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7 Signs of an A-List Blogger in the Making

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 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?

Annabel Candy writes empowering tips for life and work at her newly designed blog Get In the Hot Spot. Subscribe to her RSS feed or choose   free email updates for regular helpings of useful, inspiring writing that will teach you how to succeed in life and online.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. 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…

  2. 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.

  3. Skip says:

    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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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…

  6. Tracey says:

    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.

  7. Marisa says:

    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.

  8. Tracey says:

    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.

  9. 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!

  10. Srinivas Rao says:

    Annabel,

    Looks like you are well on your way to becoming an A-lister yourself :). My comments are below on the various areas

    1) Design: I think this is one of those that alot of people don’t take seriously enough when they first start. I did a redesign of my own sometime back in January and the impact was pretty significant. I think it immediately upped the subscriber rate. While it would be idea to hire somebody to do a professional design for you, I think that people can actually do their own work and setup a fairly decent design if they are willing to tinker with their theme a bit. One thing I would say on design is make sure that you have a premium theme.

    2. High Visibility/Connections: I think these kind of go hand in hand. Those who really get it know that a big part of this being involved in the community. I’ve found just a few things in the last week that have upped my traffic and subscribers. One of those is #blogchat on twitter which happens every sunday and is a great way improve connections/visibility.

    3. Friendly: This is definitely one I’ve found in my own experience of interviewing some of the best people in the field. They are all highly approachable and very friendly. I think they all want to see other people genuinely succeed and that’s a great thing.

    Awesome stuff in this post.

  11. I think if I cover all the 7 categories u have mentioned my blog wil get more readers and money than now. Soon I will try to become one of the A-list bloggers.

  12. A-List blogger? I’m not quite there yet, but I’m definitely a star!

  13. Josh Garcia says:

    Hey Annabel,

    I like the 7 tips you provided. I’m glad you provided this list. It’s a great outline to follow to be on top. The one that stands out the most is being Friendly.

    There are blogs that have all of the other components but they are not friendly. I don’t revisit them again. I’m sure they are losing visitors because of it. Thanks for the info!

    Chat with you later…
    Josh

  14. Hi Annabel,

    Thanks for the post. I am considering getting a professional blog redesign but have been trying to weigh the benefits of blog design vs cost of the design. So far it’s been inconclusive.

    I would love to have a very nice looking blog…so I am leaning towards getting a blog redesign.

    I was planning on getting a blog redesign after my blog takes off a bit, like Darren did (he mentioned this in his book).

    But I was thinking about getting a professional logo to help with branding ASAP.

  15. I love this! This is great for someone starting who wants to make this a business. Number 7 is such an important point that I have not heard a lot talked about. I have focused on this as part of my strategy and I would say it has been one of the best things possible!

    Definitely bookmarking this to check against periodically!

  16. Jean Sarauer says:

    There are several up and coming A-Listers who are part of my blogging community. The quality of their blogs, their writing style, and their drive and determination are top-notch.

    The folks I’m thinking of are exhibiting all seven signs, which tells me we’d all be wise to see how we stack up there.

  17. Adam Willis says:

    As a graphic and web designer, I have dealt with some pretty big clients that are still hosting their blog on wordpress.com or even blogger with the default theme. And these are good blogs, too! I mean… you spend all this time and effort writing great post, but web visitors don’t take you seriously because it looks like a 13 year old made your blog. So frustrating.

  18. Yvonne says:

    Thanks for the insight. I’ve definitely picked up some pointers to add for myself as my blog *loud echoing voice* CONQURES THE WORLD! Ok, well, at least becomes A-Blogger level in my niche. I’d also like to point out that the people who read this site regularly are probably the ones who will stick around. They are the ones investing in improving their blogging skills. It’s a good place to start making connections. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll start making connections via Problogger right now!

  19. Hi Annabel,

    This is very sound information as you say you have to fake it before you make it. Getting an actual logo and putting it on your twitter page and also the high visiblility aspect all lock in to getting your blog out there in front of the masses.

    Love it

    Glyn

  20. Kish Press says:

    Consistency and Branding are the most important factors which has to be given the highest priority, that’s what I feel. Thank you for this post.

