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Are You an ‘Expert’ Blogger, or an ‘Expert’ Poser?

I was inspired to write this post after reading a rant by Lorelle VanFossen where she asks the question “Are You Walking The Blogging Walk“. I have to admit this has also crossed my mind on one or two occasions.

According to Lorelle:

The “I’m the expert” bragging quality so often found on blogs makes you wonder if the blogger really knows what they are blogging about. The harder the effort they put into convincing you that they are the expert - well, it makes me suspicious.

You can read more of her rant here. But as I was reading it I couldn’t help but appreciate the irony, because after viewing her blog she also seems to consider herself a blogging “expert” in her own right.

Nonetheless I was wondering if maybe she had the Bloke in mind as she wrote it. Admittedly I do mention in my profile that I have been quoted by major newspapers and considered to be an expert in blogging, and some of her rant sounds a little close to home to be just coincidence, but I digress.

So rather than wave my clenched fist towards the gods I thought it might help to clarify matters if I jotted down what the credentials are for an “expert” or “pro” blogger in my niche - i.e. on the topic of blogging and all things related thereof.

1. A good background and knowledge of computer technology:

I’m talking about having a very good background in computers. I don’t mean that you have to be a certified computer scientist, but I do believe you should at least have a very good grasp of computerese and how to maintain a computer.

Why? Because you need to be able to run a computer to be a successful blogger that’s why. It never ceases to amaze me how many a so-called “expert” or ”pro” blogger I’ve come across have very little or no background in computers before starting their blogging career.

2. A knowledge and expertise in web technology:

I’m not talking about being a web surfer either. I mean you should at least have experience and knowledge with such things as web design (HTML, CSS etc.), and be able to perform things that are associated with maintaining your blog.

After all, if you’re going to pass yourself off as an “expert” on technology related topics, then please at least have the good sense to know what you are talking about.

It also amazes me when I see “expert” or “pro” bloggers that can’t even design their own blog, preferring instead to outsource it to an “expert“. Or their blog looks like it was made on Microsoft Word, but they are never lacking in giving us the benefit of their advice (or criticism). It really makes me go hmm sometimes.

3. An expertise in blog technology:

This should be obvious, but having an excellent grasp of blogging technologies as well as keeping abreast of changes within the field is absolutely essential.

I don’t know about you but I can easily figure out who the posers are. I constantly come across so-called ”expert” or “pro” bloggers that have not been blogging for very long and who obviously (or at least it’s obvious to me) do not really understand the terms they are attempting to convey to their audience. (There’s that “hmm” again).

I also find it mind boggling that many ”expert” or “pro” bloggers merely aggregate information that is readily available on the web. Experienced bloggers like myself can easily see through those who subscribe to the “fake it till you make it” theory of blogging. So a word of advice… passion is a great thing, but knowledge and understanding is more important.

4. A lot of experience as a blogger:

I mean “a lot” of blogging experience. This should also go without saying. I’m talking about having years of experience running your own blog and participating in the blogosphere.

Personally I don’t think the popularity of a blog has any bearing on this. I see a lot of a-listers who would definitely NOT pass the litmus list.

You wouldn’t seek business advice from someone with little or no business experience would you? Of course not, so where do these posers find the temerity to pass themselves off as an “expert“? It really blows my mind.

There are also a lot of so-called ”pro“ bloggers who equate the word “pro” with making money on the net, which is in fact a misrepresentation of the word. Being a good huckster does not make you a “pro” blogger, for as we all know “pro” is actually short for the word ‘professional‘ which is defined as someone who is:

  • engaged in a profession or engaging in as a profession or means of livelihood; “the professional man or woman possesses distinctive qualifications“; “began her professional career after the Olympics”; “professional theater”; “professional football”; “a professional cook”; “professional actors and athletes”;
  • a person engaged in one of the learned professions;
  • engaged in by members of a profession; “professional occupations include medicine and the law and teaching”;
  • a master: an authority qualified to teach apprentices, etc.
  • Let me also say this — I don’t believe that a formal education is necessary either, so long as the individual has the equivalent in experience and knowledge. That of course is especially applicable to blogging since there are little or no formal courses that I’m aware of. But some formal edumacation in computers sure wouldn’t hurt either.I’m talking mostly about my niche of course and the topic of blogging because it is near and dear to my heart. But the same goes for other niches as well. If you are going to run a blog on say… cameras for example and offer advice, then please be all means know a lot about cameras first.

