Finding the right people to listen to
For designers, the quality of our work usually speaks for itself. But what happens when the quality of the designs say "yes" but the quality of the content the designers publish says "no"? How can we sift through the self proclaimed gurus and find the true quality? This article was brought on by a question that Jan Simpson asked me on twitter in regards to the Build Your Network article I wrote. I answered on twitter but thought that the meat of the answer should be given some light here as well.
So who's legit and who's full of shit?
If a designer speaks on 10 trends in web design that are "played out", but only list the techniques they either personally hate or cannot create, how can we tell? If I tell you I am the best person to read and follow when it comes to social media marketing for designers, but noone else says it, how can you tell it's true or fake? I personally use the rule of thumb that if someone is doing too much self bragging, they're probably the ones falling into the "Self Proclaimed Guru" category. Those who speak about how great they are, usually aren't.
You'll find that people are generally brought up in conversations by other people when they're the real deal. Chris Brogan gets talked about a lot on twitter and various other mediums - for very good reason. He doesn't toot his own horn, but a lot of other people do, so he's (in my mind) a legit "guru" in the social media niche.
In the design world, people like Jacob Cass, Graham Smith and James White are all well known - thus, they're talked about a lot as well. If someone talks about specific aspects of design, a good design blog, inspirational designs, ect - they're all on the list of people to be mentioned. When people talk, other people listen (other people - as in "you").
So who's really legit and who's full of shit?
If their blog RSS subscribe list says only 15 are subscribed, odds are they're either "really, really, really new" or "really, really, really unqualified".
You can make the call on that, but as well all know, judging a book by it's cover is human nature. No matter if we want to or not, we do. And Skellie made a great point in this aspect as well about why perception is everything when blogging - it's well worth the read.
Does the blog they talk on have 25 ads across each page, while each article is only 200 or so words?
Odds are they're just trying to make a buck and the quality of what they say is probably really low. I have my blog generally ad free besides the 125 ad block on the right sidebar - and even that to me seems like too much. I might be switching those out and removing all ads altogether soon just because I want to raise the quality of my blog for my readers.
Did you hear about them by seeing their name in conversations by other people - or did they contact you out of the blue?
If they just randomly contacted you - did they give you anything of value in their message? Are you able to find anything about them if you look through their twitter stream? If the only thing you can see about them is their actual email to you, odds are they're not someone you should be putting on the "legit" list. 5 minutes of searching should tell you a lot about a person. Their blog, the amount of comments, their quality of work, their twitter stream, their presense in google, ect - all of these things are definitive factors in how you can see who's bringing quality and who's not.
Do you still have questions?
If you still have questions, feel free to get in touch on Twitter or Facebook. I'd be happy to explain things further if needed. And if you haven't read the Build Your Network article yet, make sure you go check it out