From the BlogContact Me Now

Do You Call Yourself A Blogger?

Why? Why not?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since David Armano talked about it at SOBCon last year. His basic point was that “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.”

I have to say that I agree. I think the term blogger is overused and often misunderstood. When I talk with businesses about blogging, they often, even after all this time, think of journaling. They haven’t fully appreciated the breadth of what the term blogger can mean.

Sure, I still use the term blog or blogger, but only in select company and mostly as a shortcut. But I don’t really think of myself as a blogger anymore. Rather, I think of myself as a publisher. And I think of my blog as a publishing platform; one that lets me focus on content instead of site structure.

Think about it. Isn’t blogging basically writing and publishing? That’s pretty much the basic thing we do on our blogs.

When I explain it to business owners that way, it makes sense. When I drop the word blog and talk about a simple, easy-to-use publishing system for their business, it makes sense. It gets us past the terminology and misperceptions. It unbridles our conversation. I mean, what business owner wouldn’t want to have an inexpensive, simple and ever expanding way to share their business with potential customers? Isn’t that what a blog can be?

Yesterday Darren Rowse postsed a great article on this same topic. The video that accompanied the post I’ve included below and would love to hear your thoughts on it.

Darren made three points in his post which are each relevant for the business and nonbusiness blogger publisher alike.

  1. “Your competitors don’t limit themselves, why should you?”
    Ideally, you’re thinking of your blog as a website – because, that’s what it is. So rather than thinking about how your blog stacks up against other blogs, consider how your blog stacks up in your business niche.
  2. “Your readers don’t really care what format your site is.”
    Really, people want great content – whether it’s in an article bank, part of an ezine or posts on a blog. From their perspective, it’s less important how that great content is delivered than what that great content shares.
  3. “(Properly) positioning yourself for the future.”
    If you look around the so-called blogosphere, you’ll see that blogs are changing. They’re morphing into new structures with new features and functions. For me, the term blogging can get in the way of this evolution, don’t you think?

So what do you think? Do you think of yourself as a blogger? If not, what do you call yourself? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Below I’ve posted Darren’s video from his post yesterday. It’s just under 5 minutes. Give it a watch and join the conversation in the comment box.

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Comments

  1. Dawud, that is a nice post and an interesting video. You have some background information about me. So, what I say may not sound like a lot of rubbish.

    The whole idea of launching a blog for me has been to see my writing on some kind of a medium and to provoke thought and perhaps dialogues, just like your blog has for me. You would have seen the kind of topics on which I comment, subjects about which I have some knowledge, am interested in and keen to hear what others think about the same.

    I am not very computer literate nor am I an expert in making money online. Half the things that I read on blogs, simply go over my head.

    I surf the net quite a bit, if that is the correct way to explain my spending a lot of time at the computer, primarily because I am in a situation that permits me to.

    I think that I have a flair for communicating effectively and would like to confirm the thought by blogging and getting other people’s opinions on my skill or lack of it.

    It sounds better to call it publishing, but I think that for someone like me, the nomenclature is really unimportant. I may be limiting myself as Darren suggests, but that factor is not very daunting for the simple reason that I am not particularly keen to make money out of the effort. If that happens as an incidental benefit, I do not intend rejecting it, but it will not be the end all for me.

    I also agree that one innovates as one goes along and I hope to be able to do so too. As Darren suggests, semantics can limit you or enhance your attitude. I intend starting with the limited objective that I have set for myself and see where it takes me. If it works out, I shall innovate and enhance the quality of the experience.

    For businesses, it makes sense to make a shift in their perceptions of the value of a blog as rightly pointed out by you. I wish we had blogging when I was in business!

    So, at the end of that long soliloquy I shall pontificate and say, “It all depends on what one wants out of the blog”.

