I started blogging as a hobby in 2008 and have pretty much continued the experiment until today. Through the years, I used my blogs to market and sell myself, and open the doors to experts, companies and brands so I can, well, market and sell myself. Many of my blogger friends actually earn their keep through blogging while some use it just like myself, even if they are employed with a company.
Through the years, my traditional print media friends would sometimes raise an eyebrow whenever I mention the words “blogging” and “blogger.” Mind you, I once came from traditional media – a print publication in the fashion, lifestyle and design market – and I know where they are coming from. Many of these media friends took up journalism as a degree or in special courses to make sure they perfect their craft in writing. Critique is a daily meal in their job but important in developing themselves as journalists and writers. In the field, they are as professional as they can be, and journalistic ethics is ethos to their skin.
However, the typical blogger is none of the above. And that’s what irks me. The pioneering bloggers I once went out of my way to personally meet tried to maintain much of what a journalist and writer is suppose to have, and suppose to be. But because it is both easy and free to start blogging, the majority today has lost touch of what blogging is all about today – writing, whether as a journalist, news-beat writer, book author, editor, copy writer, an essay writer, biographer, autobiographer, and so on. Gone are the professional guidelines and standards in writing, the professionalism of fact before fiction (which leads to gossip being untrue). We need to bring all these, and more, back.
Many bloggers do not realize that they are an organization of one. They are in part a publisher, writer or journalist, editor-in-chief, copy editor, layout artist, circulation head, a marketing person and a sales person; maybe add yourself also being the IT guy since you need to maintain domain names, web hosting, WordPress content, etc. So, if the blogger is an organization, much like any corporation out there, shouldn’t it follow that before the organization was built, a business plan was created? Vision, mission, values, projections, market studies, sales plan, marketing plan, circulation plan, revenue management, purchasing, human resources, accounting, billing – and the list goes on.
If you are a blogger and have not considered all of the above, then maybe it’s time to start today. Maybe being stuck in a rut is simply because you have not defined your professional self and have not created your blogging plan (or better known as your business plan). Who are you? How will you represent yourself to people and other organizations? Where is your blogging endeavors – hobby or income-generating – going to? Who and where will you be as a blogger in a year’s time, two years time or more? How much money should you generate by six months or a year? How much money do you need to get to the next level of blogging, or sometimes called “raising the bar?” If you need help with other bloggers, how will you compensate them? What will you do to make the best ones stay with you?
Yes, too many questions and not enough answers. The blogger isn’t just a minority to contend with. The blogger isn’t a second-rate citizen in the overall media world. The blogger can rise up to the challenges of change much easier than traditional media. The blogger can also be as professional as print media people. The blogger can actually collaborate with print media writers and journalist so they have a holistic advantage rather than a conflict. The blogger is a real writer, a real journalist, a real publisher, a real editor, and a real media organization unto itself.
That’s where the pot is boiling today – for me and my blogger colleagues. Soon, we should and we will rise up to the occasion of professionalizing the bloggers and hopefully continue on through the next generation.
Photo by lenovophotolibrary via Flickr under Creative Commons license. In the photo is fashion blogger Amina Akhtar.