The Rockstar Guide to Getting More
Traffic, Fame, and Success

image of young woman in sunglasses

Have you ever been to a concert where the opening act was just awful?

Maybe their music was okay, but there was something about the performance that undermined your ability to enjoy it. The group just lacked that special something that would make them stand out, that would draw you in.

That quality they’re lacking is called showmanship — and it’s not just for musicians.

You can spot a blogger who lacks showmanship a mile away. Even after they’ve built a small and loyal following of readers, they never reach the level of success that the “A-List” bloggers in their niche achieve.

They sometimes spend years trying to overcome that plateau. They can’t figure out why they never get past being the “opening act” for the real rockstars in their niche.

They get frustrated and discouraged. Many of them give up. They hang up their metaphorical guitars and get regular 9-to-5 jobs and tell stories about how rough the industry is.

Don’t become one of those. I’m going to show you how to get the showmanship and stage presence you need to become the main act in anyone’s feed reader.

What is showmanship, and how does it apply to blogging?

Showmanship, according to the infallible Wikipedia, is “the skill of performing in such a manner that will appeal to an audience or aid in conveying the performance’s essential theme or message.”

That should sound familiar. Conveying a theme or message to an audience is exactly what we’re doing with blogging and content marketing. Yet so many people struggle to develop a style that will set them apart from everyone else in their niche.

But even the most mundane niches can be made new and interesting if you’re willing to find something special you can bring to the table.

For example, one of my favorite performers is pianist Victor Borge, who could easily have achieved a fine career as a traditional classical pianist in front of a hushed concert audience.

Instead, he found a way to make the music interesting and entertaining by adding comedy to his performance.

His shows elicit roars of laughter from his audience — and when was the last time you saw the formally-dressed concert hall crowd rolling in the aisles? It was completely unconventional, but his audiences loved him for it.

And his mastery of the piano was undiminished.

What showmanship isn’t

Showmanship isn’t a gimmick. It isn’t tricking the audience.

If Borge had been a less-than-stellar pianist, he wouldn’t have been able to transcend the concert hall standards to create his own way of approaching the music. Putting on a show isn’t putting on a mask.

Find something that works for you and pursue it. No trickery or attempting to be someone else required.

Good showmanship, the kind that engages your audience, needs to have authenticity at its core in order to work. If you become a sleazy Internet marketer, resort to spamming, or engage in bait-and-switch schemes, your audience won’t care if you have the best show on earth.

No amount of showmanship can hide a scumbag. Instead, take your authentic self and add some style to create a “wow” factor that grabs the attention of your audience and won’t let go.

Showmanship and stage presence

Your showmanship is what you bring that’s unique.

But “unique” doesn’t necessarily mean “good.” You could be the only blogger out there dressing in bacon and playing a ukulele, but that doesn’t mean you have valuable information to impart.

If you’re going to help your audience feel confident about your authority, you’re going to need something more than showmanship.

You need stage presence.

Stage presence is your ability to connect with an audience.

At this year’s BlogWorld, Brian Clark gave an excellent example of how to use stage presence.

Especially when it comes to marketing, people are like ‘Oh, well I’m supposed to do this, or I’m supposed to do that.’ No you’re not, because then you’re going to do exactly what everyone else does and you’re not unique.

So don’t feel like you need to be Naomi Dunford. I’m probably more like her in real life, but I choose to keep that on the down-low.

(…) I try to help people out. I try to help them learn something and make a business related to that.

And it’s as [much] the “real” me as any other part of me, but we all play different roles.

So that’s just my two cents on authenticity. Be who you want to be to your people. Be the best “you” you can be for them — not for you, for them.

That’s stage presence. Knowing what part of your authentic self connects with your audience — and then choosing to emphasize that aspect — is the first step to becoming the main act instead of just the ho-hum opener.

