Advice You Really Shouldn’t Follow: How to Become Famous on the Internet

April 10, 2013
It’s been a while since I’ve dished out some advice.

Probably because it’s been a while since any of you have asked me for advice.

I can’t imagine why.

What? You don't think this girl is capable of giving good advice? Okay, maybe you have a point.

What? You don’t think this girl is capable of giving good advice?
Okay, maybe you have a point.

After absolutely no new advice questions for weeks, I finally got an email the other day from the adorably named Mumun. The email came with the equally adorable subject line: “I need advice that I don’t think I’ll need.”

Well, I think we can all agree that she came to the right lady! Because, not to brag or anything, but I’m pretty much awesome at giving advice to people that they don’t think they’ll need.

Like I can now tell you how to put unicorn horns on ponies. And cats. And one-eyed chihuahuas.

I bet you never thought you’d need to know how to do that, huh?

(Answer: get your mom to do it. Because you’re too busy “checking the lighting.”)

Mumun’s email went something like this:

I have a travel blog that is specifically about my own country (psst… Indonesia). I really want it to go Rambo-famous and become internationally known so I can legally trash hotels like Rambo (wait, that’s the wrong movie), and it would be nice if more people came by. But I don’t know how? Aside from writing stupid stories about myself, what should I do?

First of all, writing stupid stories about yourself is always the key to success.


Secondly, I don’t usually like to give out blogging advice on my blog. Mostly because there are lots of really awesome bloggy people out there dishing out really awesome bloggy advice (like here and here and here).

These people really know their stuff.

I really do not.

Maybe you’ve noticed?

But how could I resist answering an email with so many references to Rambo?

I could not.

So here goes:

How to Have an Internationally Known Blog in 12 Easy Steps (Or 6 long years. Whichever one comes first.)

Step 1:
Move to Japan.
Obligatory teeny-tiny-sake-cup drinking shot.

Yeah! I’m in Japan! And now I must drink everything from teeny tiny cups. It’s a rule.

Start your first blog.

Make sure to give it some kind of funky name that no one can remember or spell. Bonus points if you can give it a name in some foreign language that almost no one (including yourself) speaks, like, say, umm, lemmethinkforasecond, Japanese!

Write your first blog post. Make sure it’s about something really poignant and meaningful. Something that really shows you’re having an Authentic Experience.

Like, say, your lunch.

Dear Blog, I ate this today. The end.

Dear Blog,
I ate this today.
The end.

Email all your friends and family members to tell them that you’ve started a blog and send them the link.

Take their silence as a sign that they’re too busy reading your blog to email you back. Or comment. Or answer your calls.

Step 2:
Start writing longer, more blathery posts. About topics that really show the reader the workings of your inner soul.

Like, say, your couch.

Ta-da! My Japanese couch! As you can see it was very... umm.. beige.

Dear Blog,
I have a new couch.
It is very… umm… beige.
The end.

Hardly ever use photos. And when you do make sure those photos are dark and kind of blurry and taken with your teeny tiny cell phone camera.

After all, you wouldn’t want to show too much.

You need to maintain an aura of mystery, you know.

As well as an aura of “Did she take that photo in the bathroom? I think that’s a photo from the bathroom. I hope she washed her hands.”


Totally taken in the bathroom. But who doesn’t love a good shot of bathroom slippers?

Step 3:
Get your first comment ever from someone who is neither a friend of yours nor biologically related to you.

Jump up and down. A lot.

Because, obviously, you’re on the brink of Internet stardom.

Step 4:
Join Facebook.

Start harassing all your Facebook friends into reading your blog.

Take their silence as a sign that they’re too busy reading your blog to like the link. Or comment on the link.

And that’s probably also why they de-friended you on Facebook – they’re simply too busy reading your awesome blog posts to be your friend. Whatever. That’s cool.

Step 5:
Change the name of your blog to something that’s a lot easier to spell. And doesn’t require any foreign language training to remember.

Spend about a week changing your blog over to a blogging platform that no one ever uses. Probably because it’s ridiculous and breaks down a lot and makes your blog almost impossible to find with a Google search.

After all, you don’t want to make it that easy for people to get to your blog. You need to play hard to get.

Step 6:
Join Twitter.

Realize that Twitter is even better than Facebook because people are on there ALL THE TIME. Unlike your Facebook friends who are always doing stupid stuff like sleeping or going to work or de-friending you.

Start following other bloggers on Twitter.

Because, guess what?

