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4 Things to Expect When You Become an A-List Blogger

A Guest Post by Glen Allsopp from ViperChill.

There’s a ton of advice in the blogosphere about how to increase the size of your blog audience and become an A-lister. There is far less advice though on how to deal with such a large readership and the changes that come with it.

While I don’t consider myself an A-lister, my blog is closing in on the 10,000 subscribers mark after less than a year since launch, and quite a few things have changed from when I had a much smaller audience.

Some of these are good, some are bad, and others are completely what you make of them. This is simply my guide on the things to expect and possibly watch out for.

Growth which Snowballs

The first few months with blogging are generally the toughest. If you’re not learning how to tweak your design and implement good on-site SEO you’re trying to establish yourself in your niche and build relationships. Growth at this time can seem slow or even stagnant.

Thankfully, it does get much easier. Once you have built an audience you have more people to naturally share your posts for you, buy your products, and help spread your brand. When I grew my old personal development blog to 500 subscribers it took me 7 months of non-stop hard work.

Yet, in the next 5 months after that, thanks to this snowball growth effect, the blog had over 4,000 subscribers. The bigger you get, the bigger the growth spurts tend to become as well.

Public Criticism

I’m very fortunate to have built a following of people who are very positive and thankful for the effort that I put into my articles. However, as with any project that grows large, I’ve faced public criticism as well. This didn’t seem to happen based on anything I did but came about when my audience hit a certain threshold, resulting in feedback that was seemingly random.

Some people say things like “you’re just trying to be like X blogger”, “you’re scamming people” (even though I have no ads or affiliate links) or they may claim I’m lying when I write about certain figures, even after posting screenshots of everything I do.

At the end of the day, criticism is something you should come not only to expect, but forget. If there’s something negative out there about you that you agree with and can change, then do so. Otherwise, leave the internet trolls to do their thing and continue doing what you do.

It’s not just in the blogosphere where this happens of course, but in all areas of life. Look at the launch of the iPhone 4 as an example. It was Apple’s most popular product launch in their history and has less refunds than any other iPhone by far, yet every tech blog is jumping on the bandwagon about the issues it appears to have.

Whether you believe Apple should be scorned or not, you can’t deny that it seems that the more popular a person or company gets, the more people want to take them down. At certain times I like to remind myself of a quote my Sean Stephenson which is quite relevant to this situation: “What people say about you is none of your business.”

A Rise in Reader Communications

As much as I didn’t want to do this, I’ve had to make it significantly harder to get in touch with me over the last few months. First of all, I stopped returning follows on Twitter and went from following over 3,000 people to less than 100. If you follow someone they can send you a direct message (DM) and I simply couldn’t respond to even half of them. I can’t imagine how other people who have much bigger audiences deal with it.

I then had to create a new Skype account as people were using the ‘find by email’ feature and adding me personally. As I give away my Skype address frequently when buying new websites, I would sometimes be flooded with support requests because I couldn’t tell if someone was a blog reader or they were selling a website I was interested in.

Finally, I made my contact form much less inviting and put my email address right at the bottom of the page. I hate that I had to do this one the most, but I think people would rather find it harder to contact me than spend time writing a request for help that I simply can’t fulfil.

Of course, I still respond to many emails and I try to reply to every single blog comment I receive, which can take hours each week, but I can’t keep up with the other communication channels. Similar to my last point, people can be very vocal on social media platforms if they get in touch with you and you don’t reply — even if it’s just a day or two later.

If you have time to respond to everyone then that’s great but make sure you’re prioritising tasks (writing posts, tweaking your site) and not trying to be everywhere to please everyone. My simply philosophy is that I would rather spend a few hours writing an article which helps thousands of people than spending hours in my inbox helping only a few.

Higher Expectations from your Audience

When I said there would be points which you can view in your own way, this is what I was mostly referring to. This may just be a personal feeling and not something other large bloggers can relate to, but I definitely think people have higher expectations of the information and ideas I share after following my work for a while.

