Why You Don’t Need to Become a Popular Blogger

popular “Let’s get real here. There is no tangible benefit of blogging unless you are very popular. You can only become famous if you are connected to other famous bloggers. Instead of teaching others how to blog, why not tell them to stop wasting their time and do real marketing activities like advertising and mailouts to grow their businesses?”

This is an actual reader question I received via email – from a reader who has no name.

Deep breath.

How do I begin to answer this question ..

First of all let me say that being a popular blogger is totally different to blogging for business. I would go as far as to say they are two different business models.

Also being a popular blogger is something you cannot necessarily control whereas you can totally be top of your business blogging game. Let me explain.

Why people blog

People often start a blog because of these common reasons ..

  • They are passionate about a topic and want to share their thoughts
  • They are unhappy in their lives or a work situation and looking for a creative outlet
  • They want to try being a writer, publisher and so on …

Yours might be a variation of it but these are the basic ones .. I call these people ‘hobby bloggers’.

So you start blogging. You start coming across these fabulous bloggers with huge audiences. Their posts receive tons of comments, they have huge number of social shares and they are highly credible.

You have discovered the elite – the creme de la creme.

And you decide that either you need to be just like them or your blog is a failure. If you think like that, that’s totally fine but today I am not going to talk about that.

Blogging for business

What I will talk about is another big reason to start or continue to blog – blogging for business.

And this is the fourth reason people are blogging – which hobby bloggers often don’t realize. These people confuse blogging for pleasure (which often turns into a popularity contest) with using your blog as a marketing tool.

You can create content to build your email list of prospects and differentiate yourself from rest of the crowd. You can and should use your blog to market your business.

There is nothing wrong with that.

When you blog for business, your main aim is not to become famous and attract a lot of media attention. You don’t start a blog because you want to have tons of followers .. unless they are the right kind of followers who would either buy from you or share your content.

Let me tell you a secret … these super popular people didn’t start with the sole purpose of becoming popular. They are not overnight success stories.

They worked long and hard for a number of years before they acheived stardom and greatness.

And often, these are ‘outliers’. Super talented. Charismatic. They have the X – factor. Gifted in their craft – writing, art, design, whatever that may be. Maybe their story is extraordinary, their choice of topic perfect or maybe they just got there first.

Derek Halpern and Marie Forleo have dynamic, on-camera personalities.
Sonia Simone and Brian Clark are crazy smart and gifted writers.
Chris Guillebeau went around the whole world .. hello!
Danielle Laporte has a voice that is simply mesmerizing
And many who are big because their timing was right ..

Maybe you are one of these people too – so if you continue to learn and take action, you will eventually get there. Or, you might not.

But you don’t start a blog to become famous and that is NOT in your control anyway.

What I am talking about is blogging for business. Using your blog as a tool for marketing and getting new business.

Let’s say you are a life coach. No, scratch that. Let me tell you my own story …

My Story

My path has not been straight.

I did my Bachelors in Law but decided against practising it. I then completed my MBA in Marketing and started teaching in a University. I also helped with their marketing and student counselling. I had so many hats that I still don’t what to call myself.

Fast forward a few years, I started to stay at home with my two young children. It was a conscious choice that I made for personal reasons.

In that time, I stumbled in the world of blogging, purely by accident. (My best friend suggested to start one.) I thought the whole thing was crazy because I didn’t even read any blogs at that time.

But I had been bitten by the blog love. I started my own and became totally obsessed with it. At first, I was blogging at Marya Writes – my personal blog. Within first two months, I was starting to get really frustrated. However my first success came from being published on WordPress.com Freshly Pressed. That was a HUGE deal for me – or seemed like it at that time. That kept me going.

Then I discovered A-list Blogging Bootcamps and learned from Mary Jakcsh and her gang. The learning fanatic that I had always been, I quickly moved on. It is fair to say I didn’t know what to do. Just the idea of working from home, having flexible hours was so appealing to my temperament and home situation that I wanted to make it work.

