The Truth About Overnight Success (and What You Need to Do About It)


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Some people just get lucky.

They appear out of nowhere and rise fast. Their blogs shoot onto awards lists. They get mentioned by the A-listers. They land book deals.

Why can’t you have the same overnight success?

Because it doesn’t really exist.

Here’s what you don’t see

Every single blogger who seems to have hit the A-list from nowhere has worked for it.

A few weeks ago, I put together a post interviewing six writing and blogging experts. One of the questions I asked was whether their current blog was their first.

In almost all cases, it wasn’t.

In fact, one of the people I asked was my personal gold standard for “overnight” success: the lovely Jeff Goins.

To me, it seemed like Jeff came out of nowhere with his blog Jeff Goins, Writer. My writing blog’s been going longer than his, but his has way more attention. (He deserves it, too.)

But this is what he told me:

[Jeff Goins, Writer] was something like my ninth blog. I had at least eight terrible blogs before I started this halfway-good one. Apparently, I had to learn every way to NOT do it to find out the one way blogging could work for me.

And why did Jeff look like an overnight success to me?

Because I had no idea how hard he’d worked to get there. (If you think about it, it’s obvious: his eight “terrible” blogs didn’t get enough traction to reach me.)

Here’s what this means for you

First, you need to give up waiting for a lucky break.

That’s not how it works.

And that’s good news. It means the power is back in your hands.

Building a successful blog — and a successful business — isn’t just about working hard, though. It’s also about doing the right things.

(You could work long into the night reading tons of great advice on content marketing, but if you only publish one post a month and fail to promote it, you’re not going to get far.)

So, look at what those “overnight successes” are doing, and compare it to what you’re doing. There’s a good chance you’ll find a few clues about where best to focus your time and energy.

Maybe they are …

  • Using different traffic-generation tactics — like running webinars instead of writing guest posts.
  • Showing up more consistently than you, posting on a regular schedule, and answering comments quickly.
  • Putting more thought into design: their content isn’t necessarily any better written than yours, but their blog looks great and is easy to use.
  • Charging more than you. (Tip: raise your prices before you’re at the point of turning clients away.)
  • Always on top of the latest stories … when you’re struggling to catch up weeks later.
  • Smarter than you. They weren’t born that way: they worked for it. Need a bit of help getting there? Read 7 Ways to Get Smart(er).

Here’s what you need to do next

Today, choose five top blogs in your industry to learn from.

Spend some time really digging into each. Ask yourself:

  • How often do they post?
  • What topics do they cover?
  • Do they have video posts? Or a podcast?
  • When they launch or promote products, what techniques do they use?
  • Does their blog have useful features that yours lacks?
  • Who have they partnered with?

You might also want to search for any interviews with the blogger, as these can often be illuminating.

For each of the five blogs, write down three good things that they’re doing differently from you.

That’ll give you fifteen ideas — and you’re almost certain to find at least a handful of those that you can put into practice right away.

There are no overnight successes. Look at fast-rising bloggers in your niche for inspiration … but remember their success isn’t just a lucky fluke.

You can scale those heights too.

Did you come up with a really great new idea from your survey of five great blogs in your niche? Let us know your “Aha!” moments in the comments.

About the Author: Ali Luke runs Writers’ Huddle, a membership site for writers that’s packed with great content — and that has lovely, supportive members. If you’re a blogger, novelist, short-story writer, freelancer (or a bit of everything) then get all the details and read what members have said here.

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