Four Roles Serious Bloggers Play

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Blogging tips and the role blogs playYou and me are in a relationship.

We both have roles to play.

You are my reader and friend. We laugh, debate, and sometimes fight. It’s cool and tremendously gratifying.

However my role is more complicated. Sure, I am a writer but you expect something more from me. You want consistency. You want passion. And you want me to deliver content that aligns with my strengths. Put another way, you demand authenticity.

Your readers expect the same from you.

Are You a Reporter, Teacher, Coach or Philosopher?

As student of top-performing  blogs and I see most publishers playing one of four different roles: The Reporter, The Teacher, The Coach, and The Philosopher. Each of these roles are valuable and indispensable to their readers.

Here’s a quick primer on each:

The Reporter

Blog as ReporterAs a reporter, you are the tip of the spear for your readers.

Your job is to sort through the noise and find what is relevant and useful. Done right, your readers will use your blog to filter and organize their information. This is a powerful role to play.

Great examples of Reporter blogs are Mashable, Social Media Examiner, ReadWriteWeb, and The Huffington Post. Thousands of readers start their day with these blogs because they are reliable tools for organizing the world. This is a gargantuan task but highly desired by readers.

The Teacher

Blog as TeacherAs a teacher, you are responsible for showing readers how to learn a new skill. You draw from your own expertise and create shortcuts for your reader.

Teachers earn a tremendous amount of trust because they create “aha” moments. They use a variety of tools, such as video, audio, illustrations or text to help their readers see a completely new way to solve their problems.

Thankfully, the web is packed with teaching blogs. Some favorites worthy of modeling are,, and

The Coach

Blog as CoachCoaching is different than teaching.

While teaching is about accurately transferring fundamental knowledge. Coaching focuses on helping the student achieve mastery. There is a shared pact between the student and the coach, The student wants to be the best, the coach wants to mold and shape a winner.

For example, my father taught me how to play chess. He made sure that I knew the basics of the game (and taught me how to lose and win graciously). However my Uncle Craig used our chess games to shape my approach to life.

Coaching communities are starting to slowly emerge around the web.

For example, I’m part of The Third Tribe, a community of entrepreneurs who seek to blend the authenticity of social business with the tools of direct response marketing. It’s moderated and coached by some of the top names in the social space including Brian Clark, Darren Rowse, and Chris Brogan. Over time, the community has evolved into a coaching environment where excellence is encouraged.

Some blogs have managed to deliver insightful coaching without needing a forum. Some notables worth studying include: Julien Smith’s  InOverYourHead and Danielle Laporte’s WhiteHotTruth.

The Philosopher

Blog as PhilosopherSome blogs routinely tackle the big “Why” questions. Their blogs have few “list posts” or handy how-to guides.  Instead,  these fearless thinkers ponder the basic assumptions underlying their topic and poke at it for new answers.

Readers use philosophers for new perspectives and inspiration.

Of all the types of blogs, the Philosopher role is the most difficult to pull off. You can’t fake insight. It only can be earned through years of persistent work uncovering how a particular niche works. Once you have the knowledge, it takes time to distill your knowledge into the philosopher’s wisdom.

Two great examples of excellent “deep thinking” blogs include BrassTackThinking and Seth Godin (of course!)

Give it A Try

Take a look at your previous posts, what role are you playing? Are you scattered all over the place or have you focused in on a specific role. Do you satisfy two roles at the same time? Let me know in the comments below – talk to me and I’ll talk right back.

About Stan

Stan Smith is the Managing Director of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

21 thoughts on “Four Roles Serious Bloggers Play

  1. MaAnna

    Given the choices listed and the question at the end, I qualify as being all over the place. I do all of those things plus two not listed including graphic artist and geek for all the techie stuff. Such is the case when running a site that trains, designs, and reports on website stuff. Doing so gives me a wholistic perspective and I think that makes me a better teacher and consultant, which are my primary duties.

  2. Cheryl Pickett

    Those in my niche, book publishing and content creation, often need info on a variety of levels so my blog is a blend too. The top two are probably teacher and coach. I also agree, this is a useful summary. Thanks!

