The Case of the Fake Guru?

Calling yourself a guru while giving nothing but common knowledge advice on your blog irrit­ates me. I don’t visit your site to learn something I already know – that every­one already knows.” ~ Stacey Roberts on ProBlogger

When I announced, sever­al years ago, that I was going to create a blog, my friends and former colleagues applauded me for doing do. One stating “you should after all you are THE GURU on that subject”. Well it’s good to feel appre­ci­ated but I have never considered myself a guru on any subject, even those I consider I have an expert level knowledge of. The challenge being there is always someone who knows something you don’t. Then I also had anoth­er challenge, at a chance meeting the words:

When you write you should be author­it­at­ive on that subject and always offer a unique perspect­ive.” ~ Harold Ekstein.

 

Pleasing all Perspectives?

Perspective - Stairs by AlexVan CC0 Public Domain from PixabayThere is the primary challenge, pleas­ing all your reader’s viewpoints at the same time. Trying to fake a skill, or trying to show yourself as something you’re not can never be a good idea. There are sever­al types of article that any writer can create, includ­ing:

  1. A found­a­tion­al piece (contain­ing basic inform­a­tion people need to know about for this subject).
  2. Where to get the inform­a­tion you need (summar­ising sites where good inform­a­tion is avail­able).
  3. How-to’ posts.
  4. N” things you should know about…
  5. A discus­sion piece (which summar­ises the avail­able think­ing on the subject)
  6. A detailed post which explores options and makes recom­mend­a­tions about best course of action for a given situation.
  7. A critic­al piece (which dissects the views or writing of anoth­er person or concept).

A found­a­tion­al post will simply contain basic inform­a­tion people need to know about the subject at hand. It provides a basic level of educa­tion to those that know nothing about the subject matter. These pots can be educa­tion­al for certain readers. But consider Stacey Roberts view “I don’t visit your site to learn something I already know”. You have to start out with a slightly differ­ent approach to what every­one else is writing other­wise your readers will not stay. The where to get inform­a­tion post is essen­tially one that helps your readers gain more knowledge. Such posts should explain what they are likely to gain from each site. “N” things to know about… is simil­ar method used to summar­ise knowledge about a partic­u­lar subject, readers love this type of post because it reminds them of things they should be doing but aren’t.

And…

The “how to” article is a specif­ic type of detailed post that will tell the reader how to do something. One example is how to use a specif­ic smart phone. Another, the advant­ages of regis­ter­ing with a partic­u­lar website. They help the user under­stand the choices avail­able, but probably not why certain options are or are not provided.

The discus­sion post will look at partic­u­lar aspects of the subject and will provide a summary of all knowledge. These will not normally going into detail in any specif­ic area. Yet they can provide an intro­duc­tion to sever­al posts that go into specif­ic details or critique certain theor­ies. A detailed post will dissect one aspect and go into the details about what is possible, perhaps going beyond the simpli­fied instruc­tion of the how-to post, looking at why things happen. It may discuss why they don’t. Perhaps it will look at some of the theory behind the detail.

The critic­al piece will dissect the work of anoth­er writer (or group of writers), it allows you the ability outline your own theor­ies in relation to other works published on the subject. It may show why specif­ic methods may be considered weak or problem­at­ic, you can highlight those elements other writers have missed and highlight why they are of import­ance to solving the problem.

Each type of post brings a differ­ent type of reader to your site and this must be considered when your create each post. Sometimes you have to consider the prospect or reader that you are focus­ing on.

 

The Fake Guru

Puzzled lookThe problem of the “Fake” Guru is one that is common across the web today it is a case of people writing about subjects they have little or no practic­al exper­i­ence of, they are simply regur­git­at­ing what they have read on anoth­er site, using differ­ent words. This raises the question of what is the differ­ence between that and research­ing a subject thoroughly?

In question­ing this I become very self conscious that I do a lot of research about the things I write about. At times am conscious of the fact that I push the bound­ar­ies of my person­al knowledge. I am also aware that there is a differ­ence between knowledge and opinion. Truth is every­one has an opinion, even on subjects they know nothing about. It is complex at times to distin­guish between opinion (especially well informed opinion) and practic­al knowledge.

It is true that with the aid of the Internet it is possible for any person to research any subject to a high level of detail and become knowledge­able of that subject, but there is a differ­ence between how an expert talks and the person scrap­ing the bottom of web to formu­late their new post. The expert has a lifetime of exper­i­ence to draw upon, they know the answer to the point in question and that will come to the point effect­ively and explain how it works or show it’s import­ance.

Ultimately it is easy to identi­fy the fake guru, they are simply not convin­cing. They keep their writing vague and high level. Furthermore they are, as Stacey Roberts is concerned, provid­ing nothing but common knowledge. Being excep­tion­al is always a challenge. All writers suffer moments when their work is sub stand­ard. The fake guru is always substand­ard, they copy the work of others, add nothing origin­al and fail to please.

 

Place for the Novice Writer?

New BeginingsIs there a place for the non-expert in writing or blogging? This is a complex question as it is my belief that every­one has some expert­ise, they simply need to to a little soul search­ing to find out what that is. Everyone has some expert­ise, even if that is where to find the best shopping bargains or crack­ing a joke about items in the news. New writers have to find their niche (which may as yet be undefined).

The other challenge for new writers is about devel­op­ing their writing style. When I first started blogging it was after a lifetime of writing corpor­ate reports, so I knew how to write (or thought I did). Little did I realise that blog writing required a differ­ent set of skills, such as story telling, hyper­link­ing, style and present­a­tion. In addition writers must provide visual images to enhance the writing, expand their vocab­u­lary, adopt differ­ent writing styles. Last, but certainly not least they must be profi­ci­ant using Social Media for publi­city.

The new writer must show they they are learn­ing and improv­ing as a writer. An import­ant part of this is about research­ing your subject, staying up to date with market knowledge. Even-though they are a novice writer, their expert­ise on their special­ist subject should still be evident through the words they use. The prepared­ness to grow as a writer is essen­tial as none of us can be perfect first time around, writers know that first drafts are never published, editing is a skill the novice writer must acquire, they must be prepared to harshly critique their own work and get out the red pen and make all those neces­sary correc­tions.

 

 

Buy Peter B. Giblett a coffee as a thank you for his thoughts of the problem of the fake guru. All images used here are either created or owned by Peter Giblett or have been sourced from a public domain location, such as Pixabay.

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