Architectural Blogging … It isn’t for Everyone

My computer is dying … I am systematically killing it with all the stuff I keep on here. One of the things that frequently happens when you write a blog like mine (i.e. a site that is graphically heavy with content) is that your hard drive fills up pretty quickly. Yes, I keep stuff in the cloud and have multiple external hard drives, but those items only delay the electronic death that I sense is coming.

To stem the inevitable for as long as possible, I take a deep dive into the hard drive from time to time to clean up/get rid of everything I possibly can. What you can’t possibly know, although I think most people can successfully imagine, is the depth of the rabbit-hole an activity like this becomes. All you have to do is try cleaning out the nightstand beside your bed and you’ll know exactly what I mean. There is so much quality entertainment in there, despite most of it being completely useless, that the purging activity tends to become an amusing trip down memory lane.

Because of this blog, I receive thousands of emails and comments, the quality of which is ridiculously wide-ranging. Most of what I receive is pretty straight-forward, and an incredibly small portion of what I receive is amazing – like “re-evaluate everything you thought to be true” amazing. The balance is made up of another sort of amazing … the sort of amazing that makes me scratch my head while showing it to other people to see if their take is any different than my own. I will frequently screen-grab some image or comment in an attempt to keep track of its existence – although I almost always fail at keeping track because there are too many.

I frequently dream of sharing the latter sort of correspondence and comments that I receive. If that was something that I thought I could do with a clear conscious, I would have years worth of amusing blog posts that would basically write themselves. I get all tingly just thinking about it. I thought I would share just one image just to give you a taste of the possibilities. Just below is a screen grab from my Life of an Architect Facebook page and one of the comments I received …

Traveling for Work

So the title of this post was “Traveling and Working” and the basic premise was that between working and lecturing, I tend to travel more than one might think for a firm the size of mine and that I enjoy work-related travel more as I get older. Once I shared this post on Facebook, as evidenced by the comment above, someone felt compelled to point out that you “During ancient Egypt, you could even get killed if you fail the Pharoah … So who says its a wonderful job.?

[needle scratching the record]

How did working for the Pharoah during ancient Egypt get in the conversation? I think I responded back to this comment something along the lines of “I will definitely avoid working for the Pharoah” … as if I had a choice since that last Pharoah died 1,998 years before I was born.

On occasion, I will use screen grabs, comments, and emails that I find entertaining as part of my lectures and presentations, but I have generally decided not to use these sorts of low-hanging fruit for potential blog posts because it feels a little mean-spirited to me. I am well aware of the fact that I just broke my own fair-play decency rule by sharing the Pharoah comment above – but for the record, while I think this comment was just a little outside the boundaries of the topic, if I squint, I can kind of see the point this individual is making. While I make being an architect sound awesome in my post, the reality is that being an architect isn’t awesome for everyone.

Fair enough.

I don’t know how to fairly address what it’s like for all the other people in this profession, so I just talk about what I know from first-hand experience … and even then people will still argue with me. In the past, I would try to explain that you can’t tell me that I’m wrong when I’m giving my opinion, that you can just disagree with me … but that has never worked.

In the 8+ years since I started blogging, I have gone through an interesting transformation, typically oscillating between various degrees of enjoying the experience and hating it, but even at its worst, it has always been entertaining. Unless you work in my office, chances are that you will never learn about all the wildly kooky emails and messages I receive … so sad (not really) but it is these sorts of emails and messages that are really what you’re signing up for when you start a blog. While it is the engagement that frequently makes blogging worthwhile, it is also the thing that brings the most amount of agony along with it. Some people have amazing patience and will email me over and over again, asking if they could submit an article “to my site”. Amusingly, most of those emails start like this:

Hi  , 
I was on your website and think the content is terrific. ….”

It’s clear that this is a form email and that they couldn’t be bothered to enter in my name OR adjust the spacing between the “Hi” and the comma (I can just imagine the training material telling the new employee to “insert name here”) along with the obvious cut and paste URL for my website, which is almost always in a different font style and size than the rest of the email.  I have an FAQ page and I decided a long time ago that I would address this request to submit guest posts right up front – as in, it’s the very first frequently asked question that I answered!!

If there is a guest post on my site, it’s because I know that person and I have asked them to write an article for me. I do not need any “high-quality articles that you think my readers will enjoy in exchange for a link embedded in the post.” My readers are clearly not interested in “high-quality posts” or they wouldn’t be on this site in the first place.

I told people that I was just going to delete their email if they sent me a request for host a guest post without checking my FAQ first …

It totally didn’t work.

They will just keep on emailing me over and over, “Did you receive my last email?” Arrggh!!

Here is just one example, which just happened.

Emails to Life of an Architect

Despite being pretty clear (I thought), Jennifer is still planning on sending along an article – an article that I can guarantee will not be something anyone wants to read, as well as including paid links buried within the content. I get these sorts of emails every single day and after 8 years, I will confess that it is exasperating.

If you are thinking about starting your own architectural blog, check with me first. Chances are pretty good that I will try and talk you out of it.

Bob signature FAIA

You can read the original post that spawned the Pharoah comment here: Traveling and Working … I happen to think it’s a pretty good post, regardless of the fact that the Pharoah might have killed me for displeasing him once upon a time in ancient Egypt.

Source: Life of an Architect