How I Found My Blogging Magic–And How You Can Find Yours, Too!

Would you rather listen to this post?  Clickity-click and hear me share it with you:

I started out blogging several years ago with no traffic, very little following (not even my mom was reading), and one seriously boring blog.

Now I’ve got nearly 300,000 page views a month (16,000+ unique visitors), a blog in the top 50K on Alexa (yes, you may laugh that I’ve noted my Alexa ranking), and most importantly an awesome community of readers and fans who I adore and who bring tears to my eyes when they share that I’ve made a difference in their businesses and lives.

So What Happened? 

What’s the magic that transformed my blog from nothing into what it is today and will continue transforming it into something even cooler in the future?

Here are the six things I’d say have been the most important mindset shifts I’ve made:

1. Shoot for Awesome

In the beginning, I was so worried about being “professional” and “perfect” that not only did I miss the mark on both of those, but I overlooked the more important targets of just getting it done, being myself, and creating something as awesome as I could.

Perfection is overrated.  I’d rather get out the info and tips that can help you than to edit, edit, edit and never “ship” as Godin would say.  I’ve learned to just hit “publish” and let it be.

2. Build Connections

Be brave.  Get out there and connect yourself with people.  Cherish those connections and it’ll pay off.

Anyone who takes time to leave a comment on your blog or share your work is awesome.  Be thankful for them.  Do your best to show that and give back (reply to them, visit their blogs, feature them, acknowledge them).

When a connection asks you to work with them say yes as often as you realistically can.  Both the blogging challenges I run as co-host I was asked to join (so Lisbeth and Michele are the real brilliance behind the ideas).  I said yes.  Most of my guest posts and monthly columns are on websites that reached out to me and invited me to write for them.  I just said yes.

Of course you should make your own opportunities, too.  But don’t forget to say yes!

3. Learn from Brilliance

Last week I decided to check back into my blog archives for a specific post I’d written.  At the time I wrote that post over a year ago, I would have told you I thought my writing was pretty good.  It’s one of those areas where sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.  Now I realize both how far I’ve got to go and how far I’ve come:

  • My headlines aren’t where I want them to be, but they’re much better than they used to be.
  • My writing is less stiff and more personal.
  • I’ve learned to write different types of posts and add images and video to them.
  • I’ve learned to FORMAT my blog posts so they’re easier to read–with headlines, sub-headlines, use of bold/italic, and shorter paragraphs.

I haven’t taken any writing classes.  I’ve been reading successful blogs.  I’ve been watching what they do and modeling.

My regular blog readers know who I read (Chris Brogan, Seth Godin, Copyblogger) and what I read (last few business books: Screw It, Let’s Do It; Brain Rules; Do the Work; Poke the Box; ProBlogger; Launch).  I recommend all of that.

In my spare time… Okay, I don’t have “spare” time but I read while I work out.  I run an elliptical machine which really doesn’t require much concentration so I read, otherwise I get really bored.  I haven’t fallen off yet so I figure it’s working.  And I fit back into my jeans, but that’s another post.  I read Vince Flynn, David Baldacci, Emerson, Thoreau, Shakespeare and other compelling, interesting writers.  Exercise your mind.

The best way to learn to write well is to read fantastic writing and lots of it.

4. Never Stop Learning

Invest time, energy and money in learning.  I’ve attended seminars, enrolled in coaching groups and invested in masterminds.  They’ve all helped push me to continue putting myself out there both here on my blog and in other ways.

You’re passionate about your topic, right?  Then don’t stop learning.  Keep learning and you’ll always have something fabulous to share with your readers.

5. Challenge Yourself

Don’t be satisfied with where you’re at.  Challenge yourself to go bigger and do better.

I do blog challenges constantly both as a co-host and a participant (check my archives, I walk my talk and post consistently).  Blog challenges work.  Do I always feel like blogging?  Heck no.  It’s past my bedtime as I write this post and I’d like to grab my fleece blanket, cuddle my cats and drift off to dreamland.  But feelings aren’t what builds a blog or a business!  Blogging is like a relationship.  You commit to and then you make it work.  Of course it’s a challenge.  If it weren’t, everyone would be successful with it.

