I'll be the first to admit that when I started blogging, I had little idea what I was doing. I was an avid blog reader but unaware of ways to improve my photos, decipher my blog stats, and methods to elevate my content. I knew little about sponsor relationships and even less about the blogging community. Fortunately, I was able to connect with bloggers who provided much-needed guidance. These smart, stylish women helped me learn to focus less on my page views and more on my content. They gave me a shoulder to lean on when I faced negative comments. They featured my posts and mentioned me in weekly link roundups. And they encouraged me to use social media to reach out to the blogging community for help when I needed it.
In the best case scenario, a blogging mentor is someone with whom you develop a relationship with and rely on for friendship, guidance and growth. A mentor serves as an adviser, sharing his or her experiences and insights. A mentor guides your growth by answering questions and serving as a role model. And a mentor helps shape your thoughts by giving you access to their thoughts.
We all have mentors on our journey through life. Your parents were no doubt your first mentors. A respected teacher might have filled the role for a time. Employers, co-workers, and friends have probably mentored you through the years.
There are a number of key reasons why having a blog mentor is so important:
- Encouragement: When you're facing writer's block, have confusion how to approach a post topic, or just feel discouraged and anxious, a blogging mentor can help you get through it. Confiding in someone who understands the tricky, often overwhelming world of blogging can help you find perspective and support you through challenges.
- Constructive criticism: Do you need a better layout? Could your photos use improvement? Is your content boring and lackluster? Could you use improvement connecting with your readers? Your blog mentor will tell you the truth on these matters. Constructive criticism is invaluable when it comes to growth. It's important to note that this criticism is not meant to hurt. Your blog mentor is just trying to help you grow professionally.
- Expertise: Ideally, your mentor is someone with considerable experience as a blogger and has paid their dues and earned the right to give advice. They've faced challenges and fought through them with grace and intelligence, and learned valuable lessons along the way.
Finding a blog mentor needn't be complicated. There are a number of ways to go about striking up a relationship with a blogger you admire and want to learn from:
- Use social media: Twitter and Facebook are invaluable outlets of communication. Got a quick question? Want to strike up a dialogue? Follow your favorite blogger on Twitter and fan their Facebook page. Comment on their tweets and posts, and follow up with insightful, intelligent remarks.
- Attend blog conferences: Conferences such as the Texas Style Council Conference, IFB's Evolving Influence Conference, and Lucky FABB are great opportunities to meet and mingle with blog mentors. Influential bloggers attend these conferences to share what they've learned, and they want to meet you! Hand out your business cards and follow up when the conference is through.
- Send an email: Most of my own contact with mentors began with a simple email. Whether you have a quick question, or are looking to tackle a larger problem, email is an easy route towards establishing a relationship with a blog mentor.
You probably already have a blog mentor without even realizing it. Your blogging mentors are the people who write the blogs you most enjoy and find the most useful. They share their knowledge in the words they write and offer advice on how to blog better or how to dress better or how to lead a more productive life. Spend time understanding them beyond the words they write. Look for the indirect advice they impart. Pay attention to what they do instead of only what they say. Deconstruct the blog and figure out why you like it. Is it the writing? Is it the layout? The ideas? When one of your blogging mentors offers advice that resonates with you, take time to observe how they apply it on their blogs. Keep it in your mind while reading their posts, and when you notice them putting their own advice to use study what they did, how they did it, and why it works.
Do you have any blogging mentors? Do you look beyond their posts for insight? Who are some of the bloggers who influence you most?