    Unfortunately many self-proclaimed “experts” or “pro” bloggers are posers more than anything else. But maybe that’s ok because perhaps we could just reclassify them into a different niche. After all, they are very good at things like Googling, copying and pasting, making lists, dusting off old school textbooks or visiting the local library. So perhaps a more apt classification for these bloggers might be ‘blog librarian‘, or ‘web aggregator’ or ‘net disseminator’, or…

    The Bottom Line:

    The reason for writing this post isn’t just for my benefit or the posers. Now that I’ve outlined the basic JOB requirements for my blog niche, the challenge for you is to come up with your own.

    I want you to sit down with pencil (or keyboard) in hand and jot down the requirements that you think you need for your chosen blog niche.

    1. What education (or equivalent knowledge) do you need to be an “expert” in your niche?

    2. Do you have an ability to write and to convey your knowledge to others?

    3. Do you have a passion for the topic (yes that is still important).

    4. What technologies do you need to know?

    5. Do you have current information at your disposal to keep you abreast of changes within your niche?

    After completing the above be honest and ask yourself this question — are you really an “expert” in your niche or are you just a “poser“. My conscience is clear. How about you?

    If after completing this exercise and you’ve discovered that you are indeed a poser then all is not lost. Just find what you need (use those Google skills we talked about) and edumacate yourself until you are ready to go. But please don’t jump the gun and hang your shingle first. The blogosphere is already overcrowded with too many hosers posers.

    The bottom line is there is nothing wrong with turning your hobby or your passion into a career so long as you have the knowledge and experience to back it up.

    So what do you think. Did I miss something or am I completely off the mark?

    Written March 4th, 2007 by | 9 Comments | Filed under: Blog Ethics, Miscellaneous Blog Tips, MythBusters, Writing Blog Content , ,

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    It's your turn to tell Blog Bloke what you think, ask a question or suggest another blog tip. Don't forget the comments policy and I'm looking forward to reading what you have to say.

    There are 9 Comments so far to “Are You an ‘Expert’ Blogger, or an ‘Expert’ Poser?”

    1. I like the model you created that everyone can use, regardless of their hobby. Bloke, I think you are an expert. I believe you have all the qualities you mentioned. Me, I just play with my blog. Normally, I don’t understand one quarter of what you talk about here, and when I try the tips you mention, invariably I gum them up. Thank the Lord for widgets. Nice post! And I agree. Whatever area of expertise you claim to have, you have to earn your cred.

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    2. Do you and Lorelle have a history which your gentle readers might not be au fait with?

      Is it only possible to be an expert, a pro, or a poser? Is it possible to be neither one thing nor the other? Because, I’m wondering if the judgment of “expert” or “poser” comes from other people and not necessarily from the person in question.

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    3. Rory, you are one of the few who share my sardonic wit. You, CyberCoder and I should get together sometime. It would be a hoot I’m sure.

      I’m not certain who the “other people” you are referring to but perhaps I should have made it more clear that I was only discussing “expert” and “niche” bloggers. Everyone else is exempt of course.

      Regarding Lorelle you will have to ask her that.

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    4. Thanks for the confidence Gem (fooled ya :).

      Anytime you don’t understand something please let me know because that’s what I’m here for.

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    5. I just want to add that I tried real hard to not to let the post sink into a negative tirade. I wanted to end it on a positive note. I hope that I succeeded.

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    6. In her own words Ms. VanSnooty has admitted to lacking in computer skills and relies heavily on her geek husband to fill in the gaps. So that would make her the queen of all posers.

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    7. Interesting food for thought.

      I know I’m not a poser.

      I spill my victories and mishaps to my readers.

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    8. Transparency covers a multitude of sins (speaking for myself of course ;-)

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    9. […] pronounced nish) blogging, but, um, not really. Ho-hum, it seems that everybody’s an expert these […]

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