Ask The Readers: How Did You “Get on the Map?”

I have a special question today for those of you who have already achieved some recognition and/or reputation online.

How did you “get on the map?”

In other words, what tactic, connection, action, event, or chain of events led to a breakthrough and earned your first major recognition or the initial gathering of your “tribe?”

I’d love to hear what put you on the map in the comments below.

From the prior ask the readers segment, I asked “should you be intimidated by competition or just go for it?

My answer is usually this: competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Often it validates the market and proves there is demand that could support your venture or business.

If you do enter a competitive market however, you need some secret sauce (differentiation) to make your website stand out. Without a unique selling proposition, there is no reason for a potential customer to choose you vs. the other choices.

My favorite reader answer comes from Lloyd of Greenblayza who wrote this:

I have to say the right answer lies in a mix of what John Muldoon and John Bardos have said.

You need to be original/unique/different but you also have to be useful.

If you’re one or the other you’re missing half the ingredients. Putting out great content is superb work, but if you deliver it the same way as everyone else how will you be noticed?

If you’re your blog is “outside the box” taking on problems at different angles people will notice. But will they stick around if your content sucks?

The other factors people mentioned are important: competition, strategy, commitment, courage, etc. But you should first ask yourself, “Is something missing here?” Yes. “Can I write epic shit about it?” Hell yes. “Can I deliver it like no one else?…”

Thanks Lloyd, well put. Both ingredients are indeed important.

Back to this week’s question.

Please, I’d love to know: how did you “get on the map” online?

The best answer wins my affection and adoration 😉

Published by

Corbett Barr

Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.

39 thoughts on “Ask The Readers: How Did You “Get on the Map?””

  1. I wrote a personal essay about life as a minimalist family and it was published in the Globe and Mail (Canada’s version of the NYT).

    It was HUGE for my little blog. The essay brought a bunch of secondary media including two radio interviews and one television interview. I still get interview requests from the piece and it was published 5 months ago.

    The attention gave me more motivation to reach out for guest post opportunities and that continued to grow my readership.

    Advice: don’t overlook traditional media like newspapers, radio and tv.

  2. The turning point for me – where I went from “Huh, look at all these crazy ways you can make money online?!” to “Wow, there’s actually money being deposited into my bank account!!!” – was actually selling one of my first blogs to a company that bought and flipped websites. They offered me a contract writing for their other sites, and within a few months, that single article writing project turned into a full-fledged agency with seven writers and a five-figure income.

    While doing all this writing, I learned a lot about affiliate marketing and started getting more into that as well. Eventually, all of this led to the launch of my current site – Common Sense Marketing – which is finally giving me the chance to give back a fraction of what I’ve learned along the way and spread the values that are important to me as an ethical internet marketer.

    Looking back, it’s crazy to see how saying yes to one simple thing (taking an article writing contract) led me down this path, but I’d definitely say that’s what put me on the map online :)

  3. Well I’m not on the map – yet. So I am very much looking forward to seeing the responses.

    I do have a plan though – it involves reaching out to people who I think will see eye to eye with me, and it also involves packaging a few things in a way that I feel uniquely qualified to offer. I almost feel like I can’t fail because there is such a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit in the blogosphere – and we’re all rooting for each other!

  4. I started making videos a long time ago and got myself out there. Then I converted to just doing seo in which I found out was more harder..but I had more control over.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  5. The turning point for my blogging career was when I started guest blogging in a massive scale.

    There are so many successful bloggers online with massive audience, and the best way to build a successful blog quickly is by leveraging their audience. That’s exactly what I do with guest blogging, and it is the best decision I’ve made so far.

  6. Before I sold my blog – I took an approach I call “reverb” – which was to reverberate with my readers by taking them further on their journey than they had expected. To do this, I would go through the comments carefully and note a few people who seemed like they needed a bit more at the time…and then I would simply email them and offer up something more…something additional that I felt would help.

    That single action I took did not waste my time at all – rather – it caused loyal customers. And those people *are* your marketing team.

    Mind you…this was a site about the iPad – – do you think anyone reading an iPad site would ever expect that?


