Time For A Change And To Get More Social

Good Friday afternoon, everyone!   You’ll notice a change around here—and I’m hoping a change for the better.   As of today this blog site is currently self-hosted (something long overdue) and much more flexible than it ever has been.

When I first started out blogging I used a platform known as Typepad.   It’s still around these days, but I don’t know anyone serious about their effort who continues with that out-dated technology.   Then, back in 2010, I took the bold move and migrated this blog site to the WordPress platform as everyone told me it was the wave of the future.   And, to be perfectly honest, I believe they were right.   It’s awesome for building both blogs and websites.

Yet, over the past several years I felt like a school kid having to live by all these rules.   You see, prior to today the site was hosted at wordpress.com because frankly it was cheap, easy and during the beginning offered me what I thought I needed.

But no more…

As my online and web skills expanded I quickly realized long ago I was in desperate need of a change.   Well, that change came today in both the look and function.   You’ve probably recognized how things look a lot more “social” these days on the web.   Indeed, to stay current it requires not only blogging, but putting yourself out there where you can been found in many facets of the social media network.

During the coming weeks you will notice a few changes here and there.   But, the big change you may not notice is how this site has suddenly become more “responsive” to viewing in all formats.   Gone are the days blog readers primarily sit in front of desktop computers and read a blogger’s dialogue.   Today, they have smartphones, tablets, iPads and a whole host of other devices that your blog site better be enabled to handle.

So, I hope you enjoy the changes you are seeing.   I suspect there will be lots more changes in the weeks and months yet to come.   The bottom line is a blogger has to stay fresh and energized to be interesting…and to a large extent this happens to also be true with how the site is being viewed by the reader.

Have a great weekend, folks!

The Slippery Slope Outdoors Writers With Integrity Must Avoid

A lot has changed over the past three decades in journalism.   And while change is often inevitable to the process—especially in an age of social media and digital publishing of all types—that doesn’t mean many of the core principles inherent to maintaining good communication standards needs to also be sacrificed.

So, yesterday I was involved in a lively discussion with a Public Relations person who was trying to educate me on the process of how things currently work.   The crux of their message was if you want to experience increased opportunity and access playing the role of a media person it requires said media person to get “cozy” with the industry you are trying to cover as a journalist.

Really!!??

Since when did it become an acceptable practice for journalists of any type to have such close ties to the industry they strive to professionally cover without being tainted by conflicting interests?   In fact, it used to be if a writer had any prior connection whatsoever with the subject matter of the story it needed to be open and notorious with the extent of the relationship fully disclosed to the readers.

Apparently that type of thinking has become old school.   Yet, I strongly disagree with this apparent trend.

A couple years back I was involved in discussions with an outdoor news outlet who wanted me to become a staff writer for them.   We were all excited about the possibilities the new relationship held until we suddenly encountered an unforeseen snag.

PressI was told as a writer from time to time I would be expected to do product evaluations.   The editor would choose the product and I could write about some new outdoor gadget and brag it up.   I asked…well, what if I don’t find value in the product to write a good review?   I was specifically instructed how that was not an option as I had to speak positive of the product because they also would be one of the publication’s advertisers.

At that point the mood of the conversation suddenly changed.   I said no…this won’t work.   I cannot in good conscience write about any product or topic that I do not personally believe in.   I will not lie to myself or to my readers.   When I sign my name to an article or a blog post it has to be genuine and completely true in all details to the best of my ability.   That’s how I was taught and I won’t sell my soul to the devil just to make some quick cash.

And so it apparently is with outdoors writing in this 21st Century communication world.   There seems to be an affinity towards such a “cozy” relationship with some manufacturers that eventually the writer simply becomes a pro-staffer, and that’s perfectly fine as long as its disclosed and all appearances of true journalistic standards are set aside by said disclosure.

My point is if you want to call yourself an outdoors writer in the truest journalistic sense then you must strive to only have your reader’s best interests in mind.   When you start getting “cozy” with manufacturers and others in your story then the writer runs the risk of sliding down a dangerous literary slope.

When I do a product test and evaluation the manufacturer knows it will be honest.   When I want to connect with industry folks it will not be with special conditions and prior approvals.   Nope, for anyone to even hint at the notion I better start getting “cozy” with the product sellers of my industry in order to succeed as a writer, in my opinion, has very devilish intents.

©2014 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

A Few Words About Guest Blogging On Sportsman’s Blog

Hi Jim,

    I’m contacting you today to determine what guest blogging opportunities exist for Sportsman’s Blog.   I have been writing a blog for the past few months over at CheckOutMyBlog.net and would really like to do a guest post on your blog in exchange for a link.   I’ve been a reader of your blog for several years and truly believe I have some valuable content that I can include on your blog to increase its value to your readers.

    I am open to specific blog post suggestions, however, my expertise is in the following topic areas:

  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Trail riding
  • Mountain biking

    I look forward to your response.   Keep up the great blogging effort!

Sincerely,

Mr. I Wanna Blog 4U

Dear Mr. I Wanna Blog 4U,

Thank you for your kind words about Sportsman’s Blog and your sincere interest in being part of this online digital communication effort.   The mere fact you took the time to inquire about guest blogging opportunities on my blog is indeed quite flattering.Blog

Unfortunately, I have had a policy now for nearly ten years running to not accept guest bloggers for several reasons I would like to outline.

  1. Since day one this blog has been a personal effort sharing my own particular thoughts and outdoors knowledge.   While I value diversity in outdoors opinion and information, I feel that most of my readers come to this blog site to learn what is on MY MIND and to share in some of my outdoors discoveries.   To broaden that scope by having multiple authors posting is not in my blog’s marketing or editorial plans.
  2. Furthermore, I understand how many folks value guest blogging as a way of building audiences for their own blogs through link building activities.   This SEO practice has worked wildly successful for some folks in the past, but my understanding is Google is now cracking down on such efforts and will penalize participants who engage in this audience building practice.   That being said, I do not see any value in link building at this time and choose not to risk being penalized in the future for engaging in this out-dated SEO practice.
  3. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I take great personal pride in my blogging efforts and having done so on this site for nearly 10 years running.   Someday when I reflect back on my meager accomplishment in the blogging world I don’t want to say I owe anyone else partial credit for this effort.   I strongly encourage anyone who wants to blog to create their own blog and start writing.   Work hard and begin to make a name for yourself.   I promise you the longer you keep at the effort the stronger your resolve will be not to allow others to become involved in any way.

In closing, I want to sincerely thank you for taking the time out of your day to contact me about any potential guest blogging opportunities on Sportsman’s Blog.   Please do not take my lack of cooperation on your request as a rejection, instead it should be viewed as an encouragement to make your own literary mark in this digital world by not coat tailing on to someone else’s effort.   If you truly believe you have the skills it takes to blog, then you’re doing yourself a disservice by directing those skills on any blog other than the one you personally own.

Best regards,

Jim Braaten
www.SportsmansBlog.com

©2014 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.