What’s challenging about blogging?  The writing.  The promotion.  The getting out there.

Not sure what challenge to give yourself?  Tell me what scares or intimidates you.  What do you think you might not be able to do?  Go do that.  Prove to yourself that you can do it.  Then tackle something bigger next.

And never look at your adventures in tackling challenges as failures–they’re all learning experiences that help you do better each time.

6. Find Your Audience

Build it and they will come isn’t necessarily true on the internet with millions of blogs out there.  If you’re creating awesome stuff then you’ve got to let people know!

Learn to market it and get out there to your audience.  Become a student of marketing and seek out the best teachers you can learn from.  Because whether you’re selling motorcycles or your knowledge through your own blog, you’re still selling and knowing how to do that well is all part of finding the magic that will propel your blog into success.

Photo Credit: Massonforstock/StockFresh

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  1. Your points are spot on. I started blogging just over 18 months ago and all your points here hit the mark in some way shape or form. I think the most important thing I have learnt is that it is never “done” and to be at peace with that. There will always be new things to learn. Ways to upgrade the quality of what I do. Learning more about the needs of the audience and so on.

    I think when you have made peace with that, the whole thing becomes a lot easier and whole load more fun.

    1. That’s so true, Ali! My blog is a constant work in progress, it will never be done evolving and morphing into something better. It does make it easier when we stop worrying and just accept that.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 41 Tips to Tweet for BloggersMy Profile

  2. Thank you so much for these tips Michelle. Very useful :-) Congrats with all your traffic.

    1. Thanks Rochelle, it’s been an interesting journey. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Make Your Own *Tweet It!* PageMy Profile

  3. I just finished a post that has slightly similar tones, but yours is more informative. Its funny you have just shared a blue print that I use with clients to help them promote themselves. Since I have known about your blog for the last two years I too have seen the change. I find that the titles of your post have become more and more magnetic. They entice me to just want to find out more. I also like that I am not just finding out more about blogging, but I am finding out more about you as a human being. I really value this and I see that you demonstrate this through UBC. So like Ali I really enjoyed reading this post.
    Edgar Danmer recently posted… Is it all about YOU?My Profile

    1. Thanks Edgar. I appreciate so much the readers who’ve stuck around (and the new ones, too, but they didn’t have to read through my blocks of solid text and quite as much boring-ness LOL).

      It’s always neat when posts turn out similar–the different perspectives on the same topic open it up so much more.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Who Do You Want Advice From?My Profile

  4. Success of any blog depends upon the strong reader base, If you’ve loyal readers who always visit on your blog to find our what you’re sharing it means you’ve a successful blog and you can earn money as well.
    Aaron recently posted… Goa Carnival 2012My Profile

    1. Agreed. Without our readers, we’re just typing to ourselves. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 50 Tweetable Quotes for Entrepreneurs to ShareMy Profile

  5. Great post! I have written things along the same lines but what I have recently noticed is how well all of these things apply to other parts of your life as well. This is much the same advice I offer people starting out on new businesses and the like. 1) Aim to be great, 2) Meet people and get involved, 3) Learn from everywhere and never stop 4) Do what stirs you up whether it challenges you or pacifies you – whatever makes you happy and 5) Know who you are trying to talk to – know your audience/market.

    Looking forward to learning more from you!

