The Art of Blogging – Tips for Self Critiquing

Blogging favourite, A colourful spice shop in the medina of Marrakech in the North African country of Morocco on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

An early favourite but slightly over saturated, soft focus and some over exposure

Taking stock and reviewing our goals, what we wish to achieve and whether we are progressing is essential for everyone, regardless of their career or life path. Asking ourselves what we want out of life; fulfilment, enlightenment, blogging celebrity status, wealth, lifelong happiness or all of the above is useful to ensure we are heading in the right direction. It is also imperative to know we are progressing and that we are actually improving professionally or as a person, maybe even spiritually.

Blogging tips; Offroader in an Egyptian desert sunset near Sharm el Sheik on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Not bad but huge area blown out area and massive contrast.

This post isn’t even going to attempt to address that final issue as I do not profess to be qualified in anyway to do so. Fortunately assessing improvement in professional terms is much easier to quantify. It is important to gain feedback from peers and those that they are creating for. This is how productivity is measured and improvement is gained. Taking note of constructive criticism to avoid repeating mistakes is essential and let’s face it, receiving praise from colleagues and readers is always welcome.

“new media and blogging needs to be perceived as professional”

The Millau Viaduct in the French Aveyron photography and blogging tips on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel Iain_Mallory_00391

Decent front to back focus but still areas blown out, losing important detail

The main reason we need outside criticism is simple; if unaware something is incorrect it is never going to be addressed. Sometimes errors only become apparent when they are viewed by objective eyes. It is for this reason that whenever an obvious grammatical or spelling error is spotted on another site I discreetly inform the author. In some cases this ‘interference’ may be resented but personally I welcome any assistance in professionalising my site and wish more would do the same. Ultimately new media and blogging needs to be perceived as professional and cutting out blatant errors on our sites is one path to achieving this.

Blogging tips portraiture; Old Man near Luxor on the banks of the River Nile in Egypt on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Too much contrast even on the subject due to harsh light in Egypt at midday

It is equally important however for the writer or artist to continually critique their own work. Reviewing a piece that was published recently is essential. Written prose can often be ‘tightened up’ and errors which were originally missed corrected. Minor editing can be carried out on photographs which may appear differently in natural light instead of artificial. It is equally important to look back over long completed work, errors still maybe found but also we can see any trend, hopefully that trend is improvement.

It may highlight any potential for future success,  new directions the author wishes to explore and subject matter which merits further discussion.

The reviewer needs to look at their work with a critical eye, looking for ways in which it can be improved. This is progression, genuinely looking for areas in which we can produce better, more creative and readable work will improve our sites, attract more readers and ultimately produce success. This is a constant in any walk of life.

Blogging tips for portraiture; Cuban-African dancer in Trinidad, Cuba in the Caribbean

This image was once unthinkable. Contrast yes, but moving subject in low light with no flash – proud

Self-congratulation for every piece of work produced regardless of the quality is self-deluding, ultimately negative and will stifle genuine improvement.

“Photographs capture the imagination”

However despite this I’m now going to pat myself on the back! In the last few days I’ve been going through all my posts. The main reason is to try to improve upon the SEO as this has been poor to non-existent in my early blogging attempts. As a consequence of this the opportunity to critique past posts has arisen.

It is slightly more difficult to assess whether my writing has improved significantly. Fortunately photography is much easier to assess. Imagery has always played an important part in this site, it is a subject discussed at length in other posts. Photographs capture the imagination of the reader, they inspire and encourage them to actually read the prose which accompanies them.

Photography also played an important role in my climbing years, taking thousands of images in the form of slides for presentation. The importance of good composition has been realised for sometime however it is only since beginning to publish that I’ve begun to understand the technical side of photography. A much greater emphasis is now placed on achieving the right result ‘in camera’ with minimal post capture editing being employed. The value of using RAW images is also understood.

Looking through past posts from the inception of the site to the very latest published it is gratifying to see the results. The improvement in the images published now compared to the beginning is startling. Handling of low light conditions, harsh light, contrasting light and even the basics of composition are all significantly better.

