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One of the most common blogging mistakes when it comes to corporate and business blogs is being opportunistic.

Just earlier today I have been interviewed by one of the largest German radio stations. I haven’t been interviewed as an SEO specialist or SEO blogger though.  I work from Germany and I also blog in German but not about SEO. One of my blogs I have created in the past for clients and still write for is called zeitgeist. As the name already suggests to some extent the blog deals with trends, design, gadgets and the likes.

So I have been interviewed as a blogger of a client blog.

The topic of the interview was Apple, or rather its changing image from the cool outsider to the scary huge moloch. I’ve been critical of Apple for years, like I sometimes also am of Google on my SEO blog. Almost everybody else has been hyping Apple products parroting their ads.

I didn’t like the Apple hype so I started looking behind the curtain of corporate PR and I’ve found things I didn’t like, lots of them. Back then most people didn’t want to read that. Nonetheless I took a stand and over time I’ve become one of the few if not the only blogger really critical of Apple in Germany.

Most other bloggers have been opportunistic, they were just writing what everybody else already did

and what Apple announced itself. The iPhone, iPad or whatever are “magic”, “revolutionary” etc. Their business model was sometimes simply to sell Apple products but mine wasn’t.

The blog I’m talking about is a blog for a price or shopping comparison engine. Or rather it’s less engine it’s more a place where the people are meant to review products. So It’s also a review site. The blog wasn’t really about the ad revenue so I didn’t care. My client knew that I was a real blogger and they let me write what I wanted. 

Do you think I’m really controversial or something? Well, I’m not. I just take a stand and I don’t follow every hype. When I started blogging in 2003 most bloggers were like that. They were very critical and didn’t have to abide by corporate rules or business logic. These days most blogs have to earn money in some way and thus the posts they publish are often shallow, “salesy” or feigning objectivity.

Business bloggers are afraid to get sued, to scare off advertisers or readers.

Or they just hype stuff they sell themselves so they can’t criticize it. Corporate and business blogs do not have to be dull, boring and opportunistic though. Businesses often have whole teams of lawyers. So while bloggers who had no money were not afraid to say what has to be said business bloggers backed by professionals are? Isn’t it a paradox?

There are hundreds of bloggers who write about Apple but they interviewed me because I expressed my honest opinion and didn’t just regurgitate PR. So of all the hundreds of bloggers they chose me for the interview. Also Apple is by far not the only topic I write about. Other blogs deal with Apple only.

Journalists have to at least appear objective while they are not.

Most publications are obviously biased, just think Fox News or CNN and compare them to the BBC and Al Jazeera. Everybody has an agenda. Also most journalism today is about republishing from the major news agencies like

  • Reuters
  • AFP
  • DPA.

In contrast bloggers are by definition subjective and may err. You don’t blog public relations messages or press releases in corporate newspeak. A real person has to blog. A real person has real feelings, preferences and even prejudices. All of these make the blogger trustworthy.

The reader knows the blogger’s limitations and how to read the particular blog.

Readers don’t want more of the same they read everywhere. They want a recognizable voice, they want honest opinions, they want a personal view on things. This is what blogging is about. Business and especially corporate bloggers tend to forget that. Such blogs often fail. The real authentic blogs on the other hand get called up when a national radio station needs an expert to talk to.

How to take a stand when blogging for business?

  1. Express yourself and your opinion saying “I don’t like x”, “I prefer y”.
  2. Cite other, sometimes less known sources “x reports about issues with y”
  3. Be honest about your bias “I’ve never been a fan of x”
  4. Point out that you represent your own opinion not the company you work for’, say “I” not “we”.
  5. Stay true to yourself and when you change your mind say it
  6. Don’t follow every hype just to get a few more ad dollars or followers
  7. Accept that not every reader has to agree with you
  8. Be respectful nonetheless, don’t attack people for no reason
  9. When there is a reason, you have the right to be angry (the iPhone suicides are one)
  10. Don’t dwell on the positive aspects only, you’re describing not advertising

In the long run intelligent people choose the honest blogs over the shallow ones. When I look at the most popular blogs these days even though they are part of huge media companies by now I still recognize outspoken or controversial individuals behind them. I don’t even like many of them but I even know their names:

  • Ariana Huffington
  • Pete Cashmore
  • Michael Arrington
  • Om Malik
  • Cory Doctorow

So as a blogger you have to find your voice and make the people out there on the Internet recognize it. I’m still learning how to do it. Now that I write for three SEO blogs I have to manage to stay myself while having a both recognizable and unique voice on each one of them.

* CC image by Trey Ratcliff