  21. Edward says:

    I’d also say that if you want to make blogging your profession you should treat it like a one and you should like it. I bet if Marilyn Monroe did not like to be worshiped she wouldn’t have made THAT success – http://flavor-of-success.com/marilyn-monroe-cake-with-a-strawberry-kiss/

  22. I’m looking to network with up and coming illustration bloggers, get in touch on “Twitter”… Thanks :]

  23. Joshua Noerr says:

    Thank you for this great post. I am certainly a new comer to the scene, but within my niche, I try to offer as much value as possible. In a short time, I have gotten a decent following and have several excellent connections with others in the niche.

    I love the interview comment, I will definately start to work on that, as well as more and more guest posting opportunities. Again, thanks for the post.

  24. Excellent tips. I have seen some bloggers that I thought were a-list material, but they vanished abruptly. It may have been financial, or a lack of motivation because they don’t really get the fast results they desire. If you use your tips, and shrug off any potential quitting thoughts, you can make the a-list soon enough!

  25. Robby G says:

    I love it, each time I visit this blog, I get a new idea to develop and it always benefits my blog. This really is the best place for bloggers to learn and it doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the game for a week or for 2 years (like me:) there’s still new things to always learn and build upon.

  26. Hi Annabel,

    #4 really hit a nerve with me! :-) I always think I’m doing all of these things…then when I read a post like yours I get reminders.

    High visibility means making sure you’re taking the time to put yourself out there. It’s easy to get caught up in doing your work (aka client work! :-) )- then you realize you’ve disappeared from the landscape!

    Great post….love your site too.

  27. Annabel and Darren,

    Inspiration stuff and it especially hammered home the point about having a unique design. I’ve had my blog up for a week and a half now, am broadly happy with the design but you’ve prompted me to pull my finger out with the CSS.

    I love your point about being friendly, how much value do you think there is in providing free “paid-for standard” content (like free ebooks) when you’re just starting out? Is it something that’s great for newbies or do you need a big following to have a positive impact?

    Ben
    unformation.net

  28. Well I do not currently have a blog.

    But reading this just fascinates me.

    I mean the 7 signs of A-list bloggers that you mentioned, are present in a number of blogs that I visit daily.

    Another thing I would like to mention, is that the A-list bloggers are an authority in their niche. They have a lot of confidence.

    Readers believe every word they say.

  29. This is a great list! I think it’s super important to be consistent across all the places you hang out online. Sometimes I feel weird tweeting about technology when I’m a food / health blogger, but I think it’s just part of being yourself too. :)

    I love your analogy – no blog is an island, or blogger either. Definitely the case!

  30. This is such a great post. I’ve only started to seriously blog for about a month now, and I’ve really noticed that writing all over the place, but haven’t focussed on a niche. I’m starting to realize how important it is to get a specific niche and how it applies to not blogging but to so many parts of business.

  31. MediaChutney says:

    Blogging is new to me, your post was really very informative for me though i didn’t understand few things. I hope that i will start picking up things soon.

  32. Thanks for the guidance. I’ve only been blogging for a month or so, but have read so many articles and started with a blog strategy, which has been immensely helpful. Creating a document knowing what my market is, what I’d like to cover (initially), and what the goals are was the first step. Thanks for your insight, it’s helpful to reinforce what I’ve been doing and to remind me what I still need to do.

  33. Ewealths says:

    Guest posting and trying to meet up with other blogger have been my assignment for sometime, though I am yet to find an A-list blogger that would accept my guest post, but we all know that consistency is the souk of blogging, thanks for a wonderful!

  34. Thanks for all the great comments!

    Keisha – Good thinking with that strategy. Strong alliances will definitely help you.

    Nick – Yes, it’s a long term plan, you’ve got to hang on in there and keep doing what you’re doing for years!

    Skip – I’ve noticed that some new bloggers are everywhere, even though they don’t have a lot of blog readers yet. Some people seem to explode into the blogging scene!

    Standford – Good luck! Sometimes it just helps to know that you’re on the right track:)

    Eric – Patience and perseverance. It’s a shame Darren doesn’t use gravatars in the comments here. I love being able to see the smiley faces of my readers when they leave a comment. It definitely adds to the sense of community. I like your palm tree but I’d probably prefer to see your face:)

  35. I think your dead on with the “Friendly” area. An “A” list blogger is first class and realizes everything when it comes to running a blog, which of course comes with great service to all of there fellow readers.

    On a side note: Great job on your blog and set up, follows nicely with your tips :-).

