Blog Writing

Blogging Freedom Is a Mixed Blessing: Guest Post by Brad Shorr

Blogging is about the freest kind of business writing I can think of, and that’s the main reason I enjoy it so much. Freedom, however, can be a mixed blessing.

Here’s a rundown of what for me are the positive and negative freedoms of writing a business blog. Your list is probably different, but that’s one of great attractions of blogging – there’s room for everybody,

Bad freedoms

1. Freedom to be careless

Blogging offers no built-in controls for scrupulous editing, other than those woefully insufficient spellcheckers. Some bloggers, I know, relish their grammatical lapses and misspellings, but for business writing of any kind, including blogs, I still believe in putting one’s best foot forward. I must admit, though, I’m a poor proofreader and often don’t take the time I should to edit.

2. Freedom to rant

It’s tempting to rip into companies and people when you’re blogging on a topic you’re passionate about. But words can come back to haunt you, and on the Internet, they cannot be erased. The times I went overboard are the posts I look back on with regret … usually. How do you feel about rants? Some bloggers love them and know how to pull it off. I don’t.

3. Freedom to be reckless

Professional journalists sometimes sneer at bloggers for failing to properly check facts before reporting news. I must confess, I see a lot of that and have been guilty of it myself. Checking facts is laborious, time consuming work. It’s very tempting to blow it off when you’re in a hurry to knock out those daily posts.

Good freedoms

1. Freedom to be conversational

Conventional business writing is formal, stiff, impersonal, laced with jargon, calculated, and ultimately, unpersuasive. Blog writing can be just the opposite – informal, loose, personal, plainspoken, and unrehearsed. What a refreshing change for business writers and readers alike! Blogging takes the experience of face to face conversation, so vital to business relationships, and makes it accessible to people continents apart. That is very, very cool.

2. Freedom to be incomplete

Joanna Young, proprietor of this blog, has taught me how blog writing is the art of asking questions, of engaging readers in conversation. Part of this mysterious art is leaving thoughts unpolished and unfinished. As someone who was trained to write thoroughly, practiced in writing stuff like case studies for print media and internal marketing studies, incompleteness is a frightening concept. But as I continue to blog, I’m learning to like not needing all the answers. Gives a person more time to thing about more important things, like questions – don’t you think?

3. Freedom to experiment

Most forms of business writing have been around for a long time, and as a result, have their own set of rules and conventions. Not that these rules are necessarily bad, but they do limit one’s ability to apply new techniques and innovate. The rules for blogging are still being written, and if we’re lucky, they may never be written at all. A day doesn’t go by where I don’t see a blogger tackling an old topic in a new way, trying a new way to use images, defying expectations, asking questions I’ve never considered, promoting conversation with a new technique – on and on. This type of writing freedom keeps you fresh, keeps your imagination active and searching for better ways to engage customers. Come to think of it, this might be the best reason of all for companies to have a blog in the first place!

What does your list of blogging freedoms look like? What’s at the top of your list, both good and bad?

Brad Shorr

Brad Shorr

Let me introduce you to Brad - although I think a lot of you will know him.

Brad Shorr is a sales and marketing consultant who lives near Chicago, Illinois. His company, Word Sell, Inc., provides strategic consulting, sales training and coaching, and business blog and other online marketing services. His blog explores issues of interest to small and mid-size business - sometimes quite seriously, but often with a touch of humor.

Brad’s a long-standing reader, commenter, supporter and friend of Confident Writing. He has written two other popular posts here:

9 Steps to Clear Business Writing and

Leap Before You Write That Letter of Apology.

He’s also a great blogging friend, and the best person I could think of to host a conversation here when I’m away on holiday. Thanks Brad!

Joanna Young, The Confident Writing Coach
Because our words count

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15 Responses to “Blogging Freedom Is a Mixed Blessing: Guest Post by Brad Shorr”

  1. On July 16, 2008 at 12:28 pm Scott McIntyre responded with... #

    These are great points you make about blogging and the freedom of expression they bring- for both the blogger and the reader.

    I love the way blogs give the readers themselves the chance to shape, and add to, the content. This is a dynamic and exciting concept.

    I guess (for any quality blogger) along with these freedoms you mention comes responsibility.

    Responsibility to the facts and to your readers. I’m sure not every blogger keeps this in mind, but I’d hope that the ones that do experience a loyal,and supportive readership.

