Becoming an Influencer
I’ve been blogging for about 15 years and have developed a code of ethics, taken in part from those who have been there, done that, and my own experiences. Given this relatively new way to communicate on social media, perhaps my observations will help others with similar concerns.
The essence of my comments rely on the famous expression in Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet: ‘To thine own self be true.” These words are spoken by King Claudius’ chief minister, Polonius, as part of a speech where he is giving his son, Laertes, his blessing, and advice on how to behave while at the university.
To me this means to blog only about things I feel passionate about and do so in an honest, transparent way so my readers will come to trust my words and build my credibility in my field of ethics. One thing I learned early on is not to blog about things I don’t know. I focus my blogs on my areas of expertise: political ethics, workplace ethics, and ethics in higher education.
I recently read an inciteful post by Martin Couture, “The Way of Blogging Ethics.” Couture provides many helpful comments about the essence of blogging ethics and these are summarized below. He prefaces his remarks by pointing out that
blogging ethics is the digital version of ethics. As such, it has all of the underlying values of ethical behavior including truthfulness, objective thought, diligence, responsible behavior, trustworthiness, and, above all else, integrity. The latter links back to the expression in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Bloggers and content creators have one important thing in common with journalists - they create public content. When something is public, it is available to everyone and this means that you have a huge responsibility because words matter and influence others. A successful blogger becomes an influencer and should always ask: How will my readers benefit from my words. What must I do or say to build my reputation for trust?
According to Couture, “when you set a Code of Ethics when blogging, you are rooted enough to fly high to the spheres of creative content writing and exploring new fields of possibilities.” He call this: “being on the highway rather than on a golf cart riding here and there on the golf course.”
So, the comments you make should attract your tribe and build a loyal following.
‘Here are the “Do’s: as discussed by Couture.
- Be authentic.
- Create content value.
- Give due credit to those who inspire you.
- Be open to honest feedback.
- Share your knowledge.
- Build quality content not quantity.
- Collaborate when called for.
I have been focusing on the last suggestion in my blogs recently. I look for ways to motivate others and enable them to share their ideas by posting guest blogs. I like to inspire other and help them to achieve their on-line objectives.
I’ll only address two issues in the interests of time and space. Most of the don’ts are obvious: don’t plagiarize others; give credit where credit is due; don’t allow others to use your site as a way to link back to their products and services; and don’t let others post inappropriate content on your site.
- Focus on the value of your blog, not try to monetize your blog.
There are many opportunities to monetize one’s blog. I am frequently contacted my other groups asking to pay a nominal amount (i.e., $50-$100) to have their blog posted and link to their website on my website and/or download a resource of their organization. I never do this mainly because I don’t know enough about their content and readers to gauge their trustworthiness and what they’ll do, and how they'll do it when linking back to my post/website -- if anything at all.
- Carefully vet guest blog requests.
Many writers have asked to post on my website. Some of these requests are good; some not so much. I’ve already focused on the good so here are my thoughts about the ‘bad points and cautionary words.
Whenever someone contacts me to post a blog on my site I immediately look for a sign that they know the content that I write about. As previously mentioned, I blog in three broad areas. A potential guest blogger must indicate which site interests them and provide some examples of what they want to blog about. This eliminates about 50% of those who contact me because all they are doing is sending me a generic email, similar to the one provided to dozens of other sites.
I have developed guidelines for the kind of blog I will consider and the criteria for choosing a guest blog. This eliminates another 15% because, typically, they’re not interested in, or knowledgeable about, ethical issues in the context of one of my three areas of expertise.
I also look for links to blogs they have already written so I can assess their writing skills and the quality of their content. This eliminates another 15%. So, I am left with the 20% that may meet my standards.
I then decide whether I am interested in what they have to say. I ask: Would my readers be interested in the content? Why or why not? This usually eliminates another 10%. So, I’m now looking at about 10% of the total submitted for possible publication on my site. Of these, I probably post about 5%, which is about 5 blogs in a one-to-two-month period.
Blogging is here to stay. To become an influencer in your area of expertise, always ask the following question: Will those who read my blogs want to continue to do so in the future? You are trying to build a loyal following. With credibility comes loyalty. Remember, you’re only as good as your reputation allows you to be.
Posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on February 23, 2021. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ethicssage.