The Difference Between a Hobby Blogger and a Professional Blogger
Blogging: The Difference is the Motive
Thousands of people are blogging, but all of their blogs can be divided into two general camps -- the hobby blogs and the professional blogs. The difference, simply put, comes down to motive. Why does the blogger blog? The motive is obvious after looking at the blog design and reading just a few posts.
What is a Hobby Blogger?
A hobby blogger is one who blogs for personal satisfaction. His blog is full of personal reflections, rants, or daily experiences. The hobby blogger's posts are similar to diary entries -- recounting the day's events and his perceptions of them.
The mom blogger is a specific type of hobby blogger. Of course, her children are a focal point of her blog, and there are pictures of the little angels plastered all over the blog. Every milestone, every birthday, every trip is memorialized in a blog post. Mom bloggers often begin blogs as a way to keep the grandparents and other extended family members informed of family happenings.
As a reader, you may leave a hobby blogger's blog feeling that you just played peeping tom. You saw lots of personal details about someone you do not know at all. And more importantly, you don't have much to apply to your own life. There is no carry over from the blogger's life to your own. You are left thinking, "Well, so what? What's it to me? So you have cute kids or you like to rant about bad customer service. How does that speak to me?"
A hobby blogger's blog is usually hosted on a free platform (Blogspot, for example). The sidebar is cluttered with memes, silly award badges, lists of favorite blogs, social media widgets, and a dated archive list. There may even be music that plays automatically (because the blogger likes that kind of music).
What is a Professional Blogger?
The professional blogger impresses you right off the bat with a professional theme and a self-hosted blog on his own domain name. The design is crisp and looks like a graphic artist designed it (because one did). The sidebar is pared down to essential navigation and relevant ads. There is a photo of the blogger and an about page that introduces him or her.
A professional blogger's appeal goes beyond the surface impression, though. There is a clear niche both stated and adhered to throughout the blog. There is content that makes you want to bookmark it, Tweet it, share it, or subscribe to the feed. The author has a voice that is appealing and distinctive, but the blog is not overly personal like a yearly Christmas newsletter. There is a healthy distance between the blogger and the reader that lends a sense of authority to the author's content.
Most importantly, the blog posts are intensely practical and useful to the reader. Each one solves a problem or teaches something. You have a sense that the blogger is not merely blogging for his own personal expression but is blogging to meet the needs of his readership.
Are You a Hobby Blogger or a Professional Blogger?
Did You Catch It?
The primary distinction between the hobby (or mom) blogger and a professional blogger is the intent.
The hobby blogger blogs for self-expression and is intensely personal, often without a care to his reader's own interests. The hobby blog is self-focused. The reader leaves thinking, "Great for you, but so what for me?"
The professional blogger blogs with his readers in mind. The reader's needs and desires are foremost. Personal tidbits may be shared, but only when application to the reader can be clearly demonstrated. The reader leaves thinking, "Wow, that really helped me to understand something!"
More About these Types of Blogs
- Choosing Between a Memoir vs. Niche Blog
At Life Your Way, Mandi wrote an article similar to this one, but she calls a hobby blog a memoir blog and a professional blog a niche blog. The principles are the same.
How to Transition from a Hobby Blogger to a Professional Blogger
Are you a hobby blogger? Would you like to become a professional blogger? Here are some steps to take to make the leap to a professional blogger.
1. Most importantly, begin evaluating every post in light of your audience's needs, problems, and questions.
If your post cannot directly apply to the reader, why are you posting it? How does an expose of your family vacation help the reader? If it doesn't, you probably should not post it. Ask yourself "So what?" at the end of each post. If you can't answer that with a good answer from your reader's perspective, then your post is more suited to the hobby blog.
2. Make application to your reader when you share personal anecdotes.
Professional bloggers do share personal information, but they do it selectively and with intent. How does the cute story about your children meet your readers' needs? Make sure that it plain.
3. Clean up your sidebar.
If you want to be taken seriously, you must get rid of the high school yearbook style sidebar filled with "look at me, I'm so awesome" types of self-stroking tiddly bits. Stick with function. Are your readers really going to look up a post via your monthly archives list? (No, they won't.) Delete it. Replace it with sensible navigation or a list of your best posts. Do your readers need your audio player or a calendar in the sidebar? No, they have their own iTunes and their own calendar.
4. Get your own domain.
I promise you, once you set up your own blog, you will wonder why you ever took so long. Your subscriber numbers will rocket up, you will start being taken seriously as a blogger, and you will be in full control of your blog. Just do it.