I explored copywriting for a while. I bought courses from Nick Usborne and AWAI’s How to Land Your First Client. Then I started thinking about offering freelance blogging services. I joined Carol Tice’s Freelance Writers Den and also bought Ed Gandia’s Warm Email Prospecting program. (If you want to freelance, I can’t recommend them highly enough – they are both excellent.)

So up till this point, I didn’t know what I was doing. But from this point onwards, things started to make sense ..

Why should you listen

Yes, I am telling you, you should blog for business. Especially if you are a new business or don’t have a big marketing budget. And I am in a postion to say this because … let’s continue with my story.

Armed with all the knowledge from my formal MBA, and from going through all the formal blogging and freelance training, I started pitching companies. I positioned my self as an e-learning and online training expert, based on my past experience and found my first client who paid me $100+ for a single blog post. On an ongoing basis. There have many been after them to this day.

I was only able to get these high paying clients because I was able to guest post on high profile blogs such as Problogger, Boost Blog Traffic, Men with Pens, Make a Living Writing, Freelance Switch, Firepole Marketing and many more.  I spent months and months and building my credibility, honing my voice and distinguishing myself from other blogging bloggers

From there, there was no looking back. I also bought Jon Morrow’s Guest Blogging program to consolidate everything and to see if there were any gaps in my blogger education.

I started offering my Blog Review and Coaching services. For example, because of a guest post that was recently published on Problogger – How to Get Your First 1,000 Email Subscribers When Nobody Knows You, I was able to land 6 new clients. All from a guest post, not to bad, eh?

I  positioned my self as a Blogging Coach for Solopreneurs. I then tansitioned into training – which brings me back full circle. I am now teaching short courses (Blogging for Business) at local TAFE institutes. For those who are outside of Australia, these are providers of Training and Further Education.

Through TAFE, I was approached to conduct a one day workshop teaching Uni students how to “Write for Impact’. This is at a leading local university and I am stoked.

But what there’s more, recently I was interviewed for a local TV Channel as an Content Expert for e-learning industry. And guess what, the producer of the show found me because she stumbled across my freelance work that I am doing for the local client. No Joke. I am not making this up. I will upload the clip as it as it goes live.

I have never made my numbers public. Some people share their month by month figures and more power to them, but for me it is a private thing.

However, I am happy to report a thriving Blog Coaching and Training practice and aiming to hit 6 figures in annual income soon. Fingers crossed.

All of this I have been able to accomplish through blogging. My business actually comes from the blog itself, and yours can too.

So yes, I am not famous. Most people haven’t heard of me, but enough has. My list is not huge but it is targetted and growing everyday.

And this is what I teach my clients.

I have done it. I AM doing it. So can you.

Popularity is not the goal

Here is some clarity ..

  • Being a popular blogger is not a business goal. Blogging to differentiate yourself from your competitors, gain authority, build credibility, and build your list is.
  • Being a popular blogger is not in your control. Blogging for business sure is. When you are doing the right things: taking action, learning from your failures and plodding on .. there is no reason in this world why you can’t have 500 or 1,000 or more people on your list who love you and end up becoming paying customers.
  • You don’t need a huge list. you don’t need 20,000 people to have a successful business. If you are artist, how many paintings can you actually sell? Coach, how many clients can you book without getting burnt out? If you attract the right people, you don’t need tens of thousands on your list.
  • Only guest posting is not the answer to growing your business. It needs to be a holistic. Look at the business in totality. Position yourself well. Offer a specific incentive. Optimize your byline. Promote your stuff. Write about the right topics .. and so on. If any part of the process is not working, you will not see the results ..

I am not a popular blogger, and I am doing great. Why do you have to become one?

Have you taken my 3-minute Client Attraction Quiz? Check it out now, it’s awesome! :)

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41 Responses to Why You Don’t Need to Become a Popular Blogger
  1. Thank you Marya. That makes a lot of sense. I am just starting out and not sure just where I am headed at this moment, so it is reassuring that I don’t have to aspire to the heights of some of the people you mentioned. It seems that you developed your plan as you went along. Mine is far from set in stone, so I am reassured by your story.

