A Trip Down Prepper Blogging Memory Lane

I was perusing various prepper websites to see what’s happened during the last week, who has written what, and what’s worth linking to. While people have generated more content, there wasn’t anything exceptionally new or interesting that caught my attention. That’s when I got to thinking. I’ve been writing about prepping for … gosh, going on over a decade now. Perhaps that’s part of my challenge in finding “new” content. I feel like I have seen it all in one fashion or another. It seems like, no matter what the subject, there are few original ideas to be had these days.

That’s not to say there’s nothing to write about. What I sometimes have to remind myself of is that although I feel like I have read most everything, that doesn’t mean others haven’t. No matter what the topic, there is always a way to present a new angle on an old subject. For this post, however, I thought it might be interesting to recall how things have changed over a decade in blogging about prepping. A lot has changed since then, and much has stayed the same.

When I started blogging, “prepping” wasn’t as popular as it is now. There were far fewer other sites, and we all interacted in a cooperative fashion. The staple website was, of course, James Rawles’ Survival Blog. Rawles was the only one making any money off his site. The rest of us were just goofing off, it seemed, until prepping became more popular and people started wanting to advertise on our sites as well.

There were three other sites that I also remember. One was M.D. Creekmore’s The Survivalist Blog. Creekmore was changing his site often during those early days, and at one point, was just copying and pasting public domain content. He eventually found his groove, however, captured an audience, and built a successful business off his site.

Then there was James Dakin’s site, Bison Prepper. His site wasn’t/isn’t exactly a full-on prepper site, but he did cover the subject in his often profanity-filled, questionable-content posts.

Another site I recall was called Total Survivalist Libertarian Rant Fest. The original site seems to be gone, but the most prominent writer is keeping it up at Total Survivalist.

Lastly, there was Commander Zero. His bare bones sites has changed very little since it started, and he’s still going strong.

At the time, I was building SHTFBlog from the ground up, and the field of sites was largely limited to mine and those I just listed. Time changes everything, however.

Chalk it up to Katrina, the Great Recession, or whatever you’d like, but prepping really started taking hold. With that increased interest came increased money. People were buying products to prepare for whatever catastrophe they feared, and businesses started popping up to cater to them. Traffic to my site was steadily increasing, and other were experiencing the same thing. Businesses then started asking me to review products that they’d ship to me for free. I was trading advertising space for things like Eotech holographic sites. I was stoked! Soon I was charging money for that ad space, hiring writers, and – eventually – breaking into publishing books. Prepper Press was born and my available time for blogging was becoming more and more limited. I sold the site to one of the writers.

That writer then did what he could, and eventually sold the site. Then the new owners – yup, sold the site. I think it has since been bought and sold one more time since then. I’ve lost track!

Blogging is hard work. Those that just peruse sites may not realize it, but to keep at it, consistently, is serious work. Everything ebbs and flows, however, and the interest in prepping seemed to peak out. Since that time, a few years ago, roughly, traffic at many sites I’ve kept in contact with has slowed to a standstill (if they’re lucky). Peak prepping had hit and there were sites upon sites upon sites upon sites trying to grab everyone’s attention. The competition got stiff.

With that stiff competition, ideas to write about became harder and harder to come by. Everyone was writing about everything. How many blog reviews can you find about the latest AR15 optic these days? They’re everywhere. Same goes for dehydrated food, water filters, etc.

That time is fading, however. Things have certainly seemed to have cooled off. While prepping hasn’t gone anywhere, the heydays have passed, or are at least on hold. What I find most interesting, however, is that the folks that were in it when I started are still going strong. Why? Because they love the subject. Backdoor Survival is one such site. It’s stood the test of time and it’s still going. These sites that started early, rode out the popular wave, and still stick with it are the sites that stand the test of time. They’re legit. The sites that just popped up when prepping became popular, they were never in it for the love of prepping. They were in it for the money, and when the money dries up, so do they.