Other bloggers exist.

You had no idea.

You were pretty sure you were the only one.

Start reading other blogs and realize that blogging is actually this thing that people take pretty seriously.

You had no idea.

Notice that no one else is writing blog posts about their couches – instead they are writing informative pieces with lots of bullet points.

Wonder if you should be doing that too. But you hate bullet points and you love your couch.

Keep writing about your couch.

Step 7:
Leave Japan. And your couch.

Start traveling and writing about non-couch-related things. Like cats.

Dear Blog,  Here is a cat. Blah, blah, blah. The end.

Dear Blog,
The end.

Get over a hundred hits to your blog in a few hours after a kind-of-big-deal blogger tweets a link to one of your posts. This is more hits than your blog has received in EVER.


You probably shouldn’t sleep tonight in case a Hollywood agent needs to call you to get the rights to your blog to turn it into a movie.

Also, you need to think about who is going to play you in the movie. Is Angelina Jolie too obvious? And can she type? Because most of the movie is going to be her typing.

Google search “Angelina Jolie typing.”

Be disturbed by the results.

Step 8:
Travel some more.

Go to Chiang Mai because everyone else is doing it.


Finally switch your blog over to WordPress.

Because everyone else is doing that, too.

BLOGGER PEER PRESSURE, you guys. It’s real.

Step 9:
Move to China.

Get a new couch.


Dear Blog,
I have just found the meaning of life.
And it is orange and brown and MAGNIFICENT.
The end.

Write about your new couch.

Win a kind-of-big-deal-award.

These two things are probably related.

Just saying.

Step 10:
Attempt to write shorter, less blathery posts.

Fail miserably.

Start taking photos of EVERYTHING and put them on your blog. Because, apparently, people like to look at things and not just words all the time.

Include lots of dark, blurry bathroom photos. After all, you wouldn’t want to forget your roots.

Oh, hello, Chinese train bathroom. I do not miss you.

Oh, hello, dark Chinese train bathroom. I do not miss you.

Step 11:
Move home.

Get another couch which is not nearly as exciting as your old couch.

Presenting: My New Couch! Obviously, not the looker my Chinese couch was. Which probably explains the lack of hot guys.

Dear Blog,
This is my new couch.
I know. I can see the disappointment in your eyes already.
I’m sorry.

Compensate by getting a cat. Start writing about your cat.

Totally a cure for the common cold. Trust me.

But I got a cat! So that makes things better, right?

Decide to start an advice column on your blog.

And by “advice column” I mean “just an excuse to write stupid stories about yourself.”

Tell all your readers that you will now be answering all their questions about everything ever.

Take their silence as a sign that they’re too busy reading your blog posts to email you with their questions about everything ever. Whatever. That’s cool.

Step 12
Totally start trashing hotel rooms.

And by “trashing” I mean “take lots of photos of the bathroom because everyone loves a good bathroom photo, amirite?”


Ooo, la, la. Fancy hotel bathroom, I DO miss you!

Have any blogging or how-to-get-kind-of-famous-on-the-Internet tips you’d like to share?
Or want to get some advice from me? Leave your question in the comments, send your question via the contact form or shoot me an email at unbravegirl at

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On April 10, 2013 at 8:54 am Flashpackatforty - Craig said:

    I shall start immediately implementing all of these steps in the hope of future success. When I am famous I will of course give you a credit when I write my best selling biography.
    Flashpackatforty – Craig recently posted..Negombo Beach and Sightseeing

  2. On April 10, 2013 at 9:54 am Natalia | Always Trekking said:

    So, cats, couches and bathrooms! Got it! Thank you for the advice 😀
    Natalia | Always Trekking recently posted..Icy Weekend Skiing in Jay Peak – Vermont, US

    • On April 11, 2013 at 8:05 am Sally said:

      Yep, there you have it. The formula for blogging success. I can’t believe I just gave that all away for free in a blog post. I totally should have written an ebook and charged everyone like $100 for it!

  3. On April 10, 2013 at 10:32 am ehalvey said:

    THAT’S what I’m missing! Couches!

