Tomorrow’s Star Bloggers Talk About Blogging

When a blogger becomes famous, everyone wants to get in touch with her, asking for interviews, sharing their post ideas, or just looking for a quick chat. But at that point, reaching out to her might already be too late. Unless the blogger tells you otherwise, there is nothing wrong with trying. Most of today’s stars are nice and friendly and love to be contacted – just a bit busy.But there is an easier way to get to talk to hard core bloggers and learn from them: Look into the nearby future and say hi to the star bloggers of tomorrow. That is, bloggers who are doing a great job building their blogs today but aren’t yet overwhelmed with contact requests, email and other PR duties.

But who are the rising stars, then?

To make things easier for you, I did a quick study and collected a group of inspiring bloggers who are on their way to building something big. Here’s how the study was organized:

  1. I sent out an email message to some bloggers I concider elite citizens of the blogosphere and asked them to point out one to five rising stars who they think are still not too hip to stay in touch with regular people like you and me.
  2. Then, I went through their recommendations and picked a handful of interesting bloggers. I contacted them to see how they would respond and asked each of them two interview questions regarding their blogging.
  3. Finally, I asked each blogger interviewed if they wanted to point out a few more rising stars, and repeated from step 2.

The list I’m about to present you is by no means a complete one. Not even a particularly wide selection of all the upcoming star bloggers out there. But nevertheless, these nine people will surely change the face of blogging in no time, so you’d better get to know them now instead of later.And even more importantly, I’m sure you want to hear what they have to say about their blogging success and the challenges they are facing so that you can be one of them!

Tina Su

Tina Su blogs about finding clarity, simplicity, creativity and personal happiness at Think Simple Now. Although she started her blog less than a year ago, it has already collected a big audience, and an RSS following of over 7000 subscribers (Not to mention the huge number of Diggs here posts generate!). But this is just the beginning: Tina’s friendly voice and practical approach to her topics are keys to still many more happy readers to come. Here’s what she answered to my interview questions:How did you get to where you are now, in terms of blogging fame and success?

  1. Knowing specifically what my goals are and why. Making sure my goals were measurable.
  2. Having absolute faith that I was going to reach my goals.
  3. Dedicating myself to producing the best content possible.
  4. Telling everyone about it.
  5. Helping other bloggers whenever I can.
  6. Once I reach my immediate blogging goals, I set new ones. Typically, I re-visit my goals at the start of each month to evaluate my progress and to set new ones. I’ve written about this topic extensively at ProBlogger: From 0 to 2000+ Subscribers in 90 Days

What are the biggest challenges and/or opportunities you are facing right now in your blogging career?The web is an incredible platform for reaching out to people of diverse culture around the world. At the core of what we do, our most basic motives and emotions are universal. We are all human. We all want the same thing: happiness.I see this platform as an empowering tool to spreading messages that can increase the quality of people’s lives, regardless of cultural background. The opportunities are boundless.A handful of powerful posts written by Tina Su:

  1. I’m Sorry, I Don’t Know, I Can’t …
  2. 20 Ways to Attack Shyness
  3. How to Make Profound and Lasting Change
  4. The Mini-Retirement Misconception
  5. Stuff-onomics: Hidden Side of What You Own

Nick Cernis

Nick Cernis is a web designer turned entrepreneur with a nearly-magical touch with words. He blogs about productivity and living the lives we love at Put Things Off and is the author of the masterful eBook on paper based productivity, Todoodlist. As you can see from his interview answers, this guy is definitely up to something big in the near future:How did you get to where you are now, in terms of blogging fame and success?I don’t consider myself particularly famous. I’ve just worked hard at something I love. I think to chase after fame or some other dangling carrot directly would be disastrous. Fame and success should always be secondary; do something you adore and do it with passion — the recognition will follow.What are the biggest challenges and/or opportunities you are facing right now in your blogging career?I plan to write a book, if not this year, then soon. After that, I’d like to do more video work; not the monologue-to-webcam kind, but the storytelling kind that reaches out and touches people. I think there’s scope to extend what I try to do with my writing — to make people think about their lives — but to do it on film in a light-hearted, mockumentary style that’s more accessible than traditional productivity and lifestyle advice.Five strong posts from Nick Cernis’s portfolio:

  1. OFFCON: The Office Terror Alert
  2. Wordprezzie and The One Month Launch
  3. The Challenge: Read One Book a Week
  4. Inbox Heaven
  5. Moleskine Notebooks: The Ultimate Guide

Steven Snell

Steven Snell is a designer balancing his time between graphics, writing and entrepreneurship. He runs three blogs, including design blogs Vandelay Design Blog and the (just started) Designm.ag, but is also one of the most active contributors at the blogging and entrepreneurship blog Blogtrepreneur.Steven attributes his success to being active in social media and a putting in a consistent effort:How did you get to where you are now, in terms of blogging fame and success?What I have been able to achieve has primarily been the result of consistent effort. I’ve been building my blog pretty aggressively for just over a year now and through that time I’ve come from knowing next to nothing about blogging to building a decent-sized audience in a competitive niche. Most of the other bloggers that I interacted with during my first few months either completely stopped posting or they fizzled out and occasionally post something, but with no consistency. I’ve been eager to learn and willing to try new things while I’ve watched other blogs that have more potential than mine just get bored. That’s fine; no one should have to build a blog if they don’t want to. A lot of people say they’re committed to doing something special, but when it comes down to it, they’re not willing to make the necessary sacrifices. Most of us are building blogs part-time, so sacrifices are inevitable.In terms of specific strategies and keys to growth, two things really stand out to me – content and networking. I know I’ve written my share of horrible posts, but I’m always trying to improve and create something that will generate interest. Over the course of a year I think I’ve been able to improve the quality of my content and really narrow the focus of my posts to match what most of my readers want to see. Networking is something that I never really gave much consideration to when I started blogging. I had no idea how powerful it would be. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know some great bloggers that have really helped me out along the way.Other things that have been huge for me include guest posts / freelance writing at other blogs and social media. Social media is actually what first got me excited about blogging and made me see the true potential.What are the biggest challenges and/or opportunities you are facing right now in your blogging career?My biggest challenge right now is deciding exactly what to pursue.I currently have three blogs of my own. One is more of a side project that gets only a few hours per week of attention, and another one was just launched less than 2 weeks ago. Aside from that I write for several other blogs, at some points as many as 5 others per week. I never intended to be a freelance blogger, I just kind of fell into it, but I love it.The problem for me is that I’m always stuck trying to decide what to spend my time on. I’m a designer too, so I have to balance design projects, maintaining my own blogs, writing for other blogs, and pursuing ideas for new projects. It’s really a challenge for me to find the balance. It’s teaching me a lot about time management and pushing my limits, but I really have no idea what I’ll be doing even a few months from now. I had been planning on phasing out the freelance blogging to focus more on my own projects, but recently some great opportunities have come up to write for some really popular blogs, so I’m going to give it a shot and see how it works out.Five quality posts from Steven’s inventory:

  1. Signs that a Website is Underperforming
  2. Freelance Designers: Is Name Recognition Important for Success?
  3. 9 Barriers to Success with Social Media
  4. How to Attract Advertisers to Your Blog
  5. Bouncing Back from a Failed Attempt

Skellie

After starting her blog, Skelliewag.org, in mid-2007, Skellie took over her niche like a storm, quickly becoming one of the household names of blogs about blogging. These days she keeps blogging at Skelliewag.org and her other blog, Anywired, and works as the editor of leading freelancing blog FreelanceSwitch.This is how Skellie describes her blogging career so far:How did you get to where you are now, in terms of blogging fame and success?I started Skelliewag.org in mid-2007 and it grew very quickly from that point. At the beginning of 2008 I started my second blog, Anywired. Together they have 8,000 subscribers. You can’t really take someone who writes about creating a popular blog seriously if their own blog isn’t popular, so that was a pretty strong motivator for me!I have been quieter on the blogging scene lately as I try to solidify a career in creating and promoting web properties, but I’m rushing to get that all sorted so I can start producing new posts as much as I’d like!What are the biggest challenges and/or opportunities you are facing right now in your blogging career?My biggest challenge is definitely the “Success Penalty”, which is a term I just learned about from “the other” Dave Navarro. Basically it’s what happens when you experience success and, as a result, receive a whole bunch of amazing opportunities at once and eagerly accept them all, only to find that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.I’m at the point where I’m trying to maintain some of the best opportunities I’ve been given — like working with the awesome folks at Envato, formerly Eden, or being asked to write a book on creating popular blogs — without sacrificing other things that matter, like consistently updating my own two blogs. The good news is that I feel like I’m almost there.Five important posts written by Skellie:

