Are you a professional blogger?
I’ve read a lot recently about the idea of being a “professional” blogger. Most of it quite snarky, to be honest. In true British fashion, we don’t like for people to get above their station – especially people who are doing the same as we’re doing.
I have “professional blogger” in my email signature, and on my LinkedIn profile. I earn part of my living from blogging, either on my own sites or those of other people. Other bloggers make more money than me; others make less; others make no money from their blogs. Does that mean eiter of us is any more or less of a professional blogger than the other?
Being a blogger is not like being a doctor; there is no clear line in the sand, where you’ve either passed an exam and become a pro, or you haven’t. It’s a lot more subjective than that. Being a “professional” blogger has more to do with whether you conduct yourself in a professional manner and behave professionally – not just with PRs and brands, but with your fellow bloggers, your peers.
There is a lot of snarkiness out there; people saying you shouldn’t be doing this, should be doing that, can’t do this, mustn’t call yourself that. Who are they to say? Who is anyone to say what you or I can say, or do, or call ourselves? If you’ve not experienced it, that probably just means it’s not caught up with you yet.
When we put ourselves “out there” by writing about ourselves and our lives, we do unfortunately end up also “out there” for others to judge us, and to impose their own ideas and beliefs upon us. We all judge each other by our photos on Facebook, our blog headers, our work with brands. I am no exception; I have been known to turn my nose up at my peers before now. But when I stopped to think about it, I realised: hang on, the Internet is big enough for all of us. There is enough space. And since I do not aim my blog posts at other bloggers, it’s not like any of them is my competition. And really, I don’t care what any other bloggers do; it doesn’t affect me. Yes, there are bloggers out there with whom I don’t necessarily get on. I’ve had a couple of fallings out with people too. But the Internet is a big place, and we can all just do what we do without having to argue over whether we’re doing it right. The beautiful thing about blogging is that there are no rules. Nobody can tell you what you can or can’t do.
I give out plenty of advice about blogging and social media, but ultimately it’s all my own opinion, and my own experience: things that have worked for me, or things that I do or do not like. I can’t tell you that you definitely should or should not do this or that, because at the end of the day I don’t know. It’s not like baking a cake, where if you add sawdust it will most definitely turn out tasting horrible; with blogging if you add sawdust your blog just has more of a DIY bent this week. Maybe your readers will like that; maybe they won’t. One thing I do know for sure though: Someone who does not read your blog and is not your target audience cannot tell you whether that is a good idea. All they can tell you is whether they like it, and since they’re not who you aim your blog at any way, do you care whether they like it?
Some of us refer to our children by name; others use nicknames or initials. Some of us talk in detail about our personal lives; others only use wide brushstrokes to refer to our lives. Some of us poke fun and are humorous in what we post; others are more emotional or serious or political. Which of us is right? All of us. We are all right. Even the ones who spend their time poking fun at their fellow bloggers, being snarky about what we do.
There will always be people out there snarking at what you do. That says more about them than about you. When someone is that unhappy with every single little thing around them, you will never make them like what you’re doing, because they don’t like themselves.
It is easy to sit at a computer and write a passive aggressive, snide diatribe about other people and what they should or shouldn’t be doing. It takes precious little in the way of talent to poke fun at others rather than address our own issues. Doing those things does not make someone qualified to decide what others may or may not say or do.
If you want to call yourself a professional blogger, call yourself a professional blogger. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, just because they are scared, or don’t want to do the same.