The Brad Pitt School of Blogging Superstardom

The Brad Pitt School of Blogging Superstardom

Let me ask you a question…

Do you think people would pay Brad Pitt $1,000 to fix a toilet?

Of course they would.

Because he’s Brad Pitt.

It doesn’t even matter if Brad knows how to fix a toilet. He’s Brad Freakin’ Pitt.

Thousands of people would pay simply to have him hang out in their bathrooms — and, honestly, probably break their toilets even further. They’d pay because Brad is famous, and fame makes us like people.

When we like people, we want to be around them… and then, if those likable people have products and services, we want to work with them and buy things from them.

Want to have a magnetic blog?

Well, then you’ve got to be like Brad.

Now, your goal as a blogger isn’t to grace the cover of Us magazine. Your goal is to become famous in a niche — also known as “internet famous,” or “known among dozens.”

“Famous,” doesn’t have to mean flashbulbs, paparazzi, and being married to Angelina Jolie. It can simply mean a modest amount of recognition.

You want to be just famous enough that when people who are interested in your niche talk amongst themselves, your name comes up… and when it does, others in the group will nod and say, “Oh yes, I know her. She’s a big authority on naked mole rats.” Or whatever your topic is.

You want to be known. You want to be respected.

And most of all?

You want to be loved.

Here’s what I mean:

You want to transform your readers into fans

What’s the difference?

Fans are fanatical about the things they enjoy, which is what “fan” is short for. Fans tell everyone about you. Fans wave your flag. Fans buy your stuff just because you are you.

Readers just… well… read. And while that’s fine in the beginning, it’s not enough to grow your blog into a real brand.

Think about it: every good, memorable blogger has fans. Seth Godin has fans. Chris Brogan has fans. Penelope Trunk has fans. People don’t just read these people; they form attachments to them.

People don’t say, “I read Seth Godin.” They say, “I like Seth Godin.” Then they tell their friends about Seth Godin, and those friends tell their friends… and suddenly, a bald guy behind a keyboard in New York becomes an icon. Seth’s fame gives him a reputation that precedes him, and establishes his credibility before he even shows up.

And while Seth fans might not pay him $1000 to fix their toilets, they’ll certainly decide to buy his next book without needing to read the dust jacket.

How to become famous (on your blog)

If you want to become famous in your niche, stop thinking of your blog as a website and start thinking of it as a stage. Stop thinking of your posts as information broadcasts and start thinking of them as performances.

When you’re out there in the big world of the internet, don’t just think of yourself as a person who types and creates words. Think instead of yourself as a superstar who’s going out to WOW the crowds.

Do you want your blog post to be readable and informational? Or do you, as a superstar, want your blog posts to be sensational and must-see and receive rave reviews from opinion-makers?

A superstar doesn’t want to simply make a point. A superstar wants people to stand up and cheer.

How, exactly?

The streetcorner test

In Jon’s guest blogging course, he gives a simple test for deciding whether or not your content is good enough.

He says to imagine you’re on the street corner in New York City. People are bustling by, paying no attention, but you pull out your iPad and start reading one of your blog posts outloud right there on the street corner.

Would people stop to listen? Would they be late to work? Just to hear you?

If not, your post isn’t good enough. Junk it and start over.

Yes, that might seem harsh, but think about it: the Internet is even busier than a street corner in New York, and it’s even harder to get people’s attention. You have to be good enough to stop them in their tracks, or you’ll be invisible for the rest of your life.

So, step it up. Try something new.

You can write bravura posts about stepping outside of your comfort zone and having a solid work ethic. You can even do it about content creation and building website traffic.

The bottom line?

Make people feel something

You know how your lips feel after a trip to the dentist?

Well, most people’s emotions feel like that, and not just for a couple of hours. They’re numb for most of their life.

Our job as writers is to snap them out of it. Not just to teach them or persuade them or entertain them, although all of those things are important, but to reach through their cloud of boredom and apathy and give them a jolt of genuine emotion.

Emotion leads to fame. Fame leads to fans. And fans, my friends, lead to very loyal and long-term profitable relationships that tend to be fairly unshakable.

The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll find that growing a readership and customer base isn’t about giving one boring lecture after another. It’s about making people fall in love with you, hundreds or even thousands at a time.

