To be quite honest, I've always been fatally allergic to blogging. I don't hate it. It's therapeutic, cathartic and for some a lucrative full-time gig that pays the bills and opens up a bounty of opportunities. But I've never been the type of person to heavily invest in something I didn't think i'd ever be good at. For a long time, the thought of me starting a blog felt as silly as deciding to pursue a career in the NBA at 5'9 and thirty-two years of age: I could practice my ball handling til my hands went numb and take a thousand jump shots a day, but even after dedicating years of my life taking jump shots at the gym, I'd probably still be just good enough to not be embarrassing in pick-up games on the weekend.
It just didn't seem like a wise use of my time. Surely there were more efficient ways to display my work, raise my brand awareness and drive traffic to my website. I thought I could leverage my social media profiles as sort of "de-facto" blogs that would still display my latest work and a bit of insight into its creation. And I could do it without having to exist in a perpetual state of writer's block. Plus, in today's CrossFit for fingers lifestyle of scrolling, pinching, and swiping, does anyone really take the time to read anymore? As a visual content creator, I often tell my clients that there's nothing uglier than a wall of text when a beautiful video or photograph could get the point across much faster. There's also no shortage of research out there that shows that people don't read on screens with the same focus they do in print.
I'd tell myself that "blogging is so 2007" anyway. You're not playing the odds by doing it.
And yet here we ware in 2018 and you're reading this on my blog.
So what changed?
Well, to be frank, I have no choice. I think we're all aware by now of the changes made by social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram over the last two years that have completely redefined how content is viewed on their platforms. The results have not been pretty for content creators. Algorithms not users are deciding what shows up on any given feed. Photographers and Influencers across the globe who've spent years growing massive followings, that have in turn grown their businesses, have had to helplessly watch the bulimic devaluation of their reach and influence. What do you do with 50,000 followers who will never see anything you post?
I won't get into the specific details of those changes as there are already plenty of resources out there for those who are interested. But let's just say that as bad as they are for people with large followings, it's now the worst time to be someone with a small one. If you didn't manage to build an audience before, it's impossible to do so now with any type of organic efforts.
Organic reach is dead. It is never coming back. That doesn't mean I am abandoning social media. But it does mean I'll drastically reduce the investment of time I spend on it. I'll maintain a consistent presence but will no longer make my Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook accounts bear the pressure of growing my business. They will exist simply as a way to stay in touch with my current audience no matter how big or small it gets from here on out.
I was never fortunate enough to have any type of following worth bragging about. Let's just say architecture isn't a sexy genre for "The Gram" and posting my portraits has about the same effect as tossing a match into the sun. But for a while, It really did feel like I was making progress on Instagram. I got just enough positive engagement to sustain my motivation. And I was happy with that because it meant the work I was putting into it was paying off. My content was getting regular engagement and occasionally one of my photos would get featured on some larger account that would bring a surge of traffic to my profile. I even managed to get invited to bid on a rather large dream project because the account rep stumbled across my feed and loved my photos. I didn't get that job, but the fact that the opportunity came from Instagram created a warm, fuzzy feeling inside that reinforced the idea that " I was on the right track."
Over the last few months, however, my engagement has completely tanked. It's no longer worth it to me to post regularly on Instagram, especially because my standards for quality on my work are high, and it often takes days out of my life to produce my photos and videos. They're not just snapshots with a cheap filter.
I know I am not alone. In fact, I discuss this and many issues around being a modern creative professional in a recent podcast with my friend and fellow photographer, Kevin, which you listen to here. He can do a much better job than me explaining how blogging can help your business. I know enough to know that it definitely can't hurt. But that's not why I am doing it.
I am doing it because this tiny island of a domain that I can honestly claim as my own is the only platform in this flea market of content that I have 100% control over. Here I don't feel like I am screaming madly into an abyss. As many wise people have said before me, "do not build your house on someone else's land."
Platforms reserve the right to change without notice. They can change their policies, terms of service, and engagement algorithms, and if those changes don't favor your, you might find that you have a garage full of Christmas ornaments just in time to watch the government cancel the month of December.
That is why even though maintaining a blog and growing an audience from it may make me feel like Sisyphus pushing that boulder, I've decided to commit to creating consistent, engaging and quality content on this platform. Yes it will be much harder as nobody knows this place exists, and they may not for months or even a year ( God I hope not), but at least I am at nobody's mercy but my own. And at least I know that if you care enough to subscribe or check-in regularly, you will see what I have to offer.
And truthfully, I'd rather have a dozen followers who genuinely like my work versus thousands who don't add up to anything more than a handful of likes and a couple of "nice pic!" comments.