Belonging to the Skinny Moose Media network has shown me that blogging really has come a long way in the past few years. Look at what Matt Drudge has done regarding news and the mainstream media. Gone are the days when a blogger was some geek pounding away at a keyboard in the gloomy confines of his parents’ basement, creating long-winded diatribes about “the Man”.

Blogging has challenged the mainstream media’s way of doing things, and many people now turn to blogs as their primary source of information. On blogs, they get up to the date information, opinions, and just-plain fun stuff to read and look at.

One thing I have been mulling in my brain for awhile is my belief that bloggers should join outdoor writers’ organizations. The folks over at the Outdoor Bloggers Summit are tackling this too, albeit in a slightly different path.

I feel that belonging to any professional organization has several benefits. First, I believe that in our case, it adds legitimacy – both as individuals and to blogging in general. If we truly believe that we are writers (or journalists) we need to start conducting ourselves as such. Caveat – I know that many of the most successful bloggers already do this. Next, the networking value of belonging to these organizations is almost immeasurable. Meeting other writers and photographers, getting to know corporate members, attending conferences – all add to the tools in our chest. Most of all, these groups can help us learn. Some of us may be great bloggers, but our writing skills could use some polish. Maybe some of us want to use more of our own photos, but don’t know where to start. Perhaps you are a great technical writer, but always wanted to improve your style. Some of you might “have it all”, but just don’t know how to get the word out to outdoor companies, which is where you want to focus your blogging efforts.

Outdoor writer organizations can be national, regional, or local in nature. POMA is a great example of a national group. SEOPA and NOWA are a couple of regional groups. Many states have their own organizations – Louisiana and Pennsylvania to name a couple. If you’re in Canada, have a look at The Outdoor Writers of Canada. For the group closest to you, Google is your friend…

Now these organizations will have some requirements that vary according to membership type (Associate or Voting, for example). They will have an annual membership fee. In my limited experience, both are reasonable.

Intrigued, but not ready to take the plunge? I have immensely enjoyed my time at an online forum for outdoor writers. This group is extremely friendly (for the most part!), very knowledgeable, and always willing to answer questions. Their membership has helped me more than they know, over the years. To visit the forum, stop by the Outdoor Writers’ Forum to register.

It’s time that bloggers came up from the basement. We’re capable of being professionals, our readers expect it – we need to start acting like it. If you’re a blogger, do something to raise your personal bar – you won’t regret it.