  2. On July 16, 2008 at 12:44 pm Brad Shorr responded with... #

    Thanks, Scott. For sure, freedom and responsibility go together. People are quick to accept what they read as fact, so we should check our facts and qualify our opinions — not easy when nobody is looking over your shoulder.

  3. On July 16, 2008 at 3:38 pm Karen Swim responded with... #

    Brad, your list was spot on. I found myself nodding as I read the bad and good. One of my favorite freedoms is the freedom to be conversational. It has been wonderful to break free from the restrictions that are inherent in business writing and rediscover my own voice. The bad as you noted is the freedom to make your own mistakes and be forced to live with them…forever!

  4. On July 16, 2008 at 9:17 pm Brad Shorr responded with... #

    Karen, Your own blog post from today about the downside of being so approachable/conversational is a good reminder that freedom is a double edged sword!

  5. On July 17, 2008 at 10:13 am Cath Lawson responded with... #

    Hi Brad - My list is pretty similar to yours. I think what I love most about blogging is that it enables you to connect with like minded people. The thing I’m hating most right now are the wackos who think you’re public property just because you blog.

  6. On July 18, 2008 at 2:18 am Jeanne Dininni responded with... #


    At the top of my list of bad blogging freedoms, I’d have to place the freedom to jump onto one’s soap box and begin sounding off like the proverbial know-it-all. I believe there’s a fine line a blogger must walk if he wants to be perceived as an expert whom people willingly consult for advice, rather than an insufferable egotist, who’s a legend in his own mind. It can often be difficult to maintain this balance.

    On the positive side, I’d say that my favorite blogging freedom would be the opportunity to relate to my audience in a personal way which few other forms of writing afford. This element can even help keep our tendency to pontificate in check, because it encourages us to be more real with our readers and think more about the way our writing affects them. Pretty-much real time feedback in the form of comments definitely helps in this regard.

    And that thought makes me realize my second favorite positive blogging freedom: the freedom to clarify ourselves-our ideas, opinions, and positions-in response to the feedback we receive from our readers in comments. Most other forms of writing make no provision for such post-publication clarification.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking piece!

  7. On July 18, 2008 at 1:37 pm Brad Shorr responded with... #

    Cath, I read your blog post about your problems, and really hope you get through it without losing your blogging enthusiasm. The fact that you take these things so seriously is an indication of your strength as a blogger. Jeanne, as always, you add wisdom to any conversation. Like Cath, you take your responsibilities as a blogger seriously and keep freedom in check. I didn’t try to rank my freedoms, but my top two would be conversation and experimentation. BTW, speaking of pontification, Bill Reilly (FOXNews) has a great word for that - bloviate. I think I have some bloviating blogger genes in my system, but I try to keep them in check!

  8. On July 18, 2008 at 4:40 pm Jeanne Dininni responded with... #


    Leave it to Bill Reilly to tell it like it is!

    Conversation and experimentation really are two important blogging freedoms! May we always use both to their fullest advantage!


  9. On July 18, 2008 at 5:41 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Brad, thank you for this thoughtful piece, and for hosting such a great conversation in my absence. Much appreciated.

    I like Jeanne’s additions - especially clarification - not just in the sense of sorting a misunderstanding out but developing and thickening ideas in response to feedback and conversation.

    Expert know it alls can be too much to take - and one of the things I enjoyed from my week away was the absence of voices telling me what to do and how to do it - but maybe that comes down to us as readers to taking responsibility for our own reading experience, and switching off those voices that aren’t working for us. (Note to self: feed cull coming up this weekend!)


  10. On July 18, 2008 at 5:49 pm Brent Diggs responded with... #

    Brad is brilliant as always. Good job.

  11. On July 18, 2008 at 5:55 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Brent, I quite agree. Thanks for the alliterative comment - sounds almost like an election slogan!


  12. On July 18, 2008 at 10:47 pm Brad Shorr responded with... #

    Joanna, hope you are having a good time! I’ve always admired Brent as a blogger and for his discerning taste. :)

  13. On July 22, 2008 at 6:56 pm Jeanne Dininni responded with... #


    You are so right about the second dimension of reader comments: They definitely help us not only clarify our ideas but also refine them. Excellent point!


  14. On July 22, 2008 at 9:34 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Thanks Jeanne. Your own comments add so much to the mix - you’re one of the few people I know who comes backs to check a reply - and comment again if needs be. What a commenting star!




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    [...] Blogging Freedom is a Mixed Blessing [...]

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