Here’s a Little Bit of That Glory a Blog Can Get You Big Media Can’t


There was a day when a mention in the New York Times or an interview on CNN could change your life. Becoming the celebrity that everyone wanted to interview was the name of the game. Big media held sway over your fortune and fame.

But that’s all changing.

One of the most dramatic ways this has played out is what columnist Michael Ellsberg calls “The Tim Ferriss Effect.”

Ellsberg, the author of “The Education of Millionaires,” did what all other writers do who have a book coming  out: they promote it like mad.

Ellsberg landed a 3-minute spot on CNN and a 1,000 word Sunday opinion piece on (the number 6 most  NYT email read).

Introducing the Famous Single-Author Blog

But neither of those channels created a “lighting storm of books sales” like a post from Tim Ferriss–on Tim’s blog.

This is not an isolated event.

Ramit Sethi blogged about the microloan organization Kiva. Here’s what the organization said about that post (from Ellsberg’s Forbes article):

Led to our biggest loan volume day ever. . . . I realized, this is just ridiculous. The biggest loan volume day ever, and has been mentioned in various international news sources (BBC, CNN, Wall Street Journal).

Before the Internet this was called the Oprah Effect. A single mention from the queen of talk shows about your book could make you a New York Times best seller. Just imagine what would happen if your book was chosen for Oprah’s book of the Month club…

Long, successful careers were  started from such moments.

Here’s the moral of the story: discover who your ideal reader or customer is and then find the single-author blog that targets that audience. Next, try to get in front of that audience.

(See also 10-Step Guide to Writing Killer Blog Posts)

I’ve seen this effect play out in my own career.

The Copyblogger Effect on Blogs and Careers

Last year one single blog post on Copyblogger generated more business for me than all 32 OTHER guest posts I’ve written for sites like Treehouse, Crazy Egg or FreelanceSwitch.

And I published about six on CB in a two-year period. The work accumulated.

I found myself on the phone or in email exchanges with CEOs and founders for companies like Hubspot, KISSmetrics, Treehouse and Stripes39. In fact, I routinely turned down work as a freelancer because the demand was so high.

Ultimately it was my guests posts on Copyblogger that landed my sweet position with Copyblogger Media.

Why did this work so well?

Note not only the size of Copyblogger traffic, but also who it targets. Writers and people who are looking for writers. Everyone who contacted me said they found me through Copyblogger.

Heck, even a tweet from Brian Clark can boost your traffic.


That single tweet to Write Better Headlines with This 7-Step Google Reader Experiment sent visits straight up like a monolith in Arthur C. Clark’s Space Odyssey.


In addition, that tweet bumped my subscribers from 430 to 459. Not big numbers, but hey, it demonstrates the influence  thought leaders can have on your success.

(See also How to Write an Original Post (That Will Likely Be Copied))

Granted, I’ve never written for Forbes (the print magazine or website) to compare what big media might have done for me. I doubt much, though, as Ellesberg’s story indicates, and which is validated by yet another story about the eroding influence of big media.

Big Media Needs Your Blog Audience

Ryan Holiday, PR strategist and author, in The New York Observer noted Out of Reach: If the Media Covers You, You’d Better Bring an Audience that big media is relying on others for their own success:

Dear God, I realized, my client has more readers than they do. The website needed us to attract an audience for them. They wanted the subject of the piece to send his readers over to them rather than the other way around.

Here’s another moral to this story: become that single-author blogger who wields the kind of influence big media wants. In other words, you better start building your own audience and take control of your own fame and fortune.

So, what has blogging done for you lately?