I personally see this as a good thing as I don’t want to stand behind work which I believe to be mediocre so I’m reminded to produce valuable content. You may see it as added pressure to publish only your best articles but realise that your audience just wants the same great value that they’re used to. When asked how he dealt with the pressure of his fans, rapper Lil Wayne simply said:

“I would rather have the pressure of fans wanting me to do well then the pressure of running from police or something like that. Fan pressure is good pressure.”

When you start out you can make “mistakes” you wouldn’t normally do like fill your site with ads, write reviews just for money or publish guest posts which are of a far lower standard to the content you usually put out here. Once you grow though, the reaction to those kinds of mistakes can be a loud voice in the online space.

I love growing my audience for the obvious benefits such as:

  • Having more eyeballs on my content
  • Having more people who can share my content
  • Connecting with a bigger audience
  • Being able to make more money
  • Having a bigger influence

These are all great advantages to becoming a bigger blogger, so definitely don’t just focus on the points that I’ve highlighted above. Just become aware of what you may have to deal with as your site does begin to grow. At the very least, if you do experience these things, now you know you’re not alone.

Glen Allsopp is the author of ViperChill, a blog on Viral marketing. If you’re interested in guest posts like this one here, you may enjoy his guide to guest blogging.

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Comments

  1. Josh Garcia says:

    Hey Glen,

    This is an awesome problem to have. :)

    I do appreciate you putting this together. I just gave me a great vision of what too expect. Thank you, buddy!

    Chat with you later…
    Josh

  2. Johnny Laird says:

    Good post, Glen, and one that goes a long way to addressing some of the thoughts I shared on a post of my own, actually talking about your blog.

    I said “… I confess to visiting Viper Chill a little less than I used to. It’s no less powerful as a site, but the volume of the content, and the sheer quantity of the responses Glen receives make it a site that demands a lot of your time and attention. That’s not a criticism, but rather a way of saying my schedule copes better with the more concise content of the bloggers in the rest of the Dojo”

    http://www.johnnylaird.net/2010/08/blogging-dojo-update-journey-discover-affirm-share/

    I’ve been impressed with the sheer numbers you’ve been able to connect with. All power to you, mate!

    Keep up the good work.

    J

  3. Great post – I love the fact that you started out with something very positive (IMO) – the Snowball Effect.

    I have a rather popular niche blog and the criticism and trolls is definitely something I’ve struggled with (and still do on some day). It’s hard sometimes to see and remember all the positive comments. I keep a file on my desktop with a few of my favorite reader comments and glance through them when a negative comment really gets to me.

    Regarding the email and such, yes, it gets hard to keep up with it and there are other tasks that are more productive. I have a VA screen my emails, handling what she can and I end up with less than 10% that I respond to myself on my niche site.

  4. Great post Thanks. I have a similar experience with having started a popular blogging community and THANK GOD everyone is very positive and supportive except other blogging community owners of course who say I am a clique or just like people with money and all kinds of nonsense. I will just say honestly that some of it has hurt in away because I wanted to be supportive of all the other places.
    Anyway feedback and criticism when helpful and given for the right reasons is always great but given out of jealously and bitterness is a BUZZKILL :)
    Happy Weekend Everyone
    Stumbled

  5. I have also experienced a few of these same problems and I would also add the simple problem of time management. I find myself needing to take more and more time on my blog to interact with readers, moderate comments, help readers, converse with advertisers, etc.

    Some solutions I found were setting up a strict posting schedule, hiring/inviting other writers, and keeping my articles simple yet effective.

    Nice post. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Yup this is what blogging is about, all put together.

    Thanks Glen, for writing this article which feels like reading my history and my future. Great article to reflect on.

    By the way, how many ’4-titled’ posts to come, Darren?

  7. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for a great post. I like being reminded that the first few months are the hardest. I read it again and again, but it really does help to remember.

