Clueless Content

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Go ahead and google it: Writing about what you don’t know.

Amazingly enough, there are oodles of sites all dedicated to telling you that you should write about things you have no business discussing, no authority to be believed, no knowledge of the subject, and no way to express it well. Clueless content.

The Internet is filled with vibrant, vapid opinion. People who get a couple of odd facts, easily discounted, under their belts and suddenly they are instant experts about issues they haven’t actually experienced or have no background or knowledge of. In the burgeoning world of online advice, writer Sean Blanda classifies the different levels of “expertise” like this:

Group 1: People actually shipping ideas, launching businesses, doing creative work, taking risks and sharing first-hand learnings.

Group 2: People writing about group 1 in clear, concise, accessible language.

[And here rests the line of demarcation…]

Group 3: People aggregating the learnings of group 2, passing it off as first-hand wisdom.

Group 4: People aggregating the learnings of group 3, believing they are as worthy of praise as the people in group 1.

Groups 5+: And downward….

It goes to the wonderful John Galsworthy quote: “Idealism increases in direct proportion to one’s distance from the problem.” That is why you find many of the most annoying, pushy, and in your face voices online these days are people who have the least skin in the game and who have taken the least risk. At BSG, we see it business on a regular basis.

But it also bleeds over into theology, responses to national tragedies, political ideas, and much more. Certainly everyone has a right to express their opinion, but with the advent of social media, it’s become a world where everyone thinks they’re an expert. That’s why we now have thousands of online “theology cops,” “sensitivity cops,” “gender cops,” “environmental cops,” and far more. There’s always someone ready to call you out on just about anything.

Everyone’s an expert, but not everyone is a master.

The lesson is that when you seek advice online, look for the people who have been in the trenches, not just the “know it alls” who have read about others in the trenches, and then have an opinion. And remember, the advice to write about what you know nothing about is directed for fiction writers, not the real world of reporting events and facts.

This directly affects your content, both personal and business. If you have lots of continuous content, walking that tightrope of opinion versus fact is very tough.

Always seek to define one or the other as you move along through your blogs and other content. Being precise will gain respect, especially if you do not have the actual credentials to make a definitive statement backed by research and fact.

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