    Cheers, Marisa
    Marisa Wikramanayake recently posted… Heroes, idols, who do I admire?My Profile

    1. Love your rules, Marisa. And those do apply to so many things–blogging, business, life. Sometimes it’s simpler than we realize and we’ve just got to make it happen.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 7 Steps to Social Media SuccessMy Profile

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this. I have such a long way to go. :)
    Melissa recently posted… How many is "too many"?My Profile

    1. It can happen faster than we think! Once things started clicking for me, it snowballed. My blog reminds me of the giant jigsaw puzzles we used to do as kids. At first, it’s like, “Where do I even begin?!” and then it goes slowly at first until we get that border done and from there it gets easier and easier until the pieces start fitting together quickly and before you know it, it’s done. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Make Your Own *Tweet It!* PageMy Profile

  7. Hi Michelle!

    congratulations on your success! I love reading your posts they are so informative and fun to read. I have also noticed that the more I blog and share the better I feel; sharing my thoughts, ideas, insights and providing value gives me a boost. I love the interaction. I am so glad that I am in the challenge again and thank you for always being fabulous you! Keep that elliptical reading going!
    maureen wielansky recently posted… Burning Share: Who Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?My Profile

    1. It’s wonderful to be able to share. And I’ve learned SO much from reading such a variety of blogs through the blog challenges. It really opens up the world.

      Yes, I’m actually looking forward to my workout time later today. *gasp* I need to see how my novel turns out! lol
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Fainting, Sweating, and the Importance of ProofreadingMy Profile

  8. Hi Michelle
    Nice post, easy to follow – great photo, good advice. Ticks all the boxes I need, I only started our blog 3 months ago and I feel like I am such a great learning experience and it is so nice to find more experienced people like yourself who are willing to share advice etc.
    Can I entice you to write a guest blog piece for us?

    1. Hey Ruth, I love to write guest blog posts if I can offer something helpful your audience would like — shoot me a note here with the details and we can chat:
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… How I Found My Blogging Magic–And How You Can Find Yours, Too!My Profile

  9. Great post! I have so many of the challenges with blogs… I want to write it and it is in my head, but it does not look the same on paper. I think I need to stop looking for perfection :). I am amazed already that I managed to write 5 days in a row. Thank you for making it possible.
    Wendy recently posted… The secret to manage multiple social networks is…My Profile

    1. That’s awesome, Wendy! It does get easier. Doing the first blog challenge I did in June 2010 is what really helped me get past the perfection thing (well, mostly) and writing consistently.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Party in Your Business!My Profile

  10. I used to be real uptight about my blog posts. I would take forever to write each one because I always second guessed myself and sometimes thought about what others would think.

    After a while I learned to just hit “publish” and now I can write several posts at a time fairly quickly.

    It took me several months to get there so if you’re reading Michelle’s post for the first time then really let point #1 sink in because it will save you time and stress later.
    Jeff Wise recently posted… The Real Popup Domination ReviewMy Profile

    1. You’re right on, Jeff. I wish I had figured it out sooner, too. I can knock out blog posts much faster now that I’ve learned to relax a little bit.

  11. Great ideas that take time and effort and probably some luck, too. I keep plugging along, enjoying every step along the way!

    1. It definitely takes effort and I wouldn’t tell anyone it’s easy, but the hard work pays off. I’ve written 613 posts on this blog since March 2008. So I’m a believer in the “just keep swimming” approach as Dori from Finding Nemo would say. :) It’s a good thing the journey can be fun!

      I love this thought on luck: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” ~Seneca
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 50 Tweetable Quotes for Entrepreneurs to ShareMy Profile

  12. HI, Michelle!
    I am a part of your loyal audience, as you can notice.:)
    I think it is great you reached to be that successful pretty quick, and that you recognized what is necessary to reach your goals.
    I agree that building connections is very relevant as well as being able and eager to always learn. Those are the key factors, and then everything else comes.
    Kristina L. recently posted… Resume Rabbit Coupon CodeMy Profile

    1. Everything else does follow from those, I agree. :) And thank you, Kristina!
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 41 Tips to Tweet for BloggersMy Profile

  13. As crazy as it sound, I’m not a huge fan of reading 30 blog posts for my afternoon. So when I got to this one, and you read it TO me, I thought I was in heaven :).

    Great tips.
    I know what you mean. I have been blogging heavily for the last 3 months. I have looked at some of the the posts prior to that – let me tell you. I was embarrassed. I hope nobody actually goes back there! I must edit some and republish them as new. Eek.

