Am I a Pro Blogger?

Time was when I used to look through peoples Twitter profiles, they used to contain the phrase “PR friendly“, as though most bloggers would threaten any agency that contacted them with imminent death IF they didn’t have that friendly reassuring text to let them know contact was safe. This seems to have passed now though and I’m increasingly seeing the phrase Pro Blogger infiltrate bios.

Pro Blogger isn’t a new phrase by any stretch of the imagination; the earliest decent article I spotted that mentions the phrase dates back to early 2007, so it’s been in use for well over 8 years now. However the one recurring theme that occurs in articles about pro bloggers is the lack of agreement on the actual definition of pro blogger. That’s okay though; things that evolve organically often have muddied meanings but there is some inevitable baggage that comes with the use of the prefix “pro”. After all it’s not like there’s a guild, a professional body or an entry exam you can take you call yourself a pro blogger. Likewise it’s not a title that others bestow on you, rather it is something you can call yourself as easily as you can type it. Pro blogger- there you go, that’s me that is.

Obviously that’s a little facetious but you only have to google “pro blogger definition” to see the sort of knots people are tying themselves in to define the term. Income streams, time spent blogging, audience size; these are all metrics I’ve read people struggle to shoehorn into a definition. I’ve also seen regular deployment of the escape close “there’s no real wrong definition”, which has made me chuckle.

my first blog post, May 2009!

I write several different blogs on several different platforms, have three different hosting packages, a multi-site WordPress installation where I host a few sites for friends and family, I’ve had around 10 million pageviews across the blogs I run in the 5+ years I’ve been blogging, I’ve signed NDAs with some mega big multi-nationals, been on press trips, blogger trips, been involved in award winning campaigns, and yadda yadda (lets face it though, who hasn’t signed an NDA at some point in their life?!). Oh, and I also file a tax return because that’s the right and proper thing to do. But does that make me a pro blogger? Goodness knows but I don’t think so because for me blogging in a hobby and I have a full time day job that keeps me occupied. Yes, I take time off to attend events but only when they fit in with my work and private life.

Like a lot of us old timers, I started parent blogging* to keep a record of what the kids were up to (and to stop me watching quite so much Corrie). I fit in stuff around my day job because it’s my day job that’s important to me. I don’t doubt that some of the people I know who blog make an awful lot of money from it- chatting to one chap, he was telling me he makes £8 a day from AdSense but is aiming to up that to £18. That’s passive income, which to my mind is the best sort because once you have the content, you have the income stream going forwards. I know others who won’t guarantee to feature products they’re sent if the package is below a certain value, or have a very high minimum fee for paid for content. That’s fine, I’m not criticising it at all. As long as I can read your blog and still find out things that I used to of course. You know, like stuff about you or your family. Important stuff and sort of the whole point of a blog.

This is where it gets a bit tricky and possibly drops into the realm of semantics; where does the pro blogger stop and the freelancer begin? Companies will want either their product or words (and backlinks) on your blog for various reasons but the moment you start writing for other sites, are you still a blogger or are you a freelance writer? What is a blog anyway? Time was it used to be a regularly updated journal of what you were thinking or doing but now it’s a styling format you can apply to a website. Most bloggers have tried to move away from the simple blog post list format into something that looks more akin to a magazine style. I’ve certainly done it on a few of my sites, so perhaps we’re better off referring to ourselves as webmasters or site owners rather than bloggers?

Personally I think the biggest indicator on whether someone is, for the want of a better word, “pro”, is their motivation behind what they do. Do they have 12,000 twitter followers because they have found 12,000 like-minded people or because they can charge more for a sponsored tweet with 12,000 followers? Are any of their social media interactions, you know, social, or are they all just advertising for either stuff they’ve written or brands they promote? Can I find a tweet, a blog post title or anything without a hashtag in it to make it more recognisable to a target audience That example is perhaps harsh obviously because someone running their blog as their primary source of income can do it well or do it badly but to my mind, it’s all down to the motivation really isn’t it?

*my earlier blogs/sites are lost to the mists of time; not even the Wayback Machine can find them, which is probably for the best isn’t it?