    I’ll never forget the first time I got a comment from a real life blogger.
    ehalvey recently posted..Arancello Rosso Recipe

  4. On April 10, 2013 at 10:59 am Carmel said:

    Write posts reeeeaaaaallllly sparsely.
    Carmel recently posted..Easter Rising

  5. On April 10, 2013 at 11:01 am Matthew Karsten said:

    Cats fix everything. More cats.
    Matthew Karsten recently posted..Confessions of a Travel Addict: Audrey Bergner

  6. On April 10, 2013 at 11:59 am Jeff @ GoTravelzing said:

    Now I know what I have been doing wrong. I will get to work following this list. Except for the cat part because I am allergic.
    Jeff @ GoTravelzing recently posted..Volunteering at Vaughan Town – English Immersion for Spaniards

  7. On April 10, 2013 at 12:00 pm cosmoHallitan said:

    Now you tell me! Where was this advice a year and a half ago? I knew I shouldn’t have left my cat with my parents before moving to China. Rookie mistake!
    cosmoHallitan recently posted..Shanghai’s Modern Art Scene on Moganshan Lu

    • On April 11, 2013 at 7:58 am Sally said:

      Well, luckily, you have a cute ferret as your mascot. But it would probably help if you adopted a few cats while you were in China. Wuxi was always full of stray cats I wanted to steal. May I suggest going there & grabbing a couple?

  8. On April 10, 2013 at 12:05 pm Priya said:

    Oh Dear, I need to find a hotel bathroom to trash A-SAP! Oh wait, that’s the last step. I should probably go through the first few steps first, huh?

    One of the reasons why I started a blog was because a friend said “If yo start a blog, I’ll totally comment on your blog.” And, she never once commented on anything because she said has nothing to say. But it turns out she secretly reads everything I write and casually mentions it from time to time when we hang out. It’s OK though, because I have like 50 million pictures of her, and one of these days I’m going to post them all in one post to get her back for not commenting on my blog.
    Priya recently posted..Meeting Joel and Amy

  9. On April 10, 2013 at 12:42 pm Jessica | A Passiom and A Passport said:

    Or you could comment on your own blog posts under different names so others actually think people like it, and hopefully they will comment too! Haha. Just a suggestion haha.
    Jessica | A Passiom and A Passport recently posted..I is for ICELAND: On My Travel Wish List

  10. On April 10, 2013 at 12:59 pm Sam said:

    BEST ADVICE EVER. It’s kinda creepy to me that I actually followed all of these steps before even having heard of your blog (perhaps minus the couches). Must just be that they’re the best ideas ever and we are clearly brain twins.
    Sam recently posted..Doing Business: Juan and Lucia in Bariloche, Argentina

  11. On April 10, 2013 at 1:17 pm Sine said:

    Ha! Isn’t there a lot of truth to all that. WordPress, huh? Now I guess I’ve blown my chance at becoming internationally famous. Though I’m not nearly going on 6 years, so I suppose there is still a chance.
    Sine recently posted..The Expat Worshipper

  12. On April 10, 2013 at 3:33 pm Andi of My Beautiful Adventures said:

    Am I screwed because I don’t like cats??? What if I get a really cute dog? 😉
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..Andi’s Pick: Old Edwards Inn And Spa

  13. On April 10, 2013 at 5:50 pm Tom @ Waegook Tom said:

    Sigh, another get-rich-quick blogger pyramid scheme. Although yours seems different somehow…
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..Boston On A Budget

  14. On April 10, 2013 at 6:28 pm Kimmy @ AfterGlobe said:

    I followed some tweet (we know some unicorn got it’s wings) to this posting and it cracked me up. Obviously, it’s my first time here. I had to Google “Angelina Jolie typing”. I’m pretty sure everything with her is horrific. I’ve decided to take all of your advice and become even more famous than AJ.
    Kimmy @ AfterGlobe recently posted..Sell Your Stuff to Get Out of Debt

  15. On April 10, 2013 at 9:27 pm ChinaMatt said:

    I think I’ve got most of those steps covered. Why am I not internationally famous? Oh right, because my 2000 Sina weibo fans don’t read English. Also, I haven’t had a great couch since grad school (and I don’t have a picture of that awesomely ugly ’70s couch).
    ChinaMatt recently posted..The Importance of Expat Communities

  16. On April 10, 2013 at 10:18 pm Jaime said:

    I CAN”T STOP LAUGHING. This is too funny…

    I don’t own a couch, but do own a bed. Now that I am home and boring can I write about my bed?
    Jaime recently posted..How much did it cost me to travel the world for 2 years?

  17. On April 10, 2013 at 10:39 pm All Things Jennifer said:

    Damn. I’ve been blogging 10 years and now own 5 cats and am buying my very first brand new couch. I should be famous any day now. 🙂
    All Things Jennifer recently posted..I is for IMPATIENT!

