I remember the day when I pulled a magazine off the shelf at Barnes and Noble and started reading an article about how to start a blog. It described the basics steps involved in joining Blogspot and creating your first post. I was living in Homer, Alaska at the time as part of a two week visit that turned into a year-long stay.
Homer is a town of about five thousand people and nicknamed “The End of the Road” because it is the farthest western town connected by road to the rest of North America. Visiting Anchorage, a four-hour drive away, gave us a chance to catch up on what we had missed at the end of the road and the biggest bookstore around was always a must-visit.
I liked the idea of a blog and decided to start one to help me communicate with friends and family about what was happening in my life. Facebook was only available to university students at the time and most of the people in my world hadn’t caught on to Myspace yet. A blog provided with me a place to explain how I ended up in Alaska and I hoped it would motivated me to write more frequently.
A few years later I started to develop more of a following, in particular after taking several trips abroad to capture photography and video for causes. A number of people encouraged me to keep writing and then the overthinking began. I started trying too hard to figure out how to present myself on the web and split my photography and writing into two separate sites.
When I read that if you want to develop a following on your blog you have to stick to one subject, I got stuck. I had always developed a variety of interests and wanted to share them but also didn’t want to create a useless blog. I started reading about how to optimize a blog and experimented with Adspace. Eventually I realized that I didn’t care about making money off my blog. What I really wanted was to express what I was learning from life and focusing on how to develop a monetized following was a distraction from this goal.
Having discovered that I enjoyed photography more as a way to document life and to support causes, I had quit trying to find work as a photographer. Photography had become my art form and doing it for a living wasn’t the same. I still wanted to share photos with friends through the web and to display a portfolio in case it would open the door to opportunities.
I tried to integrate my photography website and blog but the tools I used at the time, WordPress and Smugmug, offered no way to create a unified look without a greater knowledge of web programming than I possessed. I appreciated design too much to pretend that two websites with completely different looks were one and the same. Later I decided to start a photo blog as well on Squarespace, embracing the idea that my writing and photography were separate parts of my web presence.
Two things have caused me to rethink this approach in recent months. I got married to the sweetest woman I’ve ever known last summer and our transition into sharing life has caused me to carefully consider where I invest my time. Devoting more of my energy to my wife and our new life together is helping me to clarify my goals and consolidate my efforts.
The second thing is that I’ve been reevaluating why I don’t share more of my thoughts about spirituality here on the blog. My concern to keep the blog thematically consistent has caused me to leave out some of my most formative thoughts. I’ve found myself wanting to integrate more of what matters to me and to focus on expressing this through writing, not as individual pursuits but as a cohesive whole.
With this in mind, I’ve decided to combine my photography and writing websites into one since both are expressions of what I aim to communicate through the web. I capture life through photography and writing and then share my discoveries to encourage people and motivate them to engage with life-saving causes. Thankfully a recent Smugmug update and improved WordPress tools have allowed me to create a more unified site that can incorporate both my photos and writing.
This is my blogging journey so far and I’m excited about the next steps. Have you ever written about the process you’ve been through while developing your own blog or a project that’s important to you? If so, I would love to hear about it or see a link to your post in the comments below!