7 ways to use showmanship to command the attention of your audience

  1. Choose a style that belongs to you. In order to be unique in your niche, you need to create a style that conveys who you are and what you do, in a way that your audience can get excited about. Find that “sweet spot” that will set you apart.
  2. Immerse yourself in the style you’ve chosen. Once you’ve decided on your style, immerse everything you do in that style. That’s what showmanship is all about — taking what you do and wrapping it in a unique angle that gets your audience’s attention. If you don’t infuse everything you do with a single style, your audience will be confused by the conflicting brands you’re presenting.
  3. Know what part of your personality connects with your audience. Being authentic doesn’t mean baring everything about yourself to the world. As Brian says, it’s about being the best “you” that you can be for your audience. Figure out what part of your personality “clicks” with your audience, and show more of that.
  4. Focus on your audience, not yourself. I love what Sonia said at BlogWorld right after Brian finished his definition of authenticity. She said: “It’s not about you. It’s never about you. In business, it’s always about your customer.” If you want an engaged audience, you need to focus on what they want, what they need, and what they like.
  5. Know the difference between authenticity and “too much information.” There’s a fine line between being authentic and telling your audience something they really didn’t want to know. Don’t cross the line into TMI. As Sonia says, “No one wants that much authenticity.”
  6. Act like an authority if you want to be seen as one. If you want to be seen as an authority in your niche, you need to present yourself in a way that’s consistent with that level of respect. If you’re a financial advisor and you constantly complain about being broke, no one’s going to be very interested in your advice. Be mindful of how you present yourself.
  7. Be consistent. At its core, branding is all about consistency — giving your audience the same positive experience every time they interact with you. If you want to command the attention of your audience, you need to be consistent in everything you do. Make sure everything you publish is in line with your overall brand, and stick to a consistent publishing schedule.

Being interesting isn’t enough

Being interesting isn’t enough if you want to establish yourself as an authority. Being talented isn’t enough, either.

Let’s face it, talented bands that are one-hit wonders are interesting for a time — then they fade into obscurity. No one wants that for their blog.

If you want to build a sustainable business model, you need to create a unique style that commands the attention of your audience, builds a solid connection with that audience, and establishes you as an expert.

Develop your showmanship and stage presence and you’ll be headliner for years to come. Even after you’ve turned old and gray, you’ll still be a rockstar.

About the Author: Logan Zanelli specializes in helping people get found, stand out, and sell more stuff. He is also the author of How to Go from Boring to Rockstar in 30 Days, a course that teaches you how to build a unique style and become the rockstar of your niche. It goes on sale this coming Monday.

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Reader Comments (74)

  1. says


    Thanks for the fantastic article!

    I totally agree with you, and this is what I try to stress more than anything really. The key to making a strong brand is being unique just doing yourself. Not copying another homie, because a copy is always one step behind the person their copying. You could not of said it better. There are a few one hit wonders, butvthe people that are usually fad away pretty quickly. If you want to stand out you have to be different and unique.

    In my opinion, the easiest way to stand out is to be yourself. God made everyone different from birth, so it would be natural for you to be different if you are really being yourself. Do what makes you happy, write about what you want to write about. It might make you weird or stand out, but that is okay because at least you will be the only one of you kind. I would rather everyone notice me for being different, then nobody notice me at all. If you are trying to replicated someone else you will NEVER stand out.

    It’s just as simple as that.

    Thanks again!

    God bless,
    William Veasley

    • says

      Thanks William! You’re right about being yourself. Copying someone else’s style verbatim doesn’t work. That style might have worked great for them, but it won’t fit you. If you want to rock a style and be unique to your audience, you have to own the style you choose. It needs to be uniquely “you” and not someone else.

    • says

      It seems so easy when reading your comment, but in reality things are much tougher…I’d alliate with someone of the chance appeared, but, I am left alone and I have to struggle to make a name in the industry :)

  2. says


    I ‘m happy you mentioned Victor Borge. He has been on PBS (public broadcast system) a few times and I like his comic style. He was an excellent piano player, which is probably why he could add excellent comic touches. I urge everyone to Google “Victor Borge” and read the Wiki article on him.

