Writing a list post is hard work. The 2011 edition took 80 hours, and that’s despite asking my friends for help. Researching someone outside of my network takes between 5-10 hours. Writing about someone I’m familiar with takes about two.
Familiarity is just one of the factors I use. This post is designed to give you an insight into how I created a list that became an industry tradition.
The Three Essentials
In the comments of the post, Paul Cunningham narrowed it down to three steps.
- Do amazing work all year long, year in and year out
- Do something that fits the niche
- Network in the circles where your presence becomes known to the people who influence these lists
That’s basically how I roll. Let’s break it down:
Do Amazing Work
I’m not going to rehash this – there are the three posts that talk about, well, their own amazingness.
- How a Blogger Without a Blog Became a Blogger to Watch [CASE STUDY]
- How I ended up on ProBlogger’s List of Bloggers to Watch in Less Than A Year
- How To Get On The 2012 ProBlogger List of Bloggers To Watch
The tips given in these posts are solid. However for most, you need something extra to really stand out. I pay more attention to those whose work benefits the community.
- Lavonne Ellis has created a small business incubator with Customer Love. I included her because she is creating a supportive environment for bloggers who want to get into product development
- Srinivas Rao puts so much effort into his work for BlogcastFM. He gives many bloggers a voice and gives everyone else the opportunity to learn.
- Ashley Ambirge writes content that makes my heart sing. I know that people will read her and feel inspired to give this self-employment thing a shot.
From a marketing perspective, this also benefits me. If you have a passionate and vibrant community then it is likely that they’ll share the post within their own networks. It gets more coverage and the person gets more accolades.
Do Stuff That Fits The Niche
Problogger is a post on blogging. Sometimes, there will be posts on specific forms of monetization like freelancing or product creation. People write about taking care of yourself while blogging, and give tips on how to leverage social media.
I try to include people that will be useful to the audience. People can look at the list and get a bit of inspiration from the various niches and move on. Or, they can find blogs that contain information highly relevant to their situation. They can dig into the content and find what they need to take the next step.
The readers save time finding the best information. I’ll adapt it to include stuff from different niches next year, but there will always be the emphasis towards blogs about social media and lifestyle design.
Network In The Circles
I rely on my inner circle for everything. I’m not superwomen and rely on my friends to filter information. I do the same for them. The best way to see someone’s inner circle is to monitor the conversation on twitter and see who I’m talking to, and about.
My inner circle evolves but currently it is people like Catherine Caine, Srinivas Rao and Jonathan Wondrusch. And yes, they were all on my list. That is because they freaking rock. If I say someone is going to change the industry, they will. You know who else impresses the bejesus out of me?
They are going to be accomplishing the stuff of win. You can wait until another list comes out or you can trust these recommendations and act now.
The point is, I go out of my way to ensure that I don’t favor the people in my immediate network. I’ll ask friends on twitter. I’ll email my close friends. I’ll hunt through my favorite forums. I also go through the people recommended in the comments of the previous year’s list.
Alternately, just contact me. I have a free seeding service for those who have awesome stuff. And you can be darn sure I’m already hunting for talent for future lists.
Be A Rising Star
As PostRank noted, this year I focused more on the upcoming stars and less on the established players.
The readership primarily consists of upcoming bloggers; those in the early stages of their career. As such, they find it hard to relate to those who target the corporate world – and they are rather vocal about their disapproval.
See, it’s not so much about what I want– it’s about what the readers demand. Despite my changes, people are still commenting that I focus too much on social media and blogging blogs despite that being the niche that Problogger serves.
Here’s the kicker though. Becoming a ‘rising star’ is incredibly formulaic.
- Make the right connections
- Accrue a couple of thousand twitter followers
- Write a couple of really popular posts
- Launch a product that makes a couple of grand.
Anyone can become a ‘rising star’ in a short period of time. I’ve been a rising star for 18 months.
What is hard is building a sustainable business. I spent so much time proving my ‘star’ status to my peers that when I lost my main client, I lost my main source of income. Popularity does not equal a business.
I’d recommend that you focus on building a business rather than accumulating social proof. Being listed won’t pay the bills.
Have A Usable Site
I got a lot of snarky comments in that post. In all cases, I went to their site to see if they’d be useful to keep an eye on. A good curator never ignores someone just because they dislike them.
In most cases, they were capital-f Fugly. Their about page gave very little context to the site. The navigation was a mess.
- Have a very, very clear about section. Tell me about you, about your blog and about your work. I put 80+ hours into the last post and removed some people because I still had no idea what they did after spending an hour on their website
- Have press images that are easy to edit. This didn’t affect my choice but it makes it easier for people to talk about you. I’ve excluded people from previous posts because I couldn’t find an appropriate image
- Have a clean sidebar. It can have a lot of stuff on it – Jess Van Den did – but each thing has to have a clear purpose
Over To You…
It’s fun being a person on the list. However, there is something even better.
Be the person who creates the fucking list. Not write – create.
This is a guest post by Jade Craven – Jade is the author of the world-famous Problogger List of Bloggers to Watch. She’s a Relationship Marketing specialist and co-founder of Social Media Solutions. You can also follow her on Twitter.