(I would like to share with you my talk last Saturday in the iBlog 5th Philippine Blogging Summit. My 4-year old son Aidan attending his first iBlog in the photo above.) 

Blogging is
often misunderstood. Some classify bloggers according to the types of
activities they do – those who concentrate on their hobbies and passions, those
who focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques and those who provide
helpful information online. There are also those who attempt to categorize
bloggers depending on their popularity – from a newbie to a Class A blogger. 

I don’t believe
in such classifications. We need to look at bloggers in terms of their
evolution. If you want to take your blog to the next level, you need to look at
which stage you are in that evolution and what skills or mindset you need to
have to go to the next level.

I believe that
all bloggers are inherently good and have noble intentions for their readers.
Blogging is a reflection of your personality. If you are good, then the blog will reflect it accordingly. You can think about your blog as
your virtual soul. It is influenced by your environment, the people you network
with, and the quality of concepts that you believe in.

Here is a proposal
on how we should look at bloggers in terms of their evolution…

The Artist Level

Everyone starts
with blogging about his or her personal life. In this stage, you write for yourself,
and the writing is all about your personal expression of your life and love. The
best term for this type of blog is it is an online journal. At the start, you
would probably keep it private and sometimes share it with your own personal
network. You are happy with just seeing your thoughts and ideas immortalized in
a blog post.

At this level,
writing naturally is a skill that you want to develop. This is the skill of jotting
down your thoughts exactly as how you would say them to yourself or to other
people. Some refer to this as conversational writing, and this is the primary
way of writing for an online audience.

To take it to
the next level, you need to find your passion.
That passion could be a
hobby or sports activity that you love. It could also be an advocacy that you
believe in and want to actively support.

The Advocate Level

Most people
don’t know what they are passionate about. In the absence of a passion, they
normally look for what’s in and what other people are gravitating to right now.
But once you find your passion, your blog revolves around it 80% of the time.
Because it is something you believe in and hold dear to your heart, you will
fight for it and you can blog about it forever.

At this point,
you can develop readership and a loyal following. You start to write for them
instead of for yourself. Connecting with a network of people who share the same
passion is very important. You begin to create communities around your passion
to achieve a common objective. Building trust and credibility is very important
at this stage.

Here, blog
marketing is a skill that you want to develop. This is the skill of creating a relationship
with your readers and harnessing the power of word-of-mouth. You realize that
not all keywords are created equal. Learning the skill of SEO can help you
focus on the right keywords that you would like to target for your blog.

To take it to
the next level, you need to be an entrepreneur.
You have to learn the
different business models online and look at your blog as a publishing venture.
Some purist bloggers would say that you don’t put ads on your blog because it
would destroy its credibility. Some pro-bloggers would say that you can earn
from your blog by giving FREE information sponsored by ads, just like in a
magazine or TV station.

The next level is when you decide to quit your day job and pursue blogging full time. 

The Entrepreneurial Level

An Entrepreneur
is someone who monetizes his passion. Your blog becomes your personal brand
online. You start building it like an asset that you can leverage for all your
entrepreneurial endeavors. You focus on delivering value to your readers.

At this level,
authenticity is very important. You need to be transparent and disclose things,
especially if you get a freebie in exchange for a favorable review. You are
what you publish and you are more careful with what you say and who you

marketing is a skill that you want to develop. This is the skill of making
money online, legally and ethically. There are 10+ different proven business
models that work online.  Finding a
mentor or following a guru who could show you the way and teach you a shortcut
to success is very important.

To take it to
the next level, you need to be a maven.
So, what is a maven?

A Maven is a recognized expert in a field that he/she is
passionate about.

A Maven is someone you can trust even with your private
information, such as where you live, because you know it won’t be abused.

A Maven is someone you can approach for advice, safe in the
knowledge that he/she has no hidden agenda. 

A Maven truly cares about you.

A Maven wants to share his/her knowledge and teach it to
other people. 

A Maven knows his/her own strengths and weaknesses, and
leverages on those strengths so that the weaknesses do not matter.

A Maven persona starts with the right mindset, principles
and values. 

A Maven learns from other successful mavens and reapplies
the lessons learned to his/her own business and situation.

A Maven wants to provide a lot of value to the world and
sees money as an effect of how much value he/she gives.

A Maven is a leader who tries to show the right way so that
other people will not get lost in their own journey.

The Maven

Anyone can be a Maven, given a worthwhile intent, the right
mindset, profitable strategies and effective techniques. A maven needs to be
financially and emotionally independent because, at this level, 50% or readers
would love him and the other 50% would hate him. Actively helping the community
is a must – not because he is forced to but because he loves doing it from the
bottom of his heart.

You can detect mavens because of their Pay-It-Forward
behavior. They focus more on helping other people. The more they do it, the
more financially and emotionally rewarding it gets.

This is the level where you live your advocacy and where
you live your passion. This is the best place to be in because you realize that
you were born on this earth to do this. You find your so-called “purpose” in life
and your blog becomes a fulfillment of this purpose.

You look at your blog as a way to immortalize your life,
passions and advocacy. You know that even after you die, you have proclaimed your
awesome life forever in your blog. Your blog becomes an asset that you can
bequeath to your family and future generations.

You don’t retire
from being a maven. You die having lived the life of a maven.

Every blogger goes through the evolution. The secret in taking your blog to the next level is to improve your skills and mindset continually until you reach the maven level. 

Live an Awesome Life,  

Text and Photos by Anton Diaz. Copyright 2009. 

blog: www.OurAwesomePlanet.com
prof. blog: AntonDiaz.com
mobile: +63917-LOVEOAP (5683627) 

Anton is a
culinary travel professional and an internet marketing guru who is passionate
about Living an Awesome Life in the Philippines. He has been blogging for 4+
years at OurAwesomePlanet.com, teaches Internet Marketing in AIM and runs a
private Internet Marketing Coaching Class called Maven Secrets.