You are a superstar. Admit it. Embrace it.

Now go out there and strut your stuff.


  1. Linda Hewett
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 05:30:43

    Oh my goodness! I’d never thought of that! Treat your blog like a stage.

    Wow. I shall edit my latest posts with that in mind. Somehow the idea of standing on a stage makes so much sense and does away with writing rubbish posts (not that I do that of course… well, mostly I don’t…)

    I’m going to write that on a post it right now. Thanks. You made me think, always a good idea!

  2. Susan Spira
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 06:16:51

    Such a simple but important change in thinking: fans not readers. Reading this has shoved this critical concept into my being. Thank you. I know it’s the missing link in my thinking!

  3. James Chartrand - Men with Pens
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 05:04:11

    I like the ‘read your post out loud on a NY street corner’ tip – that’s very, VERY true and accurate.

    That’s also why it’s important to believe in what you say and say it with pride… no one’s going to pay attention to the unsure person who mumbles and looks nervous to even be speaking aloud.

    • Tom Southern
      Nov 30, 2012 @ 12:15:00

      Too true James!

      Respect for your writing, as well as your readers, will always keep you on the road to confidence. Belief in your message helps create the emotional connections.


  4. James Chartrand - Men with Pens
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 05:04:31

    Also? Firsties. Just sayin’.

    • Leanne Regalla
      Nov 30, 2012 @ 07:32:11

      LOL James. 🙂

  5. Jen Greham
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 05:09:22

    Actually, I’ve long thought it might be fun to actually test the street corner test. Since I now live in London, where we have a Speaker’s Corner, I think I might really do it. Stay tuned. I might read more than just my own posts. (Can’t help it, the scientist in me wants controls!)

    • Sophie Lizard
      Nov 30, 2012 @ 09:51:10

      Oh, that sounds like empirical fun – let me know if you decide to go ahead. I’ll come and listen/cheer/read with you!

    • Jon
      Nov 30, 2012 @ 10:49:40

      That would be awesome. 🙂

    • Tom Southern
      Dec 27, 2012 @ 00:35:16

      Hi Jen! Didn’t know you were in the UK – Welcome! Next time I’m down in London, I’ll pop over to Speaker’s Corner, ready to listen:). Cheers!

  6. Lisa Creech Bledsoe
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 05:12:20

    “and suddenly, a bald guy behind a keyboard in New York becomes an icon…”

    Except that it’s not sudden at all. I think you’ve both — Johnny and Jon — said before that it’s about the (damn near) endless series of small, crucial steps that you take to get there. And keep taking, once you get there.

    But in the end, I don’t care how long it takes to get Mr. Pitt to get to MY bathroom. I’m just glad he got there.

    Great post, once again.

    • Johnny B. Truant
      Dec 01, 2012 @ 07:56:06

      Totally true, Lisa! I was just using it as a writing device, but you’re correct… there’s nothing sudden about it at all. Unfortunately.

  7. Deb Lamb
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 05:22:52

    I love the “street corner” test. However, something that really jumped off the page at me was, “If you want to become famous in your niche, stop thinking of your blog as a website and start thinking of it as a stage. Stop thinking of your posts as information broadcasts and start thinking of them as performances.”

    Good gracious! Now that makes perfect sense. I know I can do that and I’m going to get started on a test post to see how well it works. Awesome information.

    Thank you!! Make it a glorious day.

    Deb 🙂

    • Liv Campbell
      Nov 30, 2012 @ 19:28:33

      Nice catch Deb! I glossed over that and I’m so glad I caught your comment.

      It’s true: info is out there by the barrel, but a moving performance is worth so much more!

    • Johnny B. Truant
      Dec 01, 2012 @ 07:57:20

      The truth is that a whole lot of life and business really IS a popularity contest. That just means we need to become popular… and not just “good” or “smart.”

    • Julie Hall
      Dec 27, 2012 @ 23:39:58

      Deb, this caught me too. It totally transforms the way that we think about our writing. Brilliant metaphor Johnny.

  8. Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 05:28:52

    Great stuff, Johnny 🙂

    I totally agree.

    Yeup, I say this all the time, and have written many posts on how Fame is a Tool.

