Where Are the Real Experts in the DIY Blogosphere?

ModHomeEcHowtoUpholsteraBallChair5Every year at this time I tell myself that I will become a consistent blogger. I used to be, when I wrote for Curbly.com every single morning Monday through Friday, and sometimes on the weekends and holidays. But back then, the design blogs were just getting revved up. There was a need for more information on everything from sewing a straight line to building greenhouses out of old windows.

Nowadays, the DIY and Design blogosphere is just overflowing with HOW TO’s. Granted, I run to the internet when I need info on some project. What bothers me is that people who are NOT even old enough to be experts are posting their version of how something should be done and professing to be proficient at so many different things, it would have taken them at least 20 years to learn what they confidently profess to know.   Sorry to be a buzzkill, but I would surmise that it’s not because they have any particular love of what they’re sharing, but more because Google says it’s a highly searched topic.  For instance, many, many DIY bloggers who blog about all sorts of things decide to cover the ‘upholstery’ demand. They may redo a piece of furniture using all the wrong techniques, but the final photo they take doesn’t look too bad on a cursory examination. Upon looking closer, anyone who is an expert in this field can tell that the very amateur job will not hold up with any amount of wear or tear. But because these bloggers have a huge following, their readers believe that the blogger is pretty much an expert in everything they do, and basically that people believe what they read, the bloggers numbers are good, advertisers are interested and it’s one big distorted mess,  at least where instructions on how to do something are concerned.


The point I’m trying to make is that the DIY ‘expert’ information has become diluted with nonsense.  Not everyone, especially those in their early to late 20’s, have even had the time to learn the intricacies of those things of which they’re professing to be ‘experts’. It’s just not possible unless they started training in their teens.  So what happens when readers try those projects and soon find out that the entire project was flimsy, at best? They junk it and move on. It doesn’t diminish their adoration of the blogger churning out content, they still admire and read every move that blogger makes. Why? Because people aren’t necessarily buying the accuracy or truth, they’re buying into the bloggers story, their personality. People generally want to follow someone who appears gutsy, confident, and consistent. Leaders are in demand and you don’t necessarily have to really have the goods, if you have good graphics, a fun positive writing style, lots of friends and followers. You just don’t . I think that’s one reason I’ve whittled down my reliable source for anything related to the house to This Old House. Even though they are struggling to keep up with the lightening fast blogosphere, I believe those guys know their stuff. I don’t care how old they are, what they look like, or how many people read their blog or follow them on Facebook. I believe they speak the truth from training and experience, failures and successes.  They have credibility and staying power.  That’s the real deal!


I don’t read many daily blogs anymore because I know that content is quickly processed and posted at the most opportune times. I don’t want you to think I’m a cynic, but honestly, it’s become a big fat numbers game which means the publishers’ motives could be more to get readers than to really help people with good, solid information.  I’ve been lucky enough to be featured in several magazine and newspaper articles to know that the writers don’t always get it right, even with fact checking.  So, where do you find true expertise?

That brings me to my prediction for 2014. I’ve been mulling this over in my head for some months, but especially today. I think the design/diy blogosphere is ripe for a change, or perhaps is already transitioning. Slowly, people are beginning to seek  accuracy, truth, meaning, trustworthiness from true experts in their fields. There are millions of people out there who are truly knowledgeable, experienced, and proficient in trades, skills, crafts. I’ve talked with them. They don’t have a background in graphics, publishing, writing, or any other degree that would enable them to take their valuable information and experience and put it into a readable, pretty blog. They just can’t do it, nor are they interested in learning how. The unfortunate thing is that so many of these experts could, if able, create a fun and robust business in the design blogosphere that would be easier on their tired bodies and would enable them to pass on their valuable information to this bloggy generation that gets their information, accurate or not,  online. There is huge void between the knowledge of the experience rich tradesman/craftsman and the self taught, internet trained DIY-er and blogger. But is there room in the personality popular, lifestyle expert-y, celebrity blogosphere for an old wrinkly tradesman who doesn’t appeal to the polished masses? No, probably not. But that’s not the group I care about. I care about the people who, like me, are tired of TV and blog polished pseudo experts, and who are looking for realness, accuracy and experience;  and I care about the overlooked skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen who possess the knowledge and meticulous expertise to build, create, repair and design things that last for generations to come.


That brings me to  one of my goals for 2014. I will seek, find, interview trades people and crafts people who have made their living with their hands and their minds. These, I will share with you.  These tradesman/craftsman aren’t exactly the same as the hip college professor who decides he wants to become a motorcycle mechanic. These are folks who probably didn’t have many options. If they’ve come through life still loving what they do, and are willing to talk about it,  I will eagerly share it with my meager readership. Hopefully, those seeking more accuracy, truth and meaning in practical skills will find me in 2014.



Posted in diy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

7 Responses to Where Are the Real Experts in the DIY Blogosphere?

  1. sharon says:

    boy, I couldn’t agree more! let’s hear for the old pros working in the garage or shop forever! not that I am one, I just know it when I see it!

  2. Cindy says:

    I’m excited to read these interviews! Please make them happen. xo

  3. Hi Guys,
    There are not many of us old wrinkly traditional upholsterers left…

  4. shellyleer says:

    True!! I’m working against the wrinkles. Haha!

  5. Penny M says:

    The sad fact is that people want to be entertained, not necessarily learn. I have been amazed by the success of blogs in the past several years. You just need personality and cuteness. Not necessarily content. The fact is we are all people watchers. We love to watch people succeed and people fail and everything in-between. It gives us hope to watch a diyer that we can do it too. And, it makes us feel better about ourselves when our projects are just as good or better than the blogs we read. I love reading your blog, Shelley, because I know you are truly an expert. And, I know the difference between a young 20-30 something who is just writing a journal of their house renovation (which, kudos to them for doing so), the bloggers who are doing the same and through luck and skill and writing have managed to become “experts” and the true experts who know their craft and are gracious enough to give us all an inside to their art. There is a place for everyone. I just hope the readers are savvy enough to know the difference between the true experts and those that are “gutsy” and re managing to do it all. They’ll end up being “experts” in the long run if they keep at it. Just need a little seasoning.

  6. Elise says:

    I look forward to reading about the true experts – and hopefully learning a lot! Thanks very much from frigid Minnesota!

  7. Laura says:

    I agree with you whole-heartedly that many, many “how-to’s” are seriously lacking, and I sincerely look forward to reading your interviews with seasoned experts! And your statements on the nature of ad-driven, page-view hungry blogs certainly aren’t limited to the DIY blogs… I’ve heard this lament echoed on educational blogs and youTube channels as well. Really, it boils down to quality over quantity, and you really need quality when undertaking a project!
    I have to stand up for those who are still in the process of learning, however. Many people (especially younger folks), aren’t acquainted with any experts in a field, and perhaps would never bother attempting a DIY project, were it not for some of the more “fluffy” blogs. Yes, some people will be content just slapping things together, but eventually I believe most will either give up, or seek out better information.
    So, yes, unfortuantely you’re probably right that the true expertise won’t generate the same traffic as the quantity-oriented blogs, but to those like-minded folks seeking expertise, such information is a godsend. (And word of mouth from all of us grateful readers may, in time, turn the tide toward slow, accurate learning again)
    Thank you for what you do