  2. Dawud, coincidentally, there is another very interesting post on a similar subject that may interest you.http://www.communityspark.com/

  3. By paragraph two, I was strongly disagreeing with your views, Dawud (in the friendly debate form of disagreement.) As a problogger, I can’t help but feel strongly about people who think that anyone can write and anyone can blog.

    This misperception does no one any favors.

    Anyone can run around the block – do they make it to the Olympics? Do they hone techniques, acquire skills, get training and become the pro athletes that achieve victory?

    No. Of course not.

    Anyone can hold a pair of wire snips and a wire – does that mean they can wire a house from top to bottom in a secure, safe method that achieves perfect current running exactly where it should?

    No, of course not.

    By trying to find new, fancy ways of standing out in using terms like publisher (associated with books) versus blogger (associated with blogging), people just end up creating confusion and continue to enhance misjudgments.

    Let’s stop finding new ways to be things we’re not and start being proud of what we really are. There’s nothing wrong with standing up for the basic titles of our careers.

    I’m a blogger. And I’m rather proud of it.

  4. Home Recording,
    I think semantics do limit us. Moreover, they actually show our beliefs. That’s why I think it’s important to look at not only what we say, but how we say it.

    James,
    I absolutely hear your points. And for you – I couldn’t agree more. Yet, would you not agree that your perspective isn’t for everyone?

    What I’m suggesting in this post is that we don’t have to be bloggers, in the conventional sense, to use a blog platform to get our message out. And that even using a term such a blogger, may not capture the entire picture for someone.

    What I do, for instance, with my clients is talk about the why instead of the what. We talk about why you’d want to have a blog rather than what blogging is. In other words, we focus on solving their business problems rather than focusing on conventions. That’s the best way I’ve found to help my clients. And part of my job, as I see it, is to meet people where they are without putting where I am on them (as much as I can).

    A blog is merely a tool. And tools, such as drills, saws or knives, serve different purposes for different jobs. That’s my point – it’s all in the application, not the name.

    I’d love to continue this conversation…

  5. I guess I would consider myself both. A blogger plus some. I read and comment on blogs that have nothing to do with my business. I do that because I enjoy what they are discussing. But I also reads blogs that are directly related to my line of work. But the way I feel about it is probably different than you Dawud cause you have a blog and publish a new story every day.

  6. I completely agree with you, Dawud.

    As for James’ point that not everyone can be a blogger, I think it’s obviously false. Not everyone can be a TOP blogger or a PRO blogger. But anyone who can operate a computer can put words onto a blog. Thus, they are blogging.

    It’s not about finding “fancy” ways of standing out, but deciding the best way to brand yourself.

  7. Paul,
    Exactly my point. We each can choose how best to use this ‘publishing system’ we’ve all come to know as a blog. There are no conventions, hence, only applications. And I think you exemplify that. Would you not agree?

    Andrew,
    I’m with James points and have no issue with them – for him. And not everyone uses tools the same way. For instance, I may never use Microsoft Word for anything more than viewing client’s documents. Yet others live inside Word – using it for everything from making lists to storing recipes. And again, others, use Word for outlining and others for writing short stories or papers for class. Word is versatile and can meet different needs for different people.

    I think the same way about the blog.

  8. @ Dawud

    Most definitely – my perspective comes from my career, and it’s certainly not the right perspective for everyone.

    What brought my thoughts up to the surface was a recent post on Put Things Off about how people choose vague, meaningless or confusing titles to make themselves sound better… but in reality, they aren’t describing what it is they do as a job title.

    For example, take Creative Director. Now that’s fine for someone who truly is that person, but if it’s a graphic designer using that to make himself or herself sound bigger and better, that may backfire. It’s not an accurate portrayal of what that person does as a job.

    In that sense, I’m saying that if you are a graphic designer (or blogger), then say so. Don’t find a tricky way of trying to be clever. Make sure people clearly know what it is you do. I can see the trend coming of people trying to find creative ways of saying they’re bloggers to attrack clients, when in reality, they’re bloggers, plain and simple.

