just a thought – two kinds of bloggers
Over the weekend I attended IDS09, and one of the highlights for me was seeing a panel discussion with three top interior design bloggers – Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan from Apartment Therapy, Harry Wakefield from MoCoLoco and Grace Bonney from Design*Sponge. It was an animated discussion moderated by Mark Challen of House & Home. As always I find bloggers, especially popular bloggers, to be fascinating people – they are enthusiastic and articulate.
It was essentially a discussion about blogging rather than interior design. Topics range from blog design, comment management, positivity, and the importance of great images. I would have liked to hear more about their niche rather than the standard stuff you could hear at any social media convention. All three are career bloggers who make their living by selling advertising. The questions from the audience were all about “how can we make money from our blogs” which hardly draws on the unique experiences of design bloggers. I guess its par for the course to get questions equivalent to the cliché Google search for “make money online”. Read ProBlogger for that stuff, people!
The one thing that I wondered was why the other kind of blogger was not on the panel. The furniture designer who blogs. The textile designer who blogs. The interior designer who blogs? They are all out there – and some of them post to the same level of quality that the panel bloggers do. Not every blogger is a mini-media empire built on advertising revenue. But the other type of blogger doesn’t get the same kind of attention – despite the fact they have many interesting things to say as well.
I count myself as one of the “other bloggers”. We fly under the radar for a lot of reasons – not least of which is the fact I have no idea what we are called. We are described as making a living “indirectly” from our blogs, but “Indirect Blogger” sounds a bit misleading. Kevin Kelly describes the phenomenon in terms of artists using new media to find their “1000 True Fans“, but that doesn’t suggest a pithy term to me either. Any ideas? For now, I’ll use the term Who-Bloggers, just because we often have to describe ourselves something like “Fashion Illustrator Who-Blogs”.
Another reasons the Who-Bloggers get overlooked? They spend time doing things other than posting on the blog, so they can not post as frequently or build the same level of traffic as a Pro-Blogger. The established media (like newspapers, television) is hooked on the idea that blogs are their competition and so there is an assumption that the only way to make money from blogs is the same way that the rest of the media does.
There are so many reasons why Who-Bloggers are awesome. Perhaps we deserve a little more credit and the occasional seat on a panel about blogging. Here are a few reasons I can think of:
- We are more focused on creating original content.
- Since we do things other than blog, we have more things we can post about first-hand as a participant rather than as an observer.
- Because our audiences are smaller, we can interact more directly with our readers.
- We get the benefits of being part of the media on top of the benefits of the other work we do – like event invitations.
- Blogging allows us to promote ourselves in a way that is cheaper than advertising, more personal and more genuine.
- We have to hold ourselves to a high standard just as much as Pro-Bloggers do, because making our living depends on it.
There are so many Who-Bloggers who have inspired me – I think that Gaping Void is probably the original Who-Blogger and has a huge influence on my attitude towards blogging. In the world of fashion and design, there are so many I know of – makeup artists who blog, stylists who blog, graphic designers who blog, photographers who blog. All doing really cool things, I find that when I open my feed reader, I pounce upon the more infrequent updates of the Who-Bloggers while the Pro-Bloggers frequent posts pile up into the hundreds before I feel like I have enough time to sift through all their updates.
How about you? Are you a Pro-Blogger or a Who-Blogger? As a reader, do you have any favourite Who-Bloggers? If you are an artist, designer, or a service provider, how have you used your blog to build your business?