10 Maxims of Successful Blogging


10 maxims of successful blogging

By Mark Schaefer

I enjoy coaching people with their blogging efforts and there are 10 pieces of advice I seem to dispense the most often.  So I thought you might be interested in these ideas. Whether you’re blogging for your business or for the pure joy of it, I think these ideas will help you:

1. We live in an increasingly information-dense world. The only way to stand out is to dig down deep and bring your own story to the world. Your point of differentiation is you. You have no competitors. Write a blog post that only you could write.

2. The biggest challenge to blogging isn’t having the time, the ideas, or the resources to do it. It’s having the courage to do it. It takes guts to put yourself out there in front of the world. You can’t learn that. You just have to do it.

3. Stick to a theme. You don’t want to confuse your readers. It’s possible to use your other interests to tell your story but pick a theme and build an audience around it.

4. There is no greater gift than when somebody takes their precious time to leave a comment on your blog. Never take that for granted. Love on your readers.

5. Be positive. Lift people up. Negative blog posts are like seeing a car wreck. You might peek out of curiosity once in awhile but you certainly don’t want to see that every day.

6. Even the most talented and popular people in the world get criticized. If you attract criticism, you’re provoking thought … you’re doing your job. Stay centered. Overall, the people in the blogosphere are very kind and supportive.  If you do good work, you will be rewarded.

7. If you consistently create content that is RITE — Relevant, Interesting, Timely and Entertaining — you will be creating shareable, conversational blog posts. Of these, I believe the most important over time is “interesting.” Boring is death to a blog.

8. The most important part of the blog post is the headline. As people scan headlines, it better be a great one that gets attention or nobody will even make it to your first sentence. The second most important part is the first sentence. Don’t waste people’s time. Tell them why they are there with you today.

9. The most effective way to build community is to become part of other communities. You have to give to get. Find a few other like-minded bloggers who are just starting out and support each other through sharing and comments. You have to actively work to build community, just as you work actively to build content. Spend some time building your network.

10. The hardest part of blogging is beginning. Think about any difficult work task you have faced. It may have seemed daunting at first but over time you built a competency and it becomes easier. Blogging is no different. You just have to start and commit to it and it will become easier (and more fun) over time!

Is that helpful? What would you add to the list?

SXSW 2016 3Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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  • I can only imagine that blogging can be a balancing act at times. You want to get your readers attention…to pull them in and keep them coming back. Thanks for the article. There are blogs I cant wait t reply to and some I lose interest half way through due to lack of passion by the writer. Great advise!

  • Awesome post for the inspiring blogger. I see too many people putting out generic info. Find your voice, tell your story, put it in context with current, relevant topics and people will flock to you.

  • Thanks for the support!

  • Let’s hope so any way : ) Thanks for commenting.

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  • RandyBowden

    A great list Mark and motivating, I would add patients and persistents.

  • Ah, I’ve been helped again. Thank you, Mark!

    Courage to share my perspective has always been my strongest point; now I need to be more systematic in my approach to the rest.

  • Kathryn Caywood

    In regard to number 9, building a blogging community, how does one find other beginning bloggers? And would you recommend other beginning bloggers in your own field of expertise or in a different area of expertise?

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  • ‘Create a trigger action’ is a tip I’ve given. When I started blogging, I’d put my son in his bed, walk downstairs, sit down at my laptop. Every evening, no excuses. Turning this into a daily trigger moment for a little while really helped me turn blogging (or writing) into a habit.
    Now, I slack up once in a while when I’m just too tired – because by now I know from my own experience I’m likely to end up with a crappy draft (and tired the next day, which affects the quality of the writing I do on that next day).
    Great tip #1 – I gave that tip to someone when I had been blogging for maybe 6 months. There’s no quicker way to become an expert at blogging than to start blogging 😉

  • MaureenMonte

    I like the trigger idea, Claudia. I’ve heard that as an exercise for maintaining the discipline of meditation – sit in the same place, the same way, etc. 🙂 I’d rather blog than meditate but I need the latter desperately!

  • MaureenMonte

    Mark, wondered if you might comment on any differences you see when you blog internally (within a company) vs externally (on your own). Anything else to consider? Thanks my friend, hope you are well.