  1. How to Play the Odds Game and Win With Digg
  2. The Pocket-sized Guide to Blogging
  3. A Practical Guide to Earning Six Figures: Re-inventing What You Have
  4. How to Build a Mobile Office and Work From Anywhere
  5. The Monster Collection of Moleskine Tips, Tricks and Hacks

James Chartrand

James Chartrand is one of those people who seem to be everywhere you look at. Together with his friend and business partner Harry McLeod he blogs about freelance writing at the successful blog Men With Pens. But that’s not all: James also writes to a variety of popular blogs including Copyblogger and SmallFuel Marketing Blog, comments like there is no tomorrow, and replies promptly to his email.How is it possible for one man to do all of this?How did you get to where you are now, in terms of blogging fame and success?I have to credit most of my fame and success with my level of self-confidence. It’s the single factor that allowed me to put myself out there, market myself hard and seize opportunities the moment they occurred.I got where I am because I stepped out and made people take notice in any way I could. I didn’t wait for the spotlight to swing my way. I grabbed it and shone the light right where I wanted it.It’s a tough line to walk. You have to find that balance between “Look at me!!” and “I’m just like you” so that you both attract attention and make people feel comfortable. No one likes a stage-hog or an arrogant person, but I think you have to have a little of both if you want to reach goals of fame.If you want the milestone path of how I got from there to here, I started by going out to other blogs and commenting frequently. Once I began to be recognized, I guest posted where I could. I wrote emails and introduced myself to people. I joined conversations. I started to use social media. I blogged about my life experiences.In honesty, it’s all a little surreal. I don’t feel I did anything special to deserve this – I just made sure people knew I was alive and that I wanted to be part of the party.I will say this: I have to attribute much of my success and fame to Harry’s support. He’s not in the spotlight with me, but he works very hard behind the scenes. I was just saying to him recently that had I been alone, I’m not sure I would’ve been able to reach the heights I have.It’s worth repeating: Support from people who care about you matters a great deal in achieving your goals. So thank you, Harry, for being there for me.Now get back to work. ;) What are the biggest challenges and/or opportunities you are facing right now in your blogging career?We found adjusting to fame tough. We thought we were ready for it (and we were), but it’s always surprising when success happens – a little more than expected, too. We hadn’t realized we’d achieve our goals so quickly and had to adjust to that rising popularity. It’s been a wild ride – and a great one.Because of our position now, we need to maintain that edge and remain unique. We need to keep it going – and that doesn’t come easy. With so much competition out there, we’re jostling to hang onto what we have and grow this vision even bigger at the same time.The demand for our business and services has increased proportionately as well. Each day brings new clients and new faces to work with, which is great. We’ve been adapting to their needs continually and are preparing for the next stage in our business.Some of the biggest challenges have been finding time for projects that we want to accomplish while still pushing this dream forward. It’s an amazing feeling for us to juggle our dream, our business, and our goals all together and come out at the end of the day knowing that we can do all this easily and with great pride.We have some plans in the works for bigger and better things, and they’re already in motion. You see, that’s the thing that I feel sets us apart. We want this, we’re ready for it, and we already have a solid framework in place to meet any opportunity or challenge head on.What we enjoy too is knowing that anyone can build what we built. We were the little guy coming out of left field, and it’s amazing to see where we are now. It takes hard work and effort, but we enjoy putting that what we love the most.Five great examples of what comes out of James’s pen:

  1. Guest Posting: Should You Accept Guest Posts on Your Blog?
  2. How to Ride the River Rapids of the Virtual World
  3. Learning to Fly Without Wings
  4. I Don’t Care About You
  5. The Savvy Copywriter’s Advantage: Creative Storytelling

