[This is part of the Escaping the 9-5: My Road to ProBlogging series.]
One of the challenges that I faced when I first starting taking seriously my efforts to become a ProBlogger was to find the right digital mentors and models that would be able to assist me.
Like you, I had a super-long list of people and blogs (saved in bookmark form) that I had gleaned some inspiration from over the years. The challenge was not that I was in need for models and mentors but rather I did not have a concise and specific list that would help inform my work and my path.
Sure, the path of trial and error is a well-known one but it wasn’t something that was attractive to me, especially as I had responsibilities to consider and limitations on the amount of risk that I could entertain.
What I needed was to pick, choose, and curate my list of inspirational blogs and find the right ones that I would continually reference as I grew.
This was a tough process since I liked so many blogs but the challenge was keeping up with all of them. Here’s what I figured out in this process:
1. Not All Models Are Created Equal
There are definitely some great bloggers out there and definitely some great content but there aren’t a lot of great (and consistent) models.
For example, I had a lot of blogger’s individual posts saved but it was the gem out of their entire body of work and wasn’t a good model to follow since the rest of their content was ok and half-way decent. What I needed were consistent writers who had created consistent models of success, not just one or two standout blog posts.
So I scrapped those bloggers and took them off my list. It was hard, at first, but it got easier. One additional note here practically speaking is to keep the list as short as you possibly can. This has to do with just your ability to keep up with them via RSS, Twitter, and the other media outlets that they are engaging with.
The shorter the better and here’s why: You don’t have 100 different mentors in your life because you simply don’t have enough time to engage with them fully every single month or on a regular basis. So why would you have 100 different digital mentors and models to follow as well? It’s just not possible to digest all of that content to a profitable form and then try it for yourself! Keep the modeling group small and keep it focused.
And besides, some of them (like ProBlogger) creates tons of content daily so the list needs to be seriously even more small:
Choose wisely and well!
2. Knowing My Definition of Success Was Paramount
One of the things that I had to quickly figure out was what my definition of success was and what that looked like. I needed to do this so that I could mirror and match those bloggers that closely aligned their definition of success with mine.
Some bloggers put it out there fairly explicitly while other bloggers have it nuanced and implicit in their writing – but whatever it was I wanted to find the models of success that would help me stay the course long term.
For example, one definition of success that I have for myself personally has more to do with lifestyle than monetary (although the financial aspect is certainly a part of it). So a lot of the bloggers that I kept on my list of models showcased not only a high interest in lifestyle design but also as a priority in their work.
One example is ZenHabits:
I have really enjoyed Leo’s blog as he writes about an even and well-paced lifestyle and have made a significant living by helping others. He doesn’t talk about monetization or social media or a number of other “typical” blogging topics as often as he talks about lifestyle design.
I liked that and that’s the lifestyle that I wanted to have and so I kept him on the “short list” as I began to find the right models of success.
3. Follow Those That Aren’t There Yet
Finally, one of things that I realized is that my list included many bloggers that weren’t “there” yet completely – meaning, they were on their way to becoming a professional blogger (and perhaps quite close) but may not have been there 100% yet.
And that’s ok. I don’t think that a mentor and a model has to be a perfect one to be effective and so I chose a few blogs to keep on my list that were on the right path but just a bit further down the line.
For example, Michael Hyatt is not a professional blogger (yet) but he was well on his way of becoming one when I first engaged with him:
I learned so much from Michael and how he writes, engages with his audience, and does “the business” around his properties and blog. Just because he wasn’t at the end point (and do we ever truly get there?) didn’t mean that he couldn’t serve as a model to be followed.
Spend time today beginning to find the right models and digital mentors so that you can begin modeling your road to problogging and success better!