I’m curious now, of Backdoor readers, when did you start following blogs on this subject? What, if anything, have you noticed that’s changed?

  1. I started reading prepper blogs during the recession because I needed to re-establish a large food pantry to see me through any potential loss of income, and I wanted to be more methodical about it than I had before. I stopped reading them when it seemed they were deliberately trying to scare their readers by being sensational rather than accurate. I’ve recently started reading them again and have been able to find several to read that present quality information on how to prepare for all sorts of emergencies and disasters. At the same time, I’ve found an abundance of YouTube channels and blogs dedicated to homesteading. Almost all of the homesteaders are preppers as well, they’re just choosing to present it differently or use different labels. What I like about the homestead angle is the positive approach to being prepared and self sufficient rather than a fear based approach. That’s what I want to read in a prepper blog as well. It’s a good thing to be ready. It’s a confidence builder.

  2. When I retired from banking in 2007, I started a hobby farm, then began studying about homesteading and self sufficiency. THEN the political climate in our nation started to seriously concern me and the term “prepper” first crossed my mind. I read a LOT of blogs, bought a LOT of prepper stuff, and spent 5 or 6 years getting most of the bases pretty well covered. All the while, I was still hobby farming and learning homesteading skills. That’s where I’m at. I’ve gotten about as ready as I can, and my focus is on growing my own food and disconnecting from the “system.” It’s a lifestyle I enjoy, it’s healthy, it’s peaceful, and it’s the best way I can think of to be prepared for whatever comes our way.

    1. “It’s a lifestyle I enjoy, it’s healthy, it’s peaceful, and it’s the best way I can think of to be prepared for whatever comes our way.” I couldn’t agree more.

  3. Interesting observations. I’ve been at it for almost 10 years as well, and it is indeed hard work. Anyone who hasn’t tried operating a site doesn’t know all of what’s involved.My site’s small potatoes, so it hasn’t made the splash some have. Those in the know tell me there’s still a need for prepping info, even though interest in prepping waxes and wanes. Apparently it takes scares like what happened in 2012 to get the attention of many.

    1. Keep at it. If you see it as a hobby and an interest, and not as a business, you’ll position yourself for long-term success. The people that got into it strictly to make money didn’t have what it takes to stick with it when the going got tough.

  4. Wow! Great history. I didn’t know any of it. To answer your question: I started by reading a site that was about going green in baby steps. I learned one thing. Cloth toilet rags. Five or six years later I still use and launder a laundry basket size collection of rags made from old clothes. T-shirts and flannel are the only fabrics that work.

    Okay, so that was homesteading, not prepping. I made my own yogurt and granola. There is overlap between homesteading and green living and prepping. A very short step.

    Backdoor Survival was either the first blog I read or the first one I liked. It was the first one I subscribed to. And today the only one I subscribe to.

    In all these years there were only two others I liked. One by Todd in Georgia, and one by Linda Loosli. But I didn’t read those for long.

    As soon as someone gets all family and mommy oriented, I can’t unsubscribe fast enough. Todd is the best at outdoor skills, but I just wasn’t progressing fast enough to keep up.

    Week after week for about five or six years, I am thrilled with every new blog post. I really want to read what Gaye has to say. That has never changed.

    Lately the articles have really been on point. I can’t say enough about the post that summarized disasters around the world AND related it to the skills we have been learning on Backdoor Survival all these years.

    BDS has relevant articles and a clean layout. I literally do not read any other related blogs. We love Gaye!

  5. I started following Flu Wiki (Old Yellow) in 2006 when the threat of a pandemic from H1N1 avian influenza was high. It was a forum that discussed prepping, as well as scientific topics on influenza. At the time, I was a member of the Mormon church, who encourages prepping.
    The biggest change I’ve seen is the number of companies that sell food storage/prepping supplies. Even Walmart has a large selection now. Prepping seems to be more socially acceptable now.

