Monday, June 14, 2010

What is a professional blogger?

I had a very interesting exchange last evening during a Twitter "Blogchat." Basically a chat is just people getting together and talking (or tweeting) about the same thing (in this case Blogs). The comments are linked together because everyone uses a # before the name of the chat, and then you can follow the conversation by searching for that chat. Confusing if you're not on Twitter, but anyway...we were talking about Blogging :)

A fellow named Patrick Johnson asked me how I define a "pro" blogger. That question led us into a conversation that was unfortunately limited by the 140 character cage Twitter puts you in (as well as the fast-paced timing of the conversation). So, I thought I would revisit the conversation here (at least in sum) and get your thoughts!

Quality or Quantity

Do you consider a Blogger a "pro" because they have tons of comments and followers and links back to their blog, or do you consider a Blogger a "pro" because of the quality of the posts that are made? One might argue that if you base things on quantity, Al Gore's blog ( is professional. However, if I didn't know who Al Gore was, I wouldn't think the blog was all that professional. It doesn't have a particularly professional look to it (my opinion) and his posts generally are short and to the point, which doesn't seem to be the overriding style bloggers choose.

Is it possible to be a pro without clout?

Next question: can you be a successful or "professional" blogger if you aren't bringing some clout to the blog already? My answer to this question is yes. Blogging is attractive in part because it promises you that you can build a network. But not everyone's Blog achieves the status of say, Denise Wakeman's or Chris Brogan's. Are you more inclined to go to a Blog if it's someone you've heard of? Probably. Is it possible to get someone new into that cycle? Also probably, but that person might give up before that happens.

What is a "pro" and why do we need to define it?

I met a Native American artist once when I was in grad school. He was a Native American artist in that his ethnicity was Native American and his profession was "artist." However, he did not make traditional "Native American" art. He did what was in his head and heart. He said people kind of were confused by this, including his own family and friends. If you're a Native American you should want to present traditional themes so that your success can raise up those ideas into the mainstream. Similarly, he had trouble breaking through because when he billed himself as a Native American artist, people didn't see what they expected.

It's this kind of scenario that convinces me that categorizing people is dangerous. How would one define a professional blogger? In the end, it's probably a personal preference type of thing.

Does it matter if a person is a pro? I read blog posts if they're interesting. There are blogs that wander (for me) from really interesting to kind of blah. I don't think any less of that person...I just know that not every blog post is going to be a winner for everybody.

Then again, there are so many best practices for blogging that maybe it all does matter. Maybe I'm not taking the craft seriously enough.

What do you think?

Image by Faakhir Rizvi.

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