Blogging tips; Wild geese captured in the autumn in the Salford area of Manchester in the UK on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-6

Minimal contrast but needed to be quick to get any capture at all, so pleased with the result

“I am failing miserably”

They are not perfect, far from it, there is still a great deal of improvement to be made. Learning to be quicker and more efficient in using a tripod increasing the likelihood that one will be employed more often or immediately resetting camera settings are just two. However looking through the site is like flicking through chapters in a book, it is possible to chart a steady progression which encourages me to continue to strive to improve.

My motives for blogging are not to make oodles of money or to gain celebrity, if they were I am failing miserably. It is for the love of travel; the aim has always been that I will be afforded more opportunities to travel in which sense there has been a degree of success. Although also being monetarily comfortable still remains a goal.

Blogging tips paradox; The Imperial War Museum North, Salford near Manchester in the United Kingdom on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Paradoxically one of my favourite images is an older one but there is an obvious contrast issue here

The aim of this post is not to sing my own praises, it is merely to emphasise the importance of self-critique and in doing so the possibility of receiving some encouraging signs of genuine improvement.

It is essential that we continually take stock of our lives, we all sometimes reach a crossroads which require us to make decisions. This can only be guesswork if we are unaware of our strengths and weaknesses. I urge every publisher to critique their site, review past posts in comparison to recent ones. Most will almost be pleasantly surprised and able to distinguish that there has been appreciable improvement.

Blogging tips, a fishing rod at the King Pacific Lodge in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, Canada on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-18

Experimenting with extreme depth of field and becoming more imaginative

Blogging tips working in black and white portraiture, lone fisherman in Trinidad, Cuba on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-231

Despite a love of colour, more B&W experimentation is likely in future

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Comments 13

  1. Jan

    I am new to blogging so there is so much to learn. While the technical aspects are still a real challenge for me, I am enjoying the brain stretch it provides. I really enjoyed your piece on self critique – and I wish there were more articles written by experienced bloggers to help beginners like me understand what is/is not important. Thanks

  2. Rachel

    I love your photos, they’re so colorful especially that one with the birds doing their formation or something.. it’s really amazing, and congratulations, you really did come out with a great result. And yes I do agree that you should know how to accept criticisms, for it will help you improve doing your job. Also accepting feedback from anyone, not just from those with higher positions than you are, for me that’s healthy.

  3. Cristina

    I always try to continue learning and be open to constructive criticism. Photography is still something I’m trying to perfect and I always ask myself, is this something I would want to read myself?

  4. Air Craft De Ice

    Great site. Thank a lot for posting that. I will definitely check to this site to read more and recommend my neighbors about it.

  5. Michaela

    Great site and post. I’m actually going to fire myself from blog design pretty soon. I am pretty critical with my site, but I’m no expert. The effort used to become an expert and fix my site would be better spent on something I enjoy like writing and photography – which is useful and more fun. 🙂 I plan pay someone to do the final design things.

    I agree that bloggers should do more to help each other out with constructive criticism and recommendations for improvement. While blogging groups are helpful for many questions, they still lack the kinsman-ship to really address some of the design issues. At times, I haven’t felt qualified to address design issues that I thought may hurt a blog.

    Thanks for an insightful post.

  6. Paul

    Great update. I’ve been in this mode of thinking lately too. For years my blog was just somewhere to dump my photos for family and friends to be able to see, but since I relaunched it this week, nothing is sacred. I want people to see my photos, read my stories and get inspired. I’m realising very quickly that there’s a long way to go!

  7. Gary keywood

    Hi, just read your piece on blogging for the simple reason I have just dipped my toes into this world, would be great if you could take a moment and have a look at what I’ve done so far. It’s only been going I think two weeks this Sunday and the first mini blog about Cornwall I put down in less than ten minutes but I guess that’s obvious, just to get the ball rolling. Weebly the site I’ve used is quite easy but I’m almost computer illiterate so it has to be, critisise as much as you like all help for the future would be most appreciated G

  8. Jack Crowe

    “Self congratulation for every piece of work produced regardless of the quality is self-deluding.” Talk about self critique. Damn man. Great post for every blogger who wants a better version of oneself. Enjoyed every word of it.

  9. Rakesh

    This is what one has to take from the criticism. Taking the positive and moving on in life is what we need the most.
    It is good piece of article. I am glad that I came across this. Keep Posting.
    Cheers!!

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