    A blog, though, does not require that someone is a blogger. As you suggest, a blog is a medium to deliver a message. The person delivering that message is what he or she is – marketer, publisher, teacher… whatever the case may be. So yes, if you’re not a blogger, don’t use that term. You’re an [insert title here] using a blog. I agree with you here.

    To use your own example of offering consultation to clients on reasons to have a blog, why would you not say that you are a blog consultant? Or a marketing consultant?

    Clarity really does mean everything, don’t you think?

    (I hope I’m making sense; I’m past my mid-morning coffee buzz…)

    @ Andrew – using a tool or a skill does not justify the embracing of the title. I can teach my daughter soccer, but that does not make me a Teacher or a Soccer Player. I can use a wrench, but that does not make me a Plumber. I can use a blog, but that does not make me a Writer or a Blogger.

  9. I “do” consider myself a blogger, and quite a competent one..at least among my own peers. Maybe because:

    * Blogging brings me money..a lofty sum of heaven in green :)

    * Blogging presents itself as a verbatim substitute for times when I just want to “while away” instead of reading or watching DVDs that I downloaded illegally from bt-networks/trackers.

    But, I do agree with you..the term blogging can’t be considered depotic. Perhaps it does have a far broader meaning than initially invented to serve its purpose. My blog is my publishing platform indeed…but a platform where dancing naked wouldn’t gather unwanted taunts.

    Thats why I love to blog…for the heck of it :)

  10. I agree, a Blog is a platform for expressing yourself. I never thought of myself as a Blogger, although I do have a few!!

  11. James,
    I certainly understand what you’re getting at. I’ve seen plenty of examples of people trying to find unique titles for themselves that simply misrepresent what they do. Seldom are those folk’s businesses successful, it seems.

    As for me, consultant is a word I use to open doors with people. Yet it’s not exactly what I do. It’s more bridging a gap. Rather, I’m more of a business advisor who takes sort of a partnership role with the businesses I work with – launching deep into their business. Yet I also have the technical skills to work on the web or write a marketing campaign. So it’s a bit difficult to describe myself in a single term.

    I also am a blog consultant/coach. But that’s simply an arm of my overall work.

    Helpful?

    Naser,
    Right on. That’s the beauty to me. You’ve identified, clearly, what you’re about on the web. Most others aren’t so lucky. Hence, the reason for my post.

    And as a blogger, what would you say the three most important daily tasks you do in relation to your blog?

    Marianne,
    Then what do you consider yourself?

  12. An interesting video. Thanks for your opinions!

  13. Naomi Dunford says:

    I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one, James. Writing, like soccer playing, is an activity with no barrier to entry. You become a writer through the act of writing. While all of the “experts” on writing tend to disagree on almost everything else, everyone from Natalie Goldberg to Julia Cameron to Anne Lamott to Stephen King says that the activity defines the label.

    I am a photographer because I have and use a camera. It certainly wouldn’t be a part of my self-definition – heaven help the poor sucker who asks to see one of my photos – but if the literal definition of a photographer is “someone who takes photographs”, it would stand to reason that the same applies to writing and soccer playing and blogging.

    Frankly, I think referring to yourself as a blogger is just about as useful as referring to yourself as a telephoner or a text-messager. It doesn’t hold any definition and it’s unlikely to get your point across, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with “embracing” the title if you want to.

  14. An interesting video. Thanks for your opinions

  15. Naomi Dunford says:

    Hi Dawud,

    I love your reaction to zlatan and co. :-)

    On my own blog, I think I’m a “marketer”, although sometimes I’m a “freelance writer”. In my personal circle – the ones who aren’t online – the people are among the most un-web-savvy people I’ve ever known, so to them I’m a blogger if only because I’m the only one they know. I think they also think it’s cool that I blog, although they don’t have a clue how I make my money. I think when they hear that I make 100% of my money online they don’t believe me, but it’s the nature of the beast, I guess.

