Up to a couple of years ago I followed far more photography blogs – especially when I was predominantly shooting film.
But I decided to unsubscribe from probably the two biggest and most prolific, despite them both still publishing interesting new posts.
Before I explain why, let me tell you what I value most about blogs.
In an increasingly hectic and rushed world, and with the majority of online activity being via instantly updated social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, blogs can be an oasis of calm.
Places we can visit in our time, read and enjoy at our own pace, and become part of a community of others who appreciate not only the same core subject matter of the blog, but this whole more laid back experience.
Where social media is fast and fleeting, all surface with little feeling, the blogs I enjoy are slower, deeper, more thoughtful.
Blogs are akin to an enjoyable meal, in a favourite intimate restaurant, with stimulating company, rather than social media’s McDonalds drive-through grabbed and stuffed down your throat on your way to somewhere else.
Also with blogs, we’re free to choose or own themes, and make the whole look and feel of the site welcoming, and a place people can read without distraction.
Not so with social media where you’re a slave to the site’s own layout, branding, advertising, and the constant stream of incoming updates.
In addition, blogs can be a place where we gradually get to know the author over time (or if they have extensive archives we can read, over less time!). The bloggers can become people we genuinely regard as friends and who we enjoy conversing with.
I love that a blog is an ongoing unfurling of the writer’s thoughts and feelings, an ever evolving journey we can be a part of.
With all of this in mind, I left the two blogs in question for two major reasons –
I value blogs as retreats from the general chaos of the internet (and life generally!). Very little invades our lives as much as advertising we are not interested in.
Which for me is all of it – if I need something, I know where to go to get it.
A recent post online suggested we see 5000 ads a day, others claim the number is even higher, perhaps up to 10000.
To me, ads are the scourge of the internet, and can make reading an otherwise excellent and worthwhile site a painful and frustrating stop-start experience, as you navigate through relentless waves of ads to read the small islands of worthwhile text in between.
I wouldn’t mind if say a blog about vintage cameras featured an ad in the sidebar about a friend of theirs who hand makes leather straps and bags. The ad is not only highly relevant, but it’s also supporting a friend and fellow photography enthusiast.
But when the ads are random attempts by whichever ad service they’ve gone with to try to sell something they think is popular, it’s a major turn off for me.
Some claim that ads help pay for the running costs of the blog.
Personally I feel there’s a clear distinction between commercial blogs and personal blogs.
With a commercial blog, your posts are likely already targeted at certain markets, with ad placement in between to make you money. That’s not for me, but fair enough for those who pursue this approach on a business level.
But if you’re writing a personal blog, then keep the ads out of it.
The (minimal) hosting costs of a blog are part of the privilege and advantage of having a place where you can write freely and connect with other people on your own terms, and not be just another tiny voice drowning in the oceans of social media, on other people’s sites.
2. Guest posts.
As I mentioned above, one of the pleasures of blogs is getting to know the author over time, and understand their unique take on the world.
A guest post once in a while is fine (I’ve written a couple myself in the past for other blogs who’ve asked me), if it adds to the blog.
But for me, a guest post should a) only be occasional, so the bulk of the new posts are written by the main author and b) be of at least as good quality as the original author’s.
Unfortunately, the blog in question seemed to be trading on his name and the popularity he’d built up, then churning out dozens of guest posts that were usually pretty poorly written (with equally mediocre photography to go with it), and obviously just submitted by the writer to try to increase the audience of their own blog.
So overall the quality of the writing on the blog became so diluted I didn’t bother sticking around for the one in 10 posts by the original blogger that I did feel were worth reading.
I really don’t understand why someone would diminish the excellent reputation they’d built up as a blogger like this. Perhaps someone can explain in the comments below!
Finally, a couple of examples of blogs I do still follow, because they haven’t taken either of these two routes above.
Transactions With Beauty – Shawna does promote her own work (books, for example) in the sidebar, which I feel any creative blogger is more than entitled to do. If you like the writing and photography on their blog, you’re probably going to enjoy their books/prints etc too. Otherwise, there are no ads, and whilst Shawna does quote other poets, and give us links to explore more, the surrounding writing and thoughts in the posts are all her own.
Down The Road – Whilst Jim Grey has experimented with a few minimal ads in the past, he’s never had them in the middle of the blog posts, interrupting the flow, and a couple of months back decided to remove them entirely. All he has currently is a little button to make a donation, if you wish. Plus again, as far as I’m aware from being a reader of many years, every word on the blog is his own.
What makes you stop following a blog you previously enjoyed?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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