How Discover didn’t help much.

It is just over a year ago now that my then sparsely filled blog was made an Editors Pick on WordPress Discover.

The blog was relatively young, only going about six months and had a following you only needed two people with hands to count. I had only made about thirty posts of single Black and White shots, mainly of the landscape around me.

Suddenly, within days of being featured, I gained hundreds of followers. Hundreds of people out there who had been diverted here by the Discover post to see what it was all about and had pressed the follow button on liking what they saw.

So I just continued posting what I thought they would like and what had made Ben Huberman pick the blog as it was. Photographs that were quite a lot like what was already here.

People were telling me I was very talented. People were encouraging. Friends were telling me how proud of myself I should be. People were leaving glowing comments.

I didn’t really want to believe very much of it but set about making out that I did. I never wanted to be known as ‘a photographer’ but this Discover thing came as a result of my photographs. So I tried hard to continue the role.

But I hovered hesitantly over the publish button on every post now and, a lot of the time, I completely stopped. Often I deleted my draft posts because I thought that they didn’t come up to the standard I had previously set. I was petrified that my posts were just not good enough to live up to my newly-acquired reputation – good enough to be the Editors Pick for a week on a platform of millions of users. I’d be found out.

This, I think, is called ‘imposter syndrome’. I still struggle with it.

I liked this one from Heligan and made it available on my Redbubble store.

Before the Discover Editors Pick I would not have been so bothered when visitor numbers started falling, because they were shooting mainly unnoticed out into the cyber-void anyway then. But I became worried about it now. Perhaps this recent abstract work I was posting in an effort to break out of the mould disappointed a lot of the ‘audience’ who, to be fair, hadn’t originally come for this style of thing anyway?

Then, as hinted at in a previous post, there has a longer period of enforced MS darkness than I was used to. My posting here has been sporadic to say the least recently and I found myself posting simply ‘to post something’ and keep the blog ticking over. The numbers continued falling and I still worried. Around 100-150 visitors per post have become more 30-40.

Should I, perhaps, return to posting mainly black and white landscapes?

Ummm… no.

I am back, thinking more clearly than when in the grip of the MS fog. And I worked out that blogs by creatives shouldn’t be driven by seeing the little columns go up in the site statistics page, by my worried imaginings of people coming to look and then high tailing it out again because they hate it or it’s not quite what they have come to expect.

This is my place and, if it hadn’t been an Editor’s Pick featured blog a year ago, it would have taken some of the twists and turns of a blog’s life more freely, a lot earlier, or be somewhere else entirely different.

It was my trying to live up to this imaginary standard that was stifling.

The audience is probably always going to be a fluid and ever changing thing and I realised I shouldn’t be messing about trying to please them all. I’m just going to post what I like and they can come and go as they please. That was the mindset I started off with and it has taken me over twelve months to find it again.

I am still very proud of having an Editors Pick though. And I can still post the kind of photographs I mainly posted then as well as a mixture of my other more unconventional images. In fact, I can post anything.

Mainly, it was a problem with my mindset and now I’ll have this post to go back to and reset myself if I’m finding that concept hard again.

So, welcome to my blog, Cornish Bear’s Photos, where I’m happy to occasionally publish shots that I took and I like and I am now trying hard not to feel that people are expecting anything other than what is actually here.

Although if you do like it this time, that’s lovely.

22 thoughts on “How Discover didn’t help much.”

  1. I have an Instagram account and was advised I was doing it wrong if I wanted to get people to take my work “seriously” I’ve tried just posting finished paintings and have lost 50 followers. I don’t suppose I should be bothered but I miss what I’d built up. I guess what I’m saying is I agree with you. It’s your life…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Christine. It’s amazing how much advice is out there… you just don’t know which variant of it is the right one!


  2. Very well said Bear, and very much in sync with a recent post on my blog about my own publishing schedule and approach. I have another post in draft which should go out in the next week which discusses it further.

    Anyway, yes in that old adage of many an obscure band, “we just make what we like, and if anyone else likes it too, it’s a bonus!”

    (PS/ I, er, discovered you via Discover, so it does have some benefits in widening your potential audience to people who enjoy your posts even when you do evolve.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, I don’t think I can argue with that Dan, it was a great thing for reaching a new audience but it threw me. I will try to apply some more Bryntin-ness to the whole thing. 😉


      1. Blogging, indeed anything online, can be quite unpredictable at times. In January I had record views, as I wrote about in early February. It felt like a breakthrough of sorts. Then the next two month were pretty much back to the same as November and December, maybe slightly more. I can’t explain what changed either during January, or after.

        I don’t think we can hope to be overnight sensations (and all the expectation and pressures that brings), I think it’s better to be in it for the long haul, slowly building our presence and a body of work we’re proud of (photographs and blog posts).

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, well ‘sensation’ isn’t the right word but certainly a sudden and literally overnight change is exactly what happened.
          I obviously didn’t deal with the expectations and pressures bit very well and lost the choice of long hauling it at my speed.
          Mind you, if each one of the new followers actually bought a £10 print as part of the price of pressing the follow button, I’d probably have been less moany.


