Friday, June 18, 2010

On Blogging

Written on June 10th, 2010 at 01:06 am by Darren Rowse

Posted by Rene Volpi on June 17th.--20210--

7 Signs of an A-List Blogger in the Making

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 80 comments

Guest post by Annabel Candy from Get In the Hot Spot

If you’re into blogging then you might as well aim to be the best blogger you can be. There’s no point trying to be a D-list blogger or you might up even lower down the alphabet than that. Of course, we all start our blogging journey at Z but you may as well shoot to be an A-list blogger at the top of your game and reap the benefits that will naturally flow from that.

You want to be an A-list blogger don’t you? Then check your vital blogging signs and see if you’re telling the world that you’re blogging like you mean it.

If you want to make it into the A-list you owe it to yourself to check if you’re showing the signs. Every time your blog visitors  visit your blog or come across your comments or tweets they’re jumping to conclusions about your level of competence and how trustworty or interesting you are. It sounds harsh and they’re probably not doing it consciously but both blog readers and other bloggers are on the look out for blogs that are going to stand the test of time and will still be around in years to come.

Have you ever made a new friend, hung out with her for months, shared your highs and lows, started to rely on her for everything and loved her more than anyone only to hear one day that she’s moving to China? I haven’t experienced that exact scenario either but I’ve got a feeling it would suck. Unfortunately, it happens a lot in blogging circles. I’ve only been blogging for 16 months but during that time I’ve seen bloggers who’ve been at it for two or more years, who’ve invested hours of their time into blogging, just stop overnight.

If you’re a blog reader you’re often looking for a long term reading plan, someone you can trust who’s going to be around to help or entertain you for years to come. If you’re a blogger you’ve probably realised that having strong connections is vital. Since it takes time to build a strong relationship with other bloggers you want to make sure that they’re going to stick around so you help each other out for years to come. Blogging’s definitely a long term commitment so you need to connect with bloggers who will stand the test of time.

Most of all if you’re a blogger you might as well present yourself as an A-list blogger. If you want to make it into the A-list it’s essential to show these signs. If you’re a long way from the A-list then now’s the time to start faking it until you make it, otherwise you may never get there.

7 Signs of an A-List Blogger in the Making

1. Professional blog design

I know two well known blogs by A-list bloggers with tens of thousands of RSS feed subscribers that don’t have their own domain name and template blogs. It’s probably the same basic blog template they set up years ago and when you first see their blog it definitely doesn’t say “warning you are entering the zone of an A-list blogger”. But these two are big exceptions. Every other A-list blogger I’ve come across has their own domain name and a unique blog design which makes them look professional.

Professional blog design isn’t essential to success but the odds get harder if you haven’t invested in your blog or website design. What I like about the web is that it allows small businesses to rival much bigger businesses by presenting themselves as well as they do. If you want to compete on a level footing with the A-list bloggers making sure your blog is designed as well as their blog is will help.

2. A well-defined topic and regular updates

A-list bloggers dominate their niche. They decide on the focus of their blog and stick to it so there can be no confusion. When a new reader gets to their blog they learn immediately what it’s about and there’s a sizeable archive of blog posts focused around that topic to back it up.

When A-list bloggers go on holiday they make sure that their blog is updated while they’re away and most of them update their blogs at least once a week, probably two or three times a week and often daily. That’s what readers have come to expect and you need to make sure you show them you’re doing it.

3. Consistent branding across all social media

Use your professional web design to set up a clear and instantly recognizable brand for yourself. A photo of yourself is the best way to get yourself recognised and provide the personal element people need to build trust on the Internet. Pick a good head shot or get one taken. Decide if you want a serious image like Darren Rowse, a fun shot like Seth Godin or René Volpi or go for a friendly smile like me and Pat Flynn. If you visit Darren’s Twitter page you’ll see he’s also got the Problogger logo and another fun photo wearing his trademark glasses. Include some of your branding, logo or branded colors into your image or personalise your Twitter page so it reflects your blog branding.

4. High visibility

A-list bloggers seem to get everywhere. They’re always being interviewed, being retweeted, popping up on Facebook or being mentioned by other A-list bloggers. Repeat exposure is good. Often it can take several times of seeing your name or blog name before people feel curious enough to actually take the next step and visit your site. Make yourself visible across social media by leaving comments on blogs related to your topic. If you start to retweet other bloggers or interview them they may do the same for you. If you keep this process up you should slowly become more visible, easily recognised and known for your topic and expertise.

