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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. Hi Annabel,
    Wow, this was a tremendous list! I thought I was on the right path and now I have some structure to keep me on it.
    I really like the way you said “A-list bloggers dominate their niche.” It’s not just knowing their niche…is dominating! This is huge for me, in that I thought I knew my niche (mental strength) and now I’m going out there to dominate!
    I’m going to use this as a weekly check list to make sure I stay on course.
    Thanks for the get tips!

  2. John says:

    I really think this is good information for any blogger. Many, I am sure, already know a of this information, but new bloggers like myself need to have this kind of information constantly reinforced. Its easy to be a ‘blogger’ its not so easy to be a quality blogger whose information helps and/or entertains.

    I find it important to be surrounded by quality bloggers so some of their habits and ‘vibe’ rubs off into your own work. What you said about being an island is so true. No one lives totally independent from the world, we are all reliant on each other for many many different things. Blogging is no different!

    Being able to take a step back and focus on what you want to achieve is a rare thing, yet it is essential in the blogging world. If you blog is a scattered mess of various topics you may get traffic, but its going to be hard for anyone to glean any quality information.
    Thanks for the post, best wishes
    John

  3. Number Three is the KEY!

    You have to make sure that each customer that receives your marketing message is getting the same message, no matter which angle they approach your business from.

    When you tweet one message, blog another, and then your sales page tells a completely different story, your customer will not understand your USP. They will not understand what you are going to do for them and they will not understand what you stand for.

    The A-list bloggers show this very well. No matter which angle you digest their material, you can tell exactly where they are coming from.

    The same photo is a great starting point.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  4. Zelma says:

    Wow, great tips! I’m still at Z but definitely plan on becoming an A-list blogger! It’s posts like this that encourage me to get better and keep at it, congrats on a great post!

  5. With twitter i tink point7 is more and more getting important. A good connection who helps you on twitter by retweeting your posts can really increase your followers and traffic.

  6. hokya says:

    the most difficult thing for me is updating blog while on vacation :)

  7. Dave Rowley says:

    This is a great checklist, even if you’re not interested in becoming an A-lister, following these points can only improve your blog. I’m sure I’ll revisit it every now and then to check how I’m going.

    The one thing I’d add to the list is responsiveness to change. Social Media is such a shifting landscape, and as more and more people try to become successful bloggers, and internet marketers, what works well now can date very quickly. The best bloggers are the ones who seem to make small shifts and create new strategies that keep their nose out in front of the pack.

    Thanks for the post.

    cheers

  8. Brian Rice says:

    Great article – like many who have already responded, I am trying my best to achieve all 7 goals.

    @hokya if you are having trouble updating your blog while you are away, try writing a bunch of posts before you leave and schedule them to be published – this is easy to do in WordPress.

  9. Paul Turner says:

    Great article. I blog about working with teenager and those who work with them. It’s a slow burn. Sometimes I’ll get a spurt of comments and then a dry spell. People like to read but not necessarily comment. I believe good content + longevity+ giving your readers another way to interact with = long term success. I have a newsletter people can sign up for and I have about 25 on their now. If I stay in it another year I hope to double it. We can always get better though and that is why we need reminders like this article. Thanks.

  10. Nice to see that I am getting all these 7 points these days.

    But I know more hard labour involve in this.

  11. Rita says:

    I do four of those. I’ll work on the other three.

    Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide

  12. SquiggleMum says:

    Some fantastic information here for new bloggers Annabel. With #5 I would even go so far as to say A List bloggers are more than just friendly – they are personable. Readers want to connect with a real person on the other side of a blog, and they want that person to be genuine.

  13. Sanjo-chan says:

    Awesome! I’m following just about all of those except for #2 and #4–I need to work more on that! As for #5, I everything mentioned done, but I’ve been thinking of starting a podcast myself. It’s been on my mind for a while but after hearing advice from a fellow blogger who hosts a weekly radio show (that has a podcast version), I just might give that a try for sure! ^_^

  14. Hello, Annabel, some really great points here. I’m pleased that I’m striking high on all of them – probably explains why my Alexa ranking has moved c2m places since January! (just on the cusp of that magic 100k)

    I agree with Eric (My4hrworkweek) – the 8th category should indeed be patience. There are no overnight success stories or short cuts.

  15. Some good tips to keep in mind at all times. It’s hard to pick the most important, but certainly frequency of posting is right up there. That may be the hardest single thing to do, considerable all the other things we have going on. Thanks. — James Guy Roberts, On Patrol in the Wasteland

  16. I think I’m on the Z List

  17. These are all really great ideas, Annabel. I agree with each and every point. Actually, one thing that I have done to help boost the visibility of my blog (and you touched a bit on this) is to join together with 10 other bloggers and we comment on each other’s posts and exchange guest posts, etc. I simply sent an email invitation out to several bloggers suggesting the idea and now we send a message to the group once a week (on a specified day) with a link to our blog for the members to comment on or retweet.

    As a result, we are all getting a lot more comments from other visitors, our traffic has spiked and our lists are growing faster. I guess you can say that we have formed a sort of syndication, but more importantly, we are all supporting each other and it feels really great to be able to help our fellow bloggers to succeed while we work for the good of the group.

