I think this might be a good reference. Not just for readers, but also for people who are being written about. There are four types of bloggers:
People who write Professionally
People who write Amateurishly
What’s that mean? Well, it means that when talking about bloggers, you should keep in mind which group you’re currently talking about. Here are the differences:
Professionals are paid. They do this for a living, or a part-time living. They are regular staff, and write high-quality articles and features. They are known quantities both amongst creatives and amongst fans, and they have a reputation.
People who write Professionally
These are people who are not paid, but are recognised. They write regular, high-quality articles and features, and garner a lot of attention from readers. They write for exposure, or because they simply like writing.
Amateurs might write good or bad material. They have their own site or blog, and are the only person writing on it. They update either regularly or irregularly – it depends. They aren’t paid. This is their hobby.
People who write amateurishly
Generally unpaid. These are people who write low-quality articles, either because they’re enthusiastic but lack the ability, are inexperienced – or they’re lazy and well-known.
Image taken from here.
When people say “bloggers don’t know how to review” or some other attack on criticism, reviewing, etc — they’re referring to the fourth group. I’d distinguish the top three groups, which might get mixed up, with these examples
My Beat co-writer Laura Sneddon writes for The New Statesman, The Guardian, and is paid for her work. People know her style, the things she likes, and her voice as a writer. She is a professional writer.
My Beat co-writer Zainab Akhtar writes for a few websites, but mostly now focuses on her own blog, Comics and Cola. She is unpaid. People know who she is, what her focus is, and her voice. She writes professionally.
I write for The Beat, and also on a few places like this which I set up. I’m not particularly known, nobody realises I write for The Beat, and my own blogs aren’t heard of. I’m not paid for anything I do, but my writing is usually correctly spelt and decent and maybe one day somebody might hire me for something. I’m an amateur.
Then there’d be the hypothetical fourth style –
Joe Bloggs writes for his own blog, which is misspelt, doesn’t attribute due credit to sources, is filled with scans of comics, and his writing lacks any authority or experience. He writes amateurishly.
Before you label all bloggers in a certain way, think about these four groups. Because, as it stands, professionals are accused of things which are actually the wheelhouse of amateurish writers, whilst the subtle difference between professionals, those who write professional, and those who are amateurs – not really being recognised much.
I think establishing these differences would really help in internet discussions and conversations. There’s a difference between websites where everyone is paid and edited, and sites where people aren’t paid but write for the pleasure of writing/hope of one day being paid.
I don’t think the two unpaid but capable groups should be held to the same standard as the people who are being paid, OR the people who are bad at writing!
– So there’s the four types of bloggers… to my mind.