  3. Çağdaş Ünal

    I’m the teacher. Because I love to teach. I’m writing in order to produce the content in every level for those who want to specialise themselves about web design, social media and entrepreneurship. That content is developped regularly from the beginners level to an advanced level. That’s because I believe that the last letter of the alphabet will be useless without the first one. I share the enthousiasm of the newbies while trying to understand the changing needs of the specialists.

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  5. Bless Roxwell

    hi Stanford! thanks for the breakdown, I am definitely The Reporter! my only issue is consistency and posting on a regular basis. so not sure if you’d have any advice for that, but I really appreciate your posts, keep informing us b/c I appreciate the tips SO much!

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  7. David Williams

    Great summary of the different types of bloggers. I am not sure that my blog falls clearly into one of those categories. I think it is mostly coaching with a little philosophy and teaching thrown in. A few posts fall into the reporter category, but not enough to be considered a useful news site.

  8. Adrienne

    Nice post Stanford… Now that really got me to thinking.

    I believe I’m somewhere between the teacher/coach. Since each post is different I think I teeter between the two. I am sharing my journey of what I’m doing to build my business and helping others learn along the way. I do a lot of video tutorials to actually walk them through the different processes so I’m definitely a teacher in that role. I love how you broke it down into the 4 different roles. I enjoyed reading about them all.

    Thanks again and I’ll be sure to stop back by for another visit.


  9. Stanford Post author

    I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve simplified the roles to help everyone get their head around the task they face. From their its about playing out your strongest role.

  10. Stanford Post author

    I’m seeing that many people see their blogs as a hybrid between multiple roles. The key is to make sure you are delivering on the role that fits your readers’ needs.

  11. Stanford Post author

    Fair point Jay. When you take a step back, my categorization of individual blogs is filtered through my needs and expectations. But it seems that we agree that the roles make sense, even though the individuals blogs sometimes defy categorization.

  12. Judith

    Not at all sure where I fit in but I do like these distinctions.

    Actually, what intrigued me most about your post, Stanford, is that in The Reporter section, you didn’t link Mashable or The Huffington Post. Is there a particular, blogger-coaching-relevant reason for this?

  13. Michael Pollock | Bigger Life Blog

    First of all, this is a great post Sanford. I love the way you’ve given us 4 roles to play and hence, 4 ways to approach the task of building a successful blog. Well thought-out and well written.

    Second, I agree with Krissy on this. I find the bloggers I enjoy the most fit into all 4 roles (e.g. Darren Rowse, Leo Babauta, Yaro Starak, Sonia Simone, Stanford :-)).

    No, not an easy task, but if you can pull it off, you stand to grow a large audience and make a big impact in the world.

    And hey, that’s what it’s all about.

  14. Leo Widrich

    Great read Stanford, I believe to be something in between of a reporter and a teacher. However teacher has such a down-looking ring to it, I would rather be a helper than a teacher. :)

  15. Jay Baer

    Nice analysis Stanford. I agree there are different types, but I’m not sure they categorize as neatly as you have it here. Copyblogger writes coaching posts from time to time. I certainly dig into philosophy on occasion. And I’d put SME in the teaching camp rather than the reporting camp. I think the key here is to try to get a handle on what your audience wants from you, and give that to them while not falling into a trap of not pushing your own envelope because you’re always trying to please your readers. It’s a fine line, to be sure.

  16. Krissy Brady | Sell Crazy Someplace Else

    I’m definitely a reporter/teacher combo, and I eventually like the thought of taking on the coach/philosopher roles. I think that a combination of all 4 would be important, to cater to the various reasons readers are checking out your blog (especially in my case, since my blog is for writers).

  17. Karen

    I do see those as the four basic roles of bloggers, as well. For myself I fall more into the coaching role. Although there is some teaching involved I suppose, it really is about trying to draw my readers into thinking and forming their own opinions and actions by provoking thought and some new perspective of new/different ideas.

    Great post, thanks!

  18. Marsha

    Thanks for this post, Stanford. Short, sweet and to the point.

    The challenge with writing coaching posts, I’ve found, is assuming you have that “shared pact” with your student when in fact all they are seeking is a transfer of information. It takes time to build the implicit trust with a blog.

    Thanks again.

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