    Sometimes it’s hard to predict whom will be a star and whom will be a superstar. Let’s look at rock music,- for instance. I really love the Kinks and the Who. Both groups have been around a while and have sold out concerts for several years. But the Rolling Stones and the Beatles are superstars. Yet they are completely different. The Beatles experimented with many musical formats and styles. But the Stones had a consistent core sound and style.

    Sometimes just being simple will get you there. Take Ernest Hemingway, for instance. He was a reporter who loved to travel, hang out in bars, etc. – yet he wrote very simple stuff. It was a story about fishing – “The Old Man and the Sea” – which got him the Nobel prize for literature.

    Yet it makes me wonder about bloggers. Who among them will reap huge cash windfalls for writing (i.e. like writers Steven King and J. K. Rowling), who will win prizes (like Novel prize literature winners), and how many are just plain, excellent entrepreneurs (i.e. sell people’s products, Google Adsense sales, etc.).

    Good post today. It got me thinking a bit.


    • says

      Thanks for the comment Randy. It is amazing to see what people achieve when they “unlock” their own potential by making the choice to go for it and put themselves out there.

  3. says

    Hey Logan-

    Interesting points here. To be honest, for the last few months, I’ve been struggling to find “my voice” and do a little bit of showmanship. I do feel that my content is good, but I feel like I’m still working on find a unifying message that will make me stand out in the “Internet Lifestyle” niche.

    I do like all seven points you just mentioned. Especially the part about finding a style that best fits you and knowing your core audience. Both are excellent points and will be something I address as I redesign my blog and try to find a bit of showmanship on my own site.


    • says

      Glad to hear you’re exploring options to find your own unique style! Remember it’s important that the style you choose is truly “you” so your showmanship will be authentically awesome and not just an act. Keep that in mind and I’m sure you’ll discover a style that will connect with your audience.

  4. says

    Don’t “present yourself like an authority” and “be authentic” conflict a bit?

    You can not be authentic and at the same time, present yourself as something you are not. If you are not seen like an authority, why act like one?

    • says

      Ishan, a lot of people *are* subject matter experts (which is what an authority is), but lack the confidence to act like one. I think that’s what Logan is saying — to display confidence in what you know while sharing it.

      • says

        Ishan / Brian,

        I think part of what we are talking about here, is the direct link between confidence and the perception of competence.

        When a person acts or speaks with confidence, we are more likely to believe they are also competent.

        Conversely, when someone REALLY knows their subject, but writes or speaks with little confidence, fewer people take them seriously.

        @Logan – Great post sir!

    • says

      Thanks for the feedback Ishan.

      As Brian said, what I was referring to is presenting yourself with confidence and poise. Many people who are great at what they do, and have awesome tips to share, lack the confidence to share their knowledge with the world around them. If a person wasn’t an expert in their topic and yet tried to act like one, then there would be a conflict between authenticity and authority as you mentioned.

      But for those who are already subject matter experts, gaining the confidence to see themselves as an authority and act like it is the first step to greater success in their niche.

  5. says

    All the world is a stage, including this virtual one, I suppose. I think one thing that helps all of these things to come across is having genuine passion for your subject. If a band is passionate about the music they are playing and the singer feels the meaning of the lyrics, the audience feels that. It’s infectious. The same can be said of writing.

    • says

      Any venue that you can share your expertise from is indeed a “stage,” whether it’s your blog, social media, or your live video stream. Each of them puts you in the spotlight and gives you the opportunity to present your knowledge and ideas to an audience. Having passion for what you do helps make that presentation authentic, but passion alone isn’t enough. Finding your unique angle and building a style for yourself around it makes you interesting, and engages the attention of your audience – then your passion will be a magnet that holds their attention.