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Image credit: Magnificent Ruin


  1. says

    This shift, which you are spot on about, has been truly amazing to see develop. I have seen my personal consumption of news and information shift almost entirely away from big media sources. It’s happened gradually and without planning. One day I canceled cable. Haven’t missed it in the slightest. Another day I clean my Twitter feed (where I get a lot of news) to pare it down to ONLY individuals I truly want to be influenced by, which got rid of all the big media accounts. And on and on. I wonder how many others are seeing their information consumption go this route? It allows me to dictate where and when I get information much better, and I can be very specific about whose curation instincts I follow and whose opinions (confirming and dissenting of my own) I want to be influenced by. And this naturally leads to more blogs, or at the very least individuals. Now I’d like to become one of those people, which you only become by developing true, organic, legitimate authority. And, as we know, authority rules! 😉

    • says

      Jerod, yeah, it’s the power social recommendations have on what we consume since there is no way we can manage the onslaught of information. Google recognizes this too and is why they are gearing search towards social.

      There is a problem with this type of curation, though, summed up by Eli Parsier in his TED talk: .

      Worth the twenty or so minutes.

      • says

        Demian, thanks for the reminder of this. I have seen it before, but it was well worth that second viewing. The key is to understand just how much algorithms ARE curating our web experience and to ensure that we put our own systems in place to get alternate viewpoints. I, for one, don’t use FB for information, just to stay up with friends. But I try to make my Twitter lists and RSS feeds pull from a variety of sources and viewpoints to combat the very issue Pariser describes. It has to be an ongoing focus though, there is no question, or else we’ll all end up in a Zuckerbergian mindset of being more worried about the dead squirrel in our neighbor’s front yard than the infinitely more relevant problems in Africa.

  2. says

    Insanely good read Demian, about 2 paragraphs in and I knew you were going to mention that Observer piece!

    It’s so true, big media is more about clout (“As seen on… etc.”) because unfortunately, many folks just don’t take private blogs as serious yet.

    As far as results go though? Big blogs have always had better returns from where I’m standing, my post on Copyblogger ( was responsible to a *stupid* amount of leads and traffic… and even outperformed the republished Huffington Post article! (When they unceremoniously scraped it without asking the CB team)

    tl;dr – You couldn’t be more correct.

    • says

      Gregory, your persuasive words post was a home run to end all home runs. Good write.

      That doesn’t surprise me about the Huffington Post–I don’t need to explain given that we both read the same Observer piece (which is making it’s rounds). That piece was originally shared with me by Brian who said his articles on Forbes were virtually invisible…on Copyblogger they would’ve gone big. Another testament to the influential single-author blog.

  3. says

    Blogging helped me land my highest paid contract last year. After several attempts to convince a client, she wouldn’t believe I’m competent enough to execute. I told my her, I’m all over the internet, you can check out my blog. The next morning, the first thing she commented on was my picture she saw on the blog. One of her aides had read a handful of my articles. According to them, they sensed maturity and competence all through. Voila, money in my bank account :).

  4. says

    I love the advice Demian, but everyone knows they need to build their own audience. But rarely do they achieve it (burn-out, fear, not will to do the hard work, 10,000 hours, etc).

    But. Still they try.

    And posts like this are creating enough structure and transfer of confidence that people are reaching out to those with big blog platforms and being heard.

    I don’t think this can continue. More noise is more noise. Filters will start to be used, walls will come up, and this idea of openness will narrow down to weed out the noise.

    We know this is already a pressing issue with confessions over the years by people like Chris Brogan getting swamped in email. Neil Patel’s awesome infographic on his contact page practically begs you not to email him and yet, amazingly people like Seth Godin still manage to reply to every personal email. I just can’t imagine access can remain open as more people come in with requests for that thing which is so precious – our time.

    At some point these people are going to expect something, a standard, a mutual audience – something. Right?

    In the same way, I think the idea of platform will shift too. Copyblogger has that first-mover advantage and so does problogger and others. But at some point, your niche and position within it is what will define your platform right? I mean, there’s not enough attention for us to all have a platform. Right?

    • says

      You are spot on. Noise will always be there. The trick is to figure out how to break through that noise. That comes with a combination of creating great content (that is unique, ultra-specific, useful or urgent), networking, patience, perseverance and luck. This is a cliche but those who have the platforms took years to get there.

