Being respected by name and reputation alone? Turning heads as you walk down the street? Being asked for autographs? The public life of the famous seems glamorous and desirable for many of us. While some get lucky by accident, wikiHow can teach you how to take advantage of your opportunities to become famous, how you want to be famous: by doing what you love.
Part 1 of 4: Building Talent
1Decide what you’ll be famous for. Do you want to out-cook Gordon Ramsay? Do you want to record duets with Beyonce or sell novels like J.K. Rowling? Selecting a fame-worthy career is the first step toward becoming famous.
- Artistic careers like music, acting, writing, or painting require one to build a “business of one.” You’ll have to sell yourself in any of these fields and build a name for yourself, which is some level of fame. If someone you’ve never met knows your name, that’s a level of fame.
- We associate careers in the arts–actors and musicians–with “fame,” but any public figure qualifies as famous. Politicians, football coaches, local business owners, and even weathermen are recognizable in the grocery store.
- Consider public service. Doctors, lawyers, and firemen can become locally or regionally famous for their deeds. You don’t need to be Kanye West to consider yourself famous.
2Be the best. Sounds simple, right? To become famous at whatever it is you hope to become famous for requires that you perfect the craft of that particular thing. Devote yourself entirely to developing your skills. If you want to record rap music, or become a pro football player, you have to throw yourself into that world completely.
- Forget fame at this stage. Kendrick Lamar, one of the hottest, most famous recent rappers to appear on the scene, is famous because of his extreme dedication to his craft and the art that he makes, not because he wanted to be famous.
- YouTube is filled with hopeless fame-seekers who skipped this step entirely and jumped right into marketing their terrible music full-time. No one will want to listen to your music if it doesn’t strike some chord with them. Wait until it’s good enough, until your music is better than what you hear on the radio.
- Music that’s “so bad it’s good” falls under the category of infamy. Still, you’re striking some chord with an audience. Acts like Krispy Kreme, Die Antwoord, and rapper Riff Raff still know an incredible amount about the music they’re making, and how to build a lot of irony into it. Rebecca Black’s “Friday” and the limited fame she received from it was the result of a professional marketing campaign.
3Find mentors. Find someone who does what you want to do better than you do it and learn everything you can. When you’re better than them, find someone else and continue the learning process. If you want to be an actor, study with the best teachers, watch all the films of your favorite actors, and write to them for advice. If you want to write poetry, read nothing but poetry. Study it, copy it out, read it out loud, write it on the walls of your bedroom.
4Be unique. Being unique is critical to fame. If you’re an actor, what sets you apart from everyone else trying out for plays? What will make someone remember you? Steve Buscemi has one of the most memorable faces and vocal deliveries in Hollywood films, but isn’t what you would call traditionally handsome. His charm is his unique ability to portray a character.
5Learn as much as you can about the field you want to crack into. If you want to write popular novels that sell millions of copies and are turned into major motion pictures, you’ll need to know what kind of novels sell well and what kind of novels people want to read. Read them, but don’t copy them. Everyone wants something new and accessible. Look at the style of the novels but consider new kinds of characters, situations, and structures that aren’t being written.
- If you want to become a famous trial lawyer, you’re not going to be able to do anything too radically different–you still have to convince a jury of someone’s guilt or innocence. But, the style of your delivery, demeanor, and even fashion can be a way of distinguishing yourself. Likewise, your advertisements. Marketing yourself in a unique way is a great way to build a client or fan base, whatever your field.
Part 2 of 4: Creating Opportunities
1Brand yourself. If your goal is to become famous, think of yourself as a salesman who needs to market a product. People need to buy into the idea of you. Something about you needs to strike a chord with them, whatever it may be. Your “thing,” whatever it is, needs to guide all the decisions you make in developing your fame. Your brand should dictate the way you talk to people, the way you advertise, the way you dress, and the way you create.
- When the Beatles were the most popular band in the land, The Rolling Stones presented themselves as the alternative: wild where the Beatles were ordered, overtly sexual where they were chaste. The music was similar and backstage, they were not dissimilar, but the marketing was made the Stones completely different.
