Attaining full-blown celebrity status is a rare and awesome thing. The person with millions of adoring fans enjoys a range of possibility and opportunity unfathomable to the anonymous commoner on the street.
International superstardom should head the list of everyone’s long-range career goals. But just because the world at large hasn’t yet taken notice of you doesn’t mean you have to suffer in obscurity. You can become a semi-celebrity today — or at least a lot sooner than you think.
What’s a “Semi-Celebrity?”
A semi-celebrity isn’t yet a household name, but they’re poised on the precipice of becoming one.
To be famous at any level means that a large number of people know who you are. Some even like and respect you.
To be a big-time celebrity requires the attention and cooperation of major media. A semi-celebrity, however, can do it all by him- or herself. Today, thanks to the Internet, anyone can be heard, and can start building a powerful perception in the minds of other people.
Finding Your Message
The key ingredient in capturing the public’s attention is having something to say — ideally something offbeat, challenging, interesting.
Start with your opinions. You probably have lots of them. Which of your viewpoints sets you apart? What makes your voice unlike any of the others out there?
Your keynote message should be straightforward and simple. The most effective messages are ones which are instantly grasped. People shouldn’t have to take a long time to figure out whether they’ll fall in love with you (or despise you).
Select your message with care. In the minds of your audience, what you say and who you are fuse into an indivisible whole. Your message should reflect your persona, embody your unique approach to your subject, and make indelibly clear your special take on the field you’re about to conquer.
Blogs are excellent tools for self-promotion. With a blog, you can rapidly develop a large following: readers can subscribe to your blog, comment on posts, and share entries they find especially appealing with their friends.
Even if your message is one that can’t be put across easily in words (you’re a musician or a graphic artist, for example), you can still use a blog to connect with and grow a fan base. Blogs can contain video, audio and images, and people enjoy stopping by regularly to see what someone they’re interested in has been up to lately.
The Power of Social Media
Networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are an essential part of your marketing campaign. Make it clear that anyone is welcome to connect with you. Include links on your site and in your emails to allow this to happen.
The announcements you publish should consist of two elements: 1. news, including events and happenings that you’re involved with (as well as updates to your website or blog); 2. a window into your personal world: an ongoing report on what you’re thinking, seeing, experiencing.
Be careful with #2: Your readers need to know that you live an exciting life, one they can daydream about and aspire to. Include enough mundane stuff to make it clear you think you’re a regular person. Your fans and followers, however, should feel that they know better.
Building Your Email List
As potent as social networking websites can be, they pale in comparison to the power of a strong email list. Everything you do should have the ultimate goal of getting people to sign up to receive your email newsletter.
An email list is a highly targeted group of interested subscribers. When people really like you, they register for your email list. Thus the missives sent to your list can have a much greater and more direct impact than what you communicate via other means.
If the social media sites are radio and print, your email list is television. Relentlessly encourage people to opt in; let them know that they’ll be a part of something special if they do.
How Much is Too Much?
People often ask how much they should communicate with the people who follow them. How many messages in a day, week or month are appropriate?
No exact guidelines are possible. My advice is to err slightly on the side of too much communication, rather than too little.
Unless you’re really overdoing it, most people won’t mind hearing from you frequently. After all, they chose to follow you — a decision they can undo at any time.
If they become irritated, let them drop you. You want enthusiastic fans, not folks who tolerate you.
Moving On Up
Once you’ve established your presence and built up your following, you’re ready to invite the mainstream media to the party.
Don’t wait too long before taking your message to larger outlets. Sometimes just having a website or blog on a particular subject can be enough to get you interviewed or profiled.
The media is always looking for experts and unusual people to do stories on. Welcome all coverage — even stuff that portrays you as a charlatan or kook. What’s important is that your name, persona and message (however distorted and diluted it might get) is being put out into the world.
Now is the time to supercharge your personality. Your message attracts your fan base; your persona gets you on TV and keeps your presence alive in the public’s consciousness.
Going for the Gold
Semi-celebrityhood is a temporary stop, a way station along the path to large-scale recognition and fame. Your mission should be nothing less than world domination — or as close as you can come to it.
If success on this level seems too ambitious for you, you probably lack the determination and chutzpah necessary to be a celebrity, even on a modest scale.
To become famous, you need only a relatively small (but dedicated) following. The general public does not have to love you; they must, however, be aware of you. Who you are and what you stand for must mean something to them.
When people are reading about you, talking about you, thinking about you, you’ve got it made. You’re right where you need to be: you’ve passed the threshold, you’re inside people’s minds. From here, virtually anything is possible.
From a business & marketing perspective, it doesn’t get any better than that.