      And if you approach them with the right request (and incentive) you’ll get through. For example, Ferriss prohibits any offers for personal coaching unless they can spend $50,000. If you have $50,000 you can get his attention. This is true with people like Neil Patel, too. His contact page may discourage you from sending him an email, but that just leaves room for the bold and ambitious to make an interesting offer Neil will reply to.

      Bottom line, the gains from building a platform–and the different ways to do that–are decreasing. That means we have to work harder or smarter or both. But if you love what you do, you won’t mind at all.

      • says

        Yep Yep. Michael Port recommends the gated entry point from the very beginning based on where you are in your authority. Eg, Tim may have been $10k after his first book but now with world-wide exposure, multiple books, more years in the public and advancing authority, $50k. BAM!

        But on the cliche, I’m finding it’s more and more about time on uniqueness not time on task *(blogging, emailing, pimping links and tweets – whatever). It seems that the idea of niche is often lost. It’s not niche, its unique + Valuable. As in not in mass supply and when you give it – the world just wants to snug up to you and thank you for it.

        For me, getting to THAT place is taking a lot of effort to get past the surface conversation that can be had and talking about my deep subject matter with mastery of online communication so it’s still consumable and has no trace of disqualifying newbieness. I’m seeing more and more this is about your own distinct voice and the ability to share it in a way that helps others.

        *sigh* and back to the fact that doing it everyday is one part of getting your 10,000 hours.

        • says

          There is no getting around the 10,000 hours. Sorry. 😀 That’s why perseverance is the single greatest virtue for any one who wants to master a subject. Most people give up before that. And you are right about the niche–in my experience it’s often YOUR personality that will separate you from the current crowd because everyone is basically generating and saying the same things–but it’s how you say it that matters. And you have to say it long enough so people start paying attention. Good discussion, Justin.

          • says

            Do the 15 years of business writing (proposals, policies, processes) count?! ; – )

            One thing that I’ve noticed with your posts here and on copyblogger and your radius of guest blogs is a core vision of mastering the art and science of copy writing. I LOL’d on the bastard son of David Ogilvy and Jakob Neilson post and felt it was so clearly true. But my point is that everything you are covering is radiating out from the mastery of communication through words.

            No diversions in theology, how to monetize, how to build a campaign, etc. The closest Ive seen is your post about how to negotiate your fees, but even still it didn’t feel like a tutorial.

            In other words, your voice and personality shines through big time – not watered down at all…. Or to say that differently you are not a homogenized form of other voices.

            This excites me, because I think you’ve crafted that voice through discernment and intention – less about a lucky lot in life. At least that’s why I hope for, because that means I can do the same.

            Why an I telling you what you already know?!

          • says

            Every bit of that 15 years count. And it took about five years for things to start clicking for me. And then another five before I could write confidently in my voice. I do have other interests (I have a whole string of posts on work and I have actually another blog devoted to theology–but I do try to keep what I write about to just a few topics. When it comes to reading, though, I’m all over the map. Like I said, perseverance. And tons of practice. Read Talent is Overrated if you haven’t yet.

  5. says

    I’m pretty sure I’m still a stumbling/drooling baby when it comes to blogging. I really only started understanding what blogging was all about around January 2012.

    I had a lot of doubts but when I got my first guest post published in June 2012, I was shocked. The response was amazing and terrifying. I had no idea what the hell I was supposed to do. After getting over my initial hours of stupefied excitement, I pulled myself together.

    Even though I’m still learning the ropes, there’s no doubt blogging has had a tremendous impact on my life. I’m still not sure where it’ll take me, but I intend to find out :)

  6. says

    Oh! And thank you for all the wonderful read and awesome article links…now I have more books to add to my reading list o_o

    (Sorry for the 2 comment posts…hit “post comment” too soon)

    • says

      In a lot of ways it is, Greg. If you want it earn a living, then obviously popularity is not enough. You have to convert that traffic to paying customers through a product or service. And a well executed sales funnel.

      • says

        Definitely, sales funnels are some advanced crap. And sorry for mispelling your name. Good lord, I’d imagine your name is one of the most mispelled ones out there :)

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