  18. On April 11, 2013 at 3:51 am Madhu Bhardwaj (@madconnection) said:

    Thanks for the wonderful advice. You forgot about one thing though. Write stories about your family when you are done with the pet stories.People will have to do Awwwww dutifully.
    If they don’t, unfriend them.
    Send your blog link to all your contacts on Linked in so that you can be sure to never have a job in near or far future and thus enough time to write the stupid blob. 🙂
    Love it.
    Madhu Bhardwaj (@madconnection) recently posted..Mid morning Ladies meets: A new phenomenon

    • On April 11, 2013 at 7:49 am Sally said:

      Well, I don’t use LinkedIn, but I’m just waiting for the day when a future employer Google searches my name and comes up with my blog and is like, “Umm, yeah, we don’t think we can hire you. You seem to have a cat/couch/alcohol addiction.” Luckily, my current employers are cool with my blog. Or so they say.

  19. On April 11, 2013 at 4:09 am Gerard - GQ trippin said:

    I totally regret not taking more pics of bathroom slippers.

  20. On April 11, 2013 at 6:00 am Charli l Wanderlusters said:

    Thank you for keeping on the straight and narrow. I’ve yet to post about my beige couch – it might be slightly difficult because I don’t have a beige couch – but I shall attempt it anyway.

    Excellent advice as always!!
    Charli l Wanderlusters recently posted..Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

    • On April 11, 2013 at 7:47 am Sally said:

      You may need to adopt a beige couch. Maybe they have one of those programs like they do with the poor, starving kids in Africa where for just “pennies a day” you can support your very own beige couch…

  21. On April 11, 2013 at 7:19 am Naomi said:

    I miss your China couch – definitely my favourite! Hey, you should do a couch poll!!
    Naomi recently posted..March flies by

    • On April 11, 2013 at 7:44 am Sally said:

      My China couch would definitely win any poll in a landslide. That couch was the bomb! All these beige and mauve couch concoctions just can’t compare!

  22. On April 11, 2013 at 10:56 am Susanna said:

    Excellent advice. I would add “whinge/complain/rant a lot about things that really aren’t important.” People love that stuff.
    Susanna recently posted..Too many waiters spoil the will to live

  23. On April 11, 2013 at 5:44 pm Albert Raymond said:

    LOLLLLLZZZ, you made my day. This is the best blog I’ve ever read. Between you and me, I’m launching a blog soon. It’s not gonna be a travel blog but I can apply some of your advice over there to make it work 😉

  24. On April 11, 2013 at 9:19 pm Ross said:

    To have an Internationally Know Blog or becoming famous on the internet are not really my goals but I might take some of your advice. I don’t have much to say about any couch but I could include bathrooms and cats more. Thanks.
    Ross recently posted..Bucket Lists

  25. On April 12, 2013 at 12:01 am Vira said:

    I actually googled “Angelina Jolie Typing” .. LOL..
    Vira recently posted..Harris Hotels & Conventions in Malang, East Java – Now Up and Running

  26. On April 12, 2013 at 5:08 pm Julika said:

    More bathroom photos. Because everyone has an opinion on bathrooms. Noted. And coming right up! 🙂
    Julika recently posted..Nuremberg – Franconia’s Historical Treasure Chest

    • On April 14, 2013 at 8:12 pm Sally said:

      EVERYONE totally does have opinion about bathrooms. It’s like a universal theme — love, family and bathrooms. That’s what life is all about.

  27. On April 13, 2013 at 12:38 am sharan said:

    Even as laughed out loud, I actually learned some pretty neat stuff. ( Truth be told, I’m two days old to this so everything at this stage sounds like pretty neat stuff)
    sharan recently posted..the hungry well

  28. On April 14, 2013 at 3:39 pm Steph | A Nerd At Large said:

    OMG, this is just further proof that I’m destined to be a superstar travel blogger — I have a genuinely hideous couch! How I have failed to blog about it thus far is beyond comprehension and, obviously, a career-limiting move.
    Steph | A Nerd At Large recently posted..Foto Friday: Live From the Sambadrome

    • On April 14, 2013 at 8:09 pm Sally said:

      Yes, it seems counter-intuitive — travel blogging about your couch. But it’s that outside-the-box thinking which has totally made me a successful travel blogger! And by “successful” I mean “not really”

  29. On April 15, 2013 at 5:38 am Paul Farrugia said:

    I so do not miss Chinese train toilets too! Come to think of it, I don’t miss any Chinese toilets! Great blog!
    Paul Farrugia recently posted..March newsletter from globalhelpswap

  30. On April 16, 2013 at 7:13 pm Lia said:

    I don’t know how I discovered unbravegirl, but I wanted to say I love and hate your writings so much!! Love, because it’s simply sarcastic and hilarious (which happens to be my favorite humour), and HATEEE because I’ve been bewitched by it for too long (instead of studying for my final exam tomorrow, I’m reading and responding to all the glory and splender this blog brings me).