    I’m happy to have found your blog. I’ve read about you on Liz Strauss’ blog before but never stopped by – I’m glad I did!

    ND

  16. Naomi Dunford says:

    @ James – Perhaps that’s where our friendly disagreement lies – I don’t think think we’re talking about professionals. If we are, then perhaps the criteria is different, although perhaps not. Luckily for some (and tragically for others) there is no regulatory body in blogging. :)

    It can be and is a full-time employment requiring specific skills and knowledge. I would agree that it can be, but I wouldn’t say that it is across the board. In my opinion, the Texas housewife writing part-time about inspirational romance novels and making a few bucks a month from Amazon affiliate revenue is just as much a blogger as you or I, even if she sucks.

  17. free iPod,
    You’re welcome for the link.

    Naomi,
    Good point. I definitely wouldn’t call myself an emailer or an IMer. Yet I use email and IM every day.

    For me, the term blog is ambiguous. Yet it also gets attention either from the blogging tribe or from people interested in blogging. It’s a familiar term. At the same time that conversation requires more detail about how I use my blog.

    So how do you define yourself on your blog?

    zlatan,
    Sure. What are you two cents on the topic?

  18. @ Naomi – I’m heartbroken. But that’s besides the point ;)

    An action does not a professional make. If I pick up a wrench and apply it to a pipe, I am not a plumber. If I mix a batch of mortar and make a stack with bricks, I am not a mason. People cannot take these linear action qualifications to authorities and ask for recognition as professionals. I think it’s a dangerous line to walk, thinking in such literal terms.

    And you have to admit, blogging can be a professional job in itself. It can be and is a full-time employment requiring specific skills and knowledge :)

    @ Dawud – Soo… what’s your elevator pitch?

  19. I consider myself someone with something to say!!! AND in some case a trainer, or Internet Marketer.

  20. Naomi,
    First, welcome. Great to have you here. And thanks for joining the conversation.

    Second, how do you make your money?

    James,
    Funny you should ask about my elevator pitch. I don’t have one. And I’m sure your next question is why…

    A good part of what I do for my clients is organic. I’m saying I’m super-special or anything. It’s just that I form more to my client’s needs then get them to form to my methodology.

    That said, I don’t entice prospects with a couple of short, catchy lines. Rather, I give myself a label – something I think they might understand based on their background. Then, I get into what they do – letting them tell me their story. From there, I let a conversation build – focused almost entirely on them.

    This provides me a number of advantages, I’ve found. One, it shows them that I care about them and their business. Two, it relaxes the mood of selling. Three, it illustrates that I’m a caring and compassionate person (which I most often am). Four, it lets me learn a bit about their need – and whether I fit their need – before I spend too much time on what I do. Five, I never really tell them what I do directly. Rather, I talk with them about potential solutions for their problems. By then, if we’ve gotten this far, I’m in. Now it’s a matter of whether I want them as a client or not.

    Different approach. And I’m leaving out details, of course. But I’ve found this much more effective and to the point of conversion then any other introductory-style methods.

    And usually I know if there’s potential in the first 2-3 minutes.

    Marianne,
    I love that! Are you problogging?

  21. No argument there, really. If I were to argue, I’d be splitting hairs. Or driving you insane, and if I did that, you wouldn’t like me any more. (sniff sniff)

    But I still disagree with the statement from David Armano above that Dawud mentioned he agreed with as well, which is:

    “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.”

    I think that Texas housewife would say that being called “mother” takes away from her uniqueness, just as much as me not calling myself blogger would take away from mine :)

  22. Naomi Dunford says:

    Hi Dawud,

    Thanks for the welcome. I’m glad I’ve finally found your blog. As far as the money I make, it’s varied. (That makes me sound like I’m in the mob, but I swear I’m not.) I run a marketing consultancy firm that offers marketing advice to very small companies, as in, one person. I write freelance, both in articles and in copywriting, and I’ve very recently started to monetize my blog.

