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Business Blogging Advice: You're Not a Blogger

sobcondarmano.jpgThere I was sitting at SOBCon07 over the weekend enjoying the speakers and the conversations they started. Soaking in all kinds of great ideas for taking my blog the conversation (and my business) to the next level.

Then, out of nowhere he said it…what’s been on my mind since I began writing publicly. The meaning in the question I asked weeks back.

“Stop calling yourself a blogger,” proclaimed David Armano.

“Blogging is a commodity. Anyone can do it. We are human beings with passions and interests that come out in our blogs—not the other way around. Stop calling yourself a blogger. You are a… (designer, businessperson, marketer, artist, baker, mother, grandfather, etc). Calling ourselves bloggers takes away from what makes us unique.”

The reactions in the room were interesting. Everything from gasps to confusion to euphoria. Okay, so maybe euphoria is a bit overstated. But that’s close to how I felt. Finally, someone was saying it – stop limiting yourself as just being a blogger.

David wasn’t advocating that we stop identifying ourselves as bloggers with our blogging circles. What he was suggesting is that we stop referring to ourselves as bloggers to the outside world.

And I agree.

It seems that these words – blog, blogging, blogger, blogosphere, etc – stand in the way of people participating in a new, interactive internet. I hear it from clients all the time, “…isn’t blogging just a journal?,” “I don’t want to have to write so much,” or my ever favorite, “my son/daughter has a blog they talk to their friends with…it’s sort of silly.”

The truth is, this medium is incredibly powerful at reaching an audience. Yet if we only speak in our jargon, we’re effectively alienating a huge population of people who aren’t blogging. Many of those are potential clients and customers.

David said in a post on Monday:

…my theory is that focusing on the passion more so than the medium (blogging) will lead to a better personal brand.

…Being a blogger doesn’t make us unique. Our individual talents, passions and personality does. This is the stuff brands are built from—and blogs, despite all of the baggage that comes along with the word is an extension of our brands, whether it be personal or business.

Again, I couldn’t agree with him more. That’s part of why his presentation was so refreshing for me. He, in part, said what I’ve been chewing on for months.

So if we’re not going to call ourselves bloggers, what do we call ourselves? Do we need to call ourselves anything? Let’s start a conversation…

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Comments

  1. Douglas Karr says:

    After 7 months, I just have started calling myself a blogger. I’m not so sure I agree with your premise though I do respect it.

    Recent speaking and consulting engagements that I’ve gotten are due to me being ‘a blogger’. I like that term! I’ve put a lot of effort into understanding the technology and the strategy.

    ‘Anybody can be a blogger?’ That’s like saying ‘anybody can be a painter’. No… everyone can blog, but not everyone can call themselves a blogger.

    You can absolutely focus on the passion – I absolutely do! But the method is what carries my passion to the reader!

    I’m a blogger!

  2. David’s comments resonated with me as well because I don’t think of myself as a blogger, as much as an entrepreneur + opportunity seeker.

    Of course, my site is called Instigator BLOG – so I’m kind of pigeonholed with that name. Something I should have thought about a bit more before.

    But I don’t mind that too much, because Instigator Blog isn’t the only place where I’m developing a profile, reputation and brand.

    I have had numerous uncomfortable situations trying to explain blogging to people…BUT…the other day while meeting with VCs for Standout Jobs I used my blogging experience as a bonus. They were interested in my experience and success using blogging, social networking/media – so ultimately you never know when it might be PERFECT to say “blog, blog, blog” and when it’s time to say, “business person, business person, business person” or something else.

    Wow, I ramble in comments…

  3. InfoProductReview.com says:

    I consider myself part journalist, entrepreneur, motivator, teacher, strategist, marketer, scientist, creator, most of all student of all things internet, student of life… and so much more

    Mr. X

  4. My gut reaction is we don’t have to call ourselves anything. I don’t think of myself as a blogger, partially because I’ve just started, partially because my reasons for my two blogs are slightly different. Cheerfulmonk.com is a straight blog where I’m exploring an idea: Happiness as a Spiritual Practice. It’s an idea that has fascinated me for years and which most people think is crazy. Blogging is a way of getting me to write about it regularly and maybe connect with someone else.

    My second blog, at StressToPower.com, is part of an evolving website and an extension of some classes and support groups I’ve done locally. I’d like to connect with a few more people, and an interactive blog might be a great way to do it.