    Great tips, Michelle. Thanks for sharing (and reading)
    Brock Blohm recently posted… Achieve Your Goals – A Little Piece At A TimeMy Profile

    1. Speaking of finding magic; someone needs to find that girl a magic brush. Just sayin’.
      Brock Blohm recently posted… Achieve Your Goals – A Little Piece At A TimeMy Profile

      1. I thought that photo was just too funny to resist. LOL I’ve had it save forever waiting for a good post I could work “magic” or “reading” into so I could use it… :)
        Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Make Your Own *Tweet It!* PageMy Profile

    2. Thanks for the feedback on the audio version, Brock. For a while I was doing them regularly and then I forgot. I may get back to doing them for most posts.

      I share that feeling about my archives. At some point I may go back and re-write. But then again, it’s kinda cool to look back and see the progress.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Who Do You Want Advice From?My Profile

  14. Hi Michelle,
    I found your blog while I was doing a Google search on Alexa ranking. My blog was at 83K Worldwide a month ago and then it started going up. It is at 100k now and I am baffled. My traffic has actually increased y 23% since then?

    Anyway, It’s cool to learn from other bloggers and to emulate their success. I was like you, I was trying to be perfect with my posts in the beginning of my blog. I realized that building relationships with fellow bloggers and readers was what has worked best for me.
    Justin recently posted… The Moon Is A Death StarMy Profile

    1. Alexa does some seriously weird things. I’ve watch my traffic graphs vs. theirs and it’s pretty funny how opposite some of the peaks are. I’ll have a series of high traffic days but on their graph that’ll be a dip in traffic ranking. It’s interesting. But since it’s based on a pretty fluid measure (overall web traffic) I suppose it’s to be expected. I mostly just watch the overall trend of where I’m at. It would so rock if we had a better way to measure our rankings as far as getting an overview of how we rank as opposed to just the numbers we get in our stats. I’ve looked at Compete and some of the others but they have the same weirdness as Alexa seems to. Not sure I can be of much help other than to say I understand where you’re coming from and have those confused moments too with Alexa.

      Getting to know other bloggers and learning to network and connect is 100x more powerful that writing the “perfect” post. Like a tree that falls in the woods without anyone to hear it’s crash… we might write the perfect post but what good does that do if no one reads it? Gotta make those connections!
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Who Do You Want Advice From?My Profile

  15. Hi Michelle,

    Challenging self and aiming for awesome work super well for me.

    Keep pushing, and the Universe gives you a push. Raise the bar continually. When you feel entirely comfortable, growth stops. When you feel excited to blog, or a little anxious, or agitated…BINGO! You left your comfort zone. This is where you want to be. Keep challenging yourself to find out what you are really capable of.

    I am running 4 blogs now. I post daily. Tough? At moments, but overall, I am so used to challenging myself on an hourly basis that I embrace the resistance and move forward. I know sharing my talents is what God put me here for, and this is a wonderful way to do it.


    Ryan Biddulph recently posted… 1 Simple Tip to Increase Trust and Grow Your Online Business SpeedilyMy Profile

  16. Great post Michelle, it is very helpful for me as I want to start a blog soon. Thank you :)

    1. Thanks, Jade, and that’s awesome–enjoy the new blogging venture.

  17. Michelle- I could relate to every point in this post. I look back at old blog posts (the ones I thought were awesome) and they’re awful. No wonder my traffic was so low! I’ve moved away from the professional-sounding posts to more casual, yet still informative ones. As a result, my community and traffic has grown significantly. I still fight the “strive for perfection” tendencies, but am finally able to push “publish” faster each time I blog. Timeliness is better than perfection. Thanks again for another awesome post!
    Lisa Kanarek recently posted… To Do or Not To Do…It’s All in the ListMy Profile

    1. Isn’t that interesting, Lisa? I think many of us started out that way because it’s how we’ve been trained to write but blogging is so different. It’s nice, since in many ways it takes a little of the pressure off. :)