    1. It’s definitely more socially acceptable now. When I started you didn’t want to talk about it with people because they thought you were a wacko survivalist!

  6. Good to see you here on BDS, Derrick. Believe it or not, I had no idea that you were a SHTF blogger at one point. Let me offer a couple of personal perspectives on survival-centric blogs.

    First of all, there was indeed a heyday when many of us thought that a global food shortage was eminent. That is why, in my opinion, so many folks started to get serious about food storage. Food and food related articles was an easy entry into the world of prepping because we all need to eat, right?

    Next, natural disasters were occurring all over the planet. Most notably there was Fukushima. Then there was Ebola landing in North America. The combination of these events created fear and the enlightened (in my opinion) wanted to prepare themselves for such an even landing on their back porch.

    Coupled with that was the overall sexiness of the topic “survival” and the proliferation of extreme survivalist tactics as portrayed by Doomsday Preppers and the like. Guns, ammo, knives, and bunkers hit a wannabe nerve with many and made the prospect of prepping uber cool.

    All of this had the smell of money and enterprising bloggers started up their sites with just that in mind: making money. Many did not understand that blogging is a lot of work and if you are lucky, you will earn about $1 per hour of time you put into it. Of course, many of us eventually made more than that but it took a few years of essentially working for free to get there.

    The current lull in prepping has as much to do with maturation of the niche as anything else. Those who had an interest have jumped aboard but perhaps not with the same level of obsession as they did when they first started. Honestly? There comes a point when after evaluating risks, you have done enough.

    Anyway, I did not mean to ramble. Perhaps, who knows, I may write an article addressing this topic. Whatever the case, prepping to a greater or lesser extent is here to stay. It all gets down to individual needs.


    PS – Sorry if there are typos. I am writing this on a mobile device and for me, doing so is the pits.

  7. I’ve only been computer (semi)-literate for a few years but I’ve been into a prepared lifestyle since my old hippie back-to-the-land days. I still have a copy of the very first Mother Earth News when it was printed in black & white on newsprint. (I’m really old) Lol But you, my friend, were one of the first sites I frequented when I got my first laptop. Yes, I agree it’s hard to find fresh topics but it’s still good to hear from old friends. And I still learn new things.

  8. You will probably dislike my opinion on the subject. But it is what it is.

    I started reading up on prepping approximately 5-6 years ago. (2011-2012) Back then there were far fewer websites & blogs on the subject. Looking on the internet for info pertaining to preparedness & homesteading was like a treasure hunt.

    Now? It’s industrialized venality. Me? I’m a resource to be mined or harvested… For profit & nothing else.

    When I began researching for info on a self sustainable lifestyle there were many other like minded people doing the same. It was a community of people who felt that if they were going to make a difference in their own lives, they needed to help others do the same. It’s called building a community. We freely shared ideas & info, pointing each other in the right direction.

    Now the info is not only sold, it’s hawked so aggressively it would make the most eager high pressure used car salesman blush with shame. They use uncertainty about the future & fear mongering to make sales.

    I’m so tired of the impassioned pleas to ‘like’ or vote on a website. I don’t know how many times I’ve read reminders that a site thrives or dies on ‘clicks’ & that loyal readers need to share on social media so that the website will survive… It’s hard to find the blog content anymore because the websites are so unbelievably cluttered with clickable ads or the hot buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & other social media.

    Then… After all that hysteria, they want to SELL the info to their loyal readers.

    Good job bloggers! Thanks, but no thanks.

    I’ll just unsubscribe, opt out & go back to the library.

    1. Nothing wrong with your opinion, in fact, I think it’s in line with what I was saying. The sense of community that was present before the over-monetization of it all is now lacking. Yes, owning and operating Prepper Press does in part make me guilty of the same thing, but I did it out of interest first, profit second. Many of the people that flooded in as popularity gained had a profit motive first AND second.

