This week I took a moment to unplug and spend time outdoors. It was exactly what I needed to get clear. Since I started blogging in 2010, it’s been a bit of a rat race trying to navigate the murky waters. Blogging as an industry has seen tremendous growth in the past ten years, and is constantly changing as more businesses (large and small) look to blogs and bloggers to advertise for them. I will admit, I have not been 100% certain about which direction to take my blog. I see the benefits in working with businesses that promote social change, environmental activism, and anti-violence, for example. In fact, I can name at least a handful of blogs who are doing this work, and they all have a shared sense of justice in common. Growing a blog readership takes a long time, and much of that growth is dependent on the trust you build within your community. Some may call this a group of followers, but I like to stick with the term community because it resonates with my core beliefs and lifestyle much more. In my opinion, the former term denotes an air of self-importance that does more harm to building a relationship than it does good. And yet, this term has made it possible for bloggers with a following to earn money for their influence.
There is a lot of work that goes into creating, implementing, and promoting a marketing campaign. Both the blogger and the partner have to put in a lot of time and energy if thing is going to float. I get that. What feels a bit icky to me is that the efforts are always aimed at encouraging consumerism. If you take a site like Bloglovin’ as an example, there are about a handful of blogs and sites that are in heavy rotation from day-to-day. That means you will most likely see a limited amount of content, from the same blog or site, promoting particular products, lifestyles, etc. Recently, Pintrest rolled out its own e-commerce site by adding “Buy This” buttons, all of this right on the coat-tails of its newly instated “Promoted Pins” advertising program. As a user of this site, I choose to ignore the big blue (and otherwise sales-y) buttons because making purchases is not the reason why I signed up in the first place. The sharing of ideas, and inspiration is what draws me, but it would appear that this exchange comes at a cost.
When I worked in the non-profit field, I was so interested in learning about organizational leadership models. I had the opportunity to be a board member at an awesome NPO in Chicago for two years. Their model (at the time) was based on consensus and co-leadership. While the NPO that employed me utilized the more traditional executive directorship. And then there are examples of other rad NPOs with one director or coordinator, who hires others to support, build, and grow the organization as a team. In each model, there is a great deal of personal investment that takes place. And most of the time, the investment comes with a certain level of accountability, with great possibility.
From my perspective, any true potential that exists in blogging is with the NPOs, businesses, and individuals who are radically changing the way we think about, and practice leadership. Today, I have prepared a list of links to blogs and websites created by some of the most amazing minds of our time. These are not folx you may have heard about, but their work is highly celebrated. I am blessed to be in community with them, some whom I know personally. They have made the conscious choice to define how they go about blogging, with out the need to promote consumerist behavior. They are business-minded, and thoughtful. They maintain popular sites without advertising. They are changing the game of blogging for the better by building honest relationships, creating excellent content, and staying true to the idea that people united are powerful. Now that gives me hope.
- US Prison Culture, by Mariame Kaba
- Astrology for Radical Mystics, by Chani Nicolas
- The Hood Witch, by Bri Luna
- Black Girl In Om, founded by Lauren Ash
- Cordella Magazine, founded by Cate Clother, Sarah R. Squire, and Melanie Giusto