    As my blog is a way to bring in business for my writing boutique, I am not as concerned with growing numbers and making money from the blog alone. However, that doesn’t mean if it happened, I’d be upset.

    Great post. Thanks!

  8. Sathishkumar says:

    Hi Glen,

    I am in the initial stages of my blogging career and actually I am struggling to find readers for my blog. Although I post some relative good contents my SEO is very poor and because of that my Traffic is low. I am working on these thing right now and I hope I can overcome this stage pretty soon.

    I would love to have the other three problems you have mentioned here, because these things will make an ordinary blogger to a better blogger. Thanks for sharing this useful post.

    Sathish

  9. markco says:

    http://www.justmytwocopper.org has been snowballing as you put it for weeks now… going from 2780 subscriberes to 5202 in less than a month!

    It’s interesting how when you start off every tweet and communication matters so much but once you get big enough it’s more important to write content than it is to be social.

    Maybe a post on this interesting topic would be a good follow up to today’s Darren?

  10. You freakin’ rock for providing that guest-posting information for free. I will tweet that out. Good stuff.

    I never realized the DM issue with following people on Twitter. I will definitely think twice, three times, or maybe even 4 times before sending a DM to someone who has a bunch of followers. Now, I’m wondering if I’ve been kind of annoying. =) Oh well…you live, you learn.

    Also, thank you for giving me hope by providing your early stats and how they snowball after a certain level. I’m on my 4th month, but will keep at it.

    I found out about Cloud Living being a top notch blogging resource recently and will definitely check it out soon. It’s on my to-do-list.

    Thanks a lot!

  11. Cara Mia says:

    This is such a fantastic article! I have been blogging for quite some time and just received my first horrible comment yesterday…..so horrible that I didn’t bother keeping it up. My first thought was, “well, I guess I’m on the right track”, and after reading this post, it confirms that I am.

    Thanks for your informative posts / guest posts. Your blog rocks!
    Cara Mia

  12. Though I’m far from being even a regular blogger, the situations faced by A-list bloggers that you have so lucidly described are not difficult to imagine. As you have mentioned, similar is the case when you are a good student, freelancer or any other professional. It might be a bit difficult to find private time and space then.

  13. Hey Glen,

    I once read that – “You tell how important someone is by how many people are talking bad about them”

    So, the more people that hate you, the more popular you are.

    This is good to keep in mind so that people don;t take it too personal when people start talking $@#! about them.

    Good article,

    Brian M. Connole
    http://www.i-Blogger.info
    http://www.HCG411.info

  14. Eric says:

    The snowball effect seems to be a positive action that works for you after a lot of hard work and things just start to click together a bit more.

    Sounds like a lot to manage but if it’s worth it.

  15. I really needed to hear that first months are the hardest, I am just starting month 2 of my blog and feel like I am working way to hard and have SO MUCH still to do or learn. But hearing that’s normal will help me not quit and keep pushing that boulder! Thanks!

  16. Hi Glen
    This is sure and by the way first time today I visit your blog and I love it.You really have a great blog.

    Thanks For Sharing
    -Abhishek

  17. Glen,

    If you start to get criticism, it is sure sign of growth. With more people wanting more from you when you are successful, is you never know who are your true friends. Congratulations, follow what you are doing as it seems to be working well.

  18. I’ve been blogging for years and I still find it tough. It’s great that some people can relax just after a few months. I hope I can find that magic realm soon.:-)

  19. Also, (sorry for the double comment) I’m one of the people you stopped following on Twitter. Naturally, I stopped retweeting you, as I was one of the first people to follow you when you started on twitter as a twitter newbie.

  20. Yes I experienced similar feedback….just to clarify I am an no where near your level. I find my content drys up and I need and take a few days off if I focus too much on one niche. Thanks for your tips and tricks ..Always handy to learn Rob from Australia

  21. Thanks for the breakdown of what to expect. The snowball effect seems like something that if bloggers can just hang on for, they’ll be grateful they did – but I bet some get overwhelmed when they start getting lots of readers!

