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Where Have All the Barefoot Bloggers Gone?

Posted by on Mar 20, 2013 | 8 Comments

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.

My Route

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!

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8 Comments

  1. Thinnmann
    March 31, 2013

    I think Facebook and other social media have reduced the blogging energies.

  2. Leslie
    March 29, 2013

    As a new running blogger, making her way into barefoot running, it is hard at times to find the words let alone something that would be interesting for the world to read. It seems that many bloggers are at the mercy of writing reviews just to have someone read their content. Most times I take the path that Jason suggests and blog about my passions, my feelings and what’s really going on in my head. Sometimes I feel there are readers that get more from those posts than the typical review while I know that other readers are looking for the quick read and then on to the next. It’s a fine line to hold a reader’s attention but it’s an outlet for me to express myself in a way that I find hard to do face to face.

  3. Michelle
    March 26, 2013

    My view is that blogs are an extension of life, which is dynamic. While I’m passionate about my fitness routine it isn’t the only thing in my mind all day long. A “web-log” was originally a log of whatever-the-heck was in someone’s head at the moment that they felt like sharing. That keeps the passion in the writing, which keeps the writing readable. Of course now there is the option of hiring someone in India to write tepid posts for a heavily-monetized and boring blog to keep it going ;-) [My two cents.]

  4. Jeff Stapleton
    March 25, 2013

    Not sure where u’ve been but I’m still blogging regularly about barefoot running. Check out my site at http://www.naturalrunning.ca.

  5. Barefoot Tyler
    March 24, 2013

    I feel like it is acceptable to post health related posts about things that may improve our running. There is always a way that you can tie it together with running.

    Writing about barefoot running specifically is tough, for the reasons you stated. I believe it is definitely a good idea to use your blog as a journal and review races, shoes, experiences, etc. I haven’t written a 100% barefoot running post in over a year and people still read my blog. It’s all about how you can make it relate to the reader who is there for more than just barefoot running.

  6. Jeff
    March 20, 2013

    I’m not a runner. I found BRU back in the day when I was getting into minimalist shoes (for living, not running).

    If it was all about running all the time I probably would have stopped following BRU. It’s awesome to be able to gain insight from the path another human being (one with similar values to one’s self) is taking through life and to be able to learn from their trials and tribulations.

  7. Matt
    March 20, 2013

    I enjoy your writing style. When I find a blogger who has a personal writing style I enjoy…they usually can write just about anything and I’ll read it.

    I obviously enjoy your posts about barefoot/minimalist running and general fitness the most as that was the initial draw to BRU via the Merrell website. I also enjoy your reports about Dumbass adventures.

    Straying from your ‘main’ topic is a nice mix and gives variety…I’ll say that I read most (95%) of your non-running content…keep up the good work.

  8. Troy
    March 20, 2013

    as one of those people I have to say you guys are right on the money with the passion explanation. truth be told for the first year-year and a half I was very passionate about barefoot running but eventually I overextended and everything started feeling like another job.

    between writing for my blog, my stint as BRS Michigan Prez and various leadership positions in the local running club it just got really tiring. I started not really wanting to run at all, let alone barefoot, as it was just too much of a hassle (especially barefoot). If I run in the future I’m pretty sure I’ll just wear my sandals or seeyas just to make it less of a headache.

    my blog is still up and the couple reviews I did for Bedrock Sandals products seem to keep driving a little traffic. After several months off I’ve started posting every couple weeks as a sort of fitness (or lack thereof) diary. If something comes up I really want to talk about I will, but for now the passion has cooled for barefoot running specifically.