    Thanks a lot.
    Lia recently posted..To Do List Tokyo: Gardens, Parks & Nature

    • On April 17, 2013 at 8:07 am Sally said:

      Awwww, thank you! For the love AND the hate! And good luck with those exams. I feel my blog is totally appropriate study material for final exams. I just hope your exams are about ponies.

  31. On April 21, 2013 at 8:36 pm Johanna at ZigaZag said:

    What a revelation – seems like I’ve been doing most of this right! Particularly the name thingy! Who’d have thought 😉 Thank you for the awesome advice.

    • On April 22, 2013 at 6:19 pm Sally said:

      Ooo, yes, I notice the extra “a” between the “zig” and the “zag” in your website name. That’s got to be confusing for people! You are well on the way to Internet stardom! Please remember me when you’re famous!

  32. On April 22, 2013 at 1:52 pm Mila said:

    This is sooooo funny.
    And that’s exactly how it works…
    Will have to switch to wordpress though.
    Mila recently posted..Venice Beach – where ART, and LOVE live…

  33. On April 24, 2013 at 1:13 pm ofelia said:

    OMG, Ay Dios Mio, Sally this post is for me!
    I started blogging in 2011 only post twice in 2012 because of many personal hurdles and I’m not posting again.
    I spoke with a person (via email) that has a successful blog and she said: first of all get a Facebook account (haven’t done it), give prices or advice (Haven’t done it), follow everyone with a large following (haven’t done it), post often (no, only once per week) and get skinnier (really??), because skinnier women get more followers (Hey, still size 10 here). So I’m sticking to my actions or lack of actions and continue to have my few and lovely followers and as you did, do it my way!

    • On April 24, 2013 at 6:40 pm Sally said:

      WHAT? Are you kidding me? I can’t imagine telling someone to lose weight to get more followers. I have had no problem getting followers at my (ahem, quite a big larger than size 10) size. I’m DYING to know who told you this just so I can email them & them that they are ridiculous.
      I do support the getting of a Facebook page. But, as for what to post and how often, that’s totally up to you, I think. Yes, it’s good to have a consistent schedule, but if you can only post once a week, than only post once a week! This is actually the first year I’m managing to post more than once a week and that’s only because my work hours were cut back. But with a full-time job, I find it really hard to post more than once a week.
      And, as for who to follow, I only follow people I want to follow — usually people I find interesting or who I’ve had good conversations with. They could have 10 followers or 10,000, I don’t care.

  34. On April 27, 2013 at 12:34 am Katherine Belarmino said:

    Love this. I just recently started a travel blog, and I think I’m at step 6. You are hilarious. Found you through Michael Hodson article on Huffington Post.
    Katherine Belarmino recently posted..Dining at the Best Restaurants in Venice, an Impossibility?

  35. On June 14, 2013 at 2:29 pm Ceri said:

    I’ve been waiting for a post like this. You know that we can only learn from the best, Sally.
    Ceri recently posted..NY Bucket List: #1 – Visit Central Park

  36. On June 29, 2013 at 11:55 am Katka said:

    Hilarious! Thanks for sharing!
    Katka recently posted..Four-by-four of the Levant (2)

  37. On August 4, 2013 at 3:19 am Antonette said:

    Thanks for this post, I really enjoyed reading it. I’m still trying to decide whether to go for a professional blog or keep it for fun for family and friends but I’ll keep your advice in mind 🙂

    • On August 4, 2013 at 7:10 am Sally said:

      From what I’ve seen of other blogs that have “gone pro,” most people start off with a blog that’s just for friends and family. And then after a few months/years/decades (?) of writing posts and building up an audience, they then start to make money off of their blog through ads, etc.

  38. On December 30, 2014 at 10:53 pm Anita said:

    New blogger here and looking forward to implementing all these awesome steps and becoming famous! Hilarious post – love it!
    Anita recently posted..Why 2014 can go die in a ditch


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