Don’t call me Blogger

For ten years I’ve bristled at being called a blogger. It’s an awful word. It looks like booger, sounds like blobber, and has an air of artificiality and preciousness that most made-up words have (and you can can it with your ‘all words are made up’ crap, I know that, but you have to admit that some made-up words [see any ‘word’ that has evolved from twitter] are more heinous than others).

I’ve struggled with being a blogger (the label applied to me) who is blogging (the thing I do) on her blog (the place I do that thing I do) ever since I started I Will Dare in 2000. You’ll have to take my word for this because the earliest complaint I can find is in 2006. That’s probably because I was in denial for six years that I was actually a blogger who blogged on her blog.

At first I detested the label because I never dreamed a “serious” writer would lower themselves to blogging. I wanted to be a serious writer and not a blogger. Blogging was the domain of heartsick college students who spent all their time gazing at their own navels. Then as blogging gained more and more acceptance, I hated the label a little less. Though I would always say it with a little bit of contempt. It is, like I said, an awful word.

There was a brief time, probably around the time I was working full time at The Nerdery where I was all “hell yes, I am blogger hear me roar.” But the more time I spent reading marketing blogs and advertising blogs and design blogs my roar turned into a whisper.

Blogging has evolved into a marketing/SEO/SEM/branding strategy. Which is fine. I get why blogging is smart for businesses and brands and people who are looking to brand themselves. But that’s not me. That’s not what I Will Dare is about or why I created it.

A few weeks ago I was the Geek Girls Guide Geek of the Week and we very briefly touched on the topic of authenticity (when I wasn’t giggling about Skittles and Pinky Tuscadero). Meghan had asked me how I felt about authenticity and transparency being that I make a living writing posts for other people.

What I didn’t say, and should have said, is that while readers crave this transparency and authenticity the most apparent thing, the one thing that’s never talked about, is that most blogs want you to part with your cash. Yes, the musician’s blog, the author’s blog, that company you really admire — all those blogs want you to spend money on their stuff. Which, again, is fine. I am not trying to deny anyone their money or marketing or advertising.

Really, the onus is on the readers of those very fine blogs to remember that. Most people aren’t blogging because they want to, or because they love it. They blog to make a buck, and it’s probably the one thing they aren’t very transparent about.

And I think that’s what the term blogger has evolved into, someone who writes stuff in the hope of getting your attention and casually deflecting that attention onto stuff that you can buy from them.

I’m not doing that here on I Will Dare. I’m not here to be a thought leader, or to brand myself as a social media wonk/marketing master, or to get you to buy my widgets/books*/music. I’m here because I’m a narcissitic storyteller who wants to practice her craft in some way, shape, or form.

And there ought to be a cool, made-up word for that. You know, besides writer.

* DISCLAIMER: If I ever publish a book, I will change this tune so fast your head won’t just spin, the centrifugal force of that spinning will cause your brains to fly out your nose. In fact, I will pimp my goods so hard you will be all what the what what? I thought she was the high and mighty moralist who wasn’t selling stuff. Then you will go search my archives to find this post so you can hoist me on my own petard only you will never find it because it will have disappeared and I will deny it ever existed. Why? Because I am the all powerful benevolent ruler of I Will Dare.

P.S. This rant was brought to you by Bloggers quitting what they call a demanding task with few rewards, an article (and the accompanying comments by PR vultures and SEO sorcerers) that induced so much gagging and eye-rolling while I read it that I think I pulled a muscle in my eyelid.

P.P.S Nabisco, I’d still totally sell out for a Nutter Butter sponsorship. Just imagine it: 1 part mean red + 1 part don’t give a damn + 1 part delcious Nuttery Buttery goodness. Call me!

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15 Comments

  1. dainec 19.Jan.11 at 11:44 pm

    I loved this post. Just wanted to tell you that.

    Reply
    1. Jodi 19.Jan.11 at 11:46 pm

      @dainec,

      Ahh, thank you! I’ll remember to get you something nice once the Nutter Butter money starts rolling in.

