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Internet Famous: Becoming an Online Celebrity

How To, Marketing, Resources | Nov 30, 2009

Some people dream of being famous from the time they’re quite young. They crave the spotlight, and will do anything to be the center of attention.

They want nothing more than to become a celebrity, to have legions of adoring fans, and to have their name recognized the world over.

For others, fame is a means to an end. They want to be famous so people will buy their product, hire them to do something they love, or to influence others to support a cause they really care about.

They see promoting themselves and becoming a celebrity as a way to further their career, business, or other efforts, and nothing more. In many cases, these people would prefer not to be famous if they could be as effective in other ways.

Whichever category you fall into, if you’re reading this article you’re probably interested in becoming an Internet celebrity. Read on to find out more.

 

Robert ScobleWhy You’d Want to Be Internet Famous

As mentioned above, some people want to be famous as a means to an end while others just want to be famous. But why would you want to be Internet famous instead of old-fashioned, mainstream-media famous?

Well, to some extent the question answers itself. Becoming famous in a traditional sense is hard.

It takes a lot of time and a lot of money in most cases.

In all likelihood, becoming traditional-famous will require you to move somewhere celebrities live (like Los Angeles or New York), spend all your time trying to gain media attention, and then it’s hit-or-miss at best.

Unless you’ve got a family fortune, are incredibly gorgeous, and/or are incredibly talented and driven (and have a whole lot of luck on your side), you could spend years trying to get attention with no results.

Kevin Rose

But Internet fame is different. Virtually anyone can do it.

It doesn’t cost a lot (most of the technologies you’ll need to use are completely free, and those that aren’t you likely already have access to). And it doesn’t have to become a full time job.

Another great thing about Internet fame is that it’s fairly easy to get your followers and fans to actually do something you ask them to do.

When you ask someone to buy your product or donate to your cause in a newspaper article, they’re not in a position to do so immediately. They’ll have to put the newspaper down, and either go to the store or go online and purchase or donate. In all likelihood, they’ll put it on their mental to-do list and then forget all about it half an hour later.

But with Internet fame, if you ask someone in a blog post or a tweet or a Facebook update to click on a link to buy something (or donate, or read something, or share something), it’s very easy for them to follow through. All they have to do is click. It makes immediate action that much more likely.

 

Some Initial Preparations

Taking a week or two to make some initial preparations before you start your quest to become Internet famous can save you a lot of headaches and hassles down the road. There are a few things you’ll need to do to optimize your chances of success.

Choose a Niche

First of all, you’ll need to have a niche. It’s pretty tough to become Internet famous these days if you’re trying to appeal to everyone.

If you have a product or cause you’re trying to promote, this makes choosing a niche easier (you want to appeal to those people who would be your customers or donors). But if you just want to be famous to be famous, you’ll need to give it more thought.

Pick something you’re interested in or knowledgeable about. Whatever you do, make sure the niche you choose is something you’re passionate about. That passion will shine through in your online activities and help get your followers excited.

Also, try to adapt your personality to appeal to your potential fans. This doesn’t mean you need to change who you are, but simply to emphasize one or another aspect of your personality over the others.


Take a Good Profile Photo

A good profile picture or avatar is really important. You should take a photo that shows you in the light you want to portray yourself in.

If you’re trying to come across as professional, make sure your avatar pic is professional. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have a photo that’s stuffy, but it should reflect a professional attitude (see the photo below for a good example).

If you’re trying to become famous in order to help stop global warming, make sure your profile picture doesn’t show you sitting in an SUV (even if it is a hybrid). If your online persona is supposed to be wacky or crazy, make your profile pic reflect that.

 

Social Media Technologies to Use

So you’ve decided to become an online celebrity. That’s great. But you’re probably wondering how, exactly, you’re supposed to do that.

Below is a great list of the social media technologies out there and how you can take advantage of each. This is an abbreviated list and doesn’t include everything to know about each, but it’s a good starting point and will get you going in the right direction.