    • That’s it. Many new bloggers give up because they expect too much of themselves. I am just trying to make it clear, to whoever might be listening, that you don’t have to reach the same level of popularity to be successful. And what is success, anyway? Blog to achieve your goals and don’t worry about anything else. Easier said than done, I know. But good to be reminded now and then, right?

      Cheers,
      Marya

  2. Very informative and down to earth article….
    Shail Raghuvanshi recently posted..Vanity Bagh: A Mohalla Review

    • Thanks, Shail. Why do you blog? Share a bit with us?

  3. Great post Marya, very interesting. I agree with you that going crazy to be popular should not be the main goal of a blogger especially because it takes a lot of time and money. Clearly traffic is needed for money but if it is targeted traffic is better.

    From what I see in the blogosphere, and I know a bit about it, real money is a consequence of blogging but don’t usually comes from blogging directly.

    Those boasting fabulous earnings with AdSense have disappeared, affiliate sales are hard to make and selling an owned product suffers the same difficulties even if it’s greatly influenced by popularity.

    But imho it seems that the money comes when a blog is linked to a real business, the core of earnings at least. Examples are Marcus Sheridan and Gini Dietrich.

    The fact that a blogger makes money just from blogging these times is at least opinionable. Or very hard to achieve. Probably well less than 1000 bloggers in the world can do it.

    Without a product or a service to sell there is little money to make. Better if it is something touchable, so to say; imho obviously.

    Not that becoming finally popular wouldn’t be cool anyway. :D
    Andrea T.H.W. recently posted..Napoleon Hill’s Key Success Factor to Mastery

    • I loved reading your comment, Andrea. I agree, you can’t make money from blogging. What is blogging, anyway? Publishing your thoughts. news and how to content? So if you are doing just that, you can’t make any money. Literally. You might display advertising (if your traffic is huge), sell your products or services or do affiliate marketing. People make it way more complicated, whereas it is not. Blogging is a marketing tool, nothing else. A platform. Thanks for sharing! :)

  4. When your post hit my inbox today, I said this is just what I have been telling myself. Thanks Marya! I have almost stopped blogging but your post convinced me to continue. After all, I have put a lot of hard work on my blogs in the past year, especially on the posts. Well, we bloggers just have to set our priorities straight right?! :)
    Jovell recently posted..Practical Boost For The Freelancer Mommy: First Round Up

    • Jovell, I am humbled by your comment. :) As cliched as this might sound, but keep going. If you need to bounce off ideas, send me an inbox. I’d love to help. Have a great day!

  5. Excellent post Marya,

    You told no-name! ‘n we all get to benefit from your story. Very inspiring as I am starting out and and often wonder am I really moving in the right direction.

    Thank you!

    • Thanks, Caroline. How are you going with your blog? Would love to hear about your progress …

  6. Many thanks Marya for sharing!

    Your story is inspiring especially as we both have similar reasons for starting to blog.

    Right now, I’ve been blogging for over a year and getting better in my niche which is business communications.

    Now I am not selling anything or interested in monetising my blog yet and I seem to be one of the few with this mindset. Nevertheless, I was very stoked as well, (almost delirious), when I discovered that my article on President Obama’s speech post-Boston bombings

    (http://lucille-ossai.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-boston-bombings-what-we-can-learn.html)

    climbed to first place on the first page on Google for over 3 consecutive weeks. As at yesterday, It was also number 1 on Bing – all under the search description ‘Boston bombings what we can learn’

    Being “popular” is not my priority but being relevant in my niche is. I may not get a lot of followers but I”m happy with my high-quality content.

    I may consider offering my ‘expertise’ on communications as a freelancer….occasionally but there’s always time for that.

    Great post by the way.

    P.S – I’ve been following you on Twitter for a while now and have subscribed to your news letter. In fact, I am working on a post which would be published soon and I plan to mention you as one to follow on Twitter. I’d be honoured if you followed me as well.

    • “Being “popular” is not my priority but being relevant in my niche is.” You said it, girl!

      And don’t feel rushed to monetize. You’ll know what to do when the time is right. Thanks for the upcoming mention, send me the link and I’ll share it for you.

