In response to my last post, Dave, a Canadian friend, noted most of the barefoot/minimalist bloggers seem to have disappeared. He mentioned Pete Larson’s most recent post discussing the secret to success as a running blogger. Pete makes a lot of great points that helps explain why so many barefoot bloggers, many of which are close friends, have seemingly disappeared.
Pete’s most relevant point hit the nail on the head- bloggers need passion.
Writing post after post day in and day out requires a tremendous amount of energy. Writing about a single topic is even more difficult. There’s only so much that can be said about barefoot running. Or minimalist shoes. Or ultras. Or crosstraining.
How-to articles, shoe reviews, race reports, running form arguments, discussions about research, posting workouts, antagonizing friends. It’s a well that eventually runs dry.
Once that happens, bloggers run into a dilemma- either expand the scope of your writings or fade away. Pete mentions writing about blogging, which is his method of expanding the scope of Runblogger.
My friends that sort of stopped blogging to similar routes. Some started writing about new topics. Others just stopped writing altogether.
Pete also mentions the not-so-secret method to gets lots o’ traffic- shoe reviews. Indeed, a quality review will result in significant traffic for years. The problem that eventually arises- reviewing gets really boring really fast. Part of the problem is quality. Minimalist shoes from all the manufacturers are REALLY good these days, so they all end up being pretty positive. As a reviewer, you also become efficient. You can accurately assess a shoe after a 100 meter run, which makes the process seem almost too mechanical. Finally, there’s nothing inherently interesting or challenging about writing about shoes. It’s the blogging equivalent to working on an assembly line.
To date, I’ve written around 700 posts on BRU and about 200-300 on my other blogs for a total of close to a million words. I’ve tried to maintain an average of five posts per week over the last few years. While it would be easy for me to chalk up BRU’s success to being in the right spot at the right time, there’s no denying the sheer amount of work required to build this. BRU HAS taken a shit ton of time and effort.
It never felt like work because I’ve been able to maintain the passion… which has taken me from one topic to the next. There’s no way I could have spent thousands of hours if I only wrote about barefoot running. If I wanted to keep writing, I had to branch out to new topics. The solution was to make BRU an extension of my thought process. I write about what I experience- both good and bad. Most of it is entirely selfish. Writing helps me clarify thoughts. Receiving comments and feedback gives me different perspectives. However, some of the information may be helpful. It may educate or inspire.
I believe it’s important to share both the successes and the failures. All too often, bloggers gloss over the negative which erases the human element. This is the reason for the last two posts. Our lifestyle choices do have some negatives. It’s not all muffins wrapped in rainbows. For others contemplating something similar, discussing the negative may serve as a cautionary tale. It may help remind us there is no one perfect solution to anything.
Anyway, bloggers typically disappear because it’s tough to maintain the passion. Those that do survive have found a way to maintain that passion, which almost always includes moving beyond the original scope of the blog. You can’t survive as a one-trick pony in this business.
I AM curious about the audience- how do readers feel when their favorite bloggers deviate from their “main” topic? In the case of running blogs, do you read their non-running content? Leave your comments below!