How to Become an A-List Blogger

How to Become an A-List Blogger

Reader Comments (81)

  1. Great post Glen. I really like your point about sticking to your own guidelines. I try to put a strong emphasis on content, but it’s a great reminder to stay true to myself and why I started my blog. It’s easy to look at someone’s blog who you admire and think, “Should I be doing that?” If it doesn’t fit with my blog’s original intentions, then the answer is probably “no.” Of course, there are always lessons learned from other bloggers, otherwise we all wouldn’t be following great blogs like this one.

  2. Glen… As a blogger whose goal is to become an A-List blogger in the next 12 months, this is very insightful. Thank you.

    One thing I’d like to add is follow through… If you tell your audience you are going to do something, you should do it.

    That’s one thing I’ve noticed about all of the A-List bloggers I follow, they follow through with what they say they are going to do.

    Nothing turns me off faster from a blog than when a blogger promises something and you never see it come to fruition.

  3. Hey guys,

    Thanks for the great comments! Also, thanks to Sonia & Brian for the opportunity to post :).

    I’m happy to answer any questions you guys have, so I’ll keep checking back here today.

    – Glen

  4. The influence factor is something I think is *heavily* important, but most don’t really focus in on that because it’s largely difficult to actually measure.

    Subscriber counts, Twitter followers, comments, unique visitors – these are all easy metrics to compare yourself with others and set goals to accomplish. But these numbers really don’t matter without *actual* influence with the people who make up these figures.

    5,000 visitors converting at 1% is the same as 200 visitors converting at 25%. Traffic doesn’t matter. People matter.

  5. Hey Glen!
    Totally great post man! I am with you 100% about focusing on providing great content and giving value to your readers. That is my goal for this year and that is how I hope to grow my blog to thousands of readers 🙂


  6. The moment I imagined Brian actually owning my blog, well, gave me the goosebumps! lol. I realized that I should be heightening my standards still. Plus to try and create more valuable content day in and day out.

  7. Hey Liane,

    It’s nice to dream, eh? ;). The thing I love about sites like Copyblogger is how much they push me to ‘up my own game’ when it comes to providing value.

    @Diggy – Thanks a lot, I appreciate it. I have no doubt you’ll break the 1,000 mark soon.

  8. Hey Glen,

    Becoming an A-lister isn’t easy, but it isn’t complicated either.

    Like you state, focus on the content. Easier said than done, of course. But the practical tip you gave of disconnecting yourself from the limitless info the internet offers is key.

    Only read enough info to improve what you do. The just-in-time info, not the just-in-case. Then get to work on creating as remarkable and valuable content as possible. The more time you spend reading more info, the less YOU your content becomes subconsciously.

    It’s like if The Prodigy listened to as many electronic dance artists as possible throughout the ’90s, they wouldn’t be as remarkable and instead would sound more like everyone else. We wouldn’t get “Voodoo People,” “Firestarter,” “Smack My Bitch Up,” “One Love,” and other classic techno gems.

    The reason Copyblogger rocks so hard is because Brian (and now Sonia too) created such remarkable content. It’s not that writing about copywriting is a new idea, but his particular voice and content-packed writing stood out from the rest.

    We can play around with design and SEO plugins ’till we’re blue in the face. But all we’ll have is a finely-coded website that no one reads.

    Content is king. And as Brian and Sonia would say, content marketing is king too 😉

    Hope Amsterdam is going awesome,

  9. Wow Glenn, you really made it. Keep up the serious work. You are a real 1%-er. There are not many 20-year-olds out there that can say they are self-employed.

    I think the rest of us all need to remeber that customer traffic comes with time and a lot of it comes with doing the work necessary over and over until you get the desired result.

  10. Hi Glen,

    Awesome to see you here.

    You know exactly what it takes and you practice what you preach. You’re someone I ran into, I don’t know, my first or second week online? During the entirety of that time, you’ve always been gracious, helpful and perfectly confident.

    Everything you’ve said fits you to a T. You’ve come far and will go a lot farther.

  11. I’m more likely to create an engine that makes money than to become a “lister”. I don’t know that it makes sense to focus on the audience building as early as people do.

    How do you translate “A-List” status into money in a real way? Or rather, how do you translate 100 true fans into money right away? How do you serve them in a way that they pay you?

    Just thoughts.

  12. Hello Glenn! Thank you for the post. I love that you differ the A-blog and the A-Blogger! I have been thinking your thoughts about sticking to the content and not the statistics. When that is said I use my blog to blog about what I do, see, think and specially what I take photos of. The various themes and experience that I have makes it difficult to stick to one theme and be content oriented as you suggest. — my “content” change alot! though it still anchors in “me”. … looking forward to what might come next! // I find you through twitter.
    All the best
    /Søren (from Denmark)

  13. Glen, great post with concise advice for me as a new blogger. I’d like to hear you say more on looking for “who” not “what” as it relates to blogging.