      Marya

  7. You are so spot on Marya and living proof of the truth you speak. Blogging can (and is) being used to successfully build businesses – I can also attest to that success. Fame is not my goal – interesting, juicy branding-story-work that stretches me is – and blogging helps me attract that work…
    Oh, and make new friends, hone my skills and act as my real-live laboratory for my experiments *wicked, evil laugh* on myself!
    Di Mace | Word Swords recently posted..The Pasta Lover’s Guide to Blogging

    • LOL. I enjoyed reading all that … :)

  8. Thank you for sharing your honesty with us. I think your story is very inspiring especially for stay-at-home mums who are already juggling a lot in their daily lives. I am new at this myself but when I read your story, I actually believed I too could do this. Thanks for that. More power to you. Keep learning. Keep growing.

    • Hey Ayesha

      Thanks so much for your kind words. Did you know I am originally from Pakistan? Been in Melbourne for over a decade now. Funny thing, that stay at home thing though .. as I am taking on more training and speaking gigs, it seems to be the case of back to the real world. But I still have the flexibility .. what do you do?

      • I did not but on some level I connect with your blog. It has a real feel to it. Not one of those crazy back link system that makes me cringe. If you know what I mean. Of course, no offense to those who blog that way. :)

        I am a mum of two girls, a communication consultant by day who helps small businesses develop their communication portfolios. I also offer skill trainings and the likes. Generally I am a writer who has been around the corporate environment in Pakistan and have been working with corporate communication functions. I blog at Wordsmith Consulting. But it’s really nothing like what you write. More on marketing, social media, evolving trends in PR and so on and so forth.
        :)

        Hope you will keep sharing your insights here. I am a subscriber so I see you in my inbox now and then.

  9. I love your blog. Thank you for being so helpful. How have you found ways to manage the success you have? In the past as I’ve grown through various web mediums, I’ve found myself burning out between actually writing my blogs & maintaining content, and answering emails, comments, questions, concerns, etc. It was important to me to be personal in my replies so I tried to put my heart into each reply and whoa … I got to the point where I couldn’t even write for a while. Now I’ve re-launched and am working on some yummy projects with a goal of supporting myself from home through doing what I love. How can I avoid burning out?

    Thanks so much! <3

    • Rain, believe it or not, I actually don’t create a lot of content. I try to publish at least once a week but in reality, it is more like a fortnight (every two weeks). I guest post on very selective blogs. I spend little time on social media. I do respond to all comments and reader questions via emails as I genuinely love doing that. I am very picky about the projects I work on .. seems to be working so far. I actually need to work more on developing relationships with other bloggers. I am an introvert so not very chatty naturally. This could be THE reason why I am not popular … sigh! What are you working on?

  10. Marya, can I just say I’m a huge fan of this post? I don’t believe in setting goals that are dependent on outside factors such as “become a best-selling author”. I can’t control what’s going to be hot tomorrow. All I can do is write the best words I can and market the best way I can. :)

    • I absolutely love what you said, Savannah. Why is it so hard not to think about all that, though? Seems like we all struggle with it ..

  11. Marya you always reset my mind in such a wonderful way. It is so easy to get off track in the sea of information. Thank you!

    • Thanks, Suzi. Lovely to hear from you. :)

  12. In response to the reader with no name, it will be a waste of time to do marketing and advertising if you have not built enough crediblity in your niche. I personally just hit delete whenever I see those marketing emails from ppl I have never heard of. In Marya’s case, I stumbled across her guest post in another site which led me here to writinghappiness. eventhough i’ve never heard of her before, her writing really resonates to me, i believe her. i have not bought anything from her, but everytime i get her content in my inbox, my interest is piqued and I would definitely consider buying from her in the future, whatever that maybe, simply because of her credibility

    • You said it, Carol! You are nothing on the Internet, if you don’t have credibility. How is your guest posting going?

  13. Thank you, Marya, for this insight. I’m just starting out myself (less than a month) and I’ve already had moments of “What in the world do I think I’m doing here, anyway?” But I know why I started and I keep coming back to that too remind myself why I’m doing this, why it matters. Thank you for sharing this.