  • Blogs
    If you’re considering becoming an online celeb, you really need to have a blog. Whether you choose to go with a free, hosted blog (like WordPress.com or Tumblr) or host your own, a blog is an important part of your online presence. Use it to let your fans know about all the things you’re doing online and off.
  • Microblogging
    Twitter or similar services are another important place to share information about your activities with your fans. Twitter is the most popular, so an account there is probably your best bet.
  • Multimedia
    Branching out into multimedia content can go a long way toward getting people excited about what you have to say. Consider video (including video blogging, aka vlogging), podcasts, or even photo sharing to become even more known.
  • Social Networks
    You’ll want to join at least one social network, and depending on your niche, you may want to join more than one. There are two basic kinds of social network: general networks that attract a wide range of people, and specialized networks that focus on a particular subject area or niche. Join a general one (Facebook is a good all-around option; MySpace is good if you’re somehow related to the music industry; LinkedIn is best for professionals and corporate types), and any specialized networks that are active in your niche.
  • Social Bookmarking and News
    Using social bookmarking and news sites can be a great way to get your content out to potential fans and followers. If you build a reputation for disseminating high-quality content, other users will be more likely to vote up or share the content you submit.

So now that you know which platforms you should check out, how do you make the most of them?

Well, the short answer is to consistenly create high-quality content. Think of what your fans potential fans are interested in. What kinds of content do they like? What kinds of things are they looking for online? What are they not getting anywhere else?

Answer those and you’ll have a good idea of what you need to do to keep your fans happy and gain new fans.

 

Creating Your Social Media Strategy

Creating a strategy for your social media efforts can really pay off. Rather than taking a hap-hazzard, shotgun-style approach, come up with a plan for how to best-focus your online efforts. By doing this, you’ll waste less time and likely see better results.

Start out by deciding which technologies you want to use. Blogs are a must, as are social networks. Microblogging is another one you should seriously consider. But what you do beyond that is entirely a matter of personal choice. Think about it and decide what you’re most comfortable with. Not everyone likes doing video or audio. Not everyone is a great photographer. That’s fine. You don’t have to be to be Internet famous.

Once you’ve decided which platforms you want to use, and have signed up for accounts on each, you’ll want to decide how much time you can devote to your efforts each day.

Keeping a blog updated on a regular basis, participating in social networks, and microblogging can all be done in an hour a day or less (though you should probably break that down in two 30-minute sessions or four 15-minute sessions for better results and to give the impression you’re active a lot more than you really are).

If you want to do podcasts or videos, you might want to devote another couple of hours each week to their production.

Let’s say you’re going to spend an hour each day, in four 15-minute chunks. Your social media strategy might look something like this:

  • Morning 15 minutes: Check Twitter and blog comments. Send out a tweet or two. Respond to comments.
  • Lunchtime 15 minutes: Write a blog post. Send out another tweet (announcing the post preferably). Update status on social networks.
  • Afternoon 15 minutes: Update status and tweet. Check for more blog comments and respond.
  • Evening 15 minutes: Update status and tweet.

It’s a pretty simple strategy that aims to keep you in front of your fans throughout the day.

There are various tools that can help you do these things faster (like TweetDeck or Ping.fm, which let you update your social networks and Twitter at the same time).

There are also services where you can pre-schedule updates, spreading them out over the whole day even if you’re not online. Take advantage to the technology you have available to you to simplify and automate your social media efforts as much as is practically possible.

You might not have dedicated times to update your online activities. If you use a cell phone to update your status or to tweet, you’ll likely be able to post updates throughout the day. Or you might dedicate a couple hours each weekend to writing blog posts for the week.

This can make it quite a bit easier to stay updated without having to dedicate blocks of time to these activities. Just make sure you’re consistent, and that you post updates on a daily basis (keeping a daily checklist of sites to update can be helpful).

 

Keys to Internet Fame

So, you’ve got a Facebook account, a Twitter feed, and a blog, and you update them all regularly. Is that really all there is to it?

Well, yes and no. Becoming Internet Famous requires a bit more than just regular updates. There’s no tried-and-true formula that will work every time.

It’s going to depend on the platforms you use, how much time you can devote to your efforts, and a bit of luck. But here are some key things you can do to improve your odds.

