kathy sierra's seven blogging virtues…

[Click on image to enlarge/download/print etc. Licensing terms here etc.]
I left the following comment over on this post:

“Gee, I work insane hours doing a job I hate, and yet am only just scraping by. How come nobody wants to read my blog?”
If what you want are lots of readers, I’d recommend instead making insane amount of money, working only two hours a day doing something you love, and shamelessly name-dropping your famous friends on a regular basis.

The fact that there are actual grownups blaming their lack of worldly success on other bloggers I find increasingly bizarre [Not with Tony’s post per se, just in general etc]. It’s like someone blaming their lack of success on other people’s ability to send and receive e-mails. It implies to me a fundamental lack of understanding how the medium ACTUALLY works.
Seriously, instead of wasting time participating in a non-event that’s going nowhere fast, maybe try this instead: The best advice for building a successful blog and/or global microbrand that I’ve heard recently was Kathy Sierra’s “Seven Blogging Virtues” that she gave at our panel last week at SXSW. You can check out the PDF here.
Hope it helps.


  1. So sorry I missed you in NYC — came down with the flu and still wrestling out of it. This cartoon and post are the very reason I read you in the first place.
    Loved the posts on microbranding. Thank you.

  2. Who is blaming their lack of success on anything or anyone? I’m happy with my blog and I’m happy with my readership.
    In fact, my posts were not about “successful blogging” — turn to Darren Rowse for that — rather, they were about the stratification of attention amongst bloggers that certain bloggers (at the top, ‘natch) don’t acknowledge.
    That’s all.
    I agree that its a tiresome conversation and that if you want to improve your blog, *of course* you would be better of doing something than complaining about it.
    In fact, I wrote a few suggestions about “blog marketing” myself a few months ago that seemed to be well received
    Thanks for the help, Hugh … but I actually think we’re on the same wavelength, here.

  3. I wasn’t writing about *your* lack of success pe se, Tony, for like you say, you’re doing quite happily with it.
    But the conversation that grows around the conversation, every time it re-appears, every five months or so… now there’s another question.
    Agreed. Same wavelength…

  4. That conversation appears every five months or so because someone who has attention driving influence declares what Tony – and you – say exists – attention driving influence – doesn’t.
    I don’t see many folks in that thread saying their success – or lack thereof – is because of – or despite of – it.
    The thread pops up because of the denial dude.

  5. Ah, I knew I had gone around this before here 1/2 :-)
    “In the modern economy, we can’t all be self-employed small-business owners.
    This is a mathematical fact. That you reach immediately for the personal attack to shut down such simple criticism – well, I think it says far more about your abilities than mine.”
    “Kathy Sierra: As I point out, if there’s a myth of meritocracy, one way of re-inforcing this myth in the face of anything contrary, is to claim all Z-listers are whiners. I think the power-level structure refutes this definitively and objectively. Though I recognize to those making such a claim that it’s not a matter of mathematics, it’s a matter of social ideology.”
    Might as well toss these here, not that it’ll do any good:
    Jon Garfunkel: “The New Gatekeepers”
    Nick Carr: “The Great Unread”
    Shelley Powers: “Guys Don’t Link”

  6. Hi Seth, always nice to see you appearing again, right on schedule- I can set my clock to it [I predicted it last time, remember?]
    Karl: “The thread pops up because of the denial dude.”
    I agree. Though what exactly is being denied is debatable 😉

  7. “Kathy Sierra: As I point out, if there’s a myth of meritocracy, one way of re-inforcing this myth in the face of anything contrary, is to claim all Z-listers are whiners. I think the power-level structure refutes this definitively and objectively. Though I recognize to those making such a claim that it’s not a matter of mathematics, it’s a matter of social ideology.”
    IMO, many of the Z-Listers could care less about the whole Letter-List debate. It’s the A and B listers that fight like cats and dogs over it.
    When I started the Z-List, it was for a few blogs that I thought were great blogs, that for whatever reason, didn’t have many links. I wanted them to get more exposure because I thought they deserved it, and because I knew that other bloggers would enjoy their work, if they knew about them.
    I have lost count on how many blogs I saw go from 30 links to 500, in a couple of weeks. Bloggers went from being nobodies (link-wise), to A-Listers, according to Technorati, in a few days. But none of them cared where their link count rated compared to other bloggers.
    Hugh said something one time about ‘Think the A-Listers are pissy, check out the B-Listers’. And I think that’s about it. This is a total non-issue except to the A-Listers, and the bloggers that are almost considered A-Listers. I do think there’s some of the ‘why should I link to you since it won’t help my traffic cause you are a B-Lister?’ mentality at work, but I also think the B-Listers are seeing their being ‘held back’ in places where they aren’t.
    At the end of the day, it’s a total waste of time. It’s a waste of time for the A-Listers to say they don’t exist, just like it’s a waste of time for the B-Listers to say they are being held back. The bottom line is that we bloggers as a group can be pretty damned insecure, which is where much of this friction comes from, no matter what letter you are on the blogging scale.