    But I play even less small — I want to be known among millions, not dozens, and I do want to grace magazine covers, and I have all the right ingredients to do it.\

    In fact, in the last 3 weeks I had a radio show, magazine interview, or other media appearance during each.

    I’ll never played small, and I have zero judgment and total acceptance on topics like luxury, fame, or anyone’s personal path 🙂

    You may remember a very high-quality shirt I designed for The Badass Project — ? Well, mark my words, that design will be famous one day, whether you use it or not 🙂

    • Johnny B. Truant
      Dec 01, 2012 @ 07:58:03

      I have zero doubt about that, Jason. 🙂

      • Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca
        Dec 01, 2012 @ 07:59:37

        Thank ya, sir. [nows] 🙂

  9. Kimberly Wechsler
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 08:50:01

    Daily, I have readers who comment on the fact that they love my site and appreciate my efforts to help families eat healthier and become more active BUT, I felt like I was missing something… I need to write with the same passion I feel from the inside! Starting today my blog will become my STAGE! Thanks for the wake-up call!

  10. Heather Thorkelson
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 06:19:08

    An awesome and timely post – I needed the reminder! I always read my posts out loud at the final draft because I won’t publish anything that doesn’t sound the actual way I talk. I want people who meet me in person to feel like they already know me because they’ve read my stuff. And they do! But you’ve upped the bar for me with the reminder to treat my online platform as a stage. It makes So Much Sense. Word, brother.

    • Rose-Marie
      Nov 30, 2012 @ 07:21:36

      Outstanding! The practical tip about reading your posts aloud to make sure they are consistent with how you sound is good, but even better is that mindset of being genuine. In my mind, that trumps fame, and though it may be less likely to make you rich, you can be happy with yourself and your fans will be friends.

    • Jon
      Nov 30, 2012 @ 10:59:53

      Yep, reading your posts out loud really does work. Should be required, in my opinion. We would have a lot less stuffy posts out there. 🙂

    • Johnny B. Truant
      Dec 01, 2012 @ 07:59:06

      Props to Jon for the “reading posts out loud” thing, BTW. That wasn’t in my draft… just another bit of proof of His Royal Awesomeness!

    • Beau Blackwell
      Dec 11, 2012 @ 09:04:56

      I also love the reading out loud tip- my writing is much more formal (and probably more boring) than my speaking, so this is something I definitely need to work on 🙂

  11. Brendon Held
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 06:59:57

    Johnny, you’re on fire mate! Brilliant post, awesome analogy, and very eloquently strung together… You and Jon are in leagues of your own when it comes to writing… oh, and you can build websites… bonus… LOL

  12. Leanne Regalla
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 07:30:22

    Johnny, yours and Jon’s stage analogy makes PERFECT sense to me as an artist and performer.

    My favorite musical mentor teaches musicians how to create killer live shows, because that’s how we get loyal fans, sell tons of merch, and get better gigs – and of course, gain enough traction to make a good living doing what we love.

    It’s all about tapping into the emotion, inspiring people, creating memories.

    Applying this approach to blogging makes SO much sense to me, because I’ve seen first hand how it works in music – that’s one of the things that convinced me you guys know what you’re talking about. 😉

    I’m now a big fan of you both and would be thrilled to have either one of you come to my house anytime and fix my drippy faucet. 😉

    • Johnny B. Truant
      Dec 01, 2012 @ 07:59:58

      The more you know… and the more who know you!

  13. Mark Hermann
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 08:23:31

    Awesome post, as always JBT.

    I think a key point to add in there is to be FIRST too with your awesome stage act.

    Nirvana showed up in the Nineties and overnight rock and roll was transformed from leather and chains to ripped up flannel. Then there were a million clones. Be the first in (and awesome, of course) and you own the early adopter advantage in that niche. Makes you the pioneer.

    Rock on!

    • Candice
      Nov 30, 2012 @ 09:25:39

      Ask Jon how you recognize a pioneer! LOL!

    • Johnny B. Truant
      Dec 01, 2012 @ 08:02:43

      I agree, but to a point. A lot of people get bogged down and immobilized because they don’t think they have an original idea, but the truth is that truly original ideas that people actually enjoy and connect with are rare. Often, the fact that something hasn’t been done before means that it’s because nobody was interested.