      Reply
  2. bakiwop 20.Jan.11 at 9:05 am

    so you’re saying your personal brand is freegan? 😉

    i never liked the word blog/blogger either; it is an ugly word. i just say website or site, or, if i’m feeling particularly 90s: homepage.

    whatever it is you call what you do, i’m glad you do it. and just when the h@ll ARE you going to write that book that we can read?

    Reply
    1. Jodi 20.Jan.11 at 11:47 am

      @bakiwop,
      I am going to go back to rocking the homepage, does that mean I can call myself a webmaster?

      Reply
      1. phantomxii 21.Jan.11 at 10:02 am

        @Jodi,
        When you’re done editing your homepage from the shell with vi (don’t forget to add a hit counter!), you can download the latest Netscape Navigator from their FTP site (takes a few hours over a 28.8 PPP connection), then read some flamewars on Usenet.

        Reply
        1. Jodi 21.Jan.11 at 12:58 pm

          @phantomxii,
          I’ve actually been involved in flamewars on Usenet! Get Granny Internet her shawl will you?

  3. The Ape 20.Jan.11 at 9:06 am

    I read that article as well and was struck that these people weren’t interested in writing so much as starting a small business. There’s nothing wrong with that, but to write a trend piece and say it’s about “blogging” is a little misleading.

    I, too, blanche at the word blogger, but I think there is something about earnestness and passions embedded in the word that I’ve come to admire (these are the other side of the blogger coin)

    Reply
    1. Jodi 20.Jan.11 at 11:47 am

      @The Ape,
      You bring up a good point. There is a lot of passionate bloggers out there and they are the ones that are fun to read, informative, and when you really think about it, the ones you want to support with your money and attention. You know?

      Reply
  4. Kevin Fenton 20.Jan.11 at 11:34 am

    When I suggested to the memoirist Patricia Hampl that she might want to consider a blog, she said, “They’re really essays, right?” And I was all like, yes, basically. The incidentals are digital but the basic form in Montaigne’s. Also hate the word “blogger.”

    Reply
    1. Jodi 20.Jan.11 at 11:45 am

      @Kevin Fenton,

      I agree the good posts are basically essays. Even though I whine about the dumb word, I think all writers should have a blog (and businesses too if they do it in a genuine way to engage customers/users).

      The best blogs really are about building relationships, be it between writer and reader or business and consumer.

      Reply
  5. Bakiwop 20.Jan.11 at 1:38 pm

    @jodi – Since you’re a lady, i believe the proper term would be “webmistress”

    Reply
  6. xoxoxoe 20.Jan.11 at 8:34 pm

    That was a truly horrible article.

    I don’t really care for the term “blogger,” but it’s what I do, write blog posts, both for work and for myself. I think of myself a s a columnist, actually, writing for my own personal publication. Sometimes it’s more personal, sometimes it’s a book or TV or movie review, but always it’s an outlet for what I’m thinking about and what I want to share.

    All those people cited in that article that have quit blogging for twitter weren’t writers. No writer gives it up because they didn’t get rich quick.

    Reply
    1. Jodi 20.Jan.11 at 8:39 pm

      @xoxoxoe,

      Columnist is good. I call myself a writer even though I do a lot of blogging for pay. It’s still writing, right?

      If writers gave up because they didn’t get rich there would be about four of them — Stephen King, JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, and David Sedaris.

      Reply
  7. Doug 29.Jan.11 at 8:20 pm

    The real problem, as I see it, is that there’s no international standards board that defines what “blog” and “blogger” mean and what they don’t, so everyone just defines it, either favorably or pejoratively, for him/herself. As such, you cannot know that when you say “blogger” it means the same to others as it means to you.

    There’s blogs of all sorts, good and awful and in-between, but, by and large, I do think “blogger” is not generally respected as a title, and willingly adopting it–even when one makes money at it (if that still can happen)–does seem of specious logic.

    I still don’t know what they hell to call this instead of “blogging.” I’ll probably come up with a post if I ever do.

    But as has been noted, writing is writing, and if you’re doing it for the love of it (or just to try to quell the voices in your head), you don’t need a pithy moniker.

    Although coming up with one does seem like the sort of task us creative types should be able to do.

    Reply

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