  6. says

    As someone just getting started in the blogging world, this was a very helpful article. I am still trying to find my voice and build meaningful content. Right now though, it just feels like I’m talking to myself.

    Thanks for your help!

    • says

      Thanks for the comment Hannah, and it’s awesome to hear you’re diving into blogging! The “Copywriting 101,” “Content Marketing 101″ and “Headline Writing” sections of this site will be great resources for you as you get started with your blog.

  7. says

    Great advice all around … and maybe this is being left as an exercise to the reader, but … when you’re starting out, and your audience is still pretty small, how do you figure out who your audience is?

    In the beginning, when first starting out, before you actually have an audience, you might try to envision who you’d like your audience to be … but, “no plan survives first contact with the enemy” …

    Early on, when your audience is growing, your vision for what you wanted them to be vs. who they actually turn out to be will likely differ. What tips or techniques can you offer or direct us to that will help us get a read on who our audience actually turned out to be?

    Thanks a lot for sharing your insights with the Copyblogger audience, Logan!

    • says

      Thanks for the comment Dossy!

      The funny thing about blogging is sometimes the audience you initially envision and the audience that is drawn to your personality and style are sometimes different. I’d encourage you to read for more about how to “love” your “unintended” audience.

      Generally speaking though, if you build a style that’s true to your personality (your authentic self), follow the writing and content tips that are available throughout this site, and promote your blog with things like social media and guest posting, your ideal audience will be drawn to your style and will identify themselves by interacting with you.

    • says

      I’m not a fan of Barnum, but maybe I’m just judging him on a misconception of the “there’s a sucker born every minute” outlook. (Which apparently he didn’t actually say.)

      There was a nifty guest post on Houdini that talked about his combination of showmanship and exceptional ability that I did think was a pretty darned good role model.

        • says


          I did Google “There’s a sucker born every minute” and brought up the Wiki article. As Wiki mentions, “When Barnum’s biographer tried to track down when Barnum had uttered this phrase, all of Barnum’s friends and acquaintances told him it was out of character.”

          I haven’t yet read your post on this topic. Wiki hints at a couple other possibilities for the quote.

          Let’s assume the Wiki article scholarship is good. It doesn’t conclude Barnum didn’t say it. It’s just that there’s no definitive proof.


  8. says

    I totally try to do these things.. for the most part, but the struggle continues. Would love some feedback from you should you get the chance to visit me one day.

    • says

      Thanks for the feedback Jacob. If you take your expertise, your personality and what you can offer your audience and apply it to solving their problems, meeting their needs, quelling their fears, or fulfilling their desires, you’ll have a powerful business model. As I mention in the post, base it on what your audience needs (helping people) versus only writing / providing what *you* want to talk about (which is self-centered). That’s how you apply your authenticity in a manner that focuses on your audience.

  9. says

    I’ve chosen a style that’s my own (or at least I’ve gotten better about letting that come out naturally). The next step for me to sit down and think about is identifying (specifically) the part of my personality that people click with the most. I know that I get the best reactions out of people when I help them understand something (How To’s), and when I let my casual/fun side come out during a coaching session. But what is it exactly that they’re connecting with?

    Great post and great things to think about!

    • says

      Ricardo, it sounds to me like you’ve answered your own question. If people are connecting with the “how to’s” you provide and love your casual/fun approach, by all means do more of that.

  10. says

    In every piece of content that i write, I try to add my own flavor and personality to them. That helps me separate myself from everyone else, while building my social community around my brand.

  11. says

    I enjoyed reading this piece Logan and while I agree with your advice I think it can be a challenge for many to implement. I know I found it so when I first started blogging.

    Oddly we don’t really know who we are. This might sound strange but the vast majority of people essentially view themselves through the eyes of others, so they continually look to find ways to please them first, suffering under the illusion that by pleasing more people they will grow their fan base.