      So yes, I agree. But I also think it’s just fine to add your own twist and personality to something that isn’t original. Remember what Picasso said: “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.”

  14. Candice L Davis
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 09:27:54

    Since I write fiction, and my much better half is a screenwriter, you’d think I would already know this. But I’ve not thought of my blog from this angle. I’ve spent months giving great, useful content, but I’d say only about 1/3 of that content has been entertaining or emotion-provoking. So, I guess I’ll be doing some things differently.

    • Jon
      Nov 30, 2012 @ 12:16:21

      Ooh, if you already write fiction, you have a nice advantage in this department. Time to put it to use. 🙂

  15. Lonnie Chu
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 12:29:37

    Johnny and Jon! Your stuff is always awesome. I’m a professor whose teaching is often a performance. And I’m a flamenco singer, often performing. Yet my writing has always been more of the academic style. I knew this wasn’t going to fly but I’ve been stuck thinking about how to make it zing! This image, of the performer on the corner, is exactly what I needed. Thanks!!!

  16. jennifer blanchard
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 09:49:50

    I really needed to read this today. I’ve been working on a new content strategy the last few weeks, but you put into words what it is I really need to be doing (and today’s Copyblogger post also did that… I think the Universe is trying to tell me something!). Thanks for all your brilliance, Johnny!

    • Johnny B. Truant
      Dec 01, 2012 @ 08:03:48

      Ha, have you read my infamous post about the Universe and what it’s telling most of us? 🙂

  17. Sophie Lizard
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 10:01:05

    OK, I admit it. I’m a superstar. *Blushes*

    Truthfully though, I think I still need a lot of work on the emotional side of blogging. Sometimes I feel like I’ve connected, but often I’m reaching for something I can’t quite catch.

    Readable and informational I can do. But that clouds-parting-angels-singing-this-is-IT feeling that you guys create is my goal!

    • Jon
      Nov 30, 2012 @ 12:15:19

      It comes with practice. I couldn’t do it very well when I started, either.

  18. David Cunningham
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 10:08:48

    Superb point! Where I live and work there are no street corners. However, I do enjoy the benefit of a fantastic significant other who can give me the feedback I need. Thanks for the post. David

    • Jon
      Nov 30, 2012 @ 12:13:38

      Bars are another good place. I’ve actually read headlines out loud in a bar, and people loved it.

      • Johnny B. Truant
        Dec 01, 2012 @ 08:04:43

        Either that, or they were humoring what they figured was a drunk guy ranting. 🙂

      • Jon
        Dec 03, 2012 @ 19:54:47

        Or they were drunk themselves. I’m sure that helps. 🙂

  19. Bree
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 10:58:01

    I’m hesitant to buy into the idea that a blog must be more emotional and “sensational” than readable and informational.

    I think it needs to be a combination. People will pay good money for and spend time reading about ideas (i.e. information) they agree with OR disagree with (i.e. emotions and sensations). This Brad Pitt factor is a great tool to implement in your blog, but remember that popularity is fleeting, and you need a stage of stability underneath when the curtains and set eventually deteriorate or (heaven forbid) burn down around you.

    • Jon
      Nov 30, 2012 @ 12:11:47

      Yeah, I don’t think Johnny suggested that you have to get rid of all the information. You just have to turn the delivery of that information into a performance.

      For instance, think back to the great teachers you had in school. At least some of them were probably great performers, and they could make students listen when no one else could.

      That’s the kind of balance you want to shoot for on your blog.

    • Johnny B. Truant
      Dec 01, 2012 @ 08:06:42

      What Jon said. You need both. The reason I hit this angle is because I think most people GET that they need to write good stuff. That part is handled.

      So this isn’t sensationalism for sensationalism’s sake. You do need substance.

      BUT, I’ll add that I’ve changed directions in my business about a dozen times in the past 4-5 years, and the only reason I’m still around and still have a following was because my readers connected with ME, not just the topic. They wouldn’t have followed me through the changes if they hadn’t.

