I have many fun little hobbies, and I enjoy reading blogs about them. Cricut. Cherry shrimp. Woodworking. Recipes.
Lately I have been wondering: did every web development agency in the world get the same memo, instructing them to make all blogs look like this?
They all seem to be following the same playbook:
- Top right column: photo and “About me”.
- An uncountable number of font sizes and colors.
- Popup subscription modal that won’t go away.
- Amazon affiliate link disclaimer.
- …loads suspiciously slowly for a single page of text.
There’s nothing horribly wrong with this, and for the most part the content is still good. (That’s a great recipe for ramen eggs).
But it’s not a particularly enjoyable experience. Do we really want the internet to look like this? Is the future of individual content doomed to be cookie-cutter blogs from the same Wordpress factory, chock-full of Amazon affiliate links and click funnels?
I think we can do better.
A corner of the internet that has mostly avoided this bandwagon is blogs from engineers, creatives, and technically minded folks who build things.
Here are some of my favourite blog posts. They are noteworthy not only because they contain great content, but because the pages that serve them are not particularly awful to read or to look at:
Of course, some of these blogs are still trying to sell you things - their VC fund, their e-book, their consulting firm, etc etc. But it feels like a long game. I can show up on the page and get the value that I was looking for - such as emotional catharsis about the bullshit nature of most LinkedIn posts, or the destructuring syntax that I forgot. No strings attached, no being assaulted by popup modals or irrelevant product recommendations.
I won’t fault anyone for going with Wordpress, especially if they are not technically minded. It is still the fastest and easiest way to spin up a blog if you don’t know how to code.
But that’s about it. Wordpress sites are slow and ugly. When you fill them with ads and marketing funnels up the wazoo, the entire thing takes on a very questionable moral color. The internet already feels pretty fake. Such blogs only add to it.
Why do salesy blogs feel so awful?
I dislike such blogs for the same reason that most people dislike multi-level marketing schemes (i.e. “selling Avon”). Friendship is a respite from the transactional nature of the world; thus it is especially disheartening when a “friend” messages you to “catch up”, and you discover that it’s only because they were trying to sell you something.
Likewise, I love seeing the genuine enthusiasm and creativity of someone who has the same hobbies as me. If I want to make the best tuna casserole in the world, I’d love to read about it from someone who has a killer family recipe. When such a page turns out to be a thin shell of content that was generated solely for the purpose of selling me Utz potato chips in the ingredients list, I feel quite duped, and slightly angry.
Don’t get me wrong - I sell things from this blog too. I write about things that I have made and I provide links to buy them on Etsy or Gumroad. But I try to be transparent about it, and I try to provide real information in the post itself, regardless of whether someone chooses to buy an item.
You should make a blog, and it should contain real thoughts.
I once had a friend tell me that she was thinking of starting a blog, but wasn’t sure whether or not to do so because the market was already so flooded.
It’s not. The market is flooded with blogs of this fakey, ad-filled, bullshit nature. The market is not flooded with authentic, high quality content on clean pages.
So go ahead and make your blog. The world can always use one more genuine voice in the middle of all this trash.