What’s a “blant?”
It’s a “blog rant.” I made it up in hopes that everyone the world over will realize that mashing up words is not cute, even if it is effective in producing an awful-sounding word that sounds like an annoying goat who just doesn’t care.
I have issues with the Web’s bad apples. This is why I don’t describe myself as a blogger, and more. You totally care.
Congratulations, you have outdated yourself – and not just in the first sentence of an introductory mission statement, in your two-word title.
Like I’ve said before, it is not 2007.
Having a blog does not make you a writer.
Most. Blogs. Suck.
Oh, you have a blog? You’re a “blogger?” Your hometown friends read your content because you linked to it on Facebook and they tripped on it during their weekly tours of Who Got Fat/Pregnant/Finally Came Out? You think you’re a writer now ’cause of your blog? Sit down.
Bloggers and Writers are not interchangeable terms. If you’re a successful blogger, you can concisely explain to me the Top Five Reasons Why:
- Not publishing daily at certain hours,
- Not commenting on other people’s blogs,
- Not titling my blog posts with more obvious headlines,
- And not sticking to one damn theme hurts the growth of my blog…
- Plus one more reason because you know that people respond to round-numbered lists better than just Top Foursies.
These days a well-branded and maintained blog reaches out beyond its core content with presences on Facebook, Twitter, and secondary or niche platforms that play to its audience. Professional bloggers are not just bloggers, they have savvy minds for marketing and increasing readership. They watch the interactions with their identities while accounting for not just numbers but also quality of relationships with their readers. Why does a legit blog care about Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest and Quora? Because their publishing medium is the Web. They know it’s a low barrier to entry and they know they have to be smart with the intent to rise above everyone else’s noise.
If you have read this far, it is because you know me personally or my language has compelled you and engaged you. If you are a person with a blog incensed by my claim that you may not be a good writer, think hard: How often do people tell you you’re a good writer? If you write every day and hear that compliment once a month when you call your mother, I’d be concerned. The number of people who “love to hear your stories” doesn’t mean you’re a good writer. It just means they like to hear your stories. Maybe they like your writing, maybe you’re a better storyteller than a writer (not one and the same), maybe your life is a world of fantasy compared to theirs, maybe your life is a tome of schadenfreude compared to theirs, or maybe they just don’t know what to say when you hand them that “Mompreneur & Blogger” business card.
So, Blogger, you still think you’re a writer? Have you been published? Anywhere? Not including Examiner.com? (Which we’ll get to in a minute.) Ooh, you think you’re hot shit because the retort “Print is dying, I don’t care” is all kindsa on the tip of your tongue? You dumbass. Print is why you got into this business, except now the bar to see your name as a quasi-byline has been set to real low. (Cue: “What’s a byline?”) Bona fide writers may be distressed because of the shifting world of print, but anybody with fifteen minutes to ruminate lightly can understand: Print is not dying. Media is expanding. There’s a distinction there that maintains why seeing your name in print once is always going to have more weight to it than just posting from your Tumblr fifteen times a day.
Quite simply, there is no official accreditation process for separating good bloggers from the rest. Not all of them have the same number of subscribers or Klout-reported influence. One could say that the mark of a professional blogger, assumed to be a good blogger, is that he or she receives compensation for his or her posts, either monetarily or in goods. Umm, let’s talk about that one time this strapless G-string company sent me samples and after dogging them in paragraph form I loosely recommended them for tricky trick costumes. And the second time they sent me their new line but I totally didn’t write about it. A shitty person I may be, but for sure an out-of-touch marketer that company had. Not every business has a strategy behind its blogger outreach, which means undeserving people get money and free stuff all the time.
Let’s be real, we cannot all be Heather Armstrong, and your blog is your hobby. Most blogs involve words, so you think this makes you a writer. Just like people with Instagram think they are photographers. (Don’t get me started on my ex with the greyscale engagement photos parading as black and white. Bullet dodged.)
On the flip side, plenty of proven influential bloggers are shitty writers, but they often know where their strengths lie. At the same time, they are probably actively aware that there’s probably something undeniable in their blog: They either lead fascinating lives or have really really ridiculously good taste. Since you go to them for inspiration, is your life really just as fascinating? Is your discerning palate just as sharp?
Having a blog does not make you an editor.
You probably have three to four friends who are Accessories or Regional Fashion Editors for “Examiner.” You may like how those three to four friends “edit” (because that’s what Tim Gunn keeps telling all the PR designers) their outfits and how they are really good at finding pink-and-leopard accessories at a moment’s notice, but are those skills? Are they enough to make them an “Editor” with a capital “e?” That really depends.