  20. Anthony Carter
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 12:03:34

    This sounds great and completely applicable. Where do I sign up ? I try to make sure the opening line of my posts can pass the so what ? question.. When I started a post with : The first time I had sex in public I was 36/ The first time I had peach yogurt I was visiting a friend in a mental institution and of course : When I was 19, a family friend who was also a doctor terrorized me. All of these openers generated much attention.

    • Johnny B. Truant
      Dec 01, 2012 @ 08:07:10

      Um… yeah, I kind of want to know more.

  21. Jan Richards
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 13:45:28


    Valuable, visual and visceral advice.

    I’ll never look at writing blog posts the same way again…thanks, Johnny and Jon!

  22. Joaseph Dabon
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 18:20:42

    Everyone wants to be famous. Everyone wants to have a blog people rave for. They read (I, included) Seth Godin and Brian Clark and Jon Morrow, etc. It’s kind of going to a culinary school to be a good cook. Unfortunately, only a very few become world-famous chefs.

    By the way, I talked to a chef and he told me you couldn’t be one without suffering oil burns on your hands and face.

    • Lonnie Chu
      Nov 30, 2012 @ 18:52:45

      World-famous would be great. But niche-famous is my first goal and if that gets me the audience I need for satisfying work that pays well enough, I’d be happy with that.

      While our son was at the CIA, he sent home pictures of his burns and wrote, “from left to right we have Burnie, Burnedette, and Burnidict Arnold… yes, i name my injuries… my war wounds, but it’s okay. getting hurt builds character and thickens your skin 🙂 “

  23. Meg Collins
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 18:53:59

    Bravo, men.
    As bloggers, we know this but sometimes we need to hear it again.
    I think it all comes down to one thing: relate.

  24. Ron
    Dec 01, 2012 @ 20:02:47

    What if one has stage fright 😉

    You guys are awesome, thanks for all the great insights.

  25. Carlos Ramos
    Dec 02, 2012 @ 18:21:13

    Wow, I really never thought of myself like that. Specially, because I am more into the “technical” and “scientific” side (meaning boring), or so I thought. But, what is science and technology without the fun. huh? Nice post :).

  26. Johanna @ The Zigazag Mag
    Dec 03, 2012 @ 01:33:58

    Love the idea of Jon’s about testing the quality of a blog post by imagining that you’re standing on a street corner and reading it aloud. That together with Johnny’s advice about writing to be loved, and understanding that being famous means being ‘liked’ rather than just being ‘read’ is something I’m going to hang on to in everything I write from now on. Out with shy, in with ‘grab ’em passionately’ 🙂

  27. David
    Dec 03, 2012 @ 06:18:46

    Treat your blog like a STAGE…that is a very good idea.

    Thanks Johnny for sharing this. Simply very insightful

  28. Troy Vayanos
    Dec 03, 2012 @ 14:47:39

    Great post Johnny,

    This makes a lot of sense. I know myself when I’m reading another blog, if it doesn’t excite me or feel something I simply move on.

    I love the ‘Street Corner’ test … i’m going to use it today!


  29. Penelope @
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 20:36:12

    Very insightful post, Johnny. I’m gonna pull my dusty tap shoes outta the closet now….

  30. Tom Southern
    Dec 27, 2012 @ 06:53:39

    Great point Johnny, and so true: Successful business is also a popularity contest: the winners achieve the most success in business because they get the most fans.

    It starts with becoming a character; an image of who, or what, they [your audience] want to be. Which means getting inside their minds, not just their emotions, to discover what it is they desire most. Then, once you’ve discovered that it’s letting them see how much thy already share in common with you.

    Seeking that “common bond” by being the person just like them – only better, faster … and now, you’re going to show them the secret to being Brad Pitt.

    This is what you should be aiming for if your goal is to become successful in business.

    It’s all about becoming liked by people who you want to inspire with your message, so that whenever you write something; a blog post or a book, etc, they’ll buy it or share it, etc just because it’s You who wrote it. To make them want to be part of you; part of your success; they want to play a role in your community.

    What better emotion can you invoke than to let people
    be who they want to be?

  31. M Scott [CRM Guy]
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 13:19:17

    Brad doesn’t try to be like someone else. He has become who he is by being Brad right from the earliest days. Think “Thelma and Louise”.

    Too many would be bloggers scuttle themselves by trying to play it safe…