Is your goal to be a professional blogger and start making money from your site? Or do you already have your site monetized, and you want to make sure you’re conducting yourself as a professional blogger? What are some professional standards you need to follow?
Too many people still dismiss blogging as just a fun pastime. Many don’t see blogging as not only a viable way to make a living, but also a way to put your expertise in front of an audience. Maybe you know someone who doesn’t respect what you’re trying to do with your blog.
To change the perception that blogging is not a professional career choice, we must present ourselves as professionals online.
There are many wonderful, professional blogs out there. You know them by their quality, attention to detail and great content. When you read one of these blogs, you know the author is functioning at the highest level of writing and blogging.
If you want to be seen as a professional blogger, you can take a few lessons from journalists. Bloggers function like journalists in many ways. One way I’ve mentioned before is that bloggers are trying to reach a large audience, just like journalists. So it can help if you see yourself as a mass media distributor.
Because you’re distributing mass media, you’re part of the information culture. This culture comes from the fact that journalists gather and distribute information to the public. As a blogging professional, accuracy and integrity must be part of your daily life. You must be honest in verifying facts and telling who your sources are.
Accuracy: Your Main Goal
Accuracy is the main goal of a blog writer. The attempt to be accurate must rule above all else. Accuracy forms the core of the writing process. It’s a state of mind as much as it is a technique.
You should never be satisfied with just accepting information. Make sure it’s correct and clear up any discrepancies.
Here are four specific points of accuracy:
- Spell names correctly. Misspelling a name will offend someone faster than almost anything else. Always ask the person directly for the spelling of their name. Don’t trust that it’s spelled correctly on a website.
- Quote sources accurately. If you’re quoting from an interview, listen closely to what people say. Develop techniques for getting accurate quotes. If you’re quoting from another online article, copy the quote correctly.
- Check facts. Develop a healthy skepticism of facts you haven’t checked. Always follow up, and don’t take anything at face value.
- Check numbers. Do the math to make sure numbers add up correctly. If they don’t match, find out why.
Verifying Facts and Attributing Sources
Verifying sources and facts, and attributing information to sources, are also professional standards bloggers should follow.
Verification means making sure facts are correct. Journalists work hard to verify facts. This has made journalism more believable than most other forms of writing. Verification is important for building credibility. Journalists and news organizations try to build credibility because they want readers and viewers to believe what they say. If you’re just as disciplined as a journalist in verifying information, you’ll build credibility, and readers will trust you.
You also need to distinguish fact from opinion. Facts are verifiable pieces of information from reliable sources. They can be looked up and checked. Opinions are statements of belief that are not necessarily verifiable. Both can have their place on a blog, but you should think about whether your post is factual or opinionated. And you should also know whether information from sources is fact or opinion.
Attribution is how you credit the source of your information. Journalists show transparency by revealing where they get their information. As a blogger, you should also be transparent and credit your sources.
Attribution and transparency establish your credibility. Readers are more likely to believe you’re trying to be accurate if they know who your sources are. You’re also allowing readers to judge for themselves the credibility of the source.
If you want your blog to have the quality and standards of some of the best blogs on the Internet, following professional standards is important. Making sure your facts are accurate and showing readers where you got your information and sources can elevate your blog from amateur to professional status. And gain you the respect you deserve as a blogger.
Readers, do you feel like you’re seen as a professional blogger? What do you do to operate professionally? Let us know in the comments.