    My new medical/dermatology/healthy lifestyle blog has received only 2 comments but I write every post with the hope that people are getting something useful from my years of medical experience. I look forward to growing readership and appreciate your mentoring. I’ve just added myself to your RSS subscribers. Thanks.

  14. Hawie was talking about millions and millions are still coming to consume online services and thus, there is lot space even if you are pretty new to everything. There are still huge number of people who don’t know what is twitter, facebook and so on. They are coming tomorrow, thus prepare.

    When new bloggers are being added everyday, new subscribers are more probable than ever before. You are very right to say
    “Those thousands of subscribers are waiting for you. You’ve just got to be ready for them.”

  15. Excellent post! I’d also like to add that you can watch (but not copy) the A-List Bloggers. What are they writing about and what have they left out (and there’s always SOMETHING they’ve left out). What could you expand on that they’ve already done? Just be sure to give proper notice and a link to the original article. It’s a great way to get your own posts noticed without badgering an A-Lister by email all the time. 🙂

  16. Doesn’t a blogger represent himself through his work? I feel that you can understand a lot about a person’s professional being through the work they do. I’m not sure they can really be separated. But it is a good question to ask.

  17. Content is king is indeed the main idea to keep in mind. Also, be faithful to yourself. I think it requires a certain degree of confidence to dare do what you want to do without being distracted by what other do. People subscribe to your blog for your writing, not the writing of the blogs you subscribe to. Good read!

  18. @GenuineChris, I think that’s a good point. I encourage people to get the conversion & the business model right as early as possible, then build traffic. Although of course, those things also evolve as your traffic grows.

  19. Glen:

    You are a true inspiration: only 20 years young, a world traveler and making a five figure salary per month. Well, good for you and we look up to you for sage counsel. Thanks. And keep up all this great work you are doing.

    I would like to recommend reading (if memory serves) a much-debated article, very influential, published some years ago in the Harvard Business Review about “Core Competencies” written by Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad. It is one of the most cited articles, referenced, in the world. I was reminded of this article because of what you wrote in your post. It is a really interesting article.

    The article is about playing to your strengths and leveraging to maximize productivity and profits in a company, but it can as well be applied to the individual.
    I think this article ties in very well with what Glen writes about…and, to some extent, helps explain the success stories of A-list bloggers. Hope this helps: happy reading.

  20. Awesome tips!

    I recently re-entered the blog world with a completely different ‘blog topic’ than before. Your site was just sent to me and I’m very thankful. Amazing suggestions. I think I’ll browse around for a while.

    Thank you!


  21. A Tweet from another “A” List Blogger sent me to this post.
    Perhaps that is another mark of an A lister – leading readers to good content, even when it is not theirs.
    I think you are right. A successful blogger could move to any blog and be successful there. I think you missed your own point when you say Copyblogger content could go to any relevant website and work. Without the person and philosophy-methodology behind it, the content alone would fail. There are lots of copycat blogs that may even post some great content for a bit and eventually fail for reasons besides content.
    It takes the whole package defined by the blogger.

  22. How about Copyblogger runs a competition for the ‘Best Blog you have never read’ 😉 Maybe that will give some of us a leg up…

  23. Oh boy, I’m going to back off this bandwagon and state the minority view with a simple question: Why in heck would someone want to be an A-List Blogger?!?

    If we agree that the number of people who follow you on Twitter is meaningless; if we agree that quality is always more important than quantity; and if we agree that regardless how you pronounce ‘potato,’ it remains a complex carbohydrate, then why would we agree that we want to be A-List bloggers?

    I grasp what you’re getting at in terms of context and construct, but MORE isn’t necessarily the answer.

  24. Glen, thumbs up for this, “You lose your winning difference the moment you do something because someone else is doing it.”

    Fellow posters, what’s the unique selling proposition for your posts here? If your name was removed from your post, would we still know it’s you? Do you have your own voice?

    Bart, thanks for, “I think it requires a certain degree of confidence to dare do what you want to do without being distracted by what others do.” That really resonated here.

    I saw the author Salman Rushdie interviewed on Charlie Rose, and he made this point very well. He said that when we’re younger writers we tend to write in comparison, or competition, with other writers. As we mature, we write what we write, because that’s just what we do.

    At some point it stops being courage and confidence, and becomes more a matter of surrendering to who and what we are, playing the hand we’ve been dealt without complaint, because to do anything else is to lie.

