How to be a Rock Star in Your Niche

Jim Morrison

Want to be a celebrity?

You can be.

I’m not talking about being famous like Tom Cruise. You’re likely too tall to pass for Tom Cruise, even if you’re female.

What I’m talking about is being the name that pops in a person’s head when a certain area of expertise is mentioned. You want to be the go-to individual for that particular niche, especially when a citation, quote, or interview is necessary for the media (social and traditional).

Business people have been writing articles for trade publications for decades in order to become niche experts. That’s why blogging for business is such a no-brainer, as long is you realize that the blog is a launch pad for other authority-building opportunities that build your brand.

Don’t get me wrong—having a strong Internet presence goes a very long way thanks to the ever-increasing use of search engines and the power of social media. That’s why small business blogging is far from dead and really only beginning. But to truly attain niche rock star status you need to push it into other areas.

For example, you can:

  • publish in dead tree trade publications (it still works)
  • seek broadcast media attention
  • star in a radio show or podcast
  • speak at conferences and trade shows
  • run your own seminars
  • write a book or produce an information product
  • work out joint ventures with relevant players
  • network like crazy based on all of the above

We’ll be talking about producing information products and joint venture strategies on Copyblogger in the near future. But what about those other tactics?

Someone who’s done just about all of those things in the last year or so in the SEO/social media marketing arena is Neil Patel. He’s literally been all over the place, and before you can give me an excuse why you can’t do the same, please realize that Neil has done all of this while still in college. Oh yeah, he also runs two companies in his “spare” time.

Probably one of the most remarkable things Neil did when starting out was contact prominent bloggers like Michael Arrington and Guy Kawaski and offer to do site optimization work for them for free. He did the same for quite a few other bloggers last year, including me, and never really asked for much in return. So naturally, everyone ends up talking about him.

That’s the ironic thing about “personal branding.” The key to effectively building your profile is the value you provide to others and what they say in result, not what you say about yourself.

About the Author: Brian Clark is founder of Copyblogger and co-founder of Thesis and Scribe. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

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Reader Comments (40)

  1. says

    You really hit the nail on the head with this one. I have not heard of Neil Patel but I have done very similar self promotion. I write about a variety of issues with a wide audience in mind, I’m not too interested in preaching to the choir on prominent issues. I have from the beginning of my blogging days in November last year promoted dozens of bloggers, organizations, and have recently hooked up with an indie hip hop group just because I wanted to spread their offerings. I mention Modern Musings a lot in my posts because I like the name but an added benefit is that googling the phrase brings up 8 out of 10 links to me and I have a free blog. Just by writing, researching and promoting activism has started me thinking of finally pursuing publication, writing articles for Helium, podcasting and hosting a blogathon for charity. The Web 2.0 platform has truly leveled the playing field for thousands of closet writers and entrepreneurs worldwide. No where is it easier to fake it til you make it, and as long as your sincere, dedicated, and focused anyone can succeed in the blogosphere.

    Be well and enjoy the day.

    P.S. Do you know the sign of great content?
    Long comments;}

  2. says

    To become top-of-the-mind in a particular area, it’s important to publish compelling content with a fresh perspective.

    This fresh perspective could come in the form of a strong personal message, a belief system, an area of expertise, or something else.

    One of the things I’m coming to realize by operating my Personal Development site is that if you look deep enough inside yourself, you’ll find a niche that’s a natural fit for your axioms and propensities — and thereby become an expert by being yourself.

  3. says

    Blogging helps you a lot in building your personal blog and I totally agree with you here. It lets you showcase not only your ability, but also how to articulate it.

    Becoming a rock star (I mean, being famous) not only involves just doing the “right” thing, but it also involves doing the right thing at the right place at the right time with the right people. Search engine optimizing Guy Kawasaki’s blog/website for free is a lot different from optimizing an unknown blogger’s website. But this is not to say Neil won’t do that, or he only helps for long-term benefits.

    Personal branding, whether through blogging or by attending/organizing social events is a must and if you want to compete, it is unavoidable. I myself am gradually realizing this.

  4. says

    Some excellent tips on building credibility. It’s even more important for young folks like Neil (and myself).

    It’s interesting how there are so many ways to build that expert status. Really, there are dozens.

    The part that most people skip is actually doing them. I suppose that is the hard part.

    Nike has some words of wisdom for this: “Just Do It”

    Good Luck to Neil, and everyone else looking to build expert status. Thanks again for a great article Brian.