    So blogging is a tool. If I use a hammer I don’t call myself a hammerer. No, I’m not a blogger. I’m Jean Browman.

  5. So true Ben. Our company name is The Blog Studio, we have definitely mulled over the thought – “is this a good name or a bad name?” For Search Engine Ranking and many other reasons it has been fabulous, but does it pigeon hole us, since we do so much more than just blogs?

    There are pros and cons in using the word blog for sure.

    I must say Dawud – I was very relieved as well when the conversation came up. Just thinking of having the freedom to use the word blog when you want and not to use it when you don’t just made so much sense.

    I was so surprised that I never thought of that before. It was a great conversation.

  6. We do get hung up on labels and these labels do color our perception. I agree, to call yourself a blogger is limiting, as would be any label. Good article!

  7. Phil Gerbyshak says:

    Lucia shared:
    Just thinking of having the freedom to use the word blog when you want and not to use it when you don’t just made so much sense.

    I agree 100%. It’s all about choice and connection points. I’m a blogger when I want to be among other bloggers. I won’t deny it if someone asks me if I’m a blogger but if people don’t know what a blogger is, why say that when you can say “Online publisher,” “Entreprenuer,” “Whatever.”

    It’s up to you, and it’s your choice. Find what connects you to others, and go with that. Tell about being a “blogger” later, when they get what it means to be a blogger. Heck, that’s a great post for all of us that call ourselves bloggers.

    What does it mean to be a blogger? After SOBCon, I know the answer…and I’m off to write it!

  8. It’s part of the reason why I just moved my ‘blog’ from davidairey.com/blog to davidairey.com, doing away with the blog directory.

    I didn’t want to ‘pigeon-hole’ my publishing (as Ben puts it).

    Ben does make a good point however, that sometimes people might be interested in hearing about blogging and social media.

    Nevertheless, I’ve nevered liked the word. It reminds me too much of ‘bog’ (British slang for a toilet).

  9. Phil Gerbyshak says:

    Doug – YOU ROCK man! I’m with you. I’m a blogger too!

  10. If there’s any remotely good writing on the blog, one can call oneself an author. Writers of lesser merit than most “bloggers” I know do it. 🙂

    I call myself many things, but I’ve never thought of myself as a blogger for a second.

  11. Phil Gerbyshak says:

    Dawud – thanks for leaving us space to have the conversation. You started it, we’re just working it!

  12. Phil Gerbyshak says:

    I’m with you Dawud. It is important to know your audience. That’s really what conversations and relationships are all about really; getting to know the other person, understanding their point of view, and loving them for it.

  13. Lucia,

    I remember that David’s comments were under the guise of branding. It would make sense that unless you’re identifying yourself purely to bloggers, using blog speak would be a limiting decision.

    As I said over at Phil’s, I personally don’t care how people identify me themselves. What I do care about is how I indentify myself with others.

  14. Doug

    You do make some good points and I think in your case it is great that you own the title. I love that.

    Your passion shows and you say it with such pride – I feel like standing up, following you and saying

    oh captain.. my captain..

    but… truly I think the option is upto the person.

  15. Jonathan-C. Phillips says:

    When i tell someone “I blog” or “i’m a blogger” they usually give me that weird look, like they have no idea what “blogging” is. And i can’t blame them.

    I agree with most people that left a comment on your post Dawud. Blogging is just a word, in fact we are a lot more than simply “bloggers”, we are publishers, writers, designers, proofreaders, networkers, commentors, authors, conversationalists, marketers of our own ideas, and a lot more. It’s just that “blogger” regroup all those “titles”. I’m myself, Jonathan-C. Philllips, if someone feels like labelling me as “blogger” it’s fine with me. I don’t mind the title, people can call me whatever they want. I can wear many different hats.

    Ok, so if you are looking for me, i’m blogging! 🙂

  16. Everyone,

    This is great…I step away for a few hours to be with my family and look what you’ve done…had a conversation without me.

    Thank you.

  17. Hmmm – just think – wonder what will happen while you sleep tonight. Or do you bring your computer to bed with you? I’d be lying if I said I haven’t woken up cuddled upto my Mac.

  18. Ben,

    No worry on rambling…watch, I’ll do it too.

    The point from David I like the best is that being a blogger doesn’t make us unique. Our passsion and talents do.

