I had an Instant messaging conversation yesterday that highlighted to me that some bloggers have very little idea when it comes to the topic that they’ve chosen to write about.
I won’t go into the details of who it was but the person was writing on a topic that had some overlap with a topic I write about and by the questions that they were asking me it became very evident that they had no real understanding of the topic.
However when I went to their blog they presented themselves as an expert in their chosen topic and even offered their services as a consultant in it.
Their archives were filled with a mixture of ‘free articles’ (written by others) and some bumbling original content.
As I read their blog and talked with them on IM I found myself getting quite frustrated and even angry.
After the conversation I cooled down a little and began to ask myself if I was being unfair and perhaps a little elitist or arrogant (and perhaps I am) – but came to the conclusion that what annoyed me most about this blogger was that in effect he was being deceptive.
Do You Need to Be an Expert to Blog?
I don’t believe people need to be experts in their topic – however if they are not I think some level of transparency is necessary.
I read quite a few quality blogs by people who are not experts in their field – in fact the fact that they are not experts makes their blog more accessible and easy to read.
They write in a style of ‘this is what I’m learning about….’ or ‘this is what I’m trying….’ or ‘does anyone know about….?’ or ‘this is a theory I’ve read – I’m going to try it….’
Fellow Travelers vs Experts
While readers do seek ‘experts’, they also respond well to ‘fellow travelers’. I’ve written about this before using the metaphors of ‘tour guide’ via ‘fellow traveler':
“While tour guides know their stuff and bring expertise to your trip it’s the fellow traveler who has eaten at the restaurants, slept in the hotel beds, bargained for the souvenirs and who has seen the new culture from an outsider’s perspective (like you) – as a result of their experiences you learn where to go and what to see in a way a tour guide might never be able to share with you.”
If you are an ‘expert’ then there’s no problem in going with that and working from that position – but if you’re not it can be a risky thing to claim to be (blogging has a way of exposing frauds) and if you’re smart you can actually build a good readership by admitting your inexperience and using that as a strength rather than something to hide.
Blogging Helps Makes Experts
PS: The great thing about blogging is that as you blog about your experiences and interact with others on your topic who are also experimenting – you can actually move towards being a true expert in your field over time. Just remember that experts don’t just happen – they mature over time and its usually others who give them the label of expert rather than it being a label one gives themselves.