One thing that every blogger needs to do is read other people’s blogs. It’s critical to developing a style and honing the way that a blogs content is presented. By reading blogs you get ideas and inspiration, clues and hints about what sort of blogger you want to be. More importantly, by reflecting on how you see and respond to other people’s blogs, you get to think about how people will view and respond to yours. This also applies to Twitter.
Which leads to the question of style…
I have found that the writing style of many bloggers tends to end up being directed into one of three categories, which I call Preacher, Pirate and Professor.
A blog may focus on just one style or it may be a mix of two or even all three. However it can prove very hard to keep it together when you try to spread yourself across more than two styles.
Let me explain:
A preacher is the easiest blog style to create because a preacher is almost always following the marketing line of their company. They have a product to sell and they are selling it. If you are a corporate blogger, you are nearly always at least partly a preacher (even if you don’t think you are). A preacher can choose whether to berate their competition or ignore them. More often than not they ignore them (a tactic often described as not giving them any oxygen). A preacher may choose to not even allow competitor (or any) comments on their blog posts.
One hint that you are reading the work of a preacher is that many of the images they use are Powerpoint slides and that the text of their posts reads like the same pitch they would give in front of those slides.
A pirates job is to disrupt the competition and make them suffer (financially, not physically). A preacher may tell you that their company has the best products, but a pirate will tell you that their competitors have the worst. A pirates greatest tool is not a cutlass, but FUD: fear uncertainty and doubt. I could suggest a particular blogger who is my favourite “pirate”, but I will leave you to guess who I am thinking about…
A professor is a teacher, a sharer of knowledge. A professor is not forcing product down your throat or mindlessly berating you with FUD. A professor shares how-to information, a professor gives you certified facts. A professor tries not to take sides where there is any uncertainty or doubt. A professor finds the going hard because if you are going to present facts, then you need facts, verifiable facts. Best practices need to actually be best practice, not just something you made up.
I personally love professor style blogs, because they keep me informed and they don’t try to blind me to the facts. Some professors also work as what I call information aggregators. They bring together stories from all over the web and put them into one place, which makes everyone’s life easier.
Of the 70 or so blogs I follow, the vast majority would roughly fall into the Professor category. Some are independent commentators and some work for large corporations.
There are of course some bloggers who are really pirates and preachers, but who masquerade as professors. Some do it well, some do it badly. Sometimes bloggers desperately want to be professors, but respect for their employer (or fear of) makes them skirt away from dangerous subjects, or from the fact that in some cases their competitors products are better than their own. It can be a tough call.
I am sure you have your own examples of pirates, preachers and professors. You may have your own categories too. Maybe you can check your RSS reader list and do some sorting.
Can you spot any pirates?
Let me know how you go.