Blog Mentors: Why they're important, and how to find the right one for you

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?


    1. well I have no mentor so far, but I will definitely think about the things you said in this post. perhaps I should, because I just started my blog.
      well who are the bloggers that influence me most? For the style questions, I'd definitely say the blogs i like most are what i wore, and Kendi everyday. But I appreciate also french and belgian blogs, as well as - of course - the blonde salade. For the culture part of my blog - well, I don't have any influence, because I couldn't find so far anybody writing about fashion at cultural events...
      xxx Anita

    2. Elissa, this is a great post!! I don't really feel like I have a blog mentor. There was someone when I FIRST began over a year ago who really took me under her wing and put me on her blogroll to show support, but we kinda lost touch awhile ago. Her support made me feel really special. :) I do have a few bloggers I feel I've formed friendships with which has been really fun! And you are someone I look up to more than you know! The title of your blog says it- I admire and aspire for your courage. <3

    3. Great tips especially to tell you not to talk about your giveaway in every comment you leave! LOL

      I think ultimately mentors turn out to be your friends! I think joining a forum like IFB or even just following your favorite bloggers on Twitter is a good way to get advice and feedback.

    4. I was very fortunate to have a few friends that really helped me out, especially when it came to understanding "offers" that come in the form of advertisers fishing around for unsuspecting bloggers to give them free links and press saying they will reciprocate and promote your blog. I actually fell for it once with someone who posed as a freelance writer but would actually sucker bloggers into posting "guest posts" filled with links THEY would get paid for and could ruin my page rank.

      It was so helpful to have someone to ask private questions with and ensure I was getting a fair shake. I like to try and give back and help others since I know it was such a help to me!

    5. Well I definitely look up to your blog and your writing style :) So you're kind of like a blog mentor to me. Too bad you're no longer in NYC! But I have blogging buddies who I can turn to when I have writer's block or want to throw it all away, which non-blogging friends can't understand. I'm actually in the process of organizing a group of NYC bloggers that will be more of a supportive community where we can share our knowledge with one another rather than put each other down :)

    6. This is so true, Elissa! I have had amazing opportunities to meet so many different bloggers, and I've learned something from every single one. Rock on!

    7. Awww, thanks Kimberlee! Your comment made me blush. I wish I still lived in NYC and we could hang out and talk blog business. Good for you for organizing a group there - that takes guts to gather people together and plan events But the benefits will definitely be worth it.


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