Most of the pitches I’ve received from Examiner writers lead to bunk. Yes, yes, kudos for getting through their training program and giving forth to the Internet’s infinite world of content, but, um, you or your copy editor still didn’t replace “then” with “than.”
And you’re bitter that Examiner doesn’t let you put personality into your writing? What exactly were you expecting? Examiner employs AP Style, a tone, mechanic, and grammar guide that has been employed by old school journalism since pretty much the dawn of time. And you’re bitter that you can’t get Perez Hilton with it?
…Did you do any research when you “applied” to write for the Examiner? Did you really think tweeting someone a series of interview questions (I was on the receiving end of such a request, which I never accepted, but still came my way.) counted as fieldwork, and that copying and pasting a press release without adjusting tense was responsible journalism?
I’ll give this to all of Examiner-like companies’ bad apples: They be efficient. Instead of exercising literacy in their spaces and identifying trends proactively, they respond to 100% of whatever bogus pitches come their way and aggregate derivative opinions of what showed up in the Vogue at the doctor’s office last week. It’s impressive. Someone should make a slacker comedy outta that. You could call it “Content Smoothie,” because it’s like a blend of other people’s expertise.
Being female and interested in technology is not special.
I struggle with this. On the one hand, I think how one describes one’s self is completely that one person’s responsibility. Thus I shouldn’t judge when a female introduces herself to her new coworkers as a “girl who likes LASERs just as much as Louboutins. !”
Being comfortable enough to proclaim the most integral facets of your self is a crucial step in identity formation. Having spent a good chunk of time studying ethnic identity formation, I know how important it is for someone just figuring themselves out to have groups to reach out to, resources to read, and ultimately titular examples of their identities out there in the world to fulfill some degree of validation. Inherently, I know all that. But still, all this “Girly Geek / Programming Prima Donna” women’s group stuff drives me insane. (I almost wrote “Linsane,” but I already worked “titular” into this post [self high five], and this blant has nothing to do with basketball.)
My beef is that these groups imply that the world is still grasping the notion that the two identities can coexist. Whether or not that’s true (And honestly I think it’s true.), I find that they only enforce the idea that female plus technology equals paradox. I’m not saying that tech-oriented support groups should not exist for women – indeed, they are necessary in this un-level playing field – I’m saying, can’t we get out of the co-ed cheerleader sis-boom-bah-ness of it all? I have a really hard time taking fuchsia logos seriously, and I’m sure the men who work beside me do, too. These groups come off as happy hour meet-ups – even though I know they’re not. If their ultimate goals were to be seen as perky over friendly, party-loving over professional, and sassy over smart, then clearly their marketing officers are right on point and I’m not their demographic.
When I’ve attended these events, I have enjoyed myself, but I have never gotten over the foul taste of the hyperfeminine marketing tactics I had to deal with to get there. How come every techie girl logo has to be pink? Huh? How many times do we have to limit ourselves to the rhyme of “chic” and “geek.” Why is this flyer trying to be all Sex & the City? Again, why all the pink? It’s so Susan G. Komen, and after all that I’ve learned from watching just the Pink Ribbons trailer, my aversion to pink marketing is only further solidified.
Isn’t playing to all these pink women’s marketing tricks keeping us on a separate running track from men, as opposed to getting us onto the same starting line? No matter how well-intentioned the group, sadly the women’s technologist groups that get my attention the most are the ones who also sound incredibly pejorative.
I’m still formulating my thoughts on the issues. Is it a bad sign that I don’t think being female and interested in technology is special? To be fair, having grown up in the SF Bay Area, I’m sure I take it for granted. I also don’t want to overstate my “techiness” – I do digital strategy which is ultimately a leg of marketing; I am no engineer.
But then again, if I, as a female marketer, am so repulsed by female marketing for females in technology, how are my female engineers responding? Where’s the women in digital for non-girly girls who get shit done without pedicured toes? How do I sign up for that group?
- The world is past the point of “2.0” and if you and your industry aren’t, don’t be surprised when the pink slips start coming in.
- Having a blog means that at one point, you had access to an email address and a blogging platform. That’s it and that’s all.
- Thanks to a majority of the blog content on the World Wide Web, I will never cease to be slightly offended when people describe me as a blogger. No thanks, I’m a writer. If I’m not a writer, then I’m a person with a blog. That’s it and that’s all.
- I am pro-girl geek without being pro-girl geek marketing. Seriously I can’t take “us” seriously with all that pink shit up in my face.
Update: Thanks to Bill for finding my typo.