Mentor: A wise and trusted counselor or teacher
Where do you go to learn how to blog better? Who do you turn to when you have a question about improving your blog? Is there someone out there who is helping direct your growth and serving as a role model? Do you have a blogging mentor?
I have several. I’ve never met them and maybe never will. I don’t necessarily have their ear for direct questions and it’s doubtful any of these people realize how much they continue to help me in my growth as a blogger. They are mentors nonetheless and you too can profit from the wisdom of others even if those others have no idea who you are.
What is a Mentor?
You probably have a good sense of what a mentor is, but let’s consider some of the things a mentor might do to help you in your career. 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. A mentor helps to shape your thoughts by giving you access to their thoughts.
We all have many 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.
These are all people you’ve known and have helped you in some way or another. You had access to their thoughts. You could ask them questions and you could observe how they handled various situations. How, though do you gain mentorship from bloggers you don’t know and perhaps never will know?
How do You Find a Blogging Mentor?
The good news about a blogging mentor is they can be found easily. You probably already have a few blogging mentors 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 market better or how to lead a more productive life.
Of course reading a blog doesn’t turn that blogger into a mentor. There’s a little more to it, but the beauty is it’s all up to you how much you can profit from these blogs.
The trick is to really study the blog and blogger. 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.
Most of us read a blog post and then move on to the next post and the next blog. Sometimes we take the advice, sometimes we don’t. You know which bloggers are the ones you look forward to reading the most. You know the blogs that influence you the most. You know the blogs that have helped you more than others. These are your blogging mentors.
How to Turn any Blogger into a Mentor
Again reading a blog isn’t enough. You need to do more. You need to take an active role in turning a blogger into a mentor. Deconstruct the blog and figure out why you like it. Is it the writing? Is it the design of the post? Is it the ideas?
A simple example of how I’ve deconstructed blogs and hopefully improved my own is through the use of images. I’m sure you’ve seen the advice to use images here and there. I didn’t need to read the advice to realize it was a good idea. Many of my blogging mentors consistently use images in their posts. While spending time thinking about why I liked their blogs I made the connection that images were often present. And so I started adding more images here.
When one of your blogging mentors offers advice that resonates with you take some 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 pause and study what they did, how they did it, and why it works.
I do this with Brian Clark all the time. Brian gives out some great advice on CopyBlogger as you probably already know. Brian also puts his own advice to practice often. It’s one thing to hear Brian say that using story and metaphor in your posts will more effectively communicate your message. It’s another to see him repeatedly use both techniques and turn them into case studies for yourself.
If one of your blogging mentors mentions an article or book that influenced them think about reading it too. Follow the links in their posts and read what’s on the other side. Observe the content they submit to social news sites and read the content they bookmark at sites like del.icio.us. The content is influencing your mentor so why not let it influence you as well.
Aaron Wall is another of my blogging mentors. SEO Book helps shape my thoughts about marketing on the web as it does for many others. Aaron has also led me to many more sources of information and inspiration. He leaves many references to the things he reads in posts. Sometimes with a link and sometimes with a simple mention and I’ve picked up some of the same books and clicked on the links to further my own understanding of marketing.
Actions speak louder than words. Watch what your mentors do away from their blogs. Maki is a social media enthusiast and frequently posts about how to succeed through social media marketing. Maki is very active in the social media space so beyond reading the advice on DoshDosh I pay attention to Maki on social sites. I look for the how and the why of his social media success and in the process improve my own social media skills and understanding.
Brian, Aaron, and Maki aren’t my only blogging mentors and the few ideas above aren’t the only ways to get more out of a blogger than the words they write. The key to turning a blogger into a mentor is to dig deeper than their content. They are sharing their experience and wisdom in many ways beyond the advice they openly post.
Do you have a Blogging Mentor?
You likely do have a few blogging mentors without realizing it. There are probably a few bloggers who consistently influence you more than others and who’s advice creeps into your own blog more often. What I’m suggesting is you become more consciously aware of these mentors and take a more active role in being a mentee.
Pick a few of your favorite blogs and go beyond reading them. Spend some time trying to understand why these blogs are your favorites and why these bloggers influence you more than others. Use them as case studies, as role models for your own blogging.
Watch for them using their own tips, pay attention to the people who influence them, and observer them outside their blogs. Your favorite bloggers share a lot of their thoughts and experience outside of the specific advice in their posts. Pay attention to what they do, but don’t necessarily say outright. Sometimes the best teaching can be found in between the lines.
A mentor helps guide your growth. Usually the mentor/mentee relationship is known to both parties, but it doesn’t have to be. Someone many not be aware they are mentoring you in order for you to be their mentee.
Do you have any blogging mentors? Do you look beyond their posts for insight? Who are some of the bloggers who influence you most?