  7. For me it was when I started regularly contributing posts to some larger blogs in my niche. Any that offered a fulltime writing gig were especially helpful in getting my brand and my style noticed.
    From there it was a case of reaffirming my message to market and then making sure I was always ‘there’ on the many avenues of social media.
    I never really promoted myself using social media – like Oni, it really all started with guest posts. Of course I could and would never compare myself and my giest posting skills to that of the great Oni (although I did beat him once in a guest post comp – but I reckon he let me win, didn’t you Oni 😉 )

    Great idea and very inspirational too, cheers Corbett

  8. Can’t say that I’m even on the map, much more where the map is or what it looks like. Being that we all define success differently with some overlap between us, I like to think that I’m still struggling to find my place amongst the successful. I enjoy the struggle, to be honest. Guess I’m kind of a masochist in that regard.

    However, if we define the map as have x amount of traffic flowing through a site, then sure, I can define that. It’s when I realized how to tailor pages that provide specific answers or content for topics that people are searching for. I don’t get all in depth and analyze competition, I just do it. If it hits, great. If not, try again.

    I really don’t enjoy analyzing competition, I find it rather mundane.

    One thing that stuck with me is the idea of writing “epic shit”. Not sure where I heard that before. 😉

  9. My “big break” came early–way earlier than I would ever have expected. I started out with a free blog hosted at, which has a daily “Freshly Pressed” feature where their home page displays a handful of their editors’ favorite blog posts that day.

    Barely a couple weeks into blogging, one of my posts hit Freshly Pressed. I left my computer for half an hour and came back to find 50+ comments had come in. I was completely overwhelmed (in the best way possible).

    A couple weeks later, another one of my posts was Freshly Pressed, bringing in another slew of new readers that never might have found me otherwise. In my first month of blogging, I managed to acquire some of the “core” readers that are still with me now and have become some of my best friends and blogging colleagues.

    At first I thought it was just really (really) amazing luck. But now I have to say I agree with the “write epic shit” philosophy. I really put a lot of time and heart into those posts, and I made sure that everything I posted was something I was proud of. I just gave it my all, and I was fortunate enough to be featured for it.

    I also have to say that starting out like you’re already “something” also helps. I didn’t launch my blog until it looked like the kind of thing that had been around for a while–put together, professional, confident even though I had no reason to be yet. When attention “found” me so soon into my blog’s existence, I was ready for it. I looked like I really had my stuff in gear, even though I was an extreme newbie.

  10. I doubt I’m on the map. Most people have no idea who I am or what websites I have anymore. When I first started back in 2007 I was starting to build an audience at but I pretty much stopped blogging on that site and focused on what was supposed to be a niche site for a short while. It has turned into an authority site and has been my main focus for almost 4 years now.

    I just recently purged ABAN and have started writing there again. I don’t remember my exact numbers but I had close to 1,000 subscribers for my RSS feed, maybe 250 for email news letter and around 2,500 visitors per day after 3 or 4 months of writing.

    I found being confrontational and controversial helped to get my site noticed. Both on the site itself and when commenting on other blogs. I also found you have to be wary of that method or you’ll anger people and when that happens being “on the map” isn’t always what it is cracked up to be.

    One of my first large increases in traffic came from writing blog reviews. Unsolicited blog reviews. I’d find a blog, tell everyone how much it sucked, email the owner and they of course would link to the article for rebuttals and I’d get traffic from them. After a while people started asking me to write reviews of their blogs. It was fun but very draining.

  11. I had been writing on SPI for quite a while – seeing a very slow increase in traffic and the same few commenters on each post. A nice little community who I was happy to write for, however I did consider giving up plenty of times, asking myself “what this really worth it?”.

    One day, I noticed a HUGE spike in my analytics. Someone, out of the blue who I had never heard of before (lazymanandmoney), wrote an entire blog post about my blog. That post was entitled, “The Best Money Blog You Aren’t Reading”. He apparently had a fairly large and active following, who all came to my site and became instant fans too.

    That’s what put me on the map.

    Once I was on the map, more people started to learn about me and I was eventually featured on Entrepreneurs Journey, then Problogger, BlogCastFM, etc. and my blog just grew out of control (in a good way) since then.

    I didn’t do anything special – no guest posting or crazy SEO tactics. All I did was provide valuable, interesting and unique content for my small group of readers, and eventually it came back to me, somehow, many times over.

    1. Wow, thanks so much for this concise yet inspirational story Pat.
      I really learned a lot from your comment, and it also gave me renewed strength -something I need right now.

