Winning the (right) race

In every race there are winners and losers. Sometimes though, winning is about choosing the right race. Recently there was a Youmoz post asking if the A-list was closed. Apparently the author feels that he has written some great content but has not received any mention or “link love” from the big boys. I am sure many of my readers are also bloggers and would love to be on the A-list—I sure would like to. But are you doing what it takes to get there? Are you targeting the right A-list?

It’s a lot like major league baseball. Here in the Dominican Republic we follow MLB very closely. Close to a third of the players in the MLB are Hispanic and many of them are hometown heroes. We love to see the players’ outstanding performance in every game and sometimes we dream about the money and fame they have. But we often forget two important things: how difficult it was for them to get there, and how hard it is for them to remain there.

Consider that the DR is a “third-world” country. Education is limited, English is not our first language, so what chances does a poor shoe shiner from my country have to become a famous multimillionaire CEO or astronaut? Yet every year there is a new Dominican baseball player living the dream. Why? Because he chose to be the best in the place he is most competitive: playing baseball. The battle doesn’t end there. He needs to keep performing each day. People will cheer him on only as long as he performs. As soon as he stops, so will his fame.

If you look at the A-list bloggers you will notice that most of them work really hard to remain on top. They post high quality, entertaining or informative content regularly and consistently. Are you ready to put that much effort into your blogging? I don’t blame A-list bloggers for not linking to smaller blogs. I do often get what I call indirect mentions. Some top bloggers link to a post of another big blogger that is primarily commenting about one of my posts. This doesn’t bother me; it only tells me that I need to push my brand visibility a lot harder.

The topic is the key

Despite SEO being a heavily saturated field with big names already entrenched, I decided to blog about SEO anyway. Why? I am certain that had I chosen a narrower, less contested topic such as “grass photography” I would have done a terrible job. I don’t have a clue about grass photography and it definitely does not peak my interest. I chose SEO because it is something I know well enough to blog on about for years and never run out of ideas. Of course I never thought that would be enough. I know I have to work as hard on creating good content as I have to work on promoting it. Admittedly, I haven’t been promoting hard enough, but that is because my first goal was to have enough pillar content to motivate visitors to come back to my blog for more.

So we get back to the original question: If you are small blogger such as I, how are you going to make your content visible if A-list bloggers don’t want or don’t feel like linking to you? I think the answer lies elsewhere. Thanks to social media sites like StumbleUpon, Sphinn, and Digg, even smaller players have a fair chance of getting noticed. I am sure I am not alone when I say that I’ve found a whole bunch of high quality blogs on Sphinn and I keep coming back for more.

So you still want to be on an A-list? Follow this simple algorithm:

SET Topic = Something you know a lot about AND you can write about for several years

FOR EACH day until you die

IF you have an ORIGINAL idea about your chosen Topic AND you think your audience will greatly appreciate it

DO blog about it

DO promote it on a popular social media site

BTW, I am really honored to be included in the A-list of one of my readers, Tom_C from the great guys at Distilled. Thanks Tom_C for helping me push my brand on SEOmoz!

15 replies
  1. 5ubliminal
    5ubliminal says:

    The A-List is just a mind game. They place themselves (the old-news guyz) on it and they try to make the rest feel as small as possible and maybe disappear.

    All of them stacked are no better then me but they have what I don't have for now: connections!

    And there's room for everyone.

  2. Sam Daams
    Sam Daams says:

    Most of what the 'a-list' writes is copied off the next one over. I prefer to read blogs that have a different and unique approach and are happy to throw a few punches from time to time.

    I like your blog because it doesn't throw too many crud posts my way and stuff up my reader. That makes it one of the ones that I actually definitely read the entries for, as opposed to some of the others that produce more content but less thought through stuff.

  3. Caroline Middlebrook
    Caroline Middlebrook says:

    I'd never really thought of it in terms of the 'A-List' as such but there is certainly some kind of ladder of popularity with blogs, as there is with everything.

    I think that the way forward is simply to work your way up step by step. If you are a very new blogger llike myself, then it might be futile trying to get 'in' with the likes of Darren Rowse. But there are many other good quality smaller blogs in your niche – network with them instead. Over time you'll grow your own audience which moves you up a level on the ladder and makes more bloggers available to you.

    Keep doing that (and creating great content of course) and you'll slowly work your way up the ladder.

  4. SEO Can NOT Be Autom
    SEO Can NOT Be Autom says:

    Hi Hamlet,

    I've noticed your name around, so I think your doing a good job branding yourself around. It encourages people to come read and probably also subscribe.

    Besides that, thanks for linking to my post on the a-list.

    Gabriel Goldenberg

    • David Hopkins
      David Hopkins says:

      Are you actually aiming to make your name a brand? I think their is a difference between being an SEO brand and being known. You seem to be building a name for yourself with dignity and mix of quality internet marketing info rather than a load of 101 lists and Amway-esque Pyramid schemes and Digg digging copycat posts.

      As Lyndon pointed out, a lot of people like trash blogs; the same way they like trash tv and trash food. The way you seem to be going about building a reputation is much harder, but ultimately its probably going to be much more rewarding. Ironically, Lyndon followed up that post with one on how Britney Spears can help you in internet marketing 😛

      • Hamlet Batista
        Hamlet Batista says:

        Are you actually aiming to make your name a brand? I think their is a difference between being an SEO brand and being known. You seem to be building a name for yourself with dignity and mix of quality internet marketing info rather than a load of 101 lists and Amway-esque Pyramid schemes and Digg digging copycat posts.

        David – That is good question. For me, branding is not only about being known. It is about being known for something (good). In my case I want to be known for the good things you mentioned.

        I could be calling people out or generating controversy. I know that gets your name out, but I don't think that is the kind of publicity that I am looking for.

        As you said, the way I am doing it is definitely harder, but I can tell you with confidence that I have faced tougher challenges in my life and here I am 😉

        • Ted
          Ted says:

          The A-List is probably overstated.

          Depending on the products and the business a person is in really affects the SOE strategy more then most expect. That has been our experience.

          At we blog about the Renegade Marketing System which focuses on build a relationship between the customer and the sales person. It is proving to be quite a successful approach. Please come and take a look.

  5. Jimmy Lee
    Jimmy Lee says:

    Hello from Panama hamlet…

    i got in your webpage because the jhonchow reviewme thing…. so it's working… you got a new reader here!

    finally i found someone from "the third world" who is making his place on the toppy tip.
    as you can se in my blog (i'm sure you'll check it out) i decided to go for a non fixed number of topics related to man issues… and yes sometimes i run out of ideas (just read the martial art's post and found myself identified with the apprentice…)

    tienes toda la razon… y voy a seguir to consejo.

  6. Chris Raine
    Chris Raine says:


    Whether you are blogging or have a website we all understand the principle of a good page position and the importance that SEO's has in getting you that position. In no way do I consider myself an expert in SEO, although I do try and utilise good keywords, title tags and conduct backlink campaigns etc.

    Your article illustrates how difficult is has become to obtain back links, given that out of hundreds of blogs with the keyword "Internet Marketing" only 54 of them have the "DoFollow"

    More and more I too use only wire, ping goat, feed shark along with digg and other social networks to try and spread the word.

    I noted you mentioned sphinn, this was new to me so I shall investigate this one further.

    Thanks for the assistance your post as provided me!

    Kind Regards

    Chris Raine


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