The Authoritative Authority Blogger

It is 2017, and we have moved from arguments like “PC vs. Mac” or “Which is King: Content or Marketing?” or “Is Passive Voice Evil?” and trying to answer the eternal question of what constitutes a “real writer” and is a blogger such a creature? to “What Is An Authority Blog Post?

My first thought was, “Who cares?” It’s a sort of knee jerk reaction, like wondering why I’d pay $100 extra to wear jeans with a stranger’s name emblazoned across my butt. The look on my face is akin to the look I gave another author, years ago, who claimed she wrote “enduring works of classic literature.” Dream on.

In simple terms, an “authority blog” is one a lot of people consider to be their go-to resource for factual, useful, timely, evergreen information on a topic. I may be an expert on many things, but this is not an “authority blog” in most readers’ eyes. I hope it’s an entertaining, thought-provoking, worthwhile blog, that occasionally provides useful information or answers, but I have no pretense or aspiration to make it an “authority blog.” My blog’s big goal in life is to dominate the no-niche niche, and it’s right on track to do so.

What is Authority?

Etymologists are the authority on the origins and history of words, and according to The Online Etymology Dictionary:

authority (n.) c. 1200, autorite, auctorite “authoritative passage or statement, book or quotation that settles an argument, passage from Scripture,” from Old French autorité, auctorité “authority, prestige, right, permission, dignity, gravity; the Scriptures” (12c.; Modern French autorité), from Latin auctoritatem (nominative auctoritas) “invention, advice, opinion, influence, command,” from auctor “master, leader, author” (see author (n.)). Usually spelled with a -c- in English before 16c., when the letter was dropped in imitation of French.

From c. 1300 in the general sense “legal validity,” also “authoritative book; authoritative doctrine” (opposed to reason or experience); “author whose statements are regarded as correct.” From mid-14c. as “right to rule or command, power to enforce obedience.” In Middle English also “value, good reputation; power to convince people, capacity for inspiring trust.” From c. 1400 as “official sanction, authorization.” Meaning “people in authority” is from 1610s; Authorities “those in charge, those with police powers” is recorded from mid-19c.

There is a dignified and scholarly air of leadership, innovation, invention, influence, and power in the concept of “authority.” I can be all of those things; I just reject the notion that I have to be, 24/7. There’s also an element of bossy pretentiousness surrounded by an aura of sycophancy. And even in this alt-fact-post-truthiness era, I reject the notion that I should simply proclaim myself an authority on whatever I like – that if I repeat it often enough, loudly enough, in a voice that sounds like James Earl Jones, the world will come to believe it.

This is my playground, not my ivory tower. So don’t tempt me.

I also reject the notion that Google is the ultimate authority on whether I’m an authority. Perhaps there’s a reason I’ve always been drawn to Jacques Louis David’s “The Coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte”:

Here, I am the authority. On me.

But say you actually want to be an “authority blogger.” How do you do that? Is it a journey, a discovery of self, an evolutionary process set in motion each time your fingers clickety-clack across the keys? No. You apply butt to chair and do the work. You learn about your chosen niche. If you are not already an M.D. or Ph.D., you’re going to have a tough time establishing yourself as an “authority” on neuroscience. What are you expert on? What do you care enough about to become expert on?

THE Authority vs. AN Authority

Can we get real, and give up the pipe dream about making a six-figure passive income in our sleep? It’s not happening. But you are the expert on you. If you own a business, presumably you are the expert on that business and the products or services you sell. You have hobbies and interests and curiosity and appreciation for the world around you, and this is shared by others.

We don’t all have to be THE authority – we can all be AN authority on something, even if it’s only on picking lint and fuzz out of the carpet and weaving it into artisanal yarn.

Now, doesn’t that sound much more interesting than yet-another-blog-on-blogging?

I have a theory: Famous authors, when faced with writer’s block, resort to the tried and true. They write books on writing. It’s a winning formula: Hungry to be just like that bestselling, six-figure-earning novelist, we buy those books by the armload – ensuring that he can pay his bills another month while he’s stuck navel-gazing and mining for belly-button lint.

I’m pretty sure bloggers do the same thing. The problem is, instead of buying what they have to sell, small-time bloggers emulate them. They try to sell what they don’t know. And there’s a glut of bad advice on the market, written by people desperate to establish themselves as “authorities” on subjects they know pitifully little about.

Don’t be like Blob the Blogger. Write it like you care, and your readers will care, too. If you’re not interested in your topic, though, neither will anyone else be. Be yourself, let your real interests shine through – follow the age-old advice given all beginning writers: Write what you know.

“Authority,” like “enduring works of classic literature,” is a term best applied by the readers and consumers of what you write or create. It is a title that’s earned, not gleefully snatched from other bloggers and slapped onto your blog header like a crown.

HollyJahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/hollyjahangiri. For more information on her children's books, please visit http://jahangiri.us/books.
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11 thoughts on “The Authoritative Authority Blogger”

  1. When I’m most on authority – on me – I also expect to be THE most boring blogger on the planet. Nobody can be as interested in me as I am, by definition.

    The last series of posts, disguised as warnings to the world at large not to ignore chest pain, are a perfect example: they focus on ME to broadcast that warning.

    Oh, well. I keep telling people: I write because I want to, and post in case it might be of assistance to someone else – but no one has to read!
    Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt recently posted…Do right for your heart but be prepared for an awful rideMy Profile

    1. I don’t find your posts boring at all, Alicia (and you should never plant that notion in anyone else’s head – you may convince them not to read and decide for themselves!)

      I prefer warnings that are couched in personal anecdotes that say, “Hey, I’ve been here – I learned the hard way. I get it, but you should probably listen to me, the voice of experience.” Some people may see that as making it “all about you,” but I see it as, well, authority. You have first-hand experience to share, and it does not get much more authoritative. It may only be ONE data point among many (anecdotal vs. empirical evidence) but it’s a strong data point that should not be ignored just because it’s not necessarily statistically significant. The next reader may BE another outlier. The problem is when they assume they are; what if you’d read a post from me about esophagheal spasms and NOT had your chest pain checked out, assuming that our symptoms matched? That could’ve killed you.
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted…What I Want for My Birthday, and It Ain’t a Piece of Cake!My Profile

  2. It’s the niche-free blogging playground for me, all the way! 🙂 Yes, I do try to (sort of) follow Mr. Yoast’s SEO guidelines, (to get more views) but often fall short. What does it really matter? 😛 Same goes for Google and all its bloody rules. This is my creative outlet, not a business and that allows for more freedom in the Blogosphere. I have written a few informative articles based on personal experience, in hopes of helping those facing similar situations, but otherwise, it’s about indulging the muse and forging relationships with others. Your advice to “be yourself” and “write what you know” works beautifully.
    Debbie D. recently posted…THE LETTER | BACK OF THE DRAWER #WEPFF CHALLENGEMy Profile

    1. I’m glad! I really feel for people who could be having a grand time with blogging, and possibly (well, it’s just a theory) making as much or more money at it, just by freeing themselves from the cookie-cutter restraints laid out by past successful bloggers. I’m not sure that blogging to a formula works that well anymore, if it ever did.

      Honestly, it’s probably easier money if you can VLOG and turn yourself into a YouTube celeb, but that’s not really EASY, either. And just being an imitation of someone who already is a YouTube celeb won’t cut it – you have to find your own gimmick, if you’re going to do that.
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted…What I Want for My Birthday, and It Ain’t a Piece of Cake!My Profile

  3. “My blog’s big goal in life is to dominate the no-niche niche, and it’s right on track to do so.”

    I’m very much enjoying these delightful, non-authoritive morsels of yours, Holly!

    Funny, I recall a quote by Golda Meir z”l, former Prime Minister of Israel. She said, “Don’t be humble… you’re not that great.”
    Jane recently posted…Film Review: La La LandMy Profile

  4. Of course that’s all easy to say but it carries little weight with the dreamers because, unfortunately, there ARE those people who are actually making six figures in their sleep. I could name 10 without breaking a sweat, but that would be counter productive.

    I want to be seen as an authority, but as you said above, on my own terms. I might talk about some of the same things others touch upon but I do it in my own way. If I’d written over 1,700 posts on my blog all on blogging I’d have gone mad! Still, 500 articles on the subject isn’t chump change.

    My concern, as always, is that there are terms people start using without having any real clue what they actually mean. I learned that when I was a director in a hospital and realized that the people in my department didn’t fully understand what our goals were because the terminology had never been explained to them. We get into this thing where we believe everything’s pretty simplistic because “we” know it. In reality, I needed to remember my days in college when people wanted me to teach them how to play a song on the piano without really wanting to know how to play piano; life doesn’t work that well when one either wants to skip or doesn’t know they’re skipping the essentials they need to know to do the thing right.

    As for the Big G… I guess we need to promote Duck more because that would probably make us both authorities in the eyes of the people visiting there. 😉 Course, now your blog doesn’t like my CommentLuv feed; sigh…

    1. You’re absolutely correct; people just grab words and define them any way they want to. The Internet has become a babbling Tower of Babel.

      Everyone wants a quick fix, a panacea, a magic bullet. Grown-ups know that rewards and recognition must be earned. Work is not always glamorous; sometimes it’s drudgery. But if there’s value in it to someone, it matters.

      Sorry about the CommentLuv; I have no idea what the issue might be, unless it’s whatever it was last time. Have a fresh cookie? 🙂 Gimme all your cache…

  5. Nice article by you.Fan of your writing from the time I am reading your blog posts.
    will be waiting for your next article.

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