    The key is to make sure that everyone in the group has a similar target audience and a collaborative spirit. From there, it is all win-win!

    Thanks again for a great post!

  18. Great insight!

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and creating this guide on how to get up the ladder!

    I agree with the comment above about patience and I might add perseverance.

  19. Lisa Horn says:

    I’m just setting up my blog, and these are good tips. Unfortunately, the lack of comma use (commas are required after introductory clauses/phrases as well as in compound sentences, for example) reduced the author’s credibility. I’d be happy to do a quick five minute edit to fix the problem–free of charge. Contact me if you’re interested. http://www.lisakhorn.com

  20. Thank you for the good tips here. I read your blog on my BlackBerry screen: punch up size then scroll back and forth getting lost in a sentence and having to do it all over. So you kept my interest despite hassle to read on a tiny screen and tired to boot! I will do more to improve my blog real estate. Hence commenting here. Good reminder that it is conversation and I should support bloggers I follow or appreciate by commenting. Keep blogging! Best to you, Sheila Blackford

  21. Matt Maiden says:

    For me, the high visibility (# 4), is the most difficult. It seems that there is this initial “Catch 22″ that one has to work through when it comes to getting noticed.

    I know a lot of people get their start through controversy, but that is not my style.

    Making connections with others around your same level (# 7) would probably be the best way to start getting the visibility needed to.

    Thanks for this post.

    Matt Maiden

  22. MsKatrina says:

    Sign number 1 is the primary reason that I love WordPress, and most especially the Atahualpa theme. With time and creativity, just about anyone can make a beautiful blog. And the theme is unbelievably free.

  23. John says:

    The hardest part is writing compelling posts. By far. I’ll somehow come up with the odd one that people like but they are few and far between. Darn.

  24. This post is great in so many ways, it gives the new blogger a chance to build on a successful career if they put the work in and follow the simple steps.

  25. GREAT list, Annabel….

    Thank you for reminding me (us) to implement ALL 7, not just 3…or 4…or even 6.

    Connecting with other niche bloggers is so important in many ways – but I don’t do it.

    One tip I’d like to add that really catapulted my various (online) businesses is to “be” LOCAL. For me, developing authority and credibility in my local area has created great business for me…instead of hiding behind a website.

    For 16 years, I was a high school teacher/coach. I love helping people…whether 1on1, small or even large groups.

    @LisaHorn – To Lisa, I unequivocally DISAGREE…. I have an Master’s in Journalism/English. I taught high school and college English for 16 years.

    I worked for large newspapers during college.

    For 8 years, my income is generated 100% by my “online” presence from helping small businesses make more money using the Internet to real estate to credit repair.

    To be successful – even VERY successful – you do NOT need to concern yourself with 100% correctness when writing or talking.

    Earlier, Lisa mentions “…lack of comma use (commas are required after introductory clauses/phrases as well as in compound sentences, for example) reduced the author’s credibility.”

    No, these issues do NOT reduce the author’s credibility.

    What is a helluva LOT more important than grammatical correctness is personality – in your writing AND your speaking.

    I have TONS of awards for my writing and speaking, but that did NOT translate into $$$$$ on the Internet…or when meeting face to face with people.

    What’s more important (and does translate into $$$$) is providing solutions to problems…connecting with people on a personal level….& following through.

    In no way am I blasting Lisa Horn, who probably is very successful and working in a field where employers demand she “…place commas after introductory clauses/phrases as well as in compound sentences.”

    Even when I taught high school and college students, grammatical correctness NEVER replaced the message. Whether I’m the English teacher, the Internet Marketer or the potential customer of your product or service, I will NOT drop kick you to the curb if your writing or speaking is not 100% correct.

    Whether or not you can help me (and whether I believe you can help me) is MORE important than 100% grammatical correctness.

    If you don’t mind, here are a few additional – and essential – writing (and speaking) tips if I may:

    *Use small words – no big 50 cent words to try to impress people. Big words are a turn off in most circles (and niches).

    *Use short sentences. No long, winding sentences filled with “comma + conjunction” or just a bunch of comma splices. :)

    *Use anecdotes. That is, tell stories to provide your solution to the problem. I have not discovered a person who does NOT like stories. Keep your anecdotes tight, focusing on the problem and your solution.

    *Use bullets and/or numbers (that is, insert lists in your writings).

    *Insert a call to action in everything you do. Make calls to action simple and easy…one step at a time.

    By no means am I in the league with “Problogger” though I can speak from both sides of the fence – the English teacher and the Internet Marketer who’s in the trenches right now…today.

    Thanks again to Annabel and all the GREAT comments. I wish every one of you all the best.

    Now, I need to take Annabel’s advice on #7 in particular. :)

    Mike

  26. Morkel says:

    Right now am not so much worried about beings an A-list blogger than just simply blog consistently between my 2 jobs…and ofcourse the points are quite detrmental in success. But ofcouse visiting this site problogger.net everyday simply energizes me to write 2-4 posts a day..