  • Let your personality shine through
    Everyone has a personality, and one key to setting yourself apart is to let yours show. Don’t be afraid to let your followers and fans see the real you. When someone feels like they’re dealing with a real person, rather than someone who’s faking it for attention, they’re more likely to become a true fan, someone who will become an advocate for you and your content and push it out to their own friends and followers (thereby creating an even bigger fanbase for you).
  • Engage your followers
    When you start getting some Twitter followers or Facebook friends or blog commenters, make sure you engage with them. Have conversations. Ask for their input. Respond to what they’re saying. This makes people remember who you are more easily, and makes it more likely they’ll turn to you when they need advice in your area of expertise.
  • Be passionate
    If you’re passionate about what you’re doing and what you’re talking about, that will be evident in the content you produce. Fans and followers like someone who is passionate about what they do; in fact, it can be contagious. If they see that you’re really into something, they’re more likely to want to find out why you love it so much and to become interested in it themselves.
  • Make your fans care
    This is really an extension of the previous two, but give your fans a reason to care about what you’re doing. This is done through being authentic and building trust among your fans (so they know what you’re saying is real), being passionate about what you say and do, and asking for their input, advice, and take on what you’re doing. If you involve your followers in your online life, rather than simply using social media as a soapbox, you’ll quickly turn casual followers into fans.
  • It’s a process
    You’re probably not going to gain Internet fame overnight. While there are some who have done it, many of them have gone on to become one-hit wonders, better known for some extreme antics, embarrassment, or humiliation than for anything worthwhile. Instead, look at the long view when it comes to building up a fan-base and really cultivating a following that will not only know who you are, but will care what you have to say.
  • Know when to call it quits
    Not every effort you make online is going to be successful. Maybe you’ll find after doing a few podcasts that it’s just not your thing. Or maybe you’ll find that even though you’re enjoying something, it’s just not providing any results (make sure you give these things a few months though, as some take a bit longer to catch on). Maybe you’ll even decide that there just aren’t enough potential followers out there for your chosen niche (or that they’re all too preoccupied with someone else in your niche that you just can’t seem to outdo). In any case, know when it’s time to move on to something else. This doesn’t mean you need to give up your dream of being Internet famous, only that you need to re-evaluate how you’re going about it and adjust your strategy.

 

If you still want to know more…

The information above only scratches the surface of what you can do to become Internet famous. For more complete information, check out my book: Internet Famous: A Practical Guide to Becoming an Online Celebrity.


Written exclusively for WDD by Cameron Chapman.

Are you Internet Famous? Please share with us what strategies have worked best for you…



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  • http://www.paulsanduleac.wordpress.com Paul Sanduleac

    Wow! Thanks for the tips, I’ll think about it.. :))

    • http://www.firmaturk.org firma ekle

      I’ll also try your tips.thank you

  • http://www.yorickpeterse.com/ Yorick Peterse

    *facepalm*

  • http://youtube.com/curtis Curtis

    I actually made a youtube about this a couple days ago lol.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mreLnDOKSh4

    • creativeblondes

      is that a giant apple in the corner of the room on the left side ?

  • http://www.belasartes.br Denis

    Excelent post. Buuuuuuut….

    You say “It’s Famous because it’s good” because you don’t live in Brazil. That’s a fact.

    • http://www.bryan-kun.deviantart.com Bryan G. C.

      Oh that’s so true. xD I live in Brazil too…

    • Paula

      I’m with you brother!

  • http://www.solaerawebdesign.com Rosalind Wills

    Great article; the idea of setting the social media aspects up as a scheduled part of your day or week is a good one, because otherwise it’s easy to let it get lost in the shuffle. Right now, I’m still in the process of getting started but I’m planning on kind of using Saturday or Sunday as my “blogging day,” accumulating ideas during the week based on things that I’ve seen around the web or problems that I’ve had while working and then producing something on the weekend after picking the thing that seems most useful or engaging.

    Another thing worth adding — commenting on other blogs to get your name out there? ;-)

  • http://www.healthinsuranceofcalifornia.com California (state) health insurance

    Internet fame has become overwhelming. The number of vloggers on YouTube is tremendous. But you’re right… a lot of people don’t have a niche, or that something special that intrigues an audience. I guess the ones that draw an audience do deserve credit.

  • http://www.squiders.com Web Design Maidstone

    I will happily hide behind my work, no weblebrity status for me thank you… I’m not even on facebook :)

    • http://www.creativeindividual.co.uk Laura

      Until a few days ago I was the same as you… so I REALLY do understand were your coming from.

      But I realised the networking and marketing potential of being on Facebook and letting clients see the person behind the work, so I signed myself up.

  • http://www.designfollow.com/ designfollow

    very useful, thank you.

