Though I watched snow fall outside my window only a few days ago, today marks the beginning of spring and also a seasonal upgrade for The Black and Blue. Like spring, this update feels fresh, open, and is a natural aphrodisiac after a long winter.
Visually speaking, this update to version 4.1 from version 4.0 of The Black and Blue – launched last October – is minor. But under the hood are some excellent improvements that will help provide you with more and better content as well as a faster website to read it on.
What this upgrade really comes down to are three major changes:
1. New Daily Content with Link Posts
Starting today, I’m taking The Black and Blue in a new direction with the ability to share links related to filmmaking, cinematography, and freelancing as short, quick posts. This is something I’ve always done on Twitter and kind of did with the short-lived Focal Points series, but 140 characters is too few to post any meaningful thoughts and Focal Points was limited as well.
In some parts of the web, they call this “micro blogging.” You may be familiar with websites like Daring Fireball, Loop Insight, or The Dish which post short, daily excerpts or thoughts on a particular topic. I want to bring that style to this site.
But don’t fear – long-form original content is always going to have its home on The Black and Blue. The daily updates will be in addition to the longer articles you come here to read and that I love to write.
One thing you should not expect is for The Black and Blue to change into a gear news site. Though daily posts can be a slippery slope into camera announcements, press releases, and software updates, I will only write about these things if I feel I have a unique perspective to contribute.
I am excited for this change. It will allow me to share with you content on a daily basis (I can’t reasonably write 2,000 word articles every single day and still live my life or have a career) while still keeping The Black and Blue focused on below-the-line filmmaking tips and advice.
2. Unique Sponsorship Platform
One big change I made last October in launching the redesign of this site was to remove all third-party advertising. Banner ads are difficult to work into a design and keep it clean, lean, and enjoyable. By their very nature, most banner ads have to get in the way of the flow to be noticed. They also:
- Slow down page load times
- Track users across the web
- Can be annoying or look ugly
It was a decision that, as a reader of my own site, was easy to make. But as the owner of the site, the loss of the ad revenue was a tough pill to swallow. After all, servers, mailing lists, premium plugins, and other services add up to quite a hefty bill.
So, today I’m announcing a brand new sponsorship platform that will offer sponsors the opportunity to connect with you – the educated, discerning, and creative audience of The Black and Blue – in a way that’s respectful and non-invasive.
Each sponsorship is exclusive and lasts one week. Sponsors will get a link on the homepage, at the bottom of each post, and an image ad within the menu. They’ll also be mentioned as sponsors of the site on Twitter, Facebook, in a new weekly email newsletter, and a brief post at the end of the week.
(If you have a company, brand, or product you wish to promote, check out sponsorship details here)
Now you might be thinking, “Oh great, he’s selling out on us.”
But please trust that I have tremendous respect for you as a reader of this site and I appreciate that you devote your time, attention, and energy to The Black and Blue. Because of that, the sponsorships are designed to be tasteful. The idea is you decide if a sponsor is worth looking into and, if not, you can continue to enjoy articles without flashing animations or popovers or video ads randomly playing.
Once the first sponsor goes live in the next week or two, I welcome you to submit any feedback you have about sponsorship. This site belongs to you just as much as it belongs to me, so I want to make sure you understand the direction it’s going.
3. Faster, Cleaner, More Secure Backend
Many of the changes made in 4.1 took place behind-the-scenes in the markup, code, and scripts that combine together on the server to show you the page you’re reading. I fixed literally hundreds of errors that arose from the last design. I cut out a lot of fat from custom functions written for the site. And I added extra security to an already hardened WordPress backend and server.
What does this mean for you? You’ll see a significant boost in how fast this website loads.
The end result of these behind-the-scenes changes is a website that will load faster for you, be more secure for the both of us, and provide a good foundation to continue building the site on in the future.
Other Stuff that Makes This Update Awesome
Besides the major upgrades listed above, several minor updates were implemented as well such as:
- A brand new homepage (take a look!)
- No more social plugins – just custom buttons to share links
- Made the top menu bar not as annoying when scrolling
- A design refresh for the Depth of Field Test
- Changes to fonts and typography
For a complete list of changes, you can see the version history here.
The Next Chapter of The Black and Blue
This update is the next chapter in the long novel that is The Black and Blue.
I have some pretty cool articles lined up for the next few weeks (including our 500th post!) and now that I’ve added the capability to do link posts, you’ll be seeing many more posts published.
As always, you keep reading and I’ll keep writing!
Thanks for your support and please let me know what you think of the changes!