  • Hi Maureen, would meditation at the keyboard suit you? Don’t doze off though – my problem after a day’s work 😉
    StumbleUpon – category Landscapes, or Nature, may work now and then if you need to untangle your mind from the daily chores. You’ll need a large screen for maximum enjoyment.

  • L C

    Mark, I finally had to disable comments because it became discouraging to moderate out the junk. What a disappointing result for the time and care I put into my blog. Now I have stats, but no comments from real readers. I could use FB comments of course, but it’s not a popular alternative for many commenters (including me), Any suggestions? Thanks for this great reminder list today.

  • You always have terrific — and interesting — stuff on your blog, and I don’t comment often, but this one calls for a special shout out. Thank you. I plan to keep this list somewhere handy.

  • june

    Great advice! Great post! Thank you!

  • Great advice Mark, thanks for sharing

  • Thanks Randy!

  • If you have the courage to blog, you have win most of the battle!

  • Jane Endacott

    Responding to comments is great advice. There’s no better way to encourage engagement on your blog than promptly responding to readers’ comments.

    I agree that beginning is the hardest part! When I started my blog, I struggled with putting myself out there. But I was persistent, and now it comes naturally!

  • Great question. I would definitely look for bloggers who are attracting similar readers because you want their readers to become your readers too. I found similar beginning bloggers by watching who was commenting on the top blogs I enjoyed. So, for example, I see several potential people for you to get to know even in the comment section on {grow} today!

  • Great ideas flowing here. I always reserve the same quiet time each week to blog, without exception.

  • Ironically, I don’t see much difference. The dynamics of success are the same for any blog. The problem is, most companies put up huge barriers to keep you from being successful! They don’t want you to be human. They don’t want you to be entertaining. They may not even want you to be you!! That’s why I say the biggest factor in the success of a company social media program in general is having the culture to support it.

  • There are several Word press plug-ins that help you filter out the junk. Also, a commenting system like Disqus (what I use) helps take out the spam. I find that it works 99% of the time. I probably wouldn’t blog either if I had to fight spammers every day. Kind of a sad situation, isn’t it? We have to work so hard to keep the bad people out!

  • Very kind of you to say. Thanks for letting me know Laura!

  • You’re welcome!

  • My pleasure Liza.

  • You bring up a great point Jane. It only gets easier withe persistent, consistent effort! Glad to hear it’s part of your routine now!

  • MrTonyDowling

    Thanks Mark, another great post! I have to admit, Im using your RITE acronym with the journalists in my organisation, it really captures the essence of modern writing

  • Kathryn Caywood

    Maureen, I totally agree with your last sentence, yet when I take the time to do qigong or meditate, everything goes better and more quickly, including fabulous ideas that I probably wouldn’t have had otherwise.

  • Kathryn Caywood

    Thanks for your valuable suggestions, Mark. It’s fascinating to read all of the comments and learn that there are many tips in them also!

  • The comments are always better than the blog post!

  • I think that is rite … err … right. : )

  • Love all 10, but #1 resonates strongest for me – Bring Your Own Story. Tell it well and people will relate, learn and retell it to others. That’s why you’re on my Fave 5 blogs list. Thanks Mark!

  • Awwww. That’s awesome. Thanks for letting me know Donna!

  • LC, I use Disqus + Akismet on my blog as well. I don’t have nearly as many comments as Mark does here, but before switching to Disqus, reviewing spam was a constant chore (and particularly discouraging when that was all I had!)

    I definitely recommend giving Disqus a try.

  • Wendy Omuro

    Hi Mark,

    LOVE this list! Thanks so much for sharing your awesome insight. I’m new to blogging and the freelance writing scene, and appreciate all the advice and encouragement I can get my hands on! It’s definitely been a terrifying shift for me, but exhilarating and liberating at the same time. I absolutely love every scenic second of the new path I’m on, and am inspired to grow my blog into something that truly reflects my passions. Hopefully it will inspire others to adopt a new perspective grounded in gratitude, and take a deeper look at who they are, who they want to be, and appreciate the world around them. My blog’s under construction at the moment, and I’m hoping to breathe some clarity and focus into it. I’ll do my best to nurture it, and am so excited to see where it goes. Thanks again, and have a phenomenal day! 🙂

    With gratitude from Maui,

  • ben mccahill

    Great Post, thanks Mark. You are right to say that starting is hard –
    I think that sticking with the practice is harder though. Until you can
    find your voice then it is always going to be an uphill battle, because
    if you think you have to entertain or inform or perform in some way, it
    just sucks. Perhaps that was your point on courage – staying with the
    slow-mo car crash of early-blogs until your distinctive voice emerges
    and you realise that being RITE is a consequence of being yourself
    rather than an ‘effect’ to be pursued.