  3. Welcome back. Glad you sorted all this out. Personally, I love your posts and photography, and I think when those posts become a perceived responsibility rather than you, being you, us readers will pick up on that. We’re not here for perfection in every word and photo. We’re here to walk along with you and allow you to show us things our eyes might not see out in the world. That’s why I’m not a photographer and you are. And that’s why I visit your blog – so you can show me what I might miss, and show me those little spots of beauty my eye might pass right over.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Lisa. I hope that you continue to enjoy seeing what I see and hopefully the ones where I make something out of what I see.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I notice there are more people who post a banner in their sidebar — “Award Free Blog”. They neither want nor do they solicit WordPress awards. Most of them have a rather decent following. I think the key is being interactive with the community of photographers who post on WP.

    What bothers me is this: I’ll like someone’s photos, but they never stop by my blog to at least say hello. To me, that sort of violates blogging etiquette. Interacting with other bloggers is just as important as frequency of posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I think those ‘no awards please’ signs you’ve seen are not for the official WordPress ones but user initiated things like ‘Sunshine Blogger’ and the ‘Liebster Award’ that have a sort of chain-letter like set of questions and nomination quotas attached to them.
      I got a ‘Unique Blogger’ one on another blog once and proceeded to take the mick out of it (a lot) and proudly refused any other awards on the basis that it would invalidate the uniqueness of my ‘Unique’ one…

      As to part two (and I apologise if indeed I haven’t been to say at least hello on your own blog), I just do not have the time or energy needed to sincerely interact with everyone else as well as the new, sometimes 30-50 posts from those I do follow appearing in my reader when I log in. That said, I do generally have look at who you might be when I get the notification for a ‘like’ and I do try to reply to all comments.

      It is most times just a question of time priorities rather than etiquette.

      Edited to add: I have dropped in now, and I see you have your own ‘Jaw Drop Awards’. Some great photographers on that list.


  5. Well said indeed, Bear. One of my mantras is ‘save me from what I want’. I can be too easily swayed by the prevailing winds. I know that what I do is perhaps too ‘niche-y’ (pronounced NEESH-ee) and esoteric. Like your abstracts, it is mine own. Little to add, that you have not put forth eloquently in this post.

    The other mantra is ‘This too shall pass’.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Wilt.
      Once I got it out of my system by writing it I wondered how much it needed to be said – or read by anyone! But, in the new spirit of course, I had to post it to prove the point to myself.


  6. That whole business of looking over your shoulder to see who’s following you (and what they think) is a killer. I can’t claim to have completely escaped it, but the thing I love about blogging is that at least I’m not asking myself what some editor will like because I’m the editor. I write it, I post it, and I hope people like it but even if they don’t, it’s still out there for people to find. Or not find. I’ve pretty much stopped kidding myself that I can control that part of the process.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ellen. It was the literal change from diddling around happily with possibly 25 pairs of eyes, to 700 odd in a week or so that really shook me I think. It kind of messed with me and has only just spat me out after a good chewing up.

      As I suggested to Dan above, I should probably channel Bryntin’s attitude, he seems to have no problem at all with what anyone thinks.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I’ll suggest it to him. Possibly keeping them in separate jars in the first place just makes the store cupboard shelves overstocked.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. My experience was not exactly the same, but there are some similarities. I was immediately hit by impostor syndrome too. And although my chronic illness didn’t take a hit, it did all happen at a difficult time in my life, which led to me feeling as though I didn’t capitalize on it the way I ‘should’ have.

    But ultimately all the ‘should’s are nonsense. And maybe these kinds of feelings are common.

    I think all the different kinds of photos you put up are great. I love seeing your work. And it’s really, really nice to hear you say you’re feeling more on top of it and that you’ll do it all your way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Lucy, seeing your avatar here always makes me feel better anyway. It’s so joyous, how can anyone not catch a bit of happy from it!

      You put your finger on the ‘should’ thing too… it was me feeling pressure to make the most of the extra moment in the sunlight.

      I’ve stopped kidding myself there ‘should’ be some commercial angle as well. I will still make prints etc. available from my images but I’ve never been a professional and never will be, because I’m happier that way.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I followed you because of your posts but then you talk about imposter syndrome, and I like people who talk about frailties rather than giving the impression they know everything with relentless “How to” posts 🙂

    I also saw you mentioned an illness so I wanted to keep reading to see if we share the same one. We are separated by a letter, however – you MS and me ME haha.

    (And I apologise ending this comment with a recommendation because we don’t even know each other, and it shits me off when people think bone broth is going to cure a 20 year illness, but I simply can’t go past recommending low dose naltrexone to every MS sufferer I come across, only because I’m jealous at the success rate it has in makingng symptoms manageable in MS, much more than ME) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sue.
      Yes, I’d never presume to tell anyone how to do stuff as if I knew the best way. There’s a line between knowing you’re good and just acting like you are -whether you are or not – and I often find I’m way below even getting to that line!

      I get ‘likes’ for my posts but, what 20-30? That doesn’t give me any extra authority about anything, although some might spin it as doing so.

      Thank you for the recommendation. I have avoided all medication since an unfortunate experience with self-injecting with copaxone and a manic spell after being on some steroid IVF treatment. I have been drug-free for about 8 years now – and the disease is just as unpredictable as it was then – but I’m guaranteed no side effects from just eating and drinking well… apart from if it’s too much.

      Liked by 1 person

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