  8. Good lord, is this topic still en vogue? Eight years ago — when there were only a couple of hundred of us around, it seemed — people were whining about the A-list consisting of a secret cabal of ten bloggers who decided who was popular and who was not. (Hmm, can I still name them? There was Jason and Meg and Evan and Matt and Cam and… maybe Ernie? Jack Saturn? Heather? No, I guess I can’t remember them all.)
    I”m sure there’s still an old boys’ network of some kind, as we humans seem to invent them every chance we get. But frankly I would argue that the trend-setters in the form now are big corporations with big money, just as in any other medium.
    But that’s just me, and I’m so far south of Z I think I’m on some high-ASCII list.

  9. OMG, I am so amateur! I totally broke this rule in a royal red carpet way!
    Be Humble
    A little name-dropping is OK, but is knowing that you just had dinner with [insert web celeb] worth your readers’ time?
    Hell yeah it’s worth it! OK, yeah, but just this once ok? Come on … :-)

  10. Forget the d*** A List.
    They’re a bunch of uptight status monkeys.
    Need proof?
    Notice the low membership of hot female bloggers.
    (And if you are asking “are there hot female bloggers?” then you really should get out more)
    The X List is the only place to be.

  11. Thanks Hugh — and oh man was it an honor to be on that panel with you.
    [Ladies: he’s even better-looking in person. ]
    As for this latest blamefest… I can’t believe it keeps coming up. I’m not sure there’s an A-list (or at least, there is no *single* A-List), but I’m certain of one thing — nobody else can somehow *prevent* another blogger from having readers. Even if a blogger isn’t “let in” to the secret conspiracy A-list, so what? Cute Overload made it to the Technorati Top 100 without a single post on Techmeme or a single link to Scoble, TechCrunch, etc. Just disturbingly adorable baby animal photos (and charming, quirky prose).

  12. Hugh,
    I am *so* laughing over this one….
    It’s the same argument heard time and time again, with Seth F. giving out links to the same articles he constantly links to time and time again…(I sometimes think the guy has less of a job than I have, and that’s saying something. And get some new links, Seth!)
    The last fracas on this one I got involved in was when Tristain Louis wrote a post titled “The New Gatekeepers”–which ended with Tristan and I having a very nice email back and forth about how blogging is what you make it, and sometimes whether or not your an A-B-C-D lister is contingent on your real-life work, coupled with how you present your personality online…
    Oh, and that “Z-list” meme? only helped the already popular. Wasn’t much of a Z-list at all…
    As for something that can *really* affect your status online: recently Google de-indexed me. My growing popularity dropped off precipitously, thus so did my interest in blogging (and re-ignited my interest in selling off my comic book and Barbie doll collections.) Who wants to blog into thin air? Google’s straighetned out their faux pas (due to a glitch in the templates of some blogs switching from Blogger to GoogleBlogger). Now, I’m left to pick up the pieces and try to get back that small but somewhat influential readership. Still, Google’s de-indexing was far more hurtful than any A-list snub.
    Sorry I missed SXSW this year–would’ve liked to have met you….

  13. “Oh, and that “Z-list” meme? only helped the already popular. Wasn’t much of a Z-list at all…”
    Since I started the Z-List, I can verify that this wasn’t the case. The 5 blogs that appeared on the original Z-List all had 31 links or less at the time(http://moblogsmoproblems.blogspot.com/2006/12/revenge-of-z-lister.html). I believe all are in the 400-500 range now. Almost all of the blogs that have ever appeared on the Z-List had well under 100 links when they were added. And a few days ago I noticed that it started circulating through the tech blogs, so it’s still out there.
    None of the true ‘A-Listers’ made the list in any form until Seth added the list to Squidoo, then it quickly became a free-for-all. But that list and the original Z-List happily remain separate entities.

  14. thanks, Mack…I didn’t see the Z-list until it was Squidoo’d…
    I ended up on the 2000 Bloggers meme, which has been interesting and spawned its own controversy for “gaming” Technorati. Although lots of people who’ve found themselves on that list actually have gone and read the blogs of folks listed, thus using it to discover new bloggers (which has been fun. never knew there were so many fun Malaysian blogs!)
    Still, it’s all what you make of it….and “it” isn’t really the A-list