  5. says

    Great post! I’ve been thinking about how to establish myself lately and be ‘known’ for one particular thing but I guess where I always end up getting stuck is that there isn’t any one thing I can decide I want to be known for!

    It’s funny though that I did go to someone who is well known in my industry and offer her four hours of free services in exchange for a testimonial, and that’s all I wanted but we did end up working together because she was happy with me.

    I’d love to get on some more podcasts because they are so much fun so I’ll definitely be working on that one, thanks for that list :)

    Angela Wills

  6. says

    Good advice to not speak about yourself, but let others do it for you. The old saying “action speak louder than words” spring to mind here.

  7. says

    I’ve been hearing more and more about Neil over the past couple of months. Congratulations to his success!

    Great article as well, There were some excellent points listed above.

  8. says

    Personal branding (and the branding in general) is one of the most powerful marketing forces/tools. If someone succeeds to gain a “star”-reputation in his niche, his success is guaranteed…

    I believe that the key points here are:

    1) You have to focus on narrow enough niche with big sales potential.

    2) You have to use all channels for branding – blogging, articles, interviews, books, etc. That’s what I call “massive branding”.

    3) You have to create a metaphor for yourself and keep the image, manifest a specific, personal style.

    Off-line branding and on-line branding work together and using their combined force you can achieve almost everything.

    Thanks for the cool post!


  9. says

    Thanks a lot for the post Brian excellent stuff. I am just starting to take blogging more seriously in an effort to support my bookshop/cafe. Starting to get well known in my neighborhood, now on to the Internet!!

  10. says

    The trick here is not so much the building the personal brand or the ways to generate traffic and exposure- the trick is to find the right niche to concentrate on in the first place. Rock stars don’t get famous overnight, and if you keep hopping from “thing” to “thing” the buzz will never find you. So, just make sure you are settled happily into your right niche before you spend too much time trying to become a rock star.

  11. says

    I’ve done online marketing and have had my own web based companies for a few years and I never understood why people like Neil, Darren and you were sharing so much information; information that generates a lot of money. I was doing very well by keeping information to myself.

    It was when I first read Neil’s blog that I truly understood the power of sharing. Neil inspired me to start blogging, I started just 40 days ago.

    Thanks Neil!

    Keep up the great work!

  12. says

    Great idea of Neil to do that :) Trading services is always a good idea, it shows respect for the authorities in your niche and surrounding network + can’t hurt.

  13. says

    I was mentioned in the local newspaper twice. Each time they mentioned one of my BLOGs.

    I agree that how we write is our voice and people will listen to the voices they like.


  14. says

    Awesome quote, “…not what you say about yourself.” Likewise, more than ‘who you know,’ it’s ‘who knows you!’ That’s the star power, the attraction force of our personal brand.

    More than just blogging, it’s about building our fan base – or subscribers. Many lawyers, accountants, financial planners, real estate, and health experts (my clients) bring their blogs to their clientele through the tried-and-true e-newsletter.

  15. says

    You mentioned “run your own seminars”. This makes a lot of sense because you are in control of building as much popularity as you can without chasing someone else. If you can build value around the content you deliver and help others achieve their goals then people will come to you and you won’t have to chase them down.

  16. says

    Actions speak louder than words. Always planning and never doing make us circle at the same spot. When we have a lethal combination of “Who we know” and “Who know us”, we can rocket to rock-star status on the double.

  17. says

    I’m told that I’m the first person people think of when they talk about sheds online in the UK… I think that’s great, but not sure how my profile would get into other markets, like garages or beach huts 😉

    plus i have done the first 3 and last 2 out your list

  18. says

    Great post and really positive way to go about it. I think that as long as you have good content everything else should fall in to place, maybe no more big a-list blogstars but there is always going to be room to grow.

  19. Tinu says

    Been reading for a long time and never comment. But you said “You’re likely too tall to pass for Tom Cruise, even if you’re female”, and that was too funny not to give you dap for.

  20. says

    We’re busy trying to build up our own brand at the moment, so naturally, the “rockstar” part of this post really appealed to me!

    I think it’s extremely important to market your brand/blog/business offline, in addition to your online marketing efforts. Networking is one of the most crucial aspects of any start-up, so pay attention to Brian’s wise words! 😉

    I will be sure to check out Neil Patel, he sounds like the right source of inspiration for me. (I’m also still in college, yet run my own businesses and have begun my own blog.)

    Good going Brian, keep it up! :)

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