This guest post is by Ankesh Kothari of SuccessNexus.com.
Psychologist Antonius Cillessen of the University of Connecticut wondered how kids became popular. So he started researching social behaviors and peer relations of early adolescent kids in American schools. And he found something very interesting.
He found that every school had a bunch of very friendly kids who are socially accepted and liked by everyone. But they are never considered popular.
The kids who are considered popular are often just as friendly as these universally liked kids, but with one difference. The popular kids draw a boundary around themselves, and exclude a few “outcasts” from their circle.
Professor Antonius found that you can’t become popular unless you learn to exclude. He stumbled onto a truth that Chinese philosopher Confucius had described years earlier:
“Build small community and thousands will want to join.” – Confucius
It’s a truth high-end clubs have realized too. The harsher they are in excluding people from entering their premises, the more popular they get. Facebook grew when Friendster and other social sites didn’t. Why? because of their initial exclusivity—they only allowed folks with a .edu email address to sign up.
Apple. Rolex. Rivendell bikes. All of them are insanely popular because they focus on only one type of an audience and exclude others.
If you want to make your blog popular, you too have to learn to exclude. You shouldn’t cater to everyone. Only by creating exclusivity can you get the crowds to clamor for what you offer.
- Decide who your ideal reader is. What is their one characteristic that you value above everything else? What are their peculiarities. What do they love? What do they hate? (Or if not hate, what are they indifferent towards?)
- Draw a boundary around yourself based on what your ideal reader loves and hates. Exclude writing posts on certain topics and catering to a certain group of people.
- Let the world know (from your about page or your sidebar) who you are excluding and why.
I used this process to create a sense of exclusivity around my own blog. The first thing I did when I started out was to focus on who my ideal readers would be. I zeroed in on people who would take action without making excuses, and who have achieved some success already and are hungry for more.
I know that if I can help my readers’ blogs grow, my site will grow automatically. And so I only wanted to focus on readers who are willing and able to put in the work to take action and grow their blogs.
That’s why I focused on excluding two types of audiences that are slow or inconsistent in taking action:
- Beginners: people who just don’t have the skillset or the resources yet to implement things and take action.
- Hot news chasers: folks who get excited by every shiny new thing that comes out and waste their time jumping from one thing to the next.
On the, I clearly mention that the above the kinds of audiences are not welcome.
The added benefit of this declaration is that it polarizes my audience to my liking. The beginners and hot news chasers go somewhere else. Meanwhile, the action-takers realize that there won’t be a lot of fluff on my blog, and subscribe in higher numbers.
- How can you become popular? Simple: don’t serve everyone.
- Target the right people. Don’t write for everyone.
- Mention on your about page: which topics you will never cover, and which people you will never cater to.
- Be choosy and selective, and your fame and influence will grow.
Have you tried this approach on your blog? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments.
Ankesh Kothari is the founder of SuccessNexus.com—an affiliate management application for blogs and forums. He also runs the —which you should not visit if you’ve just started blogging or didn’t find value in this post.