    Jean,

    Yes, I agree. And I believe that’s what David is saying. A carpenter, for instance, is a much larger profession than the tools he uses.

    Lucia,

    First, welcome. Great to meet you at SOBCon.

    I agree. I’ve thought about it for months – even before I began blogging. I see blogging as a solution for my client’s problems not an end-all in itself. And I often avoid the term blog just to stay away from stereotypes and misperceptions.

  19. Mark,

    There you are, my friend. I was wondering where you had gone.

    David,

    Sure, it’s all about knowing where people are at and what they’re ready for. How do you do decide that?

    Carol,

    Great to see you here. I agree with what Ben alluded to and David actually said during SOBCon; blogs are personal publishing systems.

    Doug,

    Oh, I wish you were at SOBCon. It would have been so great to meet you. I did spend some time with Tony.

    From David’s perspective, I agree with being careful about where and when you use what terminology. In some circles, being a blogger is expected. In others, being a blogger could lead to misunderstanding and confusion. I tend to be about meeting people where they are, the best I can.

    Am I a blogger…yeah. But only because I’m in a conversation with one.

  20. Mr. X

    Me too. I’m many things…beginning with a man, husband and father.

    Phil,

    It’s all about who your audience is. Any thoughts on discernment?

    Lucia,

    I’m a big fan of Doug’s. And I think he really is a blogger. But yet, so much more.

    Lucia & Phil,

    Keep it going. I’m not kidding when I say that I’m all about the conversation. Conversation leads to relationships. And as you both saw this weekend, that’s what I love about life…relationships.

    Gosh, I need to install threaded comments.

  21. Phil,

    Yeah, exactly. I remember David saying that, in so many words, and I agree. The key is taking the time to really understand what people are ready for. Not that we judge. Rather we save them the uncomfortability of not understanding what we mean.

  22. I’ve never really had an issue with the word BLOG – I actually like that word – Blogger doesn’t really bother me either.

    However – it is true – people do stereotype or they don’t really get what blogging means, so saying it differently does always help – and I will be doing that from here forward.

  23. Douglas Karr says:

    Dawud,

    The respect goes both ways! Your blog has been a fantastic resource and I really enjoy our virtual friendship.

    🙂

    Doug

  24. I´m not a blogger.

  25. Does $$$$ factor into the equation at all?

    Are you a blogger if you make a living from it? Then you blog for business.

    Are you called a blogger if you spend your days musing online for the world to maybe walk on by as you type instead of doing the archaic task of actually taking a pen to paper.

    If my employer hires me to blog on his website since it will make him more money, then its just a J.O.B

    so… sorry if it was already mentioned, but the word should be defined by business or pleasure and if your pleasure becomes your business.. then back to the drawing board.

    ~~ Andrea

  26. Jonathan,

    That’s pretty much how I hold it too. The important point that I took away from David’s talk was just knowing who I’m speaking too. If I’m speaking to/with bloggers, then ‘being a blogger’ is perfectly fine. But if I’m speaking with nonbloggers, there may be a more effective way to communicate who I am…and what I do.

    So for me, it’s all about my audience. I try to remember that a blog is not really what I’m about. What I’m about is the conversation, the relationship, and sharing. My blog is just one of the tools I use to do that.

    Isn’t it funny how we can so easily get stuck with monikers?

    Mallorca,

    How would you define yourself, then? And does that change with the audience you’re speaking too?

  27. Andrea,

    Glad you joined the conversation. Thanks.

    What I feel, and what David said in his talk is that we can call ourselves anything we want. The question comes down to what’s the most effective and beneficial title you can give yourself based on your audience, your branding and your goals.

    Even if you blog for a living why are you really getting paid. Sure the blog provides the medium. But aren’t you/we being paid because of our writing, our know-how, our ability to generate traffic, etc? We just do that with the tool of blogging?

    I’d love to hear more about your thoughts.

  28. Doug,

    Thanks. One of these days we’ll have to figure out how to meet. Until then, we can build our virtual friendship…I like that.

  29. Hugh | A Politically Incorrect Entrepreneur says:

    First, let me say thank you for such a wonderful resource. I can see where my morning is going to be spent. Goodbye, productivity! 🙁

    While I do have a blog, my goal is to use it as a mere tool to further my mission, to be a change agent, to instigate, to pimp my wares, to voice my views. Blogging just happens to be the best, lowest cost way to do that.