  14. Thank you Maria. I’ve started my blog last year and so far I don’t have any follower at all. I’ve got a few who posted a comment, but being a beginner I really don’t understand the whole thing. I borrowed a few books from our library and bought a few book also. So I’m just hanging around for a while and maybe close it if it’s not working.

    Like you, my daughter was the one who encourage me to try it and read blogs because I’m a stay at home mum. But I’m beginning to worry that this is not for me, co’z I’m not a marketing guru and really got no knowlege about blogging. Thoug I joined Squidoo.com and some people are appreciating my lens(blog).

    Thank you so much.

  15. I am happy to receive, read and share your information with others. I am a singer and songwriter. Your blogs very much help me staying connected to my friends and fans. You are truly inspiring and give hope to people who are striving to make a way with their gifts to give back to those who want to receive it. What an amazing thing! I will study and put your tips into use and learn from it success’s and the failures.

    Wishing you continued success! Thank Maya!

    Sincerely,
    Alessandra

  16. [...] by Marya Jan, author of the blog, Writing Happiness, which I follow.   The post was entitled, “Why You Don’t Need to Become a Popular Blogger.”   She pointed out quite well that blogging, as a hobby, is very much different than blogging for [...]

  17. Excellent Post, Marya Jan.

    ~~I started blogging as a way to mourn, scream, and lament in a safe place without judgment. It wasn’t about readers or popularity. I was writing for me. That’s all. I have never looked at my stats. This is something that never interested me. It was more about writing down what was inside my head.

    ~~But I must say, I loooove getting comments from people, women especially, exclaiming, “I get you. I’ve been there. I understand what you’re saying here.”

    ~~This is a huge fabulous rush!
    My Inner Chick recently posted..9 Ways To Kick Blog Ass

  18. Consistency is really very important when it comes to blogging. I have also tested it personally and it seems I have to write article every 5 to 6 days or else I see sudden drop in my traffic.
    Marc recently posted..Mariemont Trails

  19. [...] have written about the difference between being a popular blogger and a successful one (this post). I don’t plan to write about this over and over again for the fear that people might start [...]

  20. Very interesting post. You bring up some very good points about not striving to be popular, but to differentiate yourself. How true! Now if I can just remember that!
    Steve recently posted..Starting Your Own Blog

  21. Hi Marya,
    I LOVE this article! I think I’ve read most of your posts but this one is my favorite so far. I’ve looked at most of the other blogs in the same arena but I keep on coming back to yours. Thanks so much for all your efforts – they make a big difference!
    Kindly,
    Sam

  22. [...] my pre-launch content, I had been publishing related blog posts such as   Why You Don’t Need to Become a Popular Blogger prior to announcing the [...]

  23. [...] my pre-launch content, I had been publishing related blog posts such as   Why You Don’t Need to Become a Popular Blogger prior to announcing the [...]

  24. [...] this can work for some, in theory, this is not a business model you should rely on. You don’t have any control on this process, if you can even call it a [...]

  25. [...] be surprised to know how little correlation exists between these two concepts – popularity and business [...]

  26. Great post Marya! It can be very tempting to enter the popularity contest when you see other bloggers generating so much hype. If you’re blogging as a hobby, the comments and interaction with readers is payment enough. If you’re blogging full time, it’s often to generate leads with new clients and make a business out of your blog.

  27. Noor

    Hi Marya,
    I am thinking to make my career by entering into the world of blogging. I am currently working with a luxury retail company but not happy with what i do. I love to write, actually i have even received a first prize in school and collage for essay writing on different topics. I use to teach grammar to my friends during English exams. But still i am confused if i have the potential to become a successful blogger. I am not sure what does it require to be a good blogger>>(qualification). I found your story quite interesting. Same way I did my B.Com graduation (The way you did B.Law) but was never happy with it as i never entered into accounts. I also love reading books (currently reading Dr. Brain Weiss’s Many Lives Many Masters). I have also been on Carol Tice’s website but still many thoughts are dancing in front of me. I am also worried about the knowledge that i have about blogging is correct or not. Need a lot of guidance.

    Waiting for your reply,
    Inspired by you >> Noor