  18. I always wanted a mentor post as I am new to blogging. I must thankyou for this awesome read. It will surely help me make a big progress in my blogging ways and systems. Thanks a lot, you set the bar pretty high.
    Tony recently posted… Physical Therapy AssistantMy Profile

    1. You’re welcome, Tony, I’m glad this was helpful.

  19. Fahbulous!

    My favorite is #1 though ~ ‘Shoot for Awesome’

    It wasn’t until I decided to stop giving a damn and just go all out in my eccentric, wildly theatrical way – feathers and tiaras included – that I actually began standing out enough to warrant repeat visitors.

    After all, no-one revisits bland, right?

    the goddess known as Jacqui
    Jacqueline Gates recently posted… Blog Posts, Like Knickers, Should Be Elasticated!My Profile

  20. I’m learning a lot by reading articles and get into conversations. I find it a great way to get new ideas and somehow this is my way to build connections.
    JohnC recently posted… Car insurance rates vary drastically by stateMy Profile

  21. This is a really awesome blog you have here Michelle. I have subscribed to your emails and look forward to coming back often in the future. I just know I can get some inspirational ideas from you.

    Have a great day

    David Verney recently posted… The Kindle Cash Machine Part 1: How I Went From Zero to 1500 Sales In 5 Months!My Profile

  22. Thank you for this post. It is a great reminder to those of us trying to find out voice and just write without trying to be perfect. 10 months ago, I wrote my 1st blog post and my blog has drastically changed over that time period as I learn more about what I truly want my blog to be overall. At last, I think just in the last few weeks I am finding my voice, trying not to be perfect, so structured, so well, boring… just learning to be me. Thank you.

    Live Life. Must Travel. Start Your Journey Today.
    AbundantJourneys recently posted… Why Use A Travel Agent? I book online.My Profile

  23. I loved this post. You make it all sound so easy….by the way I like the voice recording. Added so much feeling to the post. I have a long ways to go but with your help and the help of a few other awesome ladies….I think I will get there. I’d like to hear more about the other blog challenge you run.

    1. Hey Robin, thank you. I enjoy doing the audio and should make it a point to do that more.

      You can check out the blog challenge at

  24. Great post Michelle. I too hope to eventually find my blogging magic (as do many commenter’s on this post) and until then, ill just keep following yours. Keep on writing and good luck.
    Gnarly recently posted… Perricone MD – When does a wrinkle become a crease?My Profile

    1. Thanks, Gnarly. It’s really something that just comes with not giving up, and continuing to grow and learn. :)

  25. you have an amazing traffic michelle :)

    thanks for sharing the tips.
    quite right to compare blogging to a relationship.

    most people in germany seems not to be aware of it.
    i just requested some female friends to help me with an interview series i am doing.
    one girl told me “oh dear you are spending much time on that blog”

    sure and true, but in her opinion it was like “too much time”
    time i should better spend on really important things.
    they think blogging is kind of hobby which can be done, when everything else is done.
    helen bogun recently posted… Billy – staff of the MonthMy Profile

    1. It really depends on how it fits into our bigger plans. :) It can be a hobby, absolutely. Or, it can be a great marketing/connection tool. Or, it can be a bit of both!

  26. Great post, Michelle! It becomes much easier once you do it regularly – practice makes it perfect :) And you cannot practice enough if you spend too much time on overdoing everything.
    Just start writing, and you’ll get better and better as you go.
    eosgrafx recently posted… Ultimate Blog Challenge Week 1 – check, check, and check!My Profile

  27. Thanks so much for the great info! I’m new at blogging and you’ve given me some GREAT insight. Thanks for sharing your knowledge…if only everyone would do that! ;-))

  28. i love this blog, so much so that i’ve kept it and read it several times, whenever i get stuck and need to just get on with it. thanks Michelle
    susi recently posted… How to Hide Dark Circles Under Eyes.My Profile

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