      Cheers Pat – you are the man

    2. Pat, thanks for the inspiration. It’s kind of like running a marathon: you have to keep going, and eventually you get the runner’s high. Or like pumping water from the well: you have to prime the pump with excellent content and continue refining that unique selling proposition. And then one day….you’re on the map!

  12. Three Main Things:
    1. Connections with other bloggers at my level.
    2. Getting a couple subtle links from A List bloggers.
    3. Going to the World Domination Summit to meet some of the big “movers and shakers” online.

  13. It was funny to see this particular question and then see my name in the post. Does that mean I’m on the map? 😉 (Probably not)

    I recently talked with one of my clients about this very question. Here are a few ingredients to getting “on the map”:

    1. Be helpful. This is the most important thing. Ever. I’m talking about crazy-insanely-helpful. That doesn’t mean being loud or showy or promoting yourself. It means figuring out what your talents are and sharing them freely and intensely with as many people as possible. (See Corbett, Pat Flynn, etc.) This is true in life and business in general, but it’s even more true online and in the blog world. I look at the internet as a competition on “who can be the most helpful”. If you compete on helpfulness, you won’t have to compete for traffic or followers or profits (eventually).

    2. Form strong relationships. Luckily, if you’re helpful you have lots of opportunities to form strong relationships. I suggest making friends indiscriminately–don’t just try to be buddies with that big-time blogger because you hope to “win” a guest post someday. You never know who someone else knows. Being friendly can pay off in a huge way. Of course, some relationships will lead to strategic partnerships and those can easily put you on the map. Just like Pat’s comment about someone writing “The Best Money Blog You Aren’t Reading”. There was a relationship before Pat even knew it. There are endless ways that relationships can pay off and put you on the map.

    I could go on, but yeah, that’s what has worked for me and my clients.

    1. Strongly agree. The more helpful I am, all the way through to completion – which is difficult for me – helps over the short term
      and builds strong and trusting relationships for the long term.

    2. My question is about how to maintain enough relationships. 10,000 readers would be great but it is a lot of relationships.

      So: do you mean relationships that are strategic or relationships for high ticket items?

      I think I’m OK at developing relationships but not sure how this converts into sales.

    3. Hey Evan,

      That’s a good question, and I don’t think there’s just one answer.

      Strategic relationships are extremely important. You can find a strategic partner and leverage your skills or audience or reputation to help one another. That has worked really well for me and lots of other people I know. I’d look for people who compliment what you do to see if you can provide more value together for your audience or customers.

      I was originally talking more about relationships in general–the everyday non-strategic relationships. Afterall, we’re not just blogging for “visitors” or “traffic”; we’re writing for *people*. By consistently being helpful, we’re creating a pattern (you might call it a relationship) with the people who visit our blogs. (I like your blog, by the way. Living authentically is something we should all strive for.)

      I’d say that creating relationships goes beyond just writing helpful content. It’s also about making yourself available to people, responding to everything someone asks you (like this ;)), and genuinely caring about how you can change peoples’ situation for the better. One of my favorite examples is Pat Flynn’s Facebook page: Pat (who commented above) really goes out of his way to connect with his audience, and he’s built one of the strongest personal brands online.

      You asked about how that converts into sales. You could say that you’re training people to trust you. Really though, you’re making friends, and your friends are more likely to support you than anyone else; especially if they’re used to you being helpful.


    4. Thanks John, re Sonia: ‘the village idiot’ sounds a tad condescending too. Sonia doesn’t tell me how to make these decisions with the village in mind. I think the problem I’m having is what I call the ‘expert problem’. Sonia and you are experts and I’m not. And you folks are smarter than you know. Eg marketers will know fairly quickly and easily what is a viable market but not necessarily be able to say how they know.

      With relationships and this topic I think there is a whole lot that you and Sonia know instinctively and ways of relating that are natural for you. But I don’t know this. I’m not complaining and saying you should be like me. I’m just pointing out the lack of how-to’s in Sonia’s piece. Probably because it is quite obvious to her and you how this is done.

      I’m glad you like my blog. Many thanks for your reply.

    5. Hey Evan,

      You’re not the village idiot! :) (I hope it didn’t seem like that’s what I was saying by sharing that link.)