    The monetizing was a difficult leap, one I only made after I got several requests. For the longest time I thought I shouldn’t be advertising on a “business” blog, but I started to realize I don’t run a business blog. So I’m taking anything about the consultancy off the blog, putting it on it’s own static site, and monetizing. It’s a slow process because I’m pretty mindful of looking like a sell-out, but the money’s starting to come.

    As far as blogging being too general and limiting of a term, I think that’s what’s been happening to writers for decades. We’ve all heard the horror stories of writers at cocktail parties being asked what they do for a living and people choking on their wine at the response. “Oh yeah? Anything I might have read?” People believe it’s just novels. I think that’s what might happen to bloggers who self-identify as such. Dooce and John Chow are very different people, but it seems that non-bloggers who have read Dooce don’t believe bloggers can be anything but, and vice versa.

    On the other hand (I’m at, what? Five hands now?) blogging almost inherently un-includes podcasting or vlogging or whatever, and it could be limiting in that regard. If you’re a blogger, moving to another medium is a jump. If you’re an online publisher, you don’t limit yourself as much.

    Great conversation you’ve got going here!

  23. Naomi & James,
    Love the conversation. Thanks for having it here.

    James, I think you set the tone for your perspective in the first comment when you said you are a problogger. Then, that clearly makes you a blogger. And since I know David Armano, I know he’s not saying that if your profession is blogging you shouldn’t call yourself a blogger.

    Rather, David was trying to express the idea that many bloggers aren’t problogging – it’s not their business. Instead, their business is marketing or branding or coaching, etc. He’s suggesting to people to be what you are professionally – whether consultant or mom – and don’t get ‘stuck’ in the concepts around being a blogger. That is, of course, unless you’re a problogger.

    And Naomi, I hear you points as well. And I’m of the mind that people can call themselves anything they want. I know lots of lack-luster consultants out there calling themselves experts.

    Yet, don’t you think that calling yourself something as vast as a blogger can limit you? At the very least, couldn’t it limit your perspectives for change and growth?

  24. I see what you mean by your post that the term blogger may be limiting in itself, but when used in conjunction with the purpose of a particular blog, i think it would be pretty much self-explanatory.

  25. @ Dawud – Taken in that light, I agree. Taken on its own, the comment seems to suggest that “blogger” isn’t a valid career. I don’t find it limiting, though, because I use it judiciously based on the situation at hand. In some moments, I’m a freelance writer, in others a problogger, and sometimes I’m an online entrepreneur. Being able to quickly analyze what position you need to take and who you need to be for the moment is important.

    Had to chuckle at your breaking of the marketing rules about not having an elevator pitch… in fact, your pitch sounds more like an afternoon conversation, which would be hard to carry out in an elevator ;)

    @ Naomi – I think that breaking the perception of starving writer and the up-and-coming problematic blogger isn’t going to be resolved by finding a new term. Short-term, yes. Long-term, it still keeps the career of writer with the negative associations it still has. Time to change that perspective by standing tough, shedding the starving writer/Danielle Steele mindset and getting us all some respect.

    I can also see “online publisher” or “publisher” as being problematic. Publisher = books in people’s minds.

  26. Naomi,
    Sounds like you have a strong plan of how to marry your business needs with your blog. That’s certainly more clarity than many others I know.

    I’ve been struggling on monetizing my blog as well. I get a couple of requests weekly to add money-making options to my blog. Yet, I still haven’t wanted to add monetizing yet. We’ll see what the future holds.

    Living Rooms,
    It is, certainly, among bloggers. But the term blog, while heard, is still greatly misunderstood among the general populous.

    And, what’s more important to me – and what Darren’s suggesting – is that generically being a blogger may be thinking too much about being a blogger and too less about being a business owner who’s blogging.

    James,
    Blogger is certainly a valid career, without a doubt. Sorry if it seemed like I was suggesting such.

