Sort of. Thought I'd write something of (limited) substance for a change. So let's talk outdoor blogging.
So I can't help but notice that the outdoor blogging scene has exploded in the past let's say 2 years...that exact time frame may be a bit debatable, but without doubt it's grown dramatically in the past year. In my opinion, there are a couple factors that play into this sudden rise outdoor blogging (besides vanity).
The first reason has got to be the relative ease of entry. When I started writing this blog almost 4 years ago (June 2007, no kidding), the technology for bloggers wasn't all that great. Yeah, Blogger & WordPress were both around back then, but believe me when I tell you they weren't as user friendly as they are today. You had to know a certain degree of HTML code if you wanted the cool bells & whistles, and there certainly weren't all the slick looking customizable templates you see today. Every blog pretty much looked the same, your only real choice was to type on a white background with black text or on a black background with white text.
Blogger, WP, & even platforms like Tumblr make blogging so easy today anybody can pretty much fumble through the initially awkward "how does this damn thing work" phase and be cranking out great looking content in no time. While it was a challenging proposition in the past, one you'd not leisurely take up while sipping Dr. Peppers and chillin' in your thighty-whities; today...yeah, well...not so much. If you can write an email, you can write a blog.
The second reason is the emergence of social media. Is anything changing the way people interact the way social media has? Facebook's a monster (like really....a gazillion users and it knows everything about everyone), Twitter is right on it's heels, and they're both making it insanely easy not only to share a great outdoor blog post you happen to read with all of your friends, but also to introduce them to the concept of blogging for the first time. Thoughts like this must race through the heads of soon-to-become bloggers as the light bulb begins to flicker, "Hey, if Howard can write a blog...ANYONE can."
The third reason, and honestly, I think this is one of the largest catalysts, is the Outdoor Blogger Network (OBN). Before the OBN, there was this site called the Outdoor Bloggers Summit (OBS). In it's early days, it served much of the same functions of the OBN, a networking hub, tips on blogging, blogger spotlights, it even served up writing prompts. Like "they" say, it's easier to trace than draw. The main difference was it didn't serve up free gear. A lot of the familiar names you see listed on the OBN even used to hang out there - The Outdooress, Flowing Waters, Northern California Trout, Murphyfish, Fisherbabe, and on, and on...(but not me, I rolled counter-culture, too kool for skool).
|Where it was at...for some...|
For whatever the reason - primarily disengaged leadership - the OBS abruptly stopped one day, creating a void until the OBN stepped in last year...and boy did it ever!
|Start a new blog, list yourself here.|
So what makes the OBN important here besides the free stuff? In short, it created the "feel good" support that every new blogger needs. Face it, you write because you want people to read your stuff. There's no denying it. If you feel you're writing to nobody, you're probably not going to waste your time and give up the blogging scene (both as a reader and writer) in no time.
The OBN format (and a little creativity) makes it ridiculously easy for your blog to not only be seen, but to go from 0 readers to a posse of dedicated readers in no time flat. You don't believe me, check out the comments sections of most of the OBN listed blogs - especially the fishing ones - you'll notice a lot of the same names & faces over and over and over and over. Get a blog listed on OBN, comment on a few posts or in the forum, and you'll have at least 15 followers instantly. Bloggers need the initial positive reinforcement that the OBN can provide, if nothing more than as a confidence builder.
Want proof of points 2 & 3? Going all Marty McFly back in time (remember, my blog started in June 2007), it took me until March 2010 (almost 3 full years) to get 34 Google Followers (those little face icons up in the upper right of my blog). Look there today and you'll see how many I have...I dare ya. I'd say at least 100 have showed up since the launch of the OBN. Coincidence, I think not.
|Screen shot, circa March 2010|
In fishing blog circles, there are well established blogs that everyone knows like Trout Underground & Moldy Chum that have a huge and loyal follower base. While they are extremely well written blogs, they also were early adopters of the medium and clearly benefited from the fact that there wasn't a lot of blog talent out there a few years back. Subsequently, both got placed in pretty much everyone who was blogging's blogroll. It was like going to McDonald's in the pre-chicken nugget days. You basically got a burger & fries, there were no other options. Today's outdoor blogging menu is far more diverse, not to mention much tastier.
|More varieties in drinks than in food...|
So in closing, what will this recent influx of outdoor blogging talent bring to us? Will a new Trout Underground emerge? Or has it already (in an unlikely location down south)? Who will be the voice(s) to come to the fore...where will they be from...what will they be talking about?
Or perhaps things may go the opposite direction. Will the space get too crowded, too watered down, and create too much noise? Will business or commerce-influenced sites take over the blogosphere? How much is too much of a good thing? My blogroll is dangerously long today, what will it look like in June 2012; or even better June 2015?
As likely a fellow blogger, or at minimum a reader of blogs, I know you have an opinion. The comments section below awaits your feedback, don't be shy...