  25. Look for who and what, is more focused for what we blog and what they want. Sometimes a blogger will not forget its main purpose and a higher priority keywords soared to ads from the content they provide written.

  26. My Blogger page is my biggest weakness. I recently started fresh, because I couldn’t stand what I’d written earlier. It was like I was always in a rush to just get something on my blog and move on to other things. You’re known by the company you keep, and I was not getting any followers. I’m ashamed of myself for blogging garbage. No wonder I couldn’t find anyone who cared what I thought.

    Confession is good for the soul. Ahhh..I feel better. Now, I’ve just got to write better.

  27. I really think that Phil nailed it, being the elderly gentlemen that I am. Ego slowly gives way to WYSIWYG. Gosh that’s a relief not to have to pretend to be sage and wise anymore. Now, I can just write from the heart, because it’s for me…not for showing off.

  28. Steve and Phil, not one so-called “A-list” blogger fails to satisfy the needs of their audience. Not one.

    So, write for yourself all you want. Just hope and pray that it matches up with what enough other people actually want (this is usually the case for any content that attracts a significant audience). Or, be a bit more deliberate about it to see your odds increase.

  29. This is great post that really got me thinking. I am about to start my own blog soon and was having a good think yesterday about how best to write it and what to write about. So it seemed your post came just at the right time for me. I also clicked on the link and had a look at your own site and I loved the article on how to market and e-book. You have really helped me a lot. Thanks.

  30. Steve, you said, “Gosh that’s a relief not to have to pretend to be sage and wise anymore.” That’s great, congrats! I wish you ever more relief, ever more freedom.

    For me the relief came when I realized that pretending to be sage and wise is who I am, 🙂 and what I’m stuck doing, for better and for worse, til death do us part etc. No kidding. It’s liberating as a person and writer, to face the facts, and embrace them.

    I’m glad you mentioned you are older (I’m 57) because I think this self knowing and acceptance is one of the gifts life gives to us in time, in trade for our vanishing youth. It’s a fair deal.

    Brian, you make a good business point, really, I hear you. It’s an issue, a potential big problem, agreed. Here’s one theory. Not exactly a pretty picture.

    The more deeply we dive in to our topic, the more seriously we take it, the more bravely we explore it, the more enthusiastically we embrace the act of writing, the more of our audience we will likely leave behind.

    Yes, as writers, we should cultivate a passion for our topic and quality content. But, be careful what we ask for, because we might actually get it.

  31. Phil, I’m starting to see the disconnect. You think we’re talking about writing, and this blog is about marketing and sales. It’s business. I guess that’s why you have an issue with just about every post, because you’re more focused on the writing than the business.

    Make no mistake… I am a huge proponent of putting plenty of art in your marketing. Done well, marketing *is* art.

    You don’t have to lose your audience as you go deeper. You build a business around it that runs without you and then go do something deeper with another project. Do you think I ever want to write another “Top 10 Ways…” post? 😉 Doesn’t mean it doesn’t still work.

    Essentially this is a very pragmatic blog about content and copywriting strategies that have actually worked for the people who write here. And that’s what our audience has signed up for.

  32. A-list is a word of acknowledgment for bloggers who know their purposes and firing their way up to the top. Why top? Because that’s what getting people to talk about the most and be known of. My favorite A-list bloggers aren’t the ones that own the most popularity and fame but have the potential to influence not only with their content but along with blogging personalities as well. I love the part when Glen pointed out ‘Recognize your own influence’ for I believe that’s the toughest challenge and something to work towards to.

    Social/Blogging Tracker

  33. Brian, thanks for your analysis, and the ongoing dialog.

    I do see your point. I’ve sold enough stuff that I can think about art for a bit, and thus may wander away from the interests of many readers here. True enough.

    But I am sincerely interested in the business too. Here’s what I mean.

    There is not a single selling strategy, however insanely clever etc, that has any chance of working, unless…

    …Our copy gets read.

    What I see is that hordes of us memorize copywriting formulas, which readers learn to recognize and ignore. As they should, because formula writing is boring, and worse.

    And um, well, no, I don’t take formulas from experts as gospel from the mountain, because I see a 2 percent conversion rate as a 98 percent failure rate. So much money being left on the table. So many readers and buyers alienated from us. Lots of work left to do.

    My guess is that even prominent psychology experts at leading universities get divorced at about the same rate as the rest of us. When it comes to the human mind, the fascinating heart of copywriting, none of us are experts. Including me of course.