  • http://www.ranestam.se Anton Ranestam

    Really cool post, I really liked the part with the 1 hour of social media. I will try that method :)

  • http://www.idc-guide.com PADI IDC

    its famous because its good
    classic

  • RoaldA

    Interessting, definitely my next goal! ;D

  • Amatatomba

    Seems to me that trying to get famous online or off doesn’t usually work all that well. I think most people can sense when someone is trying too hard and then it backfires. But that being said, this article is good for someone who just wants to get their name out there as opposed to the online equivalent of Paris Hilton.

  • http://jordankoschei.com Jordan Koschei

    Andy Warhol said that “in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”

    A later revisionist made it more accurate: “In the future, everyone will be famous to 15 people.” That was in 1991, before anything like social media was even on the radar. What’s happened to our world?

  • http://caramelz.my Grey

    thanks for the tips, really! just started a blog here too and trying to promote it, these tips will definitely help :D i will have to think of my strategy better too :)

  • http://john.onolan.org JohnONolan

    Interesting write-up, I covered something vaguely similar myself a few months ago. I’ve always been of the opinion that the only way to obtain real fame is to do something WORTH being famous for. Not by leveraging a strategy to BECOME famous.

    If that makes sense? :)

  • http://webanddesigners.com Webanddesigners

    Social media strategy is what I need to follow.

  • http://www.bebop-ad.com BebopDesigner

    Brilliant article! love it. Thanks for sharing… I would really love to become a web celebrity :D but I guess I’m too busy being in love with freelance design.

    Cheers

  • http://www.bcm-websolutions.de/de/shoperstellung-mit-xt-commerce-veyton.html Shoperstellung

    Hmm rather be famous or happy i guess ;)… happy is my way

    • http://www.slightlycurvedcube.co.uk Wayne Hodkinson

      Happy everyday rather than famous for 5 mins – DEFO!

  • http://www.r4-nintendo-ds.com.ar cartucho r4i

    I have read a lot of books and have come across so many tips of how to make money and become rich and famous on the internet. But the fact is that only 5% of these really have information that one would not know.

  • Shane Keene

    Excellent article. The thing I’ve noticed about those who are “Internet Famous” is that most of them weren’t trying to be famous initially. It just turned out that way, usually because of extremely high quality content.

  • http://www.rossmcnaughton.com Rosti The Snowman

    Thanks for this post, this will really help my development :D

  • http://www.aledesign.it aledesign.it

    A nice post. Useful. Thanks for the sharing.

  • http://www.creativeindividual.co.uk Laura

    Very interesting read, thanks Cameron, lots to pounder.

    I’ve only really ventured into the blogging and social networking scene myself, but if you’ve got the worthwhile content (and the time), then I can definitely see the benefits.

    Facebook and the like are really important tools if your market is in an area were the ‘personal’ touch is really important. Try getting a design job in the North West of England (apart from maybe Manchester, very maybe) without a good word-of-mouth rep.

    Like everyone, I like the schedule idea =D

  • http://www.kaplang.com Michelle

    really good post and some great tips, thanks

  • Kevin Quillen

    Work at something great and become known, but don’t set out to become known by being in everyones face and contribute nothing (Chris Crocker etc).

  • http://human3rror.com John (Human3rror)

    hah. i wonder if it truly is so formulaic…

  • http://www.eyefruit.com/ Scott Buchanan

    Wow, can you say narcissism?

  • HammerHead

    Releasing your own porn video doesn’t hurt either.

    • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com Walter

      Wow, how did we forget this one! A good one for sure ;)

  • http://www.natura360.it/ Ivan

    Wow, great guide, thank you. I add this post on my bookmarks

  • http://www.wealth-hourly.com/packages/index.php Free $20 to Paypal

    Thank you for your post,,
    This is a great info,,,,

  • http://www.jalcommunications.com Jim

    You make it sound so easy. If it were, wouldn’t we all be “internet famous?” Internet fame is like traditional fame–not everyone can be at the top. You’ve got to have something to contribute, something that makes others want what ever it is you’re offering. Even then, you still need to be discovered.

    However, unlike traditional fame, internet fame is somewhat relative. Depending on your objective, it might not take much to become famous. While a hundred readers might not seem like much, for the right person in the right niche, that could equal fame.

    With that in mind, I think you’ve outlined a great strategy. Just consider your objectives and what actually qualifies as fame.

  • http://www.themetoday.com Beau

    That’s a great in depth article! The internet has made some celebrities in each niche. For example, I would consider Shoemoney and John Chow “how to make money” celebs.