5. Friendly

A-list bloggers help their readers out by giving them excellent information and often go a  step further emailing them special updates, replying to comments, giving free webinars or going to blogging conferences where they can meet readers en masse. Like all of us A-list bloggers have unique personalities and they use it on their blog and in life to make connections with people. Blogging’s all about community and connections and the A-list bloggers are friendly leaders of their communities. They often use video and podcasts which let readers to feel a deeper connection with a blogger than they can just through reading their blog posts.

6. Writing style

The main stay for most bloggers is still words. You don’t need to be a great writer to have a great blog, you can learn how to write well for people who will be reading it on a screen. Improve and hone your writing slowly by writing regularly. A-list bloggers understand the importance of every word on their posts and avoid taxing their readers by using words unnecessarily. They format their blog posts so they’re easy to read online with numbered or bullet-pointed list and clear headers with sub-headers to allow people to skim read and break up long passages of text. Writing headlines is a key skill and the A-list bloggers learn how to draw readers into their blog with compelling headlines using questions, how to posts or ever-popular numbered lists.

7. Blogging connections

Look out for another blogger who’s on about the same level as you and hook up with them. Together you can help propel each other to the top by commenting on each other’s blogs, sharing guest posts, promoting each other’s blogs and motivating each other to keep blogging even when you don’t seem to be getting anywhere. I don’t rate your chances of becoming an A-list blogger without connections. Show that you’re connected to a wide variety of interesting people by replying to questions or asking them on Twitter, replying to your readers’ comments, writing guest posts for other blogs and inviting up and coming bloggers to write a guest post for your blog.

No man is an island and no A-list blogger is either. Nor should you be. Check that you’re showing the 7 signs of an A-list blogger in the making so you can start climbing your way up the blogging alphabet by the shortest possible route.

Do you show the signs of being an A-list blogger in the making or do you know another blogger who is?

(thanks to Annabel Candy for all the great tips she's been providing)

Posted by René Volpi

Some Responses to “7 Signs of an A-List Blogger in the Making” - 
  • I’m certainly giving it my all! I definitely try to do my best in each of these categories you’ve mentioned. I’ve also learned to pay attention to new bloggers who are demonstrating the same level of commitment – it’s a good idea to start networking with them while they are still growing. I also take pleasure in helping them – I figure if one of us makes it to the A-List, one of us can pull the other up. You just never know…

  • Well… I actually fit a surprising number of those I think… but I think there’s a difference between just having those seven signs and rocking those seven signs. I need to work on rocking them!

    To be an A-Lister (especially in my niche) I think you need to dominate in all seven of those areas for a very long time.

    The one thing I would add is Topic Interest. If you’re writing your site for any reason other than interest in the subject, you’re going to fizzle out. If you have that interest though, it’ll come across to your readers.

  • These are all good to keep in mind, but isn’t #4 sort of result of the rest (#7 may be as well)? I don’t really know how you can be high visible without already being darn near close to an A-list blogger. In fact, A-list and highly visible might even be synonyms when it comes to blogging.

  • Man this post put a fire in my belly. I’ve been “working my face off” to get on to the alphabet list and am moving up quickly from the Y list :) Thanks for the roadmap.

  • Thanks for the great tips, Annabel. I would almost add a #8: Patience. Becoming a great blogger takes a lot of time, but the A-List bloggers are extremely patient.

    I like the tip about having a great head shot taken – this is something I’ve never considered as important (I have a picture of me, but really put no thought into picking it out). Maybe I’ll give this a bit more thought now…

  • Annabel-Thank you for this great checklist. I just started my blog a few month ago-this post will help me wrap my brain around what I need to tweak to make it to the top.

  • Great practical tips – thanks for sharing. When I judge another blogger a big part of that first impression is blog design, however superficial that may seem. I think if you’ve got that sorted, you’ve already got a big chunk out of the way. And then of course visibility (which includes regular posts) and approachability. No-one likes a distant and aloof blogger.

  • Annabel-Thank you for this great checklist. I just started my blog a few months ago-this post will help me wrap my brain around what I need to tweak to make it to the top.

  • I’d like to think that I fulfill each of those 7 details!

    How about transparency?? I think A-list bloggers are really transparent. It’s clear that they are full-time (in mindset if not in time), making this a business, giving it their all. You expect big things from them because they make it clear they’re aiming for big things!

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