    This is flawed because when you choose to please others first, you make the mistake of comparing yourself with others too, and this leads one down the dark road of “sameness” towards blogger wasteland.

    All your points are totally valid but speaking from personal experience, one will only ever start to embody these when one knows oneself, is true to one’s core unique blueprint and ‘minds one’s own business’. This takes time to master when one’s natural way has been distorted for so long.

    When you uncover your uniqueness and show it as you suggest, this calls in the flock, many of whom long for the same freedom in their work but who are too scared to let go, so they just become supporters; living their dreams through others.

    Some go beyond the supporter stage, desperately trying to capture what another has ‘discovered’ so they can dress it up as their own without anybody else noticing. We all know where they are headed…… nowhere.

    What we want to do it first learn to discover ourselves in the same way that great bloggers have done and then doing as you suggest will be as simple as it sounds.


    • says

      Thanks for the feedback Marcus. I agree with the point you made about knowing yourself first. In order to create an effective style that is based on your personality, you need to know yourself well enough to know what your personality style is. However, that is easier than most people make it. The problem I see people having time and time again is a “can’t see the forest for the trees” mentality caused by over-thinking and “analysis paralysis.”

      I actually cover this in the course I’m releasing Monday, but the best starting point is to go with your gut instinct. What feels right to you and resonates with your soul? If you let go of any preconceived ideas you have and take stock of your personality with that as a litmus test, it will be a lot easier to identify your own unique traits that you can then build a style from.

      However, your own personality is only part of the style equation. You also need to blend it with the research you’ve done on your niche, and keep it focused on your audience if you want it to be the type of stage presence that captures and holds your audience’s attention as I describe in the post above.

  12. says

    I just finished writing a piece that talks about the dangers of shock value. You mentioned gimmickery and I see them as very similar. If we’re not careful, people will give their attention to our particular tactic in the moment more than our core message itself. Doesn’t mean we don’t need “shock and awe” now and then, but if the bigger picture gets lost, it was all for nothing.

    • says

      Thanks for the comment Brandon! In my opinion, gimmicks aren’t a good idea because they’re just that – gimmicks – and people are smart enough to recognize them as such. That’s why I specifically mentioned that “showmanship” and gimmicks are two totally different things when done right.

  13. says

    Fantastic post. I think #1 (Choose a style that belongs to you) is one that most of us newbie bloggers struggle with as we often adopt a successful blogger’s style thinking that since he or she is successful, we will be too if we use such style.

  14. says

    G’Day Logan,

    Your excellent post reminded me of the talk that brought the great Bill Gove to major prominence. It was called “Billy, Be Yourself.” It was first presented in 1954…. yes 1954! It’s still available on the internet. Even after 50 years, it’s still worth listening to: especially if you have an interest in showmanship.

    Thanks again, regards


  15. says

    Thank you for the great info, Logan. I’ve been blogging for years, and I wish I knew some of these tips back then. Could have saved the world a whole mess of TMI!

  16. says

    @Satrap: It’s common for beginners in any field to emulate their role models. It’s when you make the decision to apply the lessons you learn from them selectively, based on what will enhance your OWN voice, that you start to form your own style and truly be yourself.

    @Leon: The best advice is indeed timeless. Glad you enjoyed the post!

    @Laurie: Glad you found it so helpful!

  17. says

    I completely agree with you. That made me not unique. But that is fine. We do not need to be unique all the time anyway. We only need to serve our audience every time.

    Maraming salamat! (Thank you)

    Jef Menguin

  18. says

    Logan, I find the idea of choosing a style interesting. I always thought being authentic was letting a style emerge, not choosing it. But your post has given me a different perspective on that. I’m thinking now that we let the style emerge but then, like a sculpture emerging from a hunk of marble, we chip at it, a little here and a little there, to create the right tone for our niche and audience.