    Yes, your readers came here for the formulas. And I came here to urge them to reach for more, and to try to myself. And you are the traffic cop. 🙂

    I won’t write to order unless there’s a check involved, 🙂 but other than that, I’m entirely agreeable to your decision as to whether I should speak or scoot. It’s your blog, and the Net is infinitely vast, no worries. Ok? Cool?

  34. Brian said above that not one so-called “A-list” blogger fails to satisfy the needs of their audience. True, but isn’t that true for any blogger, A-list to Z-list?

    Because if you’re not satisfying someone’s needs, they’ll leave, right? And the people who remain – your audience – are apparently getting something they need from you.

    Of course, not all audiences are the same. The people who need to know how to make a killing in Forex trading are different from the people who need to know what stuff white people like.

    In other words, the key question seems to be “Whose needs am I meeting?”

  35. Phil, I don’t want you to leave, I was just having a hard time getting what you were after. 😉

    And outside the headline templates from years ago (that were really a way to teach people to think about why certain headlines work), we don’t push a bunch of formula.

    Frameworks and mind sets, yes. It helps to have some effective structure to work with, but it’s really the next great and unique idea, effectively executed, that magically connects with the crowd.

  36. I agree with your theory, but have a little different viewpoint. Your content must be remarkable, true. Networking with and choosing people who are remarkable to write about also works. I have found that searching for the best people out there to interview and getting information from them which is really useful and targeted to my audience has been my best tool in getting a fast start out of the gate and keep growing. Could you post your thoughts about the source of your inspiration and the quality of it?

  37. Yeah! you are right it is really difficult to correctly analyze the A-List Blogger; but for my part a blog which is spam free and getting gradual and real public traffic.

  38. Brian, I must report you’ve done an excellent job of engaging me with your blog. Way to go, and thanks. Sincerely. Though I might have to sue you for all the work I’m not getting done. 🙂

    What I’m after is the experience of exploring copywriting without intellectual boundaries.

    Yes, we all want to use words to generate sales. I accept that definition of copywriting, and will try harder to connect my posts to that mission.

    But, as example, I don’t take it as a given that persuasion tactics will always be the best way to do that. Maybe they are, maybe not. I want to explore beyond that conceptual boundary, which necessarily involves examining the other side of the coin in regards to some of these articles.

    You said, “but it’s really the next great and unique idea, effectively executed, that magically connects with the crowd.”

    Yes, agreed, well said.

    And we can practice that here. If we arrive at an article and discover 50 other people have already said some version of ABC, then we can try to say some version of XYZ.

    Maybe XYZ will turn out to be completely wrong, and we’ll be corrected by more experienced writers like yourself.

    Ok, that’s educational for us, and perhaps for some other readers. And maybe we’ll learn that nothing bad happens when we’re wrong, and thus will build our courage to discover and share the next great and unique idea.

    Speaking of great ideas, how about an article that explains the great ideas you used to get almost 800,000 links to this blog?? Holy cow…

  39. There you go again, great content right here for us all to enjoy, sharpen our minds and unleash the genius in us.

    Becoming an A-List blogger is the dream of most of us including me and that’s why i like reading your blog posts every time you unleash one.

    I liked the idea of using your influence to help your audience even if you have not yet gotten the first comment.

    It easily rolls into the centuries old advice to never ever ever ever……..ever quit.

    My grand mother told me like a thousand times and so did my mum and I believe I will tell my kids the same thing too because I have found it works.

    After all, it’s our challenges that shape us for the rewards of the future, right?

    Kevin Njoroge

  40. To be honest I always thought of blogging of just kind of a side bar thing,just to get backlinks for my websites.You have made rethink my view on this because I starting to see a much greater value to blogging.I have decided to subscribe to the free updates you provide on here so I gain a lot more knowledge on blogging.

  41. Glen Allsopp again did a great killer post. Glen knows what really works when it comes to build authority and drive traffic. So that he can do big achivements in short time. I am a regular reader of viperchill dot com. He has been doing great things there. He writes guest posts, killer posts in viperchill, top posts, list posts and case studies.

    This is what the requirement to be A list blogger. When a blogger what really pulls traffic and build brand, then he automatically eligible to be called as A list blogger.

  42. I certainly agree with your advice. However, I need to do more. My visitor base is not growing very fast. Any more suggestions?

  43. I agree. Focus on who is behind the writing on your blog and make content priority. Keep in mind other things that go along with blogging but ultimately focus on who and content.

    What do you think?

  44. Fantastic tips here, and I could not agree more with the ‘following your own guidelines’. There are too many blogging copy-cats out there hoping to reach success by acting like their successful counterparts. New blogs need to strive for originality though, and theres no better way to reach that than to be yourself and follow your own rules for blogging!

