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Overheard on #Blogchat: Passion vs. Skill (@DaveTaylor)

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Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night, I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Who are you writing your blog for, you or your readers? Who should it be?

As you can guess, a lot of the discussion this week pitted two valuable ideas against one another:

  1. You should blog for yourself, about topics that you’re passionate about, because your posts will be more interesting and you’ll enjoy your job more.
  2. You should blog for the reader, because it is really your community who makes your blog what it is, especially if you blog for money.

Many people agreed that the best case scenario is a little bit of A and a little bit of B, but along the way, we certainly got some interesting comments on both sides of the argument. One that I thought was especially worth noting:

@DaveTaylor Btw, not sure I agree you “must” be passionate about your subject if you’re a skilled, pro writer…

So, do you have to be passionate about a topic to write about it? For some people, the answer is yes, but for professional writers, nearly any topic can be covered if you’re willing to do the research. I should know; I’m a freelance writer and I’ve definitely written about topics that do not particularly interest me.

The disconnect between DaveTaylor’s tweet and practicality, however, comes when you consider the very nature of a blog. Answer this questions for me:

Why do you blog for money versus do something else for money?

The American Dream – or really, the human dream in general, this isn’t just about being from the USA – is that you make a living doing something that you love, something that doesn’t feel like work. Yes, a skilled writer should be able to cover just about any topic. But the whole point of blogging is to get away from having to work in a job that you don’t feel passionate about. Otherwise, why not just get a 9-to-5 and not have the stress of trying to figure out how to make money with your blog?

I don’t care how skilled you are as a writer. If you aren’t passionate about a topic…

  1. …it will be a chore to write every blog post.
  2. …you’ll miss out on big stories because the topic isn’t something you naturally follow in your free time.
  3. …you won’t connect with your audience well because, yes, they are passionate about the topic.
  4. …it will take longer to write every post because you have to do more research.
  5. …you won’t really care about your blog, other than whether or not it’s making money.

If you aren’t passionate about something, you can certainly do a wonderful job blogging about it for a client. A good example of this is how I spent years blogging about weddings for a client of mine. Yes, writing posts was still a chore and they took longer to research, but I didn’t have to worry about building an audience, networking, etc. because it wasn’t my blog. I wasn’t emotionally invested. I just did a good job with the text and collected a paycheck.

But if you’re going to start your own blog? Please have passion. For your own sake, pick a topic that you really enjoy and even feel emotional about. In the end, even if another niche looks more lucrative, you’ll build a better blog if you have passion.

Check out “Overheard on #Blogchat” here every Sunday to read about some of the most interesting tweets from participating bloggers.

Allison Boyer freelance writer and content marketing consultant. She also runs the food blog The PinterTest Kitchen with her mom and sister. You can follow her shenanigans on Twitter (@allison_boyer) or contact her at allisonmboyer@gmail.com.


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  • Dave Taylor

    Thanks for picking up on my comment, Alli, but I think you demonstrate what makes blogging such a tricky business in this post: the challenge of differentiating between what you believe to be the case and “the truth”. You note:

    “The disconnect between DaveTaylor’s tweet and practicality, however, comes when you consider the very nature of a blog.”

    How differently this would read if you’d say “For me, the disconnect…” because it is YOUR disconnect. Each of us can really only speak for ourselves and our own experiences, and I can tell you that I’ve been writing professionally for decades and can write — or create blog posts — on topics that I have only the slightest interest in, and they’ll be clear and engaging. In a professional writing context, that’s my job, and I’m far from being the only pro writer in the online world.

    Having said that, I will also say that since I am a great believer in following your passion that you are going to enjoy your work more if you’re passionate about it. Whether you’re blogging as a path to make money, to proselytize, or as a form of personal therapy, I definitely agree that in general you’ll enjoy it more if it’s a topic that fires you up, but it is worth acknowledging that there’s also a sense of satisfaction for a job well done, and that can easily be from writing an engaging blog entry, even if it isn’t a topic near to your heart.

    I also think it’s a bit daft when I see bloggers say that 1. It’s not a blog if you’re not engaging in a discussion with your community, 2. you’re not a blogger if you’re not writing about topics that you’re passionate about, and 3. passion is the fuel that drives all good blogs. As we’ve discussed for almost a decade now, there really isn’t a “blog police”. Blogs are tools and you, as the blogger, can make it into whatever you want.

    (And oh, we’re going to have some fun conversations at Blogworld, Alli!)

    • Alli

      I think you misunderstood my argument, Dave. I’m a freelance writer, too (beyond running my own blogs, I’ve blogged for clients and do other writing projects for clients), and yes, I agree that you can write clear and engaging blog posts regardless of topic if you’re a good writer. My argument is that the whole point of starting your own blog is to do what you love. If you’re just looking for satisfaction of a job well done, there are many other careers you can choose and, to be honest, even in the writing field alone there are more lucrative and less stressful career choices. I have no idea why anyone would start their own blog on a topic they don’t enjoy when there are so many other easier ways to make money.

      Also, something that you brought up: “It’s not a blog if you’re not engaging in a discussion with your community.”

      I disagree. If you aren’t engaging with your community, you’re posting articles on a blogging platform. That’s different than running a blog. Not every successful blogger has to reply to every comment, but if you aren’t encouraging or even allowing comments, using social networking tools, drawing feedback from your readers, connecting with your audience, etc., what’s the difference between your “blog” and a website where articles are uploaded on a rolling basis? The blogging platform is a tool, but just because you use it doesn’t mean that you actually run a blog, whether you are passionate about your topic or not.

      Definitely track me down and argue with me at BlogWorld! I always enjoy a good debate. 🙂

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