I'm No Expert...And I Don't Want to Be
blogging experts integrity warrior spirit writing
A lot of bloggers use their blog as a way to set themselves up as an expert on a topic and they use this status to convince people to pay them money for information. Blogging becomes a sort of credential in an of itself.
At first I thought this was a little silly. Why would I pay some average Joe with a nice website to organize my life or coach me on productivity? Some of the blogger life-coaches out there are truly…let’s call them niche.
But seeing successes of other bloggers got me thinking that maybe I could make some money through my blog. Of course, that meant selling out and writing about things that would rank higher on the search engines. It would require spending more time on ‘product development’ and marketing, providing subscription incentives, and collecting an e-mail list. It would change the way I wrote, to make the blog more attractive to skimming, time-starved readers, with more short, punchy blurbs and fewer thought-out paragraphs. Because at the end of the day, the experts are those who get the most traffic.
More than anything else, it would require that I deceive my readers by trying to create the image of myself as an expert with secret, coveted knowledge that you’d all want to pay money to find out. That is the standard model after all:
- Create a blog about a topic
- Build a massive audience to increase your legitimacy. Do this through shameless self-promotion on Twitter and as many guest posts as you can get.
- Establish yourself as an ‘expert’
- Offer your readers a ‘comprehensive, ultimate guide to X’ where you share, under full disclosure, the ‘secrets’ of your industry that everybody else keeps hidden.
- Charge money for the above.
For a little while I did try a few strategies to follow the more ‘professional’ blogging model, but so much of it seemed dishonest to me. Obviously, I should make it easy to subscribe and follow me, but I realized that I should focus on providing good content with integrity. Writing how-to posts about fixing your life with a really edgy tone just wasn’t me. If that was how to turn my blog into a money-maker, I was going to have to settle for less.
Doing it My Way
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’d love to have a mass of raving fans who read all my stuff and share it like some tropical fever. I’d also love to make money off my blog, and I even want to write and offer an eBook (there’s one in the works, actually).
But I’m not going to find cheats to get more subscribers. I’m not going to pressure new visitors with pop-ups and incessant calls to join my newsletter. I’m not going to alter the content of my writing, or its style, in order to make it search-engine friendly. And I’m not going to charge money for an eBook that I put together for friends. For now, my stories are offered for free, in exchange for your conversation and feedback.
I do believe that I am good at what I do, as a writer and an athlete. But to me, there is the limitation that I’m only good at these things as they relate to my life. I can provide examples of how I made things work for myself, but I can’t tell you how to do things for yourself.
If you haven’t noticed, I don’t really like the concept of an expert. I am not an expert at anything I do, because I am constantly learning and growing. I don’t really intend to ever have true mastery of anything I undertake because I’ve learned that the more you know, the less you know. And what little mastery I do possess applies almost exclusively to my own situation.
That said, I try to be useful and inspiring. Maybe that’s enough to make a living off my ideas. I’d like to support myself with my writing.
I realize you read my blog because I write interesting and thought-provoking articles that inspire. Maybe experts have a lot of traffic because people recognize valuable information and flock to it, rather than experts become such because they know how to drive traffic. The expertise brings the traffic. The traffic doesn’t make the expert.
So I’ll just keep writing with as much integrity as I can about my journey in ways that hopefully inspire others.
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Fight On, Brave Warriors!