Reboot

The History

A couple of years ago, I started writing a blog on hobbies.  People said it would be fun and it would give me a lot of writing practice.  I searched the internet for places to blog and settled on blogger because it came so highly recommended.  Most people explained that it was easy to use, looked pretty good, and that I had a chance to make some money.  That all sounded attractive to me.

They were quite correct.  Setting up the blog, and others, was quite easy.  I generally liked the look of it and was quite satisfied with the results.  I tried my hand at the money thing in various incarnations but failed to cash in on that.  This was the result of a combination of overzealousness by my students and a lack of page views .  If you don’t attract the people, you probably won’t be the next internet sensation.

Nonetheless, I soldiered on.  What I found was that I liked the writing and I enjoyed the small amount of interaction with readers.  It just didn’t grow at all, and very few people left any comments.  At the time, I figured this was normal, but I wondered why blogging was popular if you didn’t get a lot of comments.

Then a funny thing happened.  I started a blog on WordPress (the free one) because I just wanted to write something different.  While it isn’t a runaway hit (or featured on Freshly Pressed) it did seem to garner more of a following.  I realized that WP did a better job of promoting within itself, and creating a community of bloggers.

So that’s why I am here.  I am hoping for a bigger audience and greater interaction.  Only time will tell, but I am quiet optimistic.

The Name

When I started on Blogger, I called this blog Jack of All Hobbies.  I thought I was being witty.  I figured people would get the allusion to jack of all trades, master of none.  Instead, people just thought my name was Jack (which it isn’t) and I wasn’t smart at all.  I probably should have changed the title, but by then it just seemed like too much work.  As of now, I am trying to decide if I should be “A Man with Too Many Hobbies” or “Too Many Hobbies–So Little Time.”  Please let me know what you think.

The Future

I will continue to write about hobbies and anything that resembles a hobby.  My definition is quite broad, so you never know what I will write about.  Figure that books, things Japanese, food, cycling, and models will all be part of it.  Then again, it could be stamps, cards, exercise or YouTube.  Who really knows.

I will also have to play with the format quite a bit–so expect some changes.  We will see what works and what doesn’t.  Feel free to give your opinion.

A Look Back

I will eventually delete this blog, but if you want to see how it looked, please check here.  If the link is broken, that means I deleted the page.

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On Blogging

Blogs are funny things.  Maybe at first it is an exercise in writing.  Perhaps it is practice for a future writing career.  Maybe it is even therapeutic.  Primarily, so we think at first,  we write them for ourselves, but then things change.  We want to attract readers and comments.  We want to interact, or at the very least be recognized for our contribution.
I have read countless articles on how to attract readers–increase traffic, if I am to use the jargon of the trade.  I have read numerous stories of writers being approached by companies to pitch their products, or at the very least, review them.  I have read blogs by people who seemingly make their living off them.
I don’t mean for this to sound all negative.  Instead, I just want to understand my feelings toward it a little better.  I want this blog to attract readers, but have started to think that it is difficult.  Unlike WordPress (where I write a different blog) there doesn’t seem to be a way to get other bloggers interested in this one.  The “featured blogs” haven’t changed since I started and choosing “next blog” often leads me to blogs written in languages I can’t understand.
The tales of financial independence seem equally distant.  While I appreciate the ability to plug in third person advertising, it hardly seems profitable.  No one has approached me with review jobs and very few comments have indicated where to find this.
The odd thing is, despite all that I have written, I have no intention of giving up on it.  In the end it may not offer financial salvation, nor even any real growth, but I still enjoy putting the words on the screen.  I still enjoy expressing myself.  I guess blogging has become my hobby.

Writing a Successful Blog

 
I can’t really be sure what anyone’s motivation for writing a blog is.  I know what mine is…. or at least I have a reason which seems to resonate with me.  I want to be a writer, and this is practice.  When you think of the way the publishing world has gone digital, maybe this is more than practice.  Maybe this is writing.  There is no editor, so no way to judge whether I am being successful at this or not.

Before I became a blogger, I read quite a few blogs.  The seeming ease at which they created content bolstered me quite a bit.  Since becoming a blogger, I have read a lot more.  Some update their content regularly.  Others, seem to have lost steam and haven’t posted in a year…except those that posted self-chastising blogs about how they have to blog more.  I’ve read blogs that have fewer followers than I, and others that seem to have a legion of followers and readers.

How do you measure a successful blog.  Is it the number of followers?  I can’t be sure of that, since quite a few people told me that signing up to be a follower was a passé way of doing things.  Things in the digital age move quickly.  In a few years things like Instagram and Facebook might no longer be relevant.  Sacrilege?  Does anyone remember MySpace?

Do you measure success in the number of page views?  I must confess that I do.  When I see someone’s blog has ten times the number of page views that I’ve got, I get a little bit jealous.  I spend time on Facebook pestering my friends to check out my blog.  I comment on other blogs, hoping that some of their readership will get curious.

Do you measure success based on the number of comments people make?  This sounds reasonable, but doesn’t register with me.  Not only due to the dearth of comments, but also because of my perspective.  If people really wanted to comment, they could probably start their own blogs.

I keep writing, and I alternate between feelings of success and disenchantment.  I enjoy it, but I do hear that voice, occasionally, that wonders why I am doing this.  When I need to answer this voice, I just point out that if Hemmingway were alive today, he would probably have a blog and if Shakespeare were alive today, he would probably be making clips for YouTube.

To Blog or not to Blog…really too late to ask this question.

A Friend in Need…… Indeed

My friend needs a hobby.  Obviously, as a proponent of hobbies I feel like everyone needs a hobby.  My friend, however, needs one more than most.  Most people have hobbies, whether they see them as hobbies or not.  Some people follow sports, some follow TV shows (collecting their seasons either by buying the DVD’s or acquiring them from some online source),  and then some take up jogging.

My friend, though athletic, doesn’t want to take up a fitness trend.  There are lots of them out there now–there are quite a few infomercials dealing with that–and I know some people who have become absolutely ripped doing them.  My friend doesn’t want to pursue the kinds of hobbies I do–building model trains or cars doesn’t suit him.  Maybe he doesn’t think he has the dexterity (maybe he doesn’t) or the patience, or even an eye for colour (he’s American so he would prefer I write that he doesn’t have an eye for color–but it’s my blog dammit, and I will write the way