  36. Ewealths says:

    Seeing your post only confirms what Yaro Starak said about problogger.net, to say the least your post has opened my eye to a new way to blog and become a A-list blogger, I am on my to starting networking with my peers, thanks

  37. Vince Arnone says:

    A very informative, complete and well written post. Thank you!

    As a blogger who is just starting out, this post is a great one to reference to! I’m bookmarking this and coming back to it every month.

  38. Tara – Transparency is a good point. You have to be honest, up front and show the real you.
    Srinivas – Great points on site design.Probably having a premium theme does help. People can spend time working out how to create a decent look and feel for their site but in my experience investing in the beginning is worth it. You’ve got some great tips, thanks for sharing them with us!
    Jason – A professional design would take your blogquest to a higher level and tell the world that you’re a force to be reckoned with. Spending on a good logo if that’s all you have the budget for now is a great idea then you can make the blog design quite simple with the logo doing all the work.
    Adam – I’m with you on that!
    Ben – Bloggers often entice people to sign up for their newsletter list with a free guide or book. I haven’t tried it myself yet but will be soon so II’ll get back to you then:)

  39. Wow, this was really a great article. I would have to add “Be extremely genuine” to the list. (but then again I’m no A-list blogger).

    However, it seems to me, all the bloggers I follow, have a sort of genuine feel to them. Most of the time I’m actually interested more in who they are than what it is that they’re producing. I re-visit their blog because I want to re-visit THEM… it’s like calling an old friend. I’m not calling to get the latest scoop on gossip, I’m calling because I enjoy the person’s company.

    I think blogging is much more human than many people make it. Sure, businesses can do great with blogs, and bloggers can become businesses, but being yourself and giving of yourself in a genuine fassion is the key.

    Thanks once again for the great article!

    Give. Get. Give
    Chase Brumfield

  40. Thank you for putting everything into perspective, Annabel. I think I scored well in most of the points that you have presented. But you have given me compelling reasons to work on the other points.

  41. Finding a blogging buddy is a great idea especially if they have their own friends. I have seen several internet marketing “groups” that are constantly commenting on each others blogs. Good way to get a quick boost.

  42. ShaynnaB says:

    Well I’m definitely on the D-list after reading this. I am using the generic blogspot, have no connections and erratic with my blogging. I have committed to blogging 3 times a week, will look into a ‘proper’ blog and be a bit more savvy in leaving comments (like this ;) on others websites.
    Thanks again problogger for your help!
    Shaynna

  43. Theresa says:

    This is great information and I’ve managed to do most of it. I mainly need to hook up with other bloggers on the same level. Wish I’d done this years ago!

  44. Meta Coral says:

    Exellent tips Darren. You could say that most of things you’ve said in this post are common sense but how often do we forget it. Love your blog.

  45. Hi Chase, yes the human element and being a real person’s a great addition. Good luck on your journey up the alphabet:)

    Rezdwan, thanks for leaving a comment! I think they’re all important points to cover:)

  46. Wow… Really interesting post! I do believe that having a lovely logo design is paramount to any business’s success!
    Have a fantastic day!
    PS: HKeep these great posts comming… (I had just subscribed to your newsfeed)

  47. r4 dsi says:

    Amazing post with all sorts of great A-sign blogger information. I have never really concerned myself with this but maybe I should. As we know Too many blogger are out there trying to be best with their blogs. Yet, consistently and routinely, they seemingly fail to think about the basics of how to be best. Writing skill is very important and by regular practice it can be improved too.

  48. Imran Yousaf says:

    Annabel, we can say that this post is a benchmark for all bloggers. If proper weightage is assigned to this list, we can easily find out our weak area to be worked. After analysing my blog, i figured out weak area to be worked.
    Thanks for your great post.

  49. Fred Kapoor says:

    I liked this article a lot and believe a lot of other entrepreneurs would thik the same of it, especially the ones involved in the blogging activity! I think it is smart and very helpful to have a proper listing of thing to be done when it comes to the everyday blogging activity.

  50. Hi Annabel,
    Thanks for all your reminders of what indicates quality blogging. For what it is worth today I took time to overview my blog with the thought in mind ‘since my blog is about reducing stress and increasing health’ how easy is it for my readers to navigate my blog i.e. is it low stress to navigate? I ended up changing some categories and leaving others in place. Now I wait and see.
    I trust I have made my blog even easier to follow.
    Enjoy a wonderful day,
    David
    http://www.TheWonderTechnique.com