick hello on this post-auction evening. Your smile looks so lovely here, and your blogging journey is an inspiration. From the top of my Wisconsin Cheesehead to the tips of my farmgirl toes, I thank you for taking over the VBN helm. Sail on!

    • Mary Jaksch October 30, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

      Hey Jean – how lovely to see you here. Wanna write a post?? We’d all love that :-)

      I’ll better write a post about working with comments after ballsing up things right, left, and center these last few days here on VBN.

      Firstly, I tried to kill the Disqus plugin – and nearly lost all comments ever made [groan]. I only just notice what I was doing when my finger hovered on the ‘delete’ button. Secondly, I didn’t see that the comments were turned off… eeek! Thirdly, I discovered that the setting was on to approve each comment…

      Apart from those hickups, I’ve been enjoying your stuff in the VBN archives. My word, what a brilliant writer you are, Jean!

      I miss you :-(

      • Jean Sarauer November 2, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

        Mary, it’s wonderful to see CommentLuv running again. I would say I’m sorry to hear you ran into so many bumps in the commenting road, but those hair-raising, stomach-knotting snafus are just so much fun to read about :)

        I miss you and the VBN community too! All’s well here, although Dad’s farmhouse didn’t sell at auction. Things will stretch on now a bit longer than planned, but that’s okay. Life’s meant to be an adventure, and it’s the unexpected twists and turns that lead to the most beautiful places. Or drop us off the edge of a steep cliff :)

  6. Sandi Amorim November 1, 2010 at 10:24 am #

    Today is my 6 month blogiversary and this post resonates loud and clear! I’ve also recently joined the A-List Bloggers Club because I was feeling less motivated and starting to slide down the slippery slope of comparing myself to others.

    My biggest challenge has been to find/make the time to write consistently while continuing my work as a coach! So far I’ve focused on simply taking the next step, and the next and so on…
    Sandi Amorim recently posted..6 Lessons On the Road Much Travelled

    • Mary Jaksch November 1, 2010 at 10:39 am #

      Congratulations, Sandi! 6 months is a kind of watershed moment for bloggers. It’s hard to keep on going because of lag-time (the lag between action and results)
      You’ve done the right thing with joining the A-List Blogger Club because what helps to keep us on track is the being part of a group that share our aspirations.

  7. TrafficColeman November 1, 2010 at 10:37 am #

    Mary one of my most important things is to just be yourself an people will love who you are..don’t be an actor..and be will come..

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”
    TrafficColeman recently posted..Do Family Know What You Do Online

  8. Omar November 1, 2010 at 10:39 am #

    Thanks for the inspiration. I must start actively blogging. I packed it in. Now it’s time to unpack.

    • Mary Jaksch November 1, 2010 at 10:53 am #

      It’s very easy to stop blogging. It seems so hard and so unrewarding – because hardly anybody reads your blog in the first half a year or so. But it’s a wonderful path if you can get over the first year.

      I’m delighted that you’re going to get going again, Omar :-)

      Please let us know the link to your next blog post!

  9. Melissa Gorzelanczyk November 1, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    Hi Mary,
    Thanks for the encouragement in this post! I would say the biggest challenge for me is balancing my offline life with blogging. I love reading blogs as much as blogging, so it becomes easy for me to “lose myself” online. I’m slowly learning best practices in this new freelance freedom, since I quit my day job in June to freelance and be at home. Even with all this time to myself, I still feel there are never enough hours in the day to blog.

    I keep testing new methods to stay focused.

    • Mary Jaksch November 1, 2010 at 11:03 am #

      Ah! You are not alone, Melissa :-)
      It’s a struggle. I’ve lately been focusing on writing my blog posts faster. I’ve been trialling some strategies that make creating blog posts easier. More on these mystery matters in future posts here on VBN :-)

      One thing I’ve come to realize is that one post a week is actually enough. It may not be the fastest way to grow a blog, but it means we can have a blog AND a life !

  10. Kathleen November 1, 2010 at 12:11 pm #

    This is a very true article. You have to be willing to learn and try new things and you can never give up. I have tried to share this with my friends but you either have it or you don’t. It is nice to see a new and bright face taking the blog over. I wish you well. Your first post was very good. I enjoyed reading it.

    • Mary Jaksch November 1, 2010 at 12:45 pm #

      Thanks for your encouraging comment, Kathleen. I’m glad you liked my post.

  11. Janice November 1, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

    Hi Mary,
    You have no idea how timely this post is for me. I’ve only been blogging since August, so I am still very much in the start up stages. Being a member of the A-list Bloggers, I’ve been taking a peek at the other member’s blogs and WOW! it can certainly be over-whelming and intimidating.
    I actually just had a pep talk with myself on Friday regarding comparing myself to others and how in time I will be blogging like an old PRO! and I know that I will because I do love learning new things and being challenged (when it involves something that I love.)
    Most importantly, I am very motivated because I am learning so much and I am really enjoying it!!
    Thanks for your words of wisdom…they made my day!
    Janice recently posted..How to Look at Light using ISO – Part II

    • Mary Jaksch November 1, 2010 at 3:20 pm #

      Oh, I’m so happy this post was helpful to you, Janice. Keep on keeping on :-)

  12. Jered November 2, 2010 at 3:49 pm #


    Thank you for this. I agree that being tenacious and sticking with it is such a great lesson to be learned. Sometimes it’s better to refocus and move on to other things, but if your main goal is to get the blog to work, you’ve got to keep pushing on.

    Thanks for this!
    Jered recently posted..Think Win-Win

    • Mary Jaksch November 2, 2010 at 3:57 pm #

      Hi Jered, there is actually a third secret – but I’m going to write about that in a separate post: to be insanely useful to your readers.

  13. Aileen November 5, 2010 at 3:15 am #

    Mary you have such a way of simplifying even the very complicated.

    “Enjoy being a learner & Be tenacious” – okay, I’ve got those two, whew!

    I would say my biggest challenge as a blogger is… dare I admit it…. writing. Ideas flow, and I can write for hours but trying to put it together into something that’s concise and full bodied (the shaping and editing phase) – I’m afraid to publish something bad so the editing/shaping phase is incredibly long. Therefore no completed e-book and posts vary between once and twice a week.

    You may guess… I’m wildly excited about A List Blogger Club’s Writing Bootcamp!!!
    Aileen recently posted..10 Kaizen Tips For A Frugal Holiday Season

  14. Marci November 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm #

    What an encouraging video you have made! A blog is such an evolution, and it is reassuring to remember that it can grow as slow or as fast as we do.

    I think I have more than one blogging challenge, but will try to pick one: increasing my readers. I also don’t understand how I can make money by blogging. There is much to learn and great resources in the blogging club, so I will keep at it.
    Marci recently posted..Discovering the Liberating Power of Choices

  15. Kristina L. May 29, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    Mary, the secrets you revealed are reasonable and true. Being tenacious and dedicated is the key to success. Obviously, no one became a big name over night or got instant success, so enjoying to get some knowledge along the way is an important path we all must pass.
    Kristina L. recently posted..Diet to Go coupon code discounts

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