  22. Glen.. great post as usual

    I’m starting to feel that pressure of putting out only my best stuff and feeling a bit overwhelmed with the comments without having thousands of subscribers yet.. so that should be fun..

    it comes with the territory I guess, I wish I could help every person that emails me and asks me, “can you check out my blog and give me your feedback” – if I did that all day, I wouldn’t have time to post new content

    thanks for the heads up
    Hector

  23. These are all great points, Glen. Thanks for sharing with us!

    I agree that fan pressure is a positive thing because it keeps you on top of your work, and you’re less likely to slack off. This, as a result, maintains or increases the quality of your blog.

    While I’m still working on growing my own blog audience, it’s good to know what to expect for when I finally make it to where you are.

  24. Nelson Muntz says:

    I’m pretty sure that fan pressure feels good and keep you doing your wonderful job. I haven’t experiment something like because I just started my blog, and just by reading such a good article I felt an impression which I want to achieve.

  25. Mike says:

    Glen, you definitely make some good points here.

    I think the 80/20 rule definitely comes to mind for many people here.

    An A-list blogger (or any blogger for that matter) can’t make everyone happy and definitely shouldn’t try unless they want to ruin their business or remove all the reasons that they wanted their own business in the first place.

    Best of luck with your blog.

  26. I like that you continually keep me and the rest of your readers focused.

  27. Simon says:

    Great article Glen – thanks.

    I think it is most blogger’s goal to reach a point were it “just snowballs” – more incoming links, more commenters, more visitors from search engines, being promoted in social media.

    I appreciate that after this point it becomes a case of “blog management” more so than “blog building” which is what we all go through in the early days – posting, tweeting, commenting, spreading the word.

    Different challenges come to the front as you have identified requiring a different skill set – and as one would expect, you develop as a blogger as your blog itself grows.

    Thanks again.

    Simon

  28. I’m into my 3rd month of blogging. There have been challenges as I try to grow my blog. These past >2 months have been slow. I feel the pain. The slow growth will not deter me from trying harder. Knowing that it would take up to 18 months just to pick up the pace (Problogger book said that I guess), I find comfort in the thought that I’ll reap the success if I give my best to my blog and just continue to produce value for my readers.

  29. Opajdara says:

    I guess what it comes down to is the pressure to maintain content quality. That’s fair enough.

  30. Brandy says:

    Great post! Love it.

  31. Hi Glen,
    Thanks for all the tips.Growth is a problem for many.I love to communicate with everyone but we all know the time that takes. Fortunately, the net is a great media to spread the work we do to millions.
    Content that helps people is worth more than just having a store in a mall waiting for traffic to come to you. Going to the traffic is difficult but once they know you and trust you, the feeling is great.
    Thanks so much for this post.
    Pierre

  32. Sandeep says:

    Ya, criticism comes for sure :) but as the Wayne Dyer says if over 50% people appreciate you, you win the race. And it is right,. one can’t make everyone happy.

  33. It is all very confusing. Some of your examples, straight from the folks who tell you how to grow a blog, sound like they backfire.

    Okay, so knowing what you know now–what advice would you give to a new blogger? Thanks.

  34. Baz says:

    Glen,
    Great article, thanks very much. A lot of us aspire to become an A-List blogger and seldom think about results other than the increased readership or higher revenues. Thanks for the dose of reality.

  35. Pat says:

    Hey Glen, great post, and I’m glad to see you here on PB.

    As my site just surpassed the 10k mark, I can confirm all of your points. Like you, I’ve been lucky enough to have a wonderful and supportive group of readers and followers, but lately there have been more and more negative comments, and I love them. I love them because they are usually from people who are just looking for a way to make themselves feel better by putting someone else down, and what you have to realize is that the more negative comments you get, the more successful you probably are…unless you really did something that deserves those negative comments.