    I am on the leading edge of Generation X, and I find a ton of stereotyping about what a blog or a blogger is from those my age and older. For many over the age of 35 or so, blogging = myspace.

  30. Hugh,

    Certainly. I hope I don’t dig into your productivity too bad. Maybe Ben’s Ultimate Productivity Guide would help.

    I fully understand. I see a blog as merely a tool. It’s the ideas and passion I bring to my blog that makes it an effective tool…one that accomplishes my goals. But the blog is not the goal itself.

  31. Great conversation and a math lesson! 5 + 8 … um, um … *chuckle*

    Although there remains a stereotype with terms like “blog” and “blogging” I think it’s lessening. It may never disappear, but if you remember from SOBCon a couple people said that the media now gets a ton of their ideas/quotes/etc. from bloggers.

    I bet if you called your blog “a list of articles” it wouldn’t have the same hook.

    For some, a blog = diary = MySpace.

    For others, a blog = cool = new way of doing things = something I need to be hooked into.

    If I think of all the things I define myself as – human, Canadian, entrepreneur, etc. etc. – blogger isn’t at the top of the list, but it’s not at the bottom either.

    You have to know what you want out of the experience of blogging / self-publishing, and you have to know your audience. And you gage from there how to approach things…but generally, the quality and value of blogging is only increasing, and the stereotype is diminishing.

    Where was I going with this again? *sigh*

  32. Ben,

    I’m always here to help…and educate.

    You have to know what you want out of the experience of blogging / self-publishing, and you have to know your audience.

    That’s pretty close to what I feel as well. And I certainly advise my clients the same.

    I think it’s important to consider blogging in relation to the problems that it can help your business solve. But it’s not the end-all itself, in my opinion.

    Yet the term blogger has a positive ring to it as well. It has a hook, as you said. So we continue to walk the fence post…

    And, I love that your ramble. Shows that we really are related in some way.

  33. Evolution:

    Geek – Computer Geek – Computer Geek with Web Log – Blogger – Creative Digital Collaborator

    Armano is a creative leader. Calling himself a blogger is like Bill Gates calling himself a computer engineer.

  34. Perhaps Journalism is a thing of the past? If you could read news as a newspaper presents it or the same piece written ‘blog style’ as a ‘blogger’ offers it, I know I would prefer the blogger anyday.

    Do you think someone sat down the journalists and said “You are NOT Journalists – you are either a yada yada and a newspaper is your medium”

    So ‘Blogging’ may be just how our society ages. We used to call everyone Mr and Mrs and now it’s first names. Parents use to punish their children and now they get sent away for slapping. If you dont get personal about your News today, it aint news.

    I have no idea why you happened to be the recipient of my ramblings today 🙂

    ~~ Andrea

  35. I’ve found that it’s best to just tell people I’m a goat farmer. That gets fewer blank stares, and it requires very little explanation 🙂

    But seriously, one thing I’ve found from being self-employed most of my working life is that titles pigeon-hole by their very nature.

    I’ve been a designer, cartoonist, writer, developer, and entrepreneur, and all of those titles come with preconceived notions.

    I think the consensus of context is where I usually fall. I can never seem explain to my extended family what I actually do for a living.

    I’m sticking with goat farmer … 🙂

  36. Andrea,

    I love it. And I can certainly see your point. Yet jouralism is a known, accepted and fairly trusted profession. Blogging is new, fairly untrusted and highly misunderstood by anyone outside the blogosphere. If we’re going to open the world of blogging to more and more folks (two links there), we first got to get them involved. How we talk about blogging is one way to do that.

    Feel free to ramble any time…

    Tony,

    Yes, titles do pigeon-hole us. And I don’t think that’s all bad as long as the people you’re interacting with understand what you do. Think of it as common ground.

    Goat farmer, huh? You know Dawud (David) was a sheep herder in the Bible. Sounds like we’re long-lost relatives.

  37. LOL – Great comment Tony – I had a good laugh when I needed it.

    Now – nobody would believe me if I said I was a goat farmer – so do you have a god solid job for me to say I am? Think City Girl meets Marge Simpson.

    Everyone in the downtown core of toronto seems to be a trader – not sure if I can pull that off – I’d have to learn the whole corporate jargon and industry terms. Since everyone is one – they would be able to spot a fake a mile away.