  27. Charlene says:

    Writing is what I’d like to say is enjoyable and expressive of things that have come to pass for me. blogging my expressions give me a release of my inner pleasures of life memorable and pleasing to be able to use them to form them creatively for others to enjoy.
    A friendly blogger is one I would be inclined to visit and get to know. I’m new to blogging and welcome everyone who would like to give me Ideas on arranging my content. Thank you for reading: )

  28. Laura says:

    This excellent post applies to anyone who is trying to develop an internet presence, whether they consider themselves “Bloggers” or not. I know many website owners who could benefit from these tips, and I will certainly share this article with them. Thanks for your straightforward advice!

  29. Mukesh says:

    I agree with all the points mentioned here. Especially the “frequently updating your blog” point. If your readers invariably find what they were expecting consider them regular visitors. Thank you for summing it all up.

    Regards,
    VoIP bloggers
    http://www.freecallshub.com

  30. Nunzio Bruno says:

    The interaction is def what I have the most fun with. I think if you have a plan going into your blogging project then a lot of the 7 listed above can be second nature and systematic. In fact most of the time all of the effort I put into visibility and being consistent is with the hopes of people interacting with me. Like in coaching clients at Financially Digital or when I’m teaching finance or econ to a class of students – when someone else is doing the talking there’s always more learning than me just lecturing. I printed this post out and hung it up just so I have a constant reminder that what I’m doing is the right way to becoming an A-List Blogger.

  31. Paluka11 says:

    Thanks for the guide. You have made some salient points that I would not have come up with . I cannot wait to see the results when I start putting them into practise.

    http://homeshoringmadeeasy.blogspot.com

  32. Mike James says:

    Thanks for the tips, I regularly visit the site for inspiration and guidance. We are still going strong a year after setting up http://www.appgiveaway.com :-)

  33. I totally agree. There are definitely “7 Characteristics of A Highly Successful Blogger” – I smell a book or product of some sort, run, go make millions I got plenty more where that came from. :-)

    However, really, The 1st item on your list is where so many people fail horribly. They call themselves “bloggers”, and even worst sometimes media experts” but when you visit their sites its a bunch of cyber trash and waste of space, matter, and time.

    Aesthetics is the 1st impression of a blogger and we all know there is only a 3 – 10 second time frame to win visitors over. Having a professionally designed front end and back end makes all the difference on whether you will grow into an A+ blogger or stay on the D list like Billions of others.

    Great Post!

  34. Sukie says:

    Hmm, this is very interesting. I’ve become a blogger by default, sucked into the online world by my never-ceasing need to glut myself on information. My blog is currently a cross between a website that markets my off-line services and the budding blossom of a virtual business. I feel like I fit into many of these seven categories.

    The one that is still a challenge for me is “niche.” That’s fast becoming a four letter word in my book because I’m multi-passionate. However, my blog focuses on wellness, specifically rejuvenation & natural anti-aging with a movement toward teaching women how to live happily ever after right now.

  35. Great article on the simple “must-haves” for a beginning blog. I love the fact that your content is so endearing, when so many other blogs are obviously out to make money, not advise their readers.

  36. TGIG says:

    Just wanted to say I really dig your blog, and it was what has gotten me started blogging as well. I hope to someday have a site that rivals yours in terms of quality and content.

    Thanks,

    TGIG

  37. Nuno Sobral says:

    Very nice article, a must-read for both beginners and pros

  38. I entirely agree. There are “7 Characteristics of A Highly Successful Blogger” –I used to practice them and there are a lot of my friends who are following these steps

  39. Febap Liew says:

    hey Annabel,
    wonderful post. i just started blogging recently ( about a month now ) and these tips have proof to be very helpful in driving me to become a better blogger.
    apparently what you have mentioned are really logical facts about being an A-list blogger but somehow by ‘reading’ and going through it again gave me another ‘jolt’. Telling me that this is what i SHOULD OUGHT to be doing !
    =)
    thank you
    the more i read of such post, the more motivated I become. =)
    cheers

  40. Anna Blanch says:

    While this was a helpful post i think that it is important to emphasise that the a-list are such because they have developed:

    Authority

    This authority is a result of a developed credibility which makes them trustworthy – this isn’t just making sure the blog ticks over when you go way (in fact it is part of the way i do things to show balance in my life) – but it is about influence that comes out of readers entering into a kind of contract with you. I’m not talking about monetized blogs, but generally.

    If what you write is good and they have reason to trust you – this may be partly blog design, partly other things, then they will come back. But readers have lives and isn’t just a simple formula.

    Thanks for the post – it was helpful. It does make me consider again exactly why i’m writing and what I am doing with my blog.

  41. Kelly says:

    I try and work on all of these and I guess it’s a matter of opinion as to how I am doing with them. One thing that I am working on more is to actually work on my blog instead of doing busy work. I seem to waste a lot of time worrying about the design or the color of this or the size of that image, etc. I think that as much as the design is important, there is a point of over thinking about it. After all if no one comes to see your blog, it doesn’t matter what it looks like!

  42. Jen Gresham says:

    Awesome post, Annabel. You certainly nailed this one. I’m glad to have you among my “connections.” Cheers to you!