This is in response to a great issue raised by new naturist blogger Alexis: What Happened to the Nudist Bloggers?
She begins: “While I’m sitting here watching everyone and listening to the cows moo and the [crickets] chirp, I open up my WordPress app to explore the bloggers realm to see who else I can find to follow that intrigued me. I have found some RV bloggers, travel bloggers, and others just expressing their thoughts about life and philosophy. What I don’t see is a major representation of the nudist community.”
By my count, there are over 500 blogs that have appeared in the past 15 years and dealt mostly with what we know as naturism (or nudism). That doesn’t even count many blogs run by naturist clubs and resorts. Mainly they’ve been in English, but with at least several dozen in other languages. Most of them are now either gone completely or have been dormant for a year or more. Today there may be only 10 or so fairly active naturist blogs. As Alexis – who’s begun naturist blogging in earnest only this year – laments, this is “Kinda saddening for me because I love to see and learn about how others are living their lives naked.” Don’t give up, Alexis!
What’s happened? Alexis considers a few possibilities: “I’m sure it has a lot to do with life commitments, maybe they started a family, moved, new job, or any other logical excuses. Maybe they just got bored and didn’t have anything else to say, but what I’m most worried about is bloggers becoming discouraged due to the lack of followers, or the floods of spam and other bots.”
I’ve been blogging about naturism for over 15 years (more off than on), and writing about it for 10 years before that, so I have a few more ideas. For one thing, blogging activity itself, on almost any topic, peaked some time ago. It became a “thing” maybe 20 years ago and peaked somewhere in the middle of that time. In its stead we now have things like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and “microblogs” in general, which tend to consist mainly of pictures, GIFs, and perhaps only a dozen or so words per item – at most. The Internet is now flooded with “content”, and most people simply don’t have the time or patience to look at more than the tiniest bit of it – especially not much that takes more than two minutes to read.
They are, however, starving without realizing it – because most of the stuff out there now is junk food, with no nutritional value. It takes a fair amount of interest and independence of mind even to be curious about naturism. Most people just don’t have that. If they have any curiosity at all about it, they may read posts on a few naturist blogs – assuming they can even find the good ones – before moving on to their real fascination, with “celebrities” or “sports” stars. And it’s just a fact that to actually take naturism seriously and try to become involved in it isn’t easy for most people, because of prevailing social attitudes towards nonsexual nudity.
There’s another factor, I think, and it’s a definite problem – not with potential readers, but with the current small crop of naturist blogs. The problem is that a sense of “community” among naturist bloggers has disappeared in the past several years. The format and appearance of blogs (of all kinds) have changed. In the past, most blogs had a “blogroll” that listed other blogs on the same topic that the blogger especially liked. That’s mostly gone by the wayside now, so it’s more difficult for people to discover other blogs they might like. Naturist bloggers no longer seem interested in promoting others doing the same thing, and that’s a real shame.
In order to have a real “community” of naturist bloggers, it is essential for the bloggers to actually interact with and support each other. We need to actively follow each other’s blogs. Using an “RSS reader” like Inoreader makes that easy. Since the community is small, and most bloggers post only once or twice a week – if that often – it’s not hard to keep up. In fact, anyone who posts stuff more often may simply have too much time on their hands.
If bloggers would routinely follow each other they could write responses on their own blogs – as I’m doing now. For one thing, that solves the perennial problem of “what to write about”. Or they could at least call attention to posts on other blogs that they consider thoughtful, informative, and worthwhile. That in itself would motivate other bloggers to be more active.
Another thing bloggers could do to stimulate activity is something that Alexis suggests – encourage naturist readers to offer “guest” posts. “You don’t have to start out with your own domain or WordPress site,” she says, “but you can be a guest writer on someone else’s blog.” Sure, most people don’t have enough “free” time – even during the current stay-at-home situation – to start and keep up their own naturist blog. In that case, and if you have something you want to say, just offer to write a guest post for a blog you like.
You may choose simply to offer comments on other blog posts, but that’s not quite as useful as writing a full post of one or two hundred words (or more) – in my opinion. Why? Visibility is the most important reason. An actual independent post is much more likely to be seen and findable at a later time. Comments almost always just disappear into the aether as soon as they’re posted, so hardly anyone sees them or is likely to respond to them.
There’s one more thing that bloggers do now that, I think, diminishes the effectiveness of their blogs. These days there are so many fancy “themes” and alternative ways to tweak the appearance of a blog. Too much time goes into the appearance and surface aesthetics of a blog – instead of the content. Useful blog features like blogrolls, keyword and tag lists, and directories of past articles are pushed aside or eliminated – making it harder for readers to navigate the blog. If a reader can’t find what was written on a given topic a few months (or years) ago it might as well not exist. Make it easy for readers to keep looking deeper, instead of going away.
Think of it this way. Naturists prefer NOT wearing clothes, whose main purpose is to hide, conceal, or disguise. Substance and readability are more valuable than style. Just let your blog be as naked as you want to be yourself. Naturists don’t usually try to impress others with how stylish they are. Naturist blogs shouldn’t do that either.
Keep in mind that the main purpose isn’t to impress readers with the look of the blog but with the pleasures and benefits of nudity – so that people will wean themselves off their addiction to wearing clothes.