    Not that this happened to me of course….ahem….it happened to a friend of mine

  • Great nuggets here, Mark. Much like Randy mentioned, you have to have patience. Success doesn’t come over night. The other I would add would be that you have to be willing to share and promote your content. If you build it, people won’t necessarily come. You have to share your stuff and encourage people to check it out.

  • I think #5 is really important. I would add, either to that, or as a stand-alone: “Be real.” Because it’s important to be positive but sometimes you can’t be, without being dishonest/fake. And as a stand-alone(is that hyphenated? I have no clue), it piggybacks off #1. Because that is what I think people find interesting, the “real” you and your viewpoint.

  • Julie

    Great list! I just started my own blog a few weeks ago and this was helpful. I have to agree too that you shouldn’t take blog comments for granted. People probably forget over time how great it is to get comments, but as a new blogger I would be THRILLED to get some comments. The same goes for the content I share on my FB page. If someone even likes a post at this point I’m like YES!! 🙂

    Great meeting you at SMMW13, by the way Mark! It was such a great conference and the catalyst for me to start my blog and my own SM consulting business as a side project!

  • Great list Mark. #9 resonates for me, as I’ve recently been using disqus a lot more effectively doing just that. I managed to hack their digest email by clicking around on the community tab and following active commenters.
    Thx for the post.

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  • Your passion shines through Wendy. I’m sure you’ll be a star!

  • LOL Ben. BUt you are correct. My blog sucked for a long time. And you know what, I’ll bet I will look back at {grow} two years from now and think I sucked in 2013. Let’s hope that’s the case!

  • It’s telling that it such an important point and I left it out. That’s because I suck at it. : ) I am successful in spite of myself! Thanks so much for commenting my friend!

  • Yes, I do allow myself to come through to a large extent and I just hope it is OK some times, even when I’m grouchy : )

  • Great meeting you too! The best part of social media!

    You know, I still have that sense of wonder about blog comments. Every day I am still thrilled and amazed that people leave me these gifts.

  • Interesting idea Sean. That might make a good blog post. You should do it!

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  • Mark W. Schaefer Thx for the suggestion. I beat you to it a week ago 🙂


  • That’s awesome – and probably one of the keys to your success!

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  • As you often do, you tells it like it is. You can probably guess my faves, right? #4 and #9 FTW. As part of that your community has left some goodies here, w/ Patience and I love @twitter-201637095:disqus ‘trigger action’ – gonna have to remember that. Like when I read something that triggers a thought, I try to make myself make the time to at least draft something right then, or I’ll lose it.

    My add is a two parter: 1) respect the blog – what it is, where it takes you, how it grows and changes, how it changes you whilst 2) never forgetting why – why you started, why you’re blogging, why this means something to you and your biz. Respect that, respect your goals – and maybe learn some SEO. FWIW.

  • Of course it is. Frankly, I think most people enjoy it when you get grouchy!

  • Heather Piazza

    I appreciate point #10. Getting started can be the hardest part… especially for a perfectionist like myself. Running my own business has taught me a lot of things, including how to get over the perfectionist hurdle. I’ve been thinking a lot about getting back in to blogging and your post just convinced me to go for it. Thank you!

  • Aww, thanks Mark! That’s so sweet of you to say! I really appreciate your vote of confidence. 🙂

  • Great Tips Mark. Thanks for sharing them, it’s always good to be reminded of the keys to being successful. I need to make more time for #9 🙂

    One that I would add to the list is to keep posting content even if it feels frustrating and your readership and traffic isn’t growing as fast as you want it to. It can be easy to rationalize that it’s ok to put off writing a post until “tomorrow” or “when I get a big audience,” I try to remind myself that even though I don’t have much traffic on a daily basis, I am slowly but surely building relationships and gaining credibility and that it takes time, patience, and consistency.

    My working theory is that it’s important to have good content on your website, but your blog is where people will get to know and trust you. Once they get to know you as a person, they’re going to want to find out about the services you offer or the products you sell. Maybe it’s not nearly as important to think of a blog as a way to build a big audience, but as a way to provide a service, and if even a handful of people have found value, it was worthwhile.