It would not be fair to list James’ writing and completely ignore the other half of Men With Pens, so here is a collection of quality posts written by Harry:

  1. Real Authors and the Paradox of Desktop Publishing
  2. 13.2 Ways Not to Get Rich Online
  3. Bloggers That Fake It
  4. How to Finish a Project in 10 Minutes

Clay Collins

Clay Collins started his blog just eight months ago, in January 2008, but has been making his way towards the top with full speed. Today his blog, The Growing Life, shares authentic productivity advice with over 3,000 RSS subscribers. Clay is also working on a new project about to launch soon, Finance Your Freedom, a blog about freedom and lifestyle design.But Clay says he is not writing to increase his subscriber count but to make lives better:How did you get to where you are now, in terms of blogging fame and success?I believe that I arrived at my current state by positioning myself well within the productivity blogosphere and also by writing infrequent but value-packed articles.I try to not focus on “tips, tricks, tweaks, hacks, etc.” but instead try and give perspective and focus on crafted and quality writing.I’m not writing to provide validation to my readers. I’m not writing to give nifty new ideas to fuel intellectual debates with friends. I’m not blogging for Digg (Digg articles are way to general and I just don’t feel them). I’m not trying to give interesting bullet pointed tips that people skim. I’m not writing for productivity hobbyists, personal development hobbyists, or people who get a kick out of this stuff, or the blog “culture.” I’m not writing to make people laugh, or for cheap StumbleUpon or social media traffic. I’m not writing to make friends with other personal development bloggers (although that is a nice side-benefit). I’m not writing in the hopes of getting 1000 more subscribers.I’m writing in the hopes that I can give my readers solid, tangible, and practical solutions that make their lives better. And I consider my blogging career successful to that extent that I can do this.What are the biggest challenges and/or opportunities you are facing right now in your blogging career?The biggest challenge is knowing which opportunities to take and which to turn down. Even when you start having just a tiny bit of success, people will want to interview you, call you on the phone, have you write guest posts for them, etc. The trick is to focus on the high-leverage opportunities.In the blogging world there are lots of flattering opportunities that have almost no payoff. The challenge is let your ego suffer a little and try and ignore “soft opportunities” to the extent possible.5 life growing posts by Clay Collins:

  1. Why The Job-ification of Your Passion Can be the Ticket to Hating Your Life
  2. Project Liberation
  3. When Crazy Isn’t Crazy Anymore: Life Balance and Insanity
  4. Investigative Report: Tracking Down the Productivity Ninja
  5. The James Dean Guide to Being a Body Language Bad*ss

Naomi Dunford

Equipped with the most honest voice and the warmest heart in all of Internet, Naomi Dunford blogs about marketing and running a home business at her blog, Ittybiz. Unless reading the word “shit” makes you uncomfortable, I can guarantee that you’ll fall in love with Naomi’s writing.Let’s hear Naomi tell us why:How did you get to where you are now, in terms of blogging fame and success?

  1. I tried really, really hard not to give up on my own voice. The reason a reader chooses blog A over blog B is the writer. You have to be very conscious about not abandoning yourself in your quest for page views. It never works.
  2. Commenting. As a marketing consultant, and one whose client base consists of nearly 50% bloggers, I can say for a fact that there is no better activity when it comes to ROI. They say content is king? I’d say commenting is king.
  3. Email. Contact is forged by the commenting, but relationships are forged by email, at least when it comes to blogging. Get out there. Find out people’s kids names and dogs names and whether or not they hate their mother-in-law. Treat people like people, not just like bloggers. That gets you the loyalty. When you have the loyalty, you don’t need much else.