  45. Hi Glen,

    Great post. One important way to achieve what you propose is to have a set of guidelines and standards for your posts.

    I’m curious… Do you guys have that at Copyblogger? Would you care to share them with the rest of us?

    Rock on!


  46. Awesome post.

    Time Ferris seems to suggest in many of his posts and videos that content should be the number one focus for making a successful blog. Second to that (for SEO purposes) encouraging comments on the blog is crucial.

    I haven’t been familiar with any of Glen’s work, but his blog looks really nice, and I’ll be making sure to stop by now and then. Awesome post.

  47. Originality is key but I find that being unafraid to say the things your audience is thinking is key as well. Sometimes audiences want the feel that you’re willing to stick your neck out to say the things that would get some cubicle warriors in trouble with the boss.

    Most A-listers don’t plan on becoming A-listers. And while success is hardly an accident I’m sure the A-listers of today started with authenticity, following their hearts and building a readership through inspiring others…

  48. @Martin, it’s all really in our heads. “Write something really good about what we write about” is about the only guideline we go by. 🙂 We try not to get too far afield from our core topics — entrepreneurship, copywriting, blogging, persuasion, the business side of social media.

  49. “You lose your winning difference the moment you do something because someone else is doing it.” – this deserves quoting and tweeting.

    Excellent article.

  50. Great advice, especially for bloggers who may be just starting out. I started a blog several months ago, and have been fortunate enough to get decent traffic from the beginning. Of course not nearly as much as I would like, but much more than I expected.

    I did a lot of research, before even starting the blog, and discovered from others the fundamental importance of having good content. So from the beginning I tried to focus on that.

    “Content is your main way to shine in an increasingly competitive field. Make sure that it’s getting your full attention.”

    Yes! One thing I have heard, done and recommend is to avoid putting ads on your site when you are first starting out. It is extremely important for you to focus the bulk of your attention on content. But it is also important for your readers, especially early on, to be able to focus on it as well, without being distracted by banner ads, and a cluttered overall design.

    Sticking to your guidelines is also very important. It’s hard to resist the temptation to try and emulate blogs that are established in your niche, and been around for some time (years). Remember, what they are now is probably quite different from where they started out, both in terms of design, as well as content. There is a learning curve that occurs over time that every blogger should experience. Play around, and test new things for yourself to see what works best for you, that will lead you to evolve on your own terms.

    I have to try and remember recognizing my own influence. This is great advice. It can be easy to become discouraged, especially in the early days. Still working on this one.

    Great post.

  51. Great perspective and good ideas. For me, blogging is about establishing relationships. I’d rather have 100 people following me that participate in the discussion than 1,000 who do not.

  52. Glen,

    Just a note to say hi and I appreciate your offer to share with us, if we have questions. I guess mine would be what to do about burnout. Not writers block, but sitting down to write and actually feeling like you want to chuck the whole thing. After 40 or 50 articles in a week, and trying to be as good as I can be at everything I write (I use pen names, but write all my own articles)..I sometimes feel like I just don’t want to write anymore. I will not use spinners or plagiarize, so I almost get resentful of being a slave to the keyboard. Has this ever happened to you?

    Thanks…I hope you see where I’m coming from, as I love to write. Maybe it’s a love/ hate thing.

  53. Great job Glen. One of the nuggets I take away is to be true to yourself. Don’t try to be what you think someone else wants you to be. Sometimes, my adviser hashes on me for being a perfectionist in my copy. He believes it’s a numbers game, and 10 pretty good articles are better than two great ones. He makes 6 figures a year with IM, so I listen to him in most things. On this one, I stick to my game and write for myself as well as others.

  54. Hey Glen! I am a Filipino Catholic priest and a “faith” blogger: doing this since 2005. Now that Pope Benedict encouraged priests to blog, I have been asked how I got things started. I told them to visit your website, since I have been helped a lot it and my gratitude to you.

    I also encourage my students to blog since it improves their writing skills. I also get to understand them more. Thank you very much.

  55. Glen, great post. Instead of focusing and envying the A list blogger we should work towards accomplishing our own success.

  56. I just started out with my blog. Actually I started last year but I kinda gave up on it till I decided to confront my weakness head on (so to speak) There are a lot about blogging that frustrates a blogger, now i realize that you’re actually right, In your other post you mentioned about a crowded topic, it’s frustrating not to get noticed, but at the end of the day, It’s still you who’s writing and it’s still you who should find a way to get noticed. Great post here man.

  57. I am laughing right now. As I was reading this post I said to myself “this sure sounds a lot like Glenn”. Then at the bottom of the article I saw that you were the author! I guess your strategy of consistency in writing style, tone, and voice is working. 🙂 Great article.

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