Please Don't Declare Yourself an Expert on Your Blog
By ewenstrom on June 19, 2013
BlogHer Original Post
All across the Internet, bloggers want to showcase their expertise. To help you, of course. So you can get closer to their level. There's even expert posts on how to become an expert.
It turns out it's not so hard, these days. Anyone can position themselves as an expert. It's easy -- just take some classes or get a certification. Read some books on the topic. Put it into practice.
Bite me, Internet experts. I am sick of you.
There's been an interesting shift among blogs. It's not a particularly new trend, but I've recently gotten fed up with it. Here's the thing: it used to be that blogs were successful because they were written by experts -- those who truly held an exceptional degree of wisdom on a particular subject.
But blogs are easy to set up. More and more people started their own. We can't possibly all hold that exceptional level of expertise. And yet so many blogs still follow the expert positioning model that others were successful with.
It's an easy trap to fall into and a tempting one. I've been there. But really, it's a pretty presumptuous thing, to assume that any individual has something to say that is worth your time every week -- perhaps even multiple times a week.
I'm fed up with it, even from myself. It's one of the reasons only one of my three weekly posts is a true article like this, while the others direct you to other content I found useful or inspiring.
Like many other bloggers, I know quite a bit about my subject area. I have my own perspective to share. But that's not the same as being a true expert. And the title of expert is getting all muddied and tattered as more and more of us try to climb up on it.
So don't be an expert. Just. Don't.
Instead, be a student.
What's the difference? To me, it's all about attitude.
For students, the priority is learning. Not knowing. A student's foundation is the belief that there is always more out there to learn. When a new idea is put in front of a student, the first reaction is to understand it, not to judge it as correct or incorrect.
It's not about you. A student doesn't use his or her online space as a podium. It's more of a gathering place where those interested in exploring a topic can meet. Ask questions, don't dole out answers.
The spotlight doesn't need to be on you. A blog doesn't have to be all about you to help you build a platform. Interview successful people in your niche. Share other resources on the topic and your reflections on them. Invite your readers to share their reflections in the comments. What makes a platform isn't a number. It's a dynamic community.
I think there's still room for and value to having lots of voices in the blogosphere -- after all I could hardly continue THIS blog if I didn't. But why do we all need to be experts? What's with this need to make these grand claims that we cannot all possibly really live up to?
And keeping a student mentality doesn't mean you can't offer advice or other valuable information. It has to do with the attitude you present it with. It can be tempting to take an absolute stand and leave no room for exceptions … in fact, ask some blog experts, and they'll tell you that's a great way to get a spike in traffic. But it's short lived. What lasts? Connection.
So be a student. It's a more generous, more genuine approach to blogging for most of us … and also, I think, likely to be more rewarding. It's a mentality I try to hold onto in all facets of my life, and one I try to integrate into this blog.
Where and how do you keep learning?