    Sometimes I just say I’m a computer geek.

  38. Lucia,

    Dog walking is sort of like goat farmer in the city. I have a friend who dog walks in Manhattan and does pretty well for herself.

    Ooh, you could also be a zookeeper.

  39. Dawud

    LOL – a zoo keeper – how fun! Toronto does have a great zoo.
    I also like dogs… any more suggestions.

    Andrea

    Your comment is great: “If we’re going to open the world of blogging to more and more folks (two links there), we first got to get them involved. How we talk about blogging is one way to do that.”

    That has been my approach with people. I say I own a web/blog design company, however if you want to know what that really means I can tell you more since everyone should know about it. Funny thing is when I do – people get all fired up and I end up building them a blog.

    Educating people is key… great point Andrea.

  40. @Dawud – Hey, you never know 🙂

    @Lucia – Dog walking is a good business too. Actually do a Google search for “start goat farming or dog business” (no quotes) and look at who happens to show up on the first page (about 7th at one time).

    Keywords can be your friend, or a fun joke. The power of SEO.

  41. Adam Kayce : Monk At Work says:

    There’s a great Rumi poem/story, about a frog who lives his whole life in a well. He thinks he knows what the world is all about, until the day he hops a bit higher, lands on the edge of the well, and looks out over the wide, wide world.

    Will he live in the well anymore? Probably. It’s his home. But never again will his mind be limited to the small space of that well.

    Once the perspective has been changed (thanks, Mr. Armano), you can still do what you’ve always done… but your outlook is now different, and the freedom to choose is yours.

  42. Lucia,

    Hey, those were both me…

    I have the same experience whenever I talk about what people/clients/businesses can gain from blogging. When we’re finished, they’re often begging me to set up a blog and teach them how to use it. Of course the work happens after the excitement wanes.

    I’d love to talk with you on the phone sometime about your experiences with this…

    Tony,

    True. So to be on the safe side, I’m going to start calling you my brother.

    Jason,

    True, David is a thought leader – at least in my opinion. By the way, where is he in this conversation? I’ll have to tickle him…

  43. Everyone,

    That’s right, he’s at IIT Institute of Design Strategy conference. May be a few days before I can get him on. But I’ll try.

  44. Adam,

    Isn’t that one of the keys to living a remarkable life; to always allow a little expansion in our view of things?

  45. Glad this spurred a discussion. Respectful debate is healthy. I think there are a lot of great perspectives here. I really like Adam’s story about the frog and the well.

    But let’s keep this really simple. In the end, it comes down to your passion. Most people who blog have a deeper and more meaningful passion than blogging itself, so that’s what I was encouraging everyone in the audience to focus on.

    However, let’s say that hypothetically blogging itself is your core passion. You live for it. Like anyone passionate about something, you want to evangalize and spead the word about how wonderful blogging is. What’s the key to any successful evangelical movement?

    Empathy.

    The blogging world we are so comfortable with is a scary place to outsiders. Anything we can do to empathize with their comfort level will help them see why we love blogging so. But you also have to be empathetic enough to understand that it’s not for everyone.

    Passion and empathy. Together these are powerful ingredients that when combined can lead to…

    Persuasion + Influence.

    Food for thought. 🙂

  46. David,

    Most people who blog have a deeper and more meaningful passion than blogging itself, so that’s what I was encouraging everyone in the audience to focus on.

    That’s what I heard. What I think moved me so much is that I’m personally in a transition of how I express my passion. Web development is good. Yet I have some ideas of things I love that I’d like to help people learn and use to better their life and grow their business. That’s why your talk really spoke to me (and why last week was David Armano week.).

    One of my own missions in having a blog is to make this mysterious medium more available to non bloggers. I’ve had a couple of interesting conversations on the point – a conversation I’ll likely continue.

    For me, the focus is on what we love – as you said, what we’re passionate about – not on how we deliver it. I see the blog a means for delivery. And I can understand some people’s passion being the blog itself. My passion is in great conversation and deep relationships that change our business and change our lives. And it’s clear, especially from SOBCon, that the blog can help.

    How does the blog fit into your life/work/relationships?

  47. Accident Management says:

    For us as a small business, without the ability to share our thoughts and become an expert in our field we wouldn’t have clients, blogging is an effective business tool, that is used correctly does bring in results.

    Small business just need to know how to utilize this facility properly

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