2Get the word out. Contact the local paper or TV station about your current creative project, or get in touch with a local radio show about your band. Prove yourself as a good guest and interview subject
3Turn disadvantages into strengths. Any opportunity for press is a good opportunity. If you make complex craft beer for sophisticated drinkers and the paper wants to interview you about alcoholism, use it as an opportunity to distinguish yourself from the Bud Lite crowd. Actors are particularly good at turning bad press into an opportunity for redemption.
- Early career politicians are a particularly good example of this. Barack Obama took the disadvantage of his lack of executive experience and turned it into a strength–he was a fresh face, and against “business as usual.” His unique life story (son of a Kenyan, born in Hawaii and raised in Kansas) was presented as an American narrative.
4Risk failure. Have confidence that your brand, product, and yourself are worthy of fame. You have to put yourself out there to succeed. If you think, “I’ll never get that part in that play, so I’ll just not try out,” you’re definitely right. You’ll never get it. But if you do try out, you may surprise even yourself. Risk sending your book to the publisher, or booking a gig at a big festival. If you’re dedicated to your craft and to creating the best work you can, you’ll succeed eventually.
- Avoid “networking.” We’ve all met an aggressive collector of business cards and shameless Facebook-friender. The problem with overt networking is that it communicates “What can you give me?” rather than “How can this relationship be mutually beneficial?”
- Be realistic in your aims and avoid “carpet-bombing” marketing campaigns of yourself. Hip-hop publications probably aren’t interested in interviewing your bluegrass band, and you’re unlikely to get invited back to the wine festival with your craft beers.
Part 3 of 4: Maintaining Fame
1Surprise people with your depth. Distinguishing yourself in other ways and becoming more than a “one note” is the best way to maintain your fame and ensure that it grows and lasts more than fifteen minutes. Involve yourself with charitable causes or philanthropy to help people see you in a different light. Donate your time and efforts to causes you believe in.
2Do other things. A reality television star occasionally outlives their moment in the sun by developing notable skills and talents. Ethan Zohn won a season of the television show Survivor, but transitioned into organizing grassroots soccer clubs and being a sports commentator and was on the cover on “Livestrong” magazine in 2012 (more than ten years after winning the show) after beating cancer and training for marathons.
- An actor with a musical talent could either become a punch-line or a source of depth and respect. Treat your other ventures with as much intent and consideration of your brand as your main career.
3Surround yourself with famous people. Once you’ve ascended, stay on top by being “spotted” with other celebrities, working alongside other famous people, and staying visible. Rapper Nelly is several years removed from his hottest period in the late 90s and early 2000s, but as a talent judge on on television singing competitions, he stays relatively successful as a result of that early fame.
Part 4 of 4: Getting Famous Without Talent
1Apply for reality television programs in Britain and the US. While the stature and duration of celebrity associated with reality television has waned somewhat in the US, British reality celebrities are often front-page news. For your audition tape or interview, consider the same branding and marketing of yourself based on your unique qualities and character. Reality programs are looking for uninhibited characters.
- Watch lots of reality programs and figure out what might work best for you. If your only goal is getting on television for a minute or two, try out for American Idol and perform badly or humorously and hope for a gag reel.
2Develop relationships with famous people. Hanging out at Hollywood bars and befriending or even developing romantic relationships with famous people is a way of becoming famous. The spouses of politicians, whether they like it or not, are thrust into the spotlight.
3Distinguish yourself on the internet. Making humorous or informational YouTube videos is a good way to become famous. Cultivate a following on Facebook and Twitter to keep in touch with your fan base.
- Successful YouTube entrepreneurs are often hired by YouTube to produce content, on a case by case basis. “Daym Drops Super Official Food Reviews” is basically just a guy (Daym) eating fast food in his car while parked and talking about it enthusiastically. He’s been on the Jimmy Fallon show and other mainstream media, with each video receiving tens of thousands of views because of his charisma and sense of humor.
4Distinguish between fame and infamy. Jeffrey Dahmer is a household name, but not famous in the way that you want to be. Doing something criminal is a shortcut you don’t want to take.
- Shaming yourself on the internet by doing something dangerous or embarrassing and posting the video might be a way to get some attention, but attention is not necessarily fame.