    When you grow this big (and I believe every blog can eventually get to the 10k mark – like you said the beginning is the toughest part). you just have to stay the course and remember how you got there in the first place.

  36. Kunal says:

    Beautiful post.

  37. Sandra Lee says:

    Glen, What I really appreciate the most about this article is the genuine feeling behind it. While I’m far from having the problems you outline, I appreciate knowing what to look out for in the future. And I appreciate the authentic way you approach the challenges.

  38. I like the ‘snowball effect’ on growth. Truth is, in the early phases of developing readership for a blog, hard work is required, and it can be discouraging when you don’t immediately see the results.

    Blogging is about giving – sharing what you know with other people. As you give and share what you know, your readers come to expect that from you. Depending on the focus of your blog, you will probably attract key players in the niche – so as your reputation grows, and more niche enthusiasts come to your website, expect a more analytical look at things; and more contributions and responses to what you have to say.

    Of course, the more you give, the more you get – in the sense that your readers will find it easy to buy products or services from you, since you have provided so much ‘free’ info on your blog.

    All in all – this is certainly a “happy” problem.

    Thanks for initiating this post. Captivating discussion here.

    Nikki

  39. Ann says:

    Excellent thank you

  40. Awesome post!, it seems like I’m around the same readership level of 10,000!… Two years was the time scale for my dotcom…

    Now the email subscribers are flowing nicely, I just need to think of an information product to sell now…

    Thanks

    David Edwards

  41. Will says:

    I know I’m still far from that but I would like to remain positive on what lies ahead. I just believe that nothing is impossible and it can be achieved if one put in enough time, resource and dedication.

  42. This is definitely something to think about and something that I think most bloggers don’t consider when growing our blogs. I will keep these points in mind as I continue to grow.

  43. cheska says:

    I like what you said on public criticism. I guess in everything we do, we can’t expect people to just say nice things about what we did or in this case about what we write about. For sure, someone will really say something bad about it then someone will follow that someone and will also say something negative. I believe that there are only 2 things to handle this situation. one is accept it then like what you said change it if you think you should then second, ignore it. there are also 2 things they can do about it. One is they’ll stop saying negative things or two, they’ll continue to do so until they pull you down. It’s really a cycle. You just need to know which road to take.

  44. Carolee says:

    I’ve often wondered how someone with thousands of subscribers deals with all of the “follow-up” that needs to be addressed.

    I never suspected that someday, instead of TRYING to be found, I’ll have to create ways to NOT be found.

    Interesting!

  45. Anne Galivan says:

    An A-List blogger? I won’t hold my breath on that one!

    I love that quote by Sean Stephenson. Good to remember.

    When I read posts like this, reminding me how tough it is getting a blog started, how hard it is the first few months to get readers, etc. – it encourages me to keep at it.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  46. iskandar says:

    Hi Glen,

    Thanks for putting up this article. I’m just blogging for about two month now and yes it is a hardwork just to get close to 60 followers .. and I have not talking about subscriber yet… Thanks for the experience sharing, it give people like me some heads up on what to expect and realized that how much one person can do …

  47. I never really thought about this at all. I’m just now starting to pick up a decent sized audience and I’m getting more clever with SEO and such. There does seem to be a lot involved with having a larger audience but as mentioned above I guess this is a good issue to have. You can please some of the people some of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time. Thanks for sharing.

  48. David Doolin says:

    I have a hard enough time responding to the email I’m getting now, and I’m far, far from being even a “D-lister.”

    So I have enormous respect for the top folks, and even more respect for people managing any sort of celebrity. An audience can be a ravening beast: it demands to be fed!

  49. Henry Okwach says:

    Keep it up !!! always never give up in life.

  50. The start is sometimes easy as you are very enthusiastic and have lots of ideas. As time wears on they do become harder to get “on paper” and converse. Forming habits early seems to be the only way.

    Matt