The Professionalization of Blogging

MakeMoneyByBloggingMy favorite blog posts are those where I don’t know what I’m going to say until I say it. I call it noodling on line: I start with one idea or feeling and follow through till I end up somewhere that says to me, The End.

That’s what was happening with my last post. I started it in a generally cheesed-off state having something to do with blogging, the internet, social media. At the top of the piece, I wasn’t sure what the problem was. By the end, I got that I’m annoyed with the incessant promotion on social media that we all think we have to do as we’re scurrying to attain some measure of success–stats, money earned, kudoes, etc.

I’ve been chewing the issue over for a week now, trying to unpack what has, for me, become a knotty problem. In so doing, I’ve learned just how multi-layered the issue is, that it speaks to the essence of blogging: what it is we do when we blog–and why.

Last year, when Technorati published their annual (since 2004) State of The Blogosphere, they broke bloggers down into five types: Hobbyists, Professional Full-Timers, Professional Part-Timers, Corporate, and Entrepreneurs. Of these, the greatest were the Hobbyists, some 60% of bloggers who didn’t report earning money from their blogs and don’t site themselves in any of the other four categories.

Yet when Allison of New World Expo recently asked the question, What is a Blog: Is The Definition of Blogging Changing, the unspoken premise behind her argument is that a blog is defined as a commercial entity.  For her, for Blog World Expo, the Hobbyists, who were in the majority, have been erased.

That surprised me, so I hied over to Technorati to see what the State of the Blogosphere 2012 had to say about the matter–only to find that Technorati has abandoned this report that they first started publishing in 2004. Instead they’ve published the Digital Influence Report, which focuses totally on the nexus of blogs and marketing. That means that they too have deleted the Hobbyists from their lens.

So I’m wondering: were those 60% who identified as Hobbyists merely erased from the blogosphere? Or–is it possible that in one year, from 2011 to 2012, 60% of bloggers changed course? Probably a little of both.

Technorati, which identifies as “one of the largest social media ad networks bringing top brands and valuable influencers together” has no interest in spending any time, space or money on bloggers who are not interested and/or viable in the marketplace.

On the other side, from my neck of the blogosphere, I see more and more bloggers working to “professionalize” themselves. What does that actually mean?

To be a professional anything in our capitalistic economy means that you must earn money from your efforts. Ergo, to professionalize your blog in today’s nomenclature means you’re working to create of it a vehicle for attracting marketers.

Certainly the conferences we attend, the experts we look up to, the gurus we admire are all advising us how to achieve that end. We learn how to grease the social media wheels and how to effectively brand ourselves. We’re advised about the best ways to attract sponsored posts and the increasing relevance of video to the success of our blogs. We watch Youtubes on how to present ourselves to marketers. And we participate in Hangouts that aim to teach us how to–well, to participate in Hangouts.

It’s fun and it’s interesting, but is it what we all really want to be doing? Do we even ask ourselves–or do we just march in lockstep a little lemming-like down to the cliff called Marketing?

Yes, that we is me. I have no answers at this point; only questions. And you? Is the we you too?

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