What are the biggest challenges and/or opportunities you are facing right now in your blogging career?Honestly? Right now I’m frustrated. I have a bazillion ideas and I don’t know what to do with them all. There aren’t enough hours in the day. For all intents and purposes I’m a full time blogger, and I still don’t feel like I have the time to follow through on a quarter of the ideas I come up with.At this stage in blogging’s evolution, there aren’t any guidelines for how to deal with the challenges that come along with this lifestyle. You can’t exactly head on over to your local Barnes and Noble and buy “How to Face the Challenges of Being a B-List Blogger.” How do you manage your time? How do you parse between good opportunities and neutral ones? How do you deal with all the goddamn email? Anyone? Help?An itty bitty collection of excellent posts by Naomi Dunford:

  1. What Can YOU Do With Whipped Cream?
  2. 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Have A Cushion Before You Quit Your Job
  3. Starting a Home Business? The One Piece of Advice You Can’t Ignore
  4. Identifying Your Target Market, Or Why I Don’t Want A Monster In My Pants
  5. Entrepreneurship: What To Do When You’re Scared Sh*tless

Brett Legree

Brett Legree blogs about life at 6weeks.ca, where he asks the question “What would you do if you only had 6 weeks to live?” Brett is father of four (three of them triplets!), a nuclear engineer, a writer, and still makes time to build a blog with a strong community and following. He sure must have found the secret to adding more hours to your day:How did you get to where you are now, in terms of blogging fame and success?I certainly wouldn’t be where I am now with my blogging without the great community of people to help me. I started out by visiting other blogs (such as IttyBiz, Men with Pens, and many others), and then started leaving comments – getting to know people. I was encouraged by a blog post at Remarkablogger which basically said, “get out there and blog, instead of thinking about it” – so I did it.Then I had a custom design made up by Men with Pens, and they helped me to set it up from start to finish (getting the hosting service set up, Feedburner, etc.). So, lots of help from the great people out in the blogging world.Then I just try to be honest when I write, and especially when I comment. And I try to respond to each comment personally (not hard right now, as I’m not that famous – yet!)What are the biggest challenges and/or opportunities you are facing right now in your blogging career?The biggest challenge would be balance – I have to remember what is important to me, and also why I started blogging in the first place.I have a wife and a big family (four kids!), and a full time job as a nuclear engineer. Plus I’m writing a couple of books, and am starting (very soon) a fledgling technical productivity consulting business. More on that on my blog in a bit. So the main thing is to stay focused on what I really want to do – my blog is really a great way for me to interact with people and network. It isn’t the end game.Five posts you should read if you only had six more weeks to live:

  1. Can’t Fly Without Wings? Fake it.
  2. Foot Fetish? Six Weeks to a Marathon
  3. Reading the Signs
  4. Viking Fridays – Burn the Boats
  5. Draw Your Own Line

Dave Navarro

This Dave Navarro (not the rock guitarist) is the only personal productivity coach you will ever need. In his blog, Rock Your Day, Dave takes care of your productivity, bad habits, sleep quality, and anything that is keeping you from enjoying your days to the fullest. Here’s what Dave has to say about blogging:How did you get to where you are now, in terms of blogging fame and successSuccess at anything comes from years of practice – in my case it was years of improving my writing skills. Ever since junior high school I’ve used writing as a tool to make money, persuade people and get noticed, so that gave me a solid head start in blogging. But that’s just a foundation – the real key to building an audience is learning how to market yourself, which ironically seems to work best when you help others market themselves. I’ve always believed that “givers get,” and the more I link out to other bloggers and put the spotlight on them, the more I see the favor being returned.To anyone starting out in blogging, I’d recommend that you focus on being a contributor to others. Add value to their blog comments with conversation provoking questions, talk about them on your own blog, get to know them via email and discover ways you can help them out. That’s the simplest and most ethical way to get on someone’s radar – and what goes around comes around often enough to make this a winning strategy.What are the biggest challenges and/or opportunities you are facing right now in your blogging career?Right now I’m learning to balance writing for my blog with tuning my blog – tweaking it to increase search engine rankings, page views, RSS subscriptions and comment participation. That’s always been a challenging arena for me, so I’ve been hiding for a little while in content creation mode in order to avoid dealing with these technical, behind-the-scenes sort of things. But I realize I can’t scale this way, so I have to build my blog in a way that will make the most of all the traffic it gets.Fortunately, I’ve spent a lot of time contributing to bloggers who have mastered these facets of blogging, and I’m happy to report that many of them are returning the favor by mentoring me in the art of building my blog. Givers get, and because I’ve focused on that I have some wonderful opportunities ahead of me.Posts that rock — by Dave Navarro:

  1. Pollyanna On Ecstacy: Why Positive Thinking Just Doesn’t Work
  2. Too Busy to Fit Something Else In? Bull. Read This.
  3. How To Improve Your Sleep & Feel More Rested
  4. 5 Things That Become Easier When You Wake Up Early
  5. How To Kick That Habit’s Ass (When It’s Been Beating Yours)

Now it’s your turn! Find the star bloggers of the future (leave a comment and let me know who you would pick), get to know them, and take time to help each other on your way to blogging greatness! That’s how stars are made.

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23 Responses to Tomorrow’s Star Bloggers Talk About Blogging

  1. Oh wow, this is great. Check out the people! These are all people I either rub shoulders with (and gladly, guys) or people I’d like to rub shoulders with (Steven, that’s you).I’ve read a couple of the interviews, but I’m going to definitely come back and read more. Coolness.

  2. Cath McCoy says:

    Right on with James and Naomi. Dave Navarro is new to me but now that I had a chance to check him out I’ll be stopping by more often.I’d pick David Peralty of http://brandingdavid.com and http://xfep.com. I saw him speak at a couple of conferences and I think we’ll see more of him in the coming months and years.Deb Ng at http://freelancewritinggigs.com is worth a mention. She doesn’t often get the credit she deserves for being so generous with her time and knowledge.I find the freelance parents at Sparkplugging to be very entertaining. Check them out too.

  3. Brett Legree says:

    Jarkko,Thank you so much for including me on your list – wow, I am in such great company, I feel honoured!I really enjoyed reading what everyone else had to say, because while I know all of them, I still learned a lot about them (if you know what I mean!)Thanks again for inviting me to participate – this is a great place you have here.-Brett

  4. Dave Navarro says:

    Thanks for including me! It’s no surprise that a lot of people on this list are people I’m in contact with on a weekly basis.Bottom line is – you want to be a rising star, hang out with other rising stars so they can motivate you to push harder and get the most out of the time you spend working. You live according to the expectations of your peer group – choose it consciously!I don’t know everyone on this list personally … but that will soon change. :-)

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  6. I’m a new fan of both Dave Navarro and Naomi. They blog with a lot of authenticity and provide great examples of how a blog can be turned into a business platform. Thanks for highlighting them.

  7. What a great list of upcoming blogs. Sometimes I get so caught up reading people in my own Niech or the “standards” like Duct Tape Marketing, Problogger, Coppyblogger, Brogan, Chow… That you miss a up and comer… I have added a few of these to my RSS!

  8. ChristianPF says:

    Great post – pointing out some new blogs that I hadn’t heard of and of course learning a thing or two about what works and doesn’t always helps too!

  9. Jeannette says:

    What struck me is how catchy everyone’s blog names are! I love “6 Weeks” and “Put Thing Off” and “Men With Pens”!Stellar content, too. I can see why these made the list! Thanks for a great post.

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  12. David says:

    Thanks Cath McCoy, sometimes, I feel like a falling star, rather than a rising one ;) Great list though, for sure!

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  14. Fubiz says:

    Excellent selection of itw !

  15. Torley says:

    Thank you for sharing — how long ago were these interviews conducted?I’m energized by Clay Collins’ enthusiasm; however, The Growing Life is “dead” and Finance Your Freedom has been live for some months now, albeit updated infrequently.

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  18. Glen Allsopp says:

    Excellent post idea Jarkko and very well put together. Congratulations!Cheers,Glen

  19. Ann Strong says:

    Thanks for compiling such an inspiring list – here’s to rising stars and hanging out with rising stars!

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  23. Adrian says:

    Oh my gosh! Since, I just started blogging and I wish I never found this post, but I guess it found me, it was inevitable. Now, I have all these people to study and follow. I connect with many of them like Tina Su with :”Think Simple Now”. My blog will be about failures and success and how to learn from it, in 3 areas: spirit, mind and body. I am loving this and hating things.Sarcastically but with happiness,Thanks!

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