    That’s what I’ve been working to do without realizing I was doing it. My style emerged years ago when I first began writing books, and it blossomed when I started promoting them, but I’m going in a new direction with Up From Splat, and I’m letting my heart lead me.

    It’s funny you mention gimmicks. I recently started a segment of my blog that has my dog teaching law of attraction. When I say that, it sounds gimmicky, but the truth is it fits my style. I’m dog-crazy, and I connect with readers using story and example, so this fit for me. So far, it’s been well received. I guess we can’t decide on what a gimmick is from the outside looking in. Whether it’s a gimmick or not depends on how it feels, Yes?

    Thanks for giving me much to ponder. :)

    • says

      There are generally two schools of thought when it comes to style. One is that you just start doing your thing and let the style emerge on it’s own. The other is to choose which style you’re going to use. I recommend the latter of the two.

      Think of it this way: creating a brand isn’t something you just let happen on its own. You research it, plan it, then implement it. The same is true here. Developing your style is essentially another way of branding yourself. If put effort into planning and implementing it, you’ll get more out of it.

      You still want to be flexible enough to adapt your style as needed to engage your audience, but it’s important to treat it as if you’re building a brand for yourself – because you are.

      As for your question on gimmicks, something that sounds “gimmicky” to you and something that is a gimmick might be different based on what you said in your comment. I look at a gimmick as something hollow and meaningless done to attract attention for a short time, or someone who’s trying to fake something they’re not.

      From what you described, it sounds like you were talking about a series you were writing on your blog based on what you noticed your audience connecting with, and not a gimmick just for the sake of attention.

      So there’s a bit more for you to ponder. :)

      Thanks for the comment Ande!

  19. says

    Great article- you touch on many points that a lot of bloggers/marketeers miss. A wise man once told me “write about what you know”… and I think that is a good rule of thumb when it comes to blogging. Another good point you make- stay in line with your brand- I cannot tell you how many blogs I’ve seen where the articles are all over the place- one about what the actual website is about, another about what they cooked for dinner that night that does not tie into their business/brand in any way. Looking forward to another article! Thanks.

  20. says

    Working in luxury PR where brands think that every message they want communicated should sound like an advertising copy I applaud this post! The elements you list in my world is what makes a newsworthy headline that will receive 100,000s of FREE Publicity over having to pay for it in advertising cost.

    I only wish more luxury brands would just get this!

    Happy Holidays and thanks for sharing:-)

    • says

      I used to do work for clients in the luxury housing market, so I know exactly what you mean. Glad you liked the post, and Happy Holidays to you as well!

  21. says

    I liked the fact that you took your time to differentiate between just being UNIQUE and being USEFUL. Many people these days seem to focus only on the uniqueness and forget that no one cares about how special you are if your being special isn’t making a positive impact in their lives. So very important point worth differentiating.
    Be unique to your audience, but also add value to them, meaning be useful -thus the sequence,

    Thanks for the post.

  22. says

    Amazing Post. You hit everything head on and pointed out things that I myself am working on currently to achieve the level I desire as a blogger. I look forward to purchasing your book as well and adding it to my ever expandding library. Kudos!!!!


  23. says

    Logan, You’ve really hammered home a point that mothers have been imparting on children since the dawn of time “If you want people to like you, just be yourself” to that I would add if you want people to like you, to buy what you’re selling, you’ve got to let them know you care enough to help them be their best selves as well. In short,if you want friends, you must first be one! Thank you for bringing us all back on point here!

  24. says

    I just signed up and this is the first piece I’ve read.

    All I can say is, I’m blown away. This is exactly what I need to hear.

    Mind, I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, either.

    This is pay dirt!


    Best Regards,
    The Backyard Harmonica Teacher

  25. says

    Love the quote “you’re going to do exactly what everyone else does and you’re not unique”. As a musician, I feel still a long way to go to turn a hobby to a product by using showmanship to get the attention of the audience.

    Thanks for the post!
    Relaxing Music – DiPipa

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