How To Be the Next Leo Babauta

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There is no question about it: Leo Babauta is one of the rising celebrities of the blogosphere.

Technorati ranks his blog, ZenHabits in the top 100, and his subscriber count is getting close to 180,000. That’s a great achievement. And what makes it even more stunning is that he only started blogging in the beginning of this year.

But that’s not what I’m talking about today.

To me what makes Leo interesting isn’t so much his blog. but his online presence.

He is everywhere.

Leo has mastered the art of freelance writing on the web, and now whenever I read a well written post on simplifying your life or improving your habits, it’s written by Leo. He sure has made a name for himself.

And that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. If you want to do the same, and become the next Leo Babauta, here are some observations to guide you:

  1. Write powerful content: Leo is a great writer. And if you want to make a name for yourself you need to be great as well. If you want to be a writer, you need to practice your writing skills. If it’s painting you’re after, you’d better start painting right now. And if being a magician is the greatest profession you can image, why aren’t you looking for a rabbit and a hat already?
  2. Write a lot: The more you write, the faster your writing will improve. But getting practice isn’t the only reason why you need to write a lot. It’s also the best way of making yourself visible on the web. The more you write on different sites, the more your name will pop up. So if you want to be a Leo Babauta, you need to write more than that one or two posts per week you might be doing now. Again, this applies to everything: if you’re a musician, you need to play lots of gigs. If you’re a speaker, you need to find ways to use your voice.
  3. Simplify: My guess is that if I would go and ask Leo for tips this one would be at the top of the list. A big part of his writing is about simplifying your home, your work, your work space. At Problogger Leo tells us that these days he does all his blogging for Zen Habits on one day (actually half a day). This way he gets the rest of the week for other things such as writing for others, writing a book and spending time with his family. Reading that made me realize that it makes no sense to say that I’m too busy to write a successful blog: if you have one morning or afternoon to spare, you can write the five to seven posts that will keep your blog alive and growing for the next week. It’s all about how you organize your work.
  4. Find the right connections: And make friends. Find people who share your passion and can help you get to where you’re aiming to get. Leo has for example partnered with Collis Ta’eed on FreelanceSwitch and NorthxEast as well as the non-profit Blog Action Day initiative. On these blogs Leo is writing on a continuous basis so that readers are starting to associate him with them. A regular Joe would be satisfied with this, but not Leo. He also keeps writing to all kinds of different blogs and e-zines to make more friends and make his work better and better known. That’s what you need to do as well.
  5. Wake up early: This is self-explanatory. Leo wakes up at 4:30 which helps him get a lot of work done already before the rest of his family joins him for breakfast. But not only that, Leo also tells us that he’s often the last one in his family to go to bed. When you have all this inspiring work to do, there is no time for sleep.
  6. Be yourself: There are lots of successful bloggers whose blogs might be well known but the writers behind them stay almost anonymous. Leo is different. He has a unique personal voice, he shares thoughts about his family and himself that makes you like him. People like to hear about other people. We want to become fans. But to become your fans we need to know something personal about you: what your normal day is like, why do you wake up early, how many kids you have. Leo is real, and that makes him likeable. And being likeable helps a lot when you’re on your way to becoming a celebrity.

Good luck on your way to becoming the next Leo Babauta in your own niche. Be it writing, art, programming or public speaking, these six tips should help you along the way.

Let me know how the adventure begins to unfold!

12 thoughts on “How To Be the Next Leo Babauta

  1. Great thoughts Jarkko and I’m to a great fan of Leo’s writing. Your writing skills is like any other muscle in your body, the more you use it, the more strong and flexible it becomes. Writing should also be complimented with reading. Reading teaches you a lot and it fills you with ideas.

    Regarding simplifying your work and eliminating all the unnecessary tasks I totally agree, but the way he writes his blog posts for ZenHabits in half-a-day suits him because that’s how his blog theme has evolved. The key is, not learning the habits, but learning to define/devise your own habits that suit you and help you optimize your productivity.

  2. Becoming famous, anywhere, is mainly about daring to stand up and speak. Of course one has to have interesting and fresh things to talk about. And to gain something to say, one needs to actually DO something interesting – not just talk. But now I’ll shut up and go update my blog (though fame in the blogosphere is not my goal).

  3. Cool, you have a new update on your blog now :)

    I was actually wondering if you had completely given up on your blog – good to notice that that isn’t the case.

  4. Somone

    Great snapshot of what Leo does that is different to others. I especially love the crisp format and design of Leo’s blog. Any idea what platform he uses e.g. WordPress?

  5. Hi thanks for sharing this great tips, a few months ago I have also found Leos blog and subscribed to instantly. English is not my first language but I find it to be extremely inspiring to study and I even dare to write a blog using it. Your site will be one of my future references.

  6. Betsy Henry

    Thanks Jarkko,
    I, too, was wondering what program Leo used. I thought it might be wordpress. I’m just about to publish my blog on Zen parenting.

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