  9. I began following this site and checking out a few others several years back following a local problem where due to a hurricane, my region suffered extended (2-4 weeks) electrical outages. I was luckier than some–my electricity was only out for two weeks, but others were not so lucky. Not long after that, quite a few businesses were either folding or laying off employees and a number of people were affected. I remember a lady on a local Freecycle group later told us how when her husband suffered a stroke, they had to get by on her salary alone, which barely covered their house payment. Her husband had not been enthusiastic about her prepping prior to that, but in their time of emergency, they managed to scrape by for six months until he was able to work again by using the supplies she had set aside.

    It would be easy if unexpected problems never happened, but unfortunately, we all know that they do. I am not sure that the end of the world is right around the corner, but it is not beyond belief that either a man-made or a natural disaster could take down the grid or part of it for a few months at a time– and that is apart from individual difficulties. My parents would have simply called this *being prepared for unexpected emergencies.* : )

    Common sense suggests that taking steps to make yourself and your family more comfortable during adverse conditions is the intelligent and practical thing to do.

    What I would like to see moving forward is the practical side being stressed, perhaps more posts on homemade versions of things for those who are handier, while still offering links to products that make prepping easier for those who are not or who have more financial wherewithal.

    Even more, I would like to see people encouraged to help one another by community-wide efforts. A few wells with manual pumps could supply water to a whole lot more people than scattered people buying personal water filters…esp. if there were no clear water sources within a few miles of their houses or town. Not saying at all that individual prepping is not important, though. I’d just like to see people coming together to help one another more. But, that is just me.

    (I would also like to suggest that whoever writes these posts identify themselves and give a date at the top of the column. I am a bit confused as to who wrote this post. It appears that it would be Gaye, as her name and picture are at the top and the post is in first-person, but I am not altogether certain that it is, as I don’t recognize her *voice* in the writing. An identification at the top would be both helpful and courteous, particularly as authors may change from column to column. Thanks! : )

    1. I like the community-wide aspect of your comment. To me, the logical next step for the prepper movement was not individual-based, but collective, a return to neighbors knowing neighbors, helping one another in a cooperative fashion. Sadly, I’m not sure it’s headed in that direction.

  10. I started seriously following prepper blogs around 2010 or so. There are only a couple I still follow, Backdoor Survival and MD’s site, Survival Mom and Organic Prepper. I found myself getting ‘burned out’ on the doom and gloom that seemed to surround the ‘prepper’ community. I found myself gravitating towards homesteading type groups and pages. There, I have found more education and encouragement. Homesteading and prepping are not exclusive to each other. In fact, I feel if you are a serious prepper, you are a homesteader too! But homesteaders don’t always consider themselves preppers, it’s just their ‘way of life’. Many prepping sites these days, I have found, are nothing more than ‘click bait’, or copying and pasting stuff from other sites. I understand it’s hard to constantly create ‘new’ info, but as you mentioned, there is always another angle to present.

  11. I began reading prepper blogs in 2011. There are many more of them now and also more repetition of subjects being discussed, which is why I’ve limited my reading to only a few sites. But since people have been prepping for longer, the comments sections of the blogs have become more interesting. They have lots of tips on what does and doesn’t work because they’ve had more time to experiment.

  12. I started following prepping and survival blogs about 7-8 years ago. This was one of the first ones I followed. It inspired me to start my own blog about six years ago. What I have noticed changing in prepping and survival blogs is that they are much more technical. They really go in depth about different areas of prepping. What attracted me to these blogs was that they were geared towards beginning preppers. Now, I am guessing as their prepping becomes more intensive, their blogging becomes more technical and intensive too. What I have noticed the most is the move away from teaching people to prep to talking about gear and micro-subjects within prepping.

    1. I think that’s a logical evolution. In the beginning things need to be wide-ranging and broad. As more people learn, it makes sense that topics become more focused. Thanks for your comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *