Blogging Other

Do leaders make better bloggers?

On Sunday I posted a link to 50 blogging lessons. I found the whole list interesting to read, but I was surprised to see:

12.  If you’re not a leader, don’t even bother.  Your writing will show it.  The best bloggers are natural leaders and exude confidence.  You have to be if you hope to stand out in a world of infinite choice.  It’s basic sociology, why else would anyone listen to you.

Forgive me for this generalisation, but I don’t have an image of bloggers as leaders. I picture the average blogger as someone who enjoys their own company, with no desire to lead anyone.

I would describe myself as quiet and thoughtful, not a natural leader – saying that, I do end up leading lots of things, but this is more due to the fact that no one else will volunteer, rather than any aching desire to run things!

I am self confident though – I don’t have any problem with stating my opinions, however controversial they may be. I think that this lack of fear may be a better indication of the quality of the blogger. The best bloggers always seem to be first in the queue to state their opinion whenever there is a controversy, while the people with less popular blogs seem nervous about taking sides.

I think that the ability to experiment with new ideas, (rather than copy things other people have already done) is the key to great blogging – perhaps it does take someone with leadership qualities to do this?

Do you think leaders make better bloggers?

Have you noticed any link between confidence and blog quality?

75 replies on “Do leaders make better bloggers?”

I would have to disagree that you need to be a leader to be a blogger. I do think it helps, though. I’m very much a follower and a quiet one at that, and I can tell which bloggers are leaders, or at least are more so than me. They’re always organizing events, challenges, and so on. I assume no one would really want to participate in anything I put forward (which I know is silly) so I don’t bother. I don’t necessarily think it’s my writing that suffers, but it’s more of a community involvement thing. I’m happy to be involved in the community but I know I’ll never take a leadership role in it.

Meghan, I don’t think that leaders have better quality writing – I think the reverse is possible true, but I do think that leaders will make their blogs stand out from the crowd, which is increasingly hard in the blogging world.

I think that you are underestimating yourself though – I think that you have a great blog and a large number of loyal followers. I am sure that if you started a challenge then you’d get a lot of people joining in. Why don’t you give it a go? You may be surprised!

I would quite strongly disagree that you have to be a leader to be a blogger. Though that said you do come across some blogs where the writer thinks their opinion is the only one and you must agree or else and some where because they blog they think they are the authority on books, which is more dictatorial than leading!

I blog because I like it and thats it, no ulterior motive, if you have motives behind blogging I think it can shine through! Interesting post Jackie.

Simon, Anyone can become a blogger, but I do think that the most popular blogs will be run by leaders, as blogs which just follow others, repeating things that have been said before are a bit dull to read.

I agree with you about the dictatorial blogs though! There is a big difference between a good leader and a a dictator!

I think the article you linked to is more about bloggers in industry, which is a quite different kettle of fish. But as far as book blogging goes, I think the best probably will have some leadership qualities — the ability to communicate their enthusiasm, for example. That said, I’d agree that nobody has to be, or consider themselves to be, a leader to be a blogger.

David, You’re right – book blogging is probably very different from industry blogging. I think the love of books is the most important thing in the book blogging world.

That is an interesting question. Most of my life, I led something…groups, departments, teams, etc. When I quit working, I swore I didn’t want to lead another damn thing in my life. I wanted to rest, and follow quietly. It didn’t really work out that way though. Do I think it makes any difference in the blogging world? I don’t think so. I’ve met people who are this close to being a hermit, but when they start talking about a topic that is their passion, they have all kinds of confidence and they inspire. Some of the best writers never came out of their caves. So why would it be any different with bloggers? In fact, blogging (the act of sitting at a computer and communicating) lends itself to introverted people being able to do their thing without face-to-face interaction. There are alot of leaders out there that can’t sit still long enough to string three sentences together. They would just make their assistant do it!

Sandy, Thank you for such a thoughtful comment! I agree with every word! I agree with you about the best writers being introverted people. Some of my favourite authors are terrible public speakers, but I don’t care, as I want to enjoy their books, not spend hours listening to them.

It is great to be reminded that the best leaders are probably terrible writers. Just think of the number of polititians who get a ghost writer for their memoirs.

I agree with you in picturing the average blogger as someone who enjoys their own company, with no desire to lead anyone. But of course it also depends on how your define “best blogging.” You might like controversial posts, or you might prefer introspective musings about literature.

rhapsodyinbooks, Great point! Everyone has a different definition of best blog. I think everyone can agree that they like original content though.

Interesting question: I agree with you on several points. I think it’s more a self-confidence to state what you think instead of trying to self-censor just to blend in with the crowd. I don’t think you have to be a leader, you need to be a self-promoter and a self-motivator. You also need a healthy ego (I don’t mean egotistic) so you can survive the things that fail. I’m not too worried when I try something new on my blog — it works or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t work, I just move on and I don’t take it personally.

In book blogging, I think an honest voice and a willingness to participate in the community are what make you successful.

Beth, I think you are right – it is all about self confidence rather than leadership.

I think the healthy ego thing is very important too. It is so easy to mis-read comments when you can’t see the expressions on someone’s face. I have seen some people get very upset by unintentional criticism and don’t think they’ll last long in the blogging world if they were to get any real abuse. I have learnt that a negative result can be a good thing – one more thing to cross off the list as done!

I think every blogger is a leader in a sense, because you’ve got to have a certain amount of self confidence to even start blogging. Just getting your writing out there on the web, and giving your opinions a public airing, implies a natural self belief that your opinions are worth listening to. That’s the sign of a true leader, in my opinion.

Personally some of the ‘leading’ book bloggers (I won’t mention any names!) turn me off because of their dictatorial, overly self confident approach. I also find a lot of these bloggers have sold themselves off and most of their posts seem to start ‘Thanks to so and so at such and such for sending me this wonderful book’…it seems that for some their blogs have ceased to become personal and have become more self promoting and businesslike. That instantly takes any charm or authenticity away. These sorts of bloggers rarely reply to comments in my experience, and also don’t tend to deign to comment on other people’s blogs either; they also encourage blogging ‘cliques’ which I find completely against the spirit of blogging. That kind of ‘leadership’ holds no interest for me. I’d always far rather read the blog of someone with no agenda and a genuine passion for their subject coupled with a desire to share their thoughts and enter into communication with like minded readers. Haughty bloggers have no place in my google reader!

Rachel, I hadn’t even thought about starting a blog as requiring confidence, but I suppose it did. I guess that depends on whether you expect anyone to actually come along and read it!

I would love to know who you class as the leading bloggers – if you fancy sending me an email I’d love to have a good gossip with you about who the dictators are!!

My favourite blogs always respond to comments – I don’t see the point in inviting people to have their say if you don’t acknowledge them.

Hehe…I’ll send you an email Jackie!!

I totally agree on the comments thing – if I’ve taken the trouble to read your post and comment on it, I expect at least an acknowledgement to show the person whose blog it is cares that I’ve read their post!

a leader huh…well that explains my limited success! lol

OK, seriously, I think you have to be not so much a ‘leader’ as someone who is confident in your opinions, and as you said, have a strong desire to share them. What you write has to appear honest and sincere. At least those are the blogs that I find interesting to read.

Does that lead to ‘success’? Well, it depends how one defines success.

caite, I define success as being happy with what you’ve created. There seem to be a lot of bloggers out there who aren’t happy with the way things are. It took me several months to feel that I had found my place in the blogging world, but now feel that I can be proud of my blog. I think you should be proud of yours too – it is wonderful!

I agree with many points made here. My favorite book blogs are ones that I don’t think would be considered “leaders”, but they come across as very honest and personable. They’re not promoting their blog in general. They’re talking about the books they love, and that keeps me coming back.


Lezlie, I have to agree that I don’t think any of the ‘leading’ book blogs are in my top 10. I do like to build a relationship with my favourite bloggers and I don’t think that is possible with big blogs. I do my best to try to get to know all my followers, but it does get hard when the number grows. I do my best, but it is a shared love for books which makes me love a blog.

As opposed to a follower? I don’t like being a sheep and sometimes like to march to the beat of my own drum, reading what I like and saying what I like, even if it differs drastically to that of the blogging masses.

I agree with the comments that touch on confidence and the fact that it does take a lot to put your writing and yourself “out there” into the ether. I think that we all have our own motivations to blog, otherwise we wouldn’t do it, and I disagree with Simon: I don’t think that necessarily shines through in our posts (unless it is, like Rachel points out, about the self-promotion and the hobnobbing).

I think that the best bloggers are the ones who are honest and have integrity and that isn’t restricted to those with leadership qualities. I enjoy reading those blogs where the bloggers have a bit of gumption, who aren’t afraid to say what they think, but ultimately I read the blogs of those who love books and that’s really the only think I am looking for to shine through.

Claire, I think you’ve highlighted the crucial difference. Perhaps this post should read: Followers should not start a book blog! I think it is very important to read whatever you want to read and not just something that others are reading, or read something just because a publisher sent it to you. I admire you for reading off the beaten path – people like you add to my wishlist much more than the sheep!

Thanks, Jackie. I’ve been a bit fed up recently reading about the same books but then conversely it is exciting when there is a buzz around a new book or an old one that new readers are discovering; I like being part of that but I also trust my own reading instincts. The next couple of months and into the new year for me are going to be more about reading what I want to read, those books that I’ve wanted to read for some time and not become so caught up in the hype of a new book.

Claire, I hate reading about the same book over and over again, but I still want to read things like Catching Fire and Her Fearful Symmetry, so just have to accept that lots of people will skim over those posts. I try to read a wide range of things to avoid the repitition, but always ensure I am reading what I want to read, rather than trying to fit in. Enjoy reading the older books – I hope you find some great ones!

I didnt mean anyone who’s blogs I read regularily I just wanted to clear that up firstly. I think if people love books and enthuse about books then that shines through but I am sure we have all come across blogs where people dont do anything and yet want all the review copies and thats what I meant.

Blogging is a great way to interact get out there, network etc which is why I have another one for my work on top of the book blog (though its being updated and reworked again) I wouldnt have met some wonderful people and found some wonderful books if it wasnt for the community but I dont think I have been lead nor do I feel I lead… hahaha that all makes sense to me but could easily read as waffling. I just didnt want people thinking I was attacking as thats not my style.

I think the act of blogging is a real confidence builder – I tend to be naturally quite shy, but I do like to be involved(!) I’m rather an extravert introvert. When you discover the book-blog world, you start off my reading a few blogs, then you pluck up courage to comment and it goes from there. You can gain in self-confidence all the time from it. Book-blogging is about sharing a love of books, in participating you can create your own style and communicate your own passions – “If you build it, they will come” to quote from Field of Dreams. If that’s not leading in a way, I don’t know what is.

Annabel, I know exactly what you mean about being an introverted extravert! I can be both – depending on the situation. It is great that blogging can improve self confidence, but I also think it can dent it when things go wrong. It is all about how positive you are as a person.

I love your quote, but am not sure it fully applies to blogging. In the blogging world (and in much of the real world too!) it should read “If you build it, and advertise it a lot, they will come”

This is really interesting! I don’t think you have to be a leader in the true sense of the word but I think you do have to have the confidence to not become too much of a blogging sheep. I know that when I first started I worried that I wasn’t reviewing the ‘right’ type of books but now I just read and review whatever I am truly interested in.

Dot, It is interesting to hear that you felt pressured to read the right type of book – which sort of books were they?
I am so pleased to hear that you now read the books you like – that is the only way to be in my opinion!

I often felt like I should only be reading very literary books off the man booker list etc but now I will only read those books if they truly capture my interest. I think I probably came across quite a few quite ‘snobby’ book blogs when I first started blogging and it made me feel like I had to be reading and reviewing only the latest high brow literature. I soon found my feet though when I realised that whilst blogging is about connecting with others it is mainly about me, there’s no point doing it unless I am reading and reviewing books that I really want to.

Violet, You’re right – there is a difference. I think that is probably what the article is referring too. In other fields the blog has to be popular to be successful.

Chris, I agree – there are a lot of book bloggers who write amazing articles that no one sees. It depends on whether they are happy typing away to themselves as to whether I’d deem them successful. I do think it is a shame when someone writes something fantastic and then no one ever reads it.

Re: comments – I try as hard as I can (and as time allows) to acknowledge every comment on my blog either with an e-mail response or by visiting the commenters blog and leaving them a relevant comment. I’d say I’m 90% successful in this, although of course some days are better than others!

Great post, Jackie!

Someone else pointed out that the article was specifically talking about professional bloggers/industry bloggers. However, I think the points made could certainly be applied to book bloggers.

As far as being a leader…well, I wouldn’t say you *have* to be a leader to be a blogger. But it all depends on what your goals are for your blog. I wouldn’t consider myself to be a leader. But do I jump in if no one else is volunteering? Yes. Would I rather sit back and let someone else do it? Absolutely!

It’s hard to say what’s most important. What makes various bloggers successful (and here’s I’m thinking of bloggers like Dooce, PioneerWoman, Pro Blogger, Seth Godin, etc) varies depending on what they’re providing. But they all provide *something* that people connect with. If you’re providing people something they can connect with, then I think you’ll be successful. You might not get millions of readers, but you *will* get people who look forward to what you have to say. To me, that’s when you’ve succeeded.

Trish, I think that having someone who looks forward to you writing something is a great goal to have. If one of my favourite bloggers goes away for a few days I really miss them – that is a sign that they are writing a great blog.

Jackie, the way you described yourself IS a typical leader. They may not have people who report to them or “run things” but they are the first ones to state their opinions, volunteer when no one else does. It is easy to confuse the word “leader” with “manager”. One is not the same as the other. For all those who host challenges, volunteer for various blogging events, experiment with various formats and features and generally put themselves out there for others to either accept or reject – they are all leaders by definition. You are not following anyone’s lead. You are doing your own thing. That is leading. Anyone who has the guts to put down their feelings about books, write reviews, share opinions, for all the world to see on the Internet is also a leader. If you aren’t comfortable with doing so, then I agree that you shouldn’t be publicly blogging.

Michelle, Thank you for commenting on my blog for the first time! I suppose that you are right – I hate managing people, but am a leader in other ways. I haven’t yet hosted any challenges, but I guess this is because no one has asked me too! There seem to be enough out there already, with lots of people doing a great job at running them. I have no desire to create extra work for myself when others are doing it already. I’m sure some people with stronger leadership than me would try to find a challenge that isn’t being hosted yet and create it.

Some great comments so far.

Do you need to lead when writing a blog? Or do you follow? I’m probably guilty of the latter on my actual blog and the the former on twitter.

As someone above said you do need to have confidence to blog and to keep blogging and you also need to believe that what you say has value, even if you do write in a shell, when someone comments or refers to one of your posts then it does build confidence.

Leading can also be seen as willing to offer an original opinion rather than blinding accept what others say. And blog reviewing is about offering and justifying opinions and showing the though processes that go on.

So yeah there is an element of leading when blogging.

i’m getting my elbows out and getting to the front of the reviewing mob 😉

gav, Thank you for commenting on my blog for the first time! It is interesting to hear that you behave in a different way on Twitter. Does having less characters available give you more confidence? Or is it the instant feedback?

I think reviewing is a special skill that requires more than just leadership – the ability to work out why you like a book and to be able to back up your opinions if needed is quite a difficult skill to master.

Keep those elbows out – you sometimes need them in the blogging world!

It does – sharp elbows help in blogging.

My nature I’m a sucker for information. i keep up with politics, technology, entertainment, and any other news that is going about. Twitter is a really easy place to let all that information flow. So I can choose what to pass on and how to pass it on really quickly.

Blogging though requires more substantial content and I’m getting conscious that a blog really isn’t a place to flood with information. I did a count the other day that I’d mentioned 61 books in 6 wks or something close to that but only reviewed ten.

I’m still thinking about how it’s best to promote the books you like or that interest you without seeming to go – look here is a book and another and this one.

Which is probably more down to a reflection of how my house is and how my brain thinks when I look around rather than a more thoughtful process.

A process that does go on a lot behind the scenes but I’m not always convinced that it comes across, which I guess more leadership style skills do come in handy…

Not that I’ve commented twice I’m going to have to comment more!

I was skimming through the list yesterday and that point caught my eyes too. Like you have mentioned, the leadership quality probably what makes some blogs more popular than others. But then people blog for different reasons. Being popular may not be one’s main purpose.

mee, I agree – some book bloggers don’t care about being popular. I think being proud of what you’ve created is more important and it would be sad if everyone just wanted to be the most popular blog, as there would be a lot more disappointment in the world – very few can make it to blogging heights, so it is nice that there is a place for everyone.

J.T. I think you’re right – any blog which is trying to convince people to buy something/sign up to a course requires a larger amount of leadership skill. We have no real vested interest in whether people buy the books we recommend or not.

I hear a lot of book bloggers say that they are introverts, which doesn’t really translate to leader. Although our blogs do allow us to be a bit more outgoing than otherwise might be the case.

So I don’t really agree with the leader thing…at least with book bloggers. I think it’s more a case of interesting posts and a willingness to interact with the community.

softdrink, I think that book blogging is one of the rare areas where community seems to be the most important thing. It seems that in a lot of other areas they are so competitive that they miss out on the wonderful interactions we have. I think those leaders in other fields could learn a lot from us!

I saw that the other day too (I did read your post and click over to the links!) and I found it interesting, but i too would disagree about being a leader being necessary. Maybe in some blogging fields, but book blogging is a bit different than say, keeping up a blog with tips about how to run a blog.

I do think the most important thing a book blogger can do is to have a niche: their own opinions, their own projects, their own personality. Like you say, maybe those things require some bit of leadership. But if a blogger has good original content (as you suggest) then they have a great chance of being successful.

And who decides “success” anyway? I have a family blog that no one comments on (it’s private to my family i.e. the grandmas only) and I feel it’s a success when I have family pictures posted regularly. I certainly am not a leader…but I don’t care because it has a different purpose.

Rebecca, I think the world of blogging tips must be the hardest to make yourself noticed.

I think success can be measured by whether you acheive whatever you set out to do. The fact that everyone in your family looks at all your photos, and presumably looks forward to you adding more means that it is a great success.

What a great conversation!

I’ll also disagree with “if you’re not a leader, don’t bother” While I do think it takes a certain amount of self-confidence to be able to post in the public eye of the internet, that doesn’t necessarily make one a leader.

Was the author of the list looking for some very tangible ultimate goal – sponsorship? income?

I’ll look back at Adam’s post; he seems very willing to enter into the conversation and explain that item on his list.

Dawn, I think the author of the article was referring to being able to gain an income from blogging, but agree it is great that Adam enters into conversation about his post.

When I first read your post, I thought the meaning was that only leaders as in CEOs of big firms are “able” to blog in a good way. Reading further along I realize that that is not the case.

I haven’t had time to read through all the comments, and will do so before commenting further.

Great post!

Thanks Dorte! I’m not sure I agree though. I may be social online, but I’m not the most social person in real life. It is interesting that people can put across a very different personality online to their actual one.

I think you can be social in different ways and at different levels. Some bloggers may be ´leaders´ who write innovative articles and have lots of new ideas, but the activity is centred around their blogs. What I mean with a social blogger is the blogger who engages in blogging communities and participate in memes etc which encourage visiting other blogs … etc …

Hope this makes sense 😀

Say what? Forgive me – to borrow your aptly polite phrase – but the idea that the best bloggers are “leaders” is either tosh or tautlogy. If the great blogger is one kind of leader in our new 2.0 age, then of course it’s true (tautologously). otherwise, it’s just bunk.

One of the wonderful things about blogs is that those fantastic, funny, humane, thoughtful, provocative, intelligent and just, well, intersting people on whom the rugh and tumble of general society usually stamps can flourish to full effect.

Leaders are many things – inspiring, motivating, uplifting and, on paper on a daily basis, generally rather boring. Great bloggers I know are shy, retiring, unselfconfident, hesitant and, on paper on a daily basis, really rather interesting.

Dan, I haven’t met many bloggers in real life, so don’t have much knowledge about how much the online personality reflects the real one. So far the ones I’ve met have come across exactly as I expected. I haven’t yet met someone who writes enthusiastically and inspiringly on paper, but is a recluse in reality. I’m sure they are out there, but I think they are in the minority.

Great debate Jackie, I wonder if there is such a thing as an ‘average blogger’ any more though?
It’s given a voice to the people and that to me feels brilliant because it embraces everyone, in all walks of life. If you have an opinion you can express it and if you express a strong & perhaps controversial opinion then you can take responsibility for that and accept the debate that will follow.
I did an event last year with a ‘well-known’ literary figure…it wasn’t hobnobbing, honestly:-)who looked at me very quizzically and asked me who I was. This didn’t bode well for the event which was a discussion about bloggers and critics and when I explained about being a blogger he said ‘oh, one of those people who sit at home all day and have no friends’…he lived but only because this was before the event not afterwards:-)
But I think likewise not all opinion HAS to be controversial or negative or even overtly critical, it’s down to individual choice and personality, and life experience, no one should feel compelled to go down that route if they choose not to for whatever reason, or perhaps feel that they are somehow not up to the mark if they don’t show Claire’s ‘gumption’ 🙂 It’s all down to personal preference and what everyone feels they have to offer and I think the blogging world of all places can be tolerant and accepting of all those approaches because it truly is the sum of its parts and thrives on that variety.
As long as you write honestly and sincerely about your subject, perhaps that’s really what matters and are also transparently honest and declare any interests you may have. Blogging has opened lots of amazing doors for many of us both with authors and with publishers, but our readers need to know that or we risk being very dishonest with them. Plus no one to my knowledge is strung up by the thumbs and forced to read a blog they don’t like, blogs gather around them people who enjoy what’s on offer and a welcoming knowable community shapes itself as a result.
I think Rachel’s comment about people deigning to reply on other blogs is interesting 🙂 because who on earth has any idea who comments where or how often, the blogosphere is vast and unknowable so surely you risk becoming a clique of your own if you think that.

dovegreyreader, there are many average bloggers out there, the definition of the word means that there will also be people who are at very different ends of each scale though, and many who do not fit the description of the typical blogger.

I agree that blogging is a very personal thing and everyone should do what they are comfortable with, but I do feel that people without the gumption Claire describes will need to work extra hard to find a place in the blogosphere. The increasing popularity of blogging means that being read by others will become increasingly hard. I know that many people don’t care about being read by others and treat their blog as their own personal book log and these people will always remain happy, but anyone looking for readership needs to find their own little niche.

I agree that blogging honestly is the most important thing and it does seem to be the one thought that everyone agrees with on this post.

All we can do is to do our best and enjoy every minute of it. Reading is a fantastic hobby and the fact we have communication with authors and publishers is an added bonus.

That’s really intesting, Jackie. I actually come at it from both angles: I have to lead at work; I work in corporate sales and have to negotiate and lead discussions and do public speaking etc all day and I am very confident and am quite happy to lead. HOWEVER: in my private life, I am not very sociable at all. I much prefer to stay in on an evening and curl up with a book. I would even go as far as decribing myself as a loner. Perhaps it’s still my worky side coming out when I blog then (although I do like the annonymity of blogging too).

The Book Whisperer, It is interesting that you should say that as you came across as a self confident person yesterday and the sort of person who would prefer a night out over a quiet night in.

Oh that’s funny. Yes, I am very confident at work and I know most people think that I am all the time but a lot of the time it’s covering up shyness.

Nope, I definitely prefer my own company (apart from when meeting a goup of people who want to talk nothing but books, LOL!)

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