    I like breaking norms. I’ve never been one to cookie-cut what I do. And I pass that on to my clients. I don’t ignore traditional business practices – not all. In fact, I use them as a common starting point with all my clients. Then, I help my clients create a more customized approach to growing their business. So for me, it’s much more organic.

    And since I’m rarely on an elevator, I don’t care about the elevator speech. The conversation I mentioned can happen in as little as 3 minutes. For me, the focus is on the relationship more than the sale. And so if I met someone on an elevator and got into what their business is about, I would invite to sit down for a few minutes and chat. Just my approach – and it’s worked great so far.

    And for the record, I do ask many of my clients to write their elevator speech.

  27. I don’t call myself a blogger, or indeed tell other people I write blogs. I always think it sounds too nerdy.

    I just tell them I create websites, which is true, and some of them happen to be blogs.

  28. Meg from The Bargain Queens & All About Appearances says:

    I consider myself to be a blogger and I don’t think it makes me any less unique. I also consider myself to be a writer, and “blogger” is at least a bit more specific and unique.

    Can anyone be a blogger? Certainly a lot of people can be, but the same can be said about being a artist, or businessperson, or parent.

    If anything, it’s the combination of titles and what they represent that makes us more unique — not their reduction. For example, there is a difference between being an artist and an artist who blogs.

    But what I don’t understand is why so many people seem so ashamed to call themselves bloggers? So what if your teenage niece calls herself a blogger — it doesn’t dirty the title any more than her calling herself an artist sullies the name of Monet.

    I’m proud to be a blogger. I’m proud of my work. And given how much time I put into my blogs, I think I’ve earned the title.

  29. Forex,
    Makes sense to me. Obviously people get it. Yet, how do you broach the topic of blogging when it comes to create one?

    Meg,
    Love your points, thanks.

    For me is that often I see people defining themselves as bloggers and not connecting their ‘professional’ blogging to their business. They somehow get off on topics that don’t relate to what they do. That’s fine for the business owner who wants to be blogging about his model train hobby. Yet it’s not beneficial to the business owner who’s trying to increase his customer reach through his blog.

    So I don’t think it’s a matter of being ashamed to be a blogger. Rather, I think it’s important to get back to the basics of why one blogs in the first place. And if you’re blogging to serve your business, then stay on course with what your business needs.

    I always think of semantics – we are what we say we are. If I say I’m a blogger – does that come before I say I’m a business owner who blogs?

  30. I think that there are two different types of bloggers. You have bloggers who write about fact and opinion and those who use a blogging platform from a software and formatting standpoint to create their online footprint. I have several blogs, but only two where I write thoughts and opinions. I use the wordpress software to create websites.

  31. I’m starting a blog soon on how to play guitar, the success of which is going to be dependant on how frequently I make qualtiy posts… i hope I have the effort

  32. Shawn,
    I still see it as a website that offers an easy-to-use publishing and content management solution. So I see the platform as just that…

    But the title blogger I feel is way overused. Do business owners want to be bloggers or do they want to use blogs to market their business? As I focus on businesses, I just seldom see the blog as a business in and of itself.

    LG,
    Somewhat true. There’s a few elements to creating a successful blog. But the first criteria of success is defining what success means to you.

  33. roselynmendoza says:

    I don’t have a business–yet. But I enjoy reading other people’s blogs and I sometimes blog, too. Since blogging is still a hobby to me, I never checked my earnings or the lack of them. Maybe I should… ‘coz I might get inspired :-)

  34. What I do, for instance, with my clients is talk about the why instead of the what. We talk about why you’d want to have a blog rather than what blogging is. In other words, we focus on solving their business problems rather than focusing on conventions.

  35. marketing consultancy says:

    Really great video thanks a lot Dawud I do consider myself as a Blogger.

  36. Most people think of themselves as “bloggers” but like me, I think most people are “commenters”

  37. I would consider myself a blogger, Thank you for the video, really good watch and read.

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