  • http://modelswim.com Tom Hu

    Well, I’m trying as hard as I can and doing most of this! But “fame” remains elusive. I think being famous in a mass media like TV or movies sure helps, although some have parlayed their online fame into mass-media fame as well. Just look at Perez Hilton. That kind of fame I just don’t understand, but, there you have it!

  • http://spenserbaldwin.com Spenser Baldwin

    You put everything I’ve been trying to convey to client in one spot. Thanks for the super summary

  • http://www.amberweinberg.com Amber Weinberg

    Great post! I’ve actually been asked to do several interviews and special reviews this month. Brings a tear to me eye to think people care about what I say and do. ;)

  • Mike

    Would never be an Internet Celebrity I am too boring, as apparent to 3 visitors that would ever visit my site after 4 years but you don’t see me quitting anytime soon. 70% of the internet are people like me anyways and 30% is probably just spam people/robots internet isn’t what it appears to be. If I have 3 quality viewers its cool, internet celebrity seems faker then real ones maybe should there be higher standards?

  • http://modelswim.com Tom Hu

    BOOO on editing my post!

    • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com Walter

      Sorry, I had to, I cannot make everyone ‘famous’ here – imagine what this post/blog would look like if I let that thru :)

  • http://www.smashingshare.com/ Waheed Akhtar

    Excellent post Cameron. Definitely to become an internet celebrity you have to give a lot of time to the internet :)

  • http://www.bloggerden.com/ Jake Rocheleau

    You make some good points.. it’s really not that difficult to become an internet celebrity, I believe almost anyone can do it. Look at Kevin Rose!

  • http://www.OmanHoliday.co.uk Famous in Oman

    You could try fame in the land nobody has heard of

  • http://www.bigtunainteractive.com/ Adam Hermsdorfer

    I figured there would be at least 1 porn comment. Any one can become an internet celeb, but can you stay an internet celeb is the question?

  • http://mercadoforex.net Mercado Loko

    I wouldn’t like to be famous, I want to live so far away from people I don’t know, just “real” friends and family. No blogging, no tweeter, no facebook,… If you are famous people start to talk about you, in good and bad ways. Jealous people will be there, even your relationship with your friends will never be the same.

  • http://magentoua.wordpress.com Magentoua

    Great post! Thanks a lot!

  • http://www.choosingidc.com PADI IDC

    Fantastic…. I love the idea of becoming an online celebrity, may be one day I will be the next rock-star!

    • Paula

      you wish…have a talent first!!!lol

    • http://www.essex-loftspace.co.uk/ Chris

      maybe one day but its more likely to happen to the boy next door

  • Jack

    It’d be nice if you could just make a phone call and have it get delivered to you like a pizza :-)

    There’s a site called Bigshot Hotshot: http://www.bigshothotshot.com/ that allegedly turns people into online celebrities for a day.

  • http://mood-de-luna.blogspot.com/ Lunargent Karu

    Well, great advices! It brings to think it’s really interesting and well explained !!
    Thanks for sharing

  • aaron

    my blog was ‘famous’ on tumblr and a few other social networks and thousands of people referred to me as an ‘internet celeb’ i wont say who i am because it sounds like im boasting but i hated it haha mainly because i got carried away with it and i ended up not being known for my graphic design side but more for my random blogging about myself etc, so yeah, make sure you dont get carried away with having thousands of people talking to you and sometimes even obsessing over you, it gets weird and you get carried away :D

  • http://www.chaudie.net Chaudie

    Thanks for writing this. This is the one and only detailed list for internet fame. You should have put this (so write something similar) on ProBlogger. A lot of people who have loved it there/

  • http://www.jc-designs.net/blog Jeremy Carlson

    If you are trying to become famous, you’re doing it wrong. In the dev blog world, people know who you are because you give good information and write great articles. Oddly, I only care about the content and what I learn from articles, not the actual person who writes them. If I learned something I’ll come back for more.

    I have found recently (past 4-5 months) that the people I used to think were awesome are writing more fluff pieces that just don’t matter to me anymore. Now, it seems like the people that are writing great content and tutorials are the ones no one knows about (or at least very few).

    Telling people how to become famous just encourages more crap content. Thank god for Netvibes and twitter….now I can scan for the good stuff and ignore the fluff.

  • http://dailybragger.com Tom Guard

    Great post. I don’t normally read web design blogs but my co-worker sent this to me in an email.