      In terms of whether there is a viable market for something, you never really know until you test it. I’ve tried many ideas that failed in the testing phase, so I’d say it isn’t all about being a smart marketer (which I’m really not anyway).

      There are a lot of ways to test a market. An easy method might be to look at how people react to your free content. If you’re getting a resoundingly positive reaction to your free stuff, that might be a signal that there is a market. I’d say to keep providing value to the people who you’re reaching and keep experimenting.

  14. Me. On the map? Not yet. But soon… :)

    I have a small but dedicated following. Given that I’ve never really been seeking a large audience and I’ve only focused on publishing my take on the world, I’d say that what is putting me on the map is the fact that I use my voice.

    There are already a lot of voices out there. In order to be heard your voice must be clear, consistent and it must resound with your community.

    My thing is simplicity. In all that I publish I aim to show ways to achieve through simple, effective methods.

    My new podcast (3 episodes so far) is gaining some attention and I expect this will be a major way to increase the amount of attention I draw.

    1. Adam, you’ve been on my radar because of The Hustle Project. I’m a fan of your site and your podcast. I think you’ll be on everyone else’s map before long.

      Keep up the good work.

  15. Dude.

    I can’t even find the map. I try though. I look, I read, I learn, I write. I do what I can and I make an effort.

    Time will tell. Time will tell.

  16. Don’t think I’m on the map, but I guess my site got quite popular over the last year.

    It started as a niche site, but as the topic got popular (it wasn’t know almost at all when I started) in English speaking countries I think it became more of an authority site…

    What helped me get there is as many other mentioned:

    1. Being helpful – I get a lot of questions via email, and try to answer these almost straight away

    2. Providing value – the content didn’t get created overnight, but making sure it’s relevant and in-depth is what probably helped me survive the flood of spam sites that started to target the same keywords.

    3. Being responsive to the audience needs – although it started as a simple recipe site, as people asked the same questions over and over I’ve added an FAQs section as well as certain elements in the site that help prevent these questions being asked…

  17. I knew I’d made it (of sorts) in the IT niche when people I worked with started finding my tutorials.

    More lately I know I am getting my message across when I start getting comments that are longer than my original posting.

  18. definitely a mix. if i had to rank it in order of effectiveness i’d say the following. . . . .

    1) killer content combined with effective SEO – this alone has brought me success I never imagined I could achieve (4,000 + subscribers in a year!)

    2) guest blogging

    3) meaningfully commenting on other relevant blogs in my industry

    4) 0 to $1k/month residual income Ebook launch – virally spread

    5) a big break would certainly shatter all previous records 😉 which is a) to get mentioned / featured by a popular blogger b) get picked up by a major news/media outlet…

  19. Not on the map in a significant way yet. For me my traffic has come from commenting on other blogs, guest posts and exchanging interviews with other bloggers.

  20. I couldn’t say that I’m on the map one bit, but I am inspired at how everyone else is getting on it! Being only a teenager and starting my blog a week ago, barley any signs of traffic has come up. And after signing up with analystics, I can’t lie but say it was a bit dissapointing. I was stoked to check it the first time, leading to see 2 unique page viewers and about 100 page views (soon figuring out it was myself! haha). I wasn’t expecting much though and I know it takes a lot of time and effort! Any tips or ideas on how to attract just a few more page views?

  21. Wow, that was great to read all these insightful responses. I definitely believe in the “be useful” directive and try to practice that as much as possible. I wouldn’t say I’m on the map yet, but through unique content on a grossly overlooked topic and a passion to really help people, I hope to get there…

    Thanks to everyone.

  22. From the comments above, it looks like there is a secondary question here which is “How do you know you’re on the map?” For me, I know I’m on the map in my niche because I have a strong and loyal following through social media sites and direct email. I am thrilled when I receive unsolicited emails about how much my visitors enjoy my website and have been inspired by the information and knowledge I can share with them.
    More recently, I sent out a request to my visitors, asking them to review a new eBook I am about to release, and no less than 50 people came back to me, eagerly offering several hours of their time, voluntarily. Amazing!
    So, how have I got here? I build personal relationships and connect 1:1 with those who reach out to me. I offer my time and my assistance to those who request it. I ‘keep it real’ and don’t try to be someone I’m not. And I provide quality content that visitors truly appreciate and value.
    And, most importantly, I stay passionate and engaged in what I’m doing!!

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