How the “nobody syndrome” costs us great bloggers

When I introduce people to the beautiful world of blogging by telling them about all the indirect advantages like the enrichment of your social life, they often share the same doubts. Most heard questions: “Who am I to start blogging about this subject?” They feel like they’re nobodies and absolutely not in the position to write about their passion or profession.

The feeling that they’ll never be an authority or expert, holds a lot of people back to start a digital publication. What a waste! ‘Cause you know what? It’s blogging itself that turns you into the authority you want to be.

That’s why I’ve chosen to write this post. Not just because I want to get the word out, also to have a better answer prepared when I try to convert someone to the church of blogging.

The “nobody syndrome” is a big obstacle for a lot of potential great bloggers out there. I think I only need two arguments to convince you that this mindset is absolute nonsense:

  • It’s starting a blog that separates you from the nobodies.
  • You can be the authority you want to be

Don’t just consume, share

Just playing with the thought of starting a blog separates you from the nobodies. It means you have the ambition to become a conversation leader on your own publication. Someone who wants to tell stories, share experiences, and build a community.

There are thousands and thousands of marketeers, but the ones who share their best practices (either on- or offline) are the most well known. Look at Seth Godin. Or Paul Arden. At the time these marketeers started writing, they were just folks doing their job. There was only one major distinction: these guys had a need to share.

Be the authority you want to be

Every serious college freshman is an authority. Some critics might disagree, saying the kid just got started. I don’t buy that.

That freshman devotes a huge part of his life to a certain subject. He’s listening to lectures, reads the literature, and discusses theories with professors and fellow students. So yes, of course he knows more about his study than most people. If he shares this knowledge on a blog, for instance by translating theories to daily life examples, he becomes an expert. That’s exactly how I started Spotlight Effect in October 2006.

I’ve stolen the title of this second argument from Nalden, who was one of the speakers at BLOG08. Like a lot of guys from Amsterdam, he loves the urban lifestyle. Yet there’s one major difference between Nalden and his pals. He has been blogging about the concerts he visited, the clothes he wore, and the music that blasted through his speakers since he was fifteen. Now, 8 years later, this ubercool friend of mine makes a living out his extraordinary blog. Need I say more?

Author: Ernst-Jan Pfauth

Ernst-Jan Pfauth is mede-oprichter en uitgever van De Correspondent. Hij is geobsedeerd door innovatie in media en journalistiek. Daar schrijft hij elke zaterdagmorgen een nieuwsbrief over, waar ruim 2.400 vakgenoten op geabonneerd zijn.

16 thoughts on “How the “nobody syndrome” costs us great bloggers”

  1. Very interesting – I like the idea that simply being ambitious separates you.

    Also, along the same lines of your point about being the authority you want to be, I feel like blogging almost forces you to become that authority. When blogging, or giving a presentation, or expressing yourself in anyway that is public and open to critique, the situation forces you to know enough about your subject.

  2. Do people find a topic to support their blog, or do they find a blog for support their topic? I guess the majority becomes an expert in a field and then shares the information through with a freshly started blog. I think this is wrong – the process of becoming a expert is much more interesting to follow for most of us! I agree that people should identify themselves with a certain topic from the start and share their knowledge and credentials with their audience.

  3. @Ariel Torres, right!- and that’s exactly the feeling that scares some people. I really hope some of them will see it as a cool thing. We all want to share our knowledge right?

    @Joop, hm I believe you can only have a successful blog if you’re really popular about the topic. Otherwise it seems rather odd to spend a helluva lot time on something that doesn’t pay off immediately.

  4. Even though my own blog is still under construction, that conversation i had with you did inspire me to revamp my blog.

    On the second point, the one stolen from Nalden ;) I’ve been spending a lot of time reading tech blogs.. so that’s what my revamped blog will be about i guess… But if i will ever be seen as a tech authority, still remains the question.

    Nifty little article!

  5. @Ørv glad to hear that conversation ment something for you! I enjoyed talking to you after such a long while.

    As long as you’re passionate about tech, I’d give it a shot. If you aren’t, please don’t. I don’t know an example of a successful blogger whose not crazy about his topic.

  6. @Ernst-Jan

    Writing blog posts is an excellent way to summarize new informarion you’re researching. I definitely gained some insights by putting my thoughts on a subject together in a blog post.

    Getting it out in a format where people comment on it, really helps too. Although I’ve learned that depending on language and target groups the number of people commenting can really differ. My English blog about music & promoting music sadly gets far less comments than my Dutch more geeky blog (which hasn’t got a real focus yet: also a work in progress :) ).

    A trick I sometimes use is to write a bit more confident about topics then I really am: strong opions get more comments going anyway. (I really like the credo ‘Strong opions, weakly held’).

    The fact ‘content is king’ is really true, whatever you write about and whatever your level of experience is. It can take a while, but good articles will get readers.

    Ok, enough rambling. :)

  7. @Ernst-Jan;

    after reading you comment about being “passionate” I thought: Tech I like, but I’m not passionate about it enough to start a blog ( Also considering the amount of articles I’ve written on SLE;)). It would be easy because I’m on the web a lot, yet it doesn’t tickle my curiosity quite enough. So that topic is as of now thrown in the dustbin. :)

    I’ll keep you updated, via email prolly.

  8. I guess a major positive thing about the rising digital society is the ability to get in touch with topics you never heard before. Perspectives of people you would normally never meet, become your inspiration at the time you would find their blogs. Maybe giving you the little push to finally start new things and move forward. So blogging is sharing is creating is changing society. Let’ s do it!
    Miss Creative Class

  9. Thank you for bring up this topic! I’ve had to deal with this feeling myself. My friends finally convinced me because they said that I was their expert. I realized that made me the expert for a lot of people like them.

    I think you also become an expert when you know as much as somebody else (or maybe less!), but you are much better able to explain it. Probably one of the best things that blogging does for you – be very clear about what your point is.

  10. Beside wanting to be an authority you also need perseverance…a lot of it. Because many beginner bloggers are thinking to quite after several months. You need to persevere until the result will show up (and usually the result are in the number of the visitors).

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