  • Wow, awesome points Davina! Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

  • Yay!!! Go for it Heather. let me know how it goes for you.

  • Very true. Superb advice and perspective Beth!

  • “The most important part of the blog post is the headline.” From an SEO perspective your headline should be optimized to reflect the purpose of your post as well as any relevant keywords to help the post’s visibility. So spending time carefully crafting your headline works on both the user experience end and the optimization end of your blog.

  • Heather Piazza

    Will do! 🙂

  • Denise Pooler

    Mark – great 10 “Commandments” #7 rang so true for me! Going to share this. The post was relevant, interesting, timely and entertaining!

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  • Dharmesh Dev

    What an awesome post , will always keep this point in mind when starting my own blog

  • Great tip Nick. Thanks!

  • Ha! Glad I am taking my own medicine : )

  • Thanks for the kind words sir.

  • Matilda Iglesias

    all fantastic points.
    I have found that if you are not active in making comments, then how to you expect to get more readers to your blog.
    this is why i love a blog reader like bloglovin, cause I can follow all my blogs in one place.
    And when you leave a comment, and you leave a link to your site, you get more return visits in return.
    Oh and I plan on sharing this post and to pinterest too.


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  • Sue Neal

    Great list, but I’m not sure I agree the hardest part of blogging is the beginning – I’ve recently done a couple of posts touching on this subject and responses from readers confirm that it doesn’t necessarily get easier as you go along. I think the hardest part is sticking at it when the going gets tough.

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  • Thanks very much Matilda!

  • That’s interesting. I guess sticking with it is a function of the reward you are getting from it. Thanks for the great comment Sue!

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  • Jeck


  • Interesting stuff on successful blogging

  • Really great list. I think a lot of people avoid blogging because of your second point. It can be quite daunting to put yourself out there via your blog.
    For those starting out it’s also important to pace yourself. I see quite a few blogs that are started and updated very frequently. Then, after a while the frequency drops off dramatically or the blog just stops altogether.

    For these people it may have been more effective to start off blogging less frequently and build up over time.

  • Christy Fitzwater

    Thank you for this list. Very encouraging to me today!

  • Good point Steve. Blogger burnout! I can see that.

  • You’re welcome Christy. Happy to to know it helped you!

  • farshblog

    Thank you for the much needed tips!

    I’m just starting what I call a “professional” blog- as opposed to the many personal blogs I’ve kept.

    I have to say I’m more nervous than anything about providing content in a consistently INTERESTING and informative fashion. I guess consistency overall can be difficult to make time for.

    I hope to work my way through these problems in the coming months. Taking is slow in the meantime.

  • Nin

    Great post – meaningful and achieveable. Thank you

  • KarynwithaY

    Great points there thanks Mark, number 10 is so true!

  • Eva Suzuki

    10 are all great ideas, so meaningful and it helps me a lot. I’m getting more Ideas to be added on my blog http://evasuzuki.com.

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  • Natalia Peek-Po?niak

    Thanks! I’m just starting, or thinking about starting a blog, and I think each and every one of theses points is important, but what struck me most is #2. It seems to be so difficult to open up to the vastness of the Internet.

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  • #1, 2 & 5 really resonated with me. Thank you!

  • Chris Taylor

    Great stuff, Mark. #8 really stuck out to me, as I am in a constant battle with one of my partners over whether blog headlines should be written to be as interesting as possible, or as SEO friendly as possible. I know that these objectives aren’t mutually exclusive, but quite often the most intriguing headline isn’t ideal for search engines. In this chicken vs. the egg battle, I argue that the more interesting the headline, the more eyes reading it, the better ranking.

    Anybody else run into this issue? What are your thoughts?

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  • Mike Hind

    Point 1 is big. Keep it authentically YOU. It’s probably your only true differentiator.

  • Shakehaus

    Great resource. We’re trying to find our voice as a startup and this is a big help.

  • pcook67

    Love your hints! Just started my first blog. It’s a bit overwhelming, but I did it! I do have questions about #9. How do you become part of other communities? Is there a blogger community where they all help each other? I’m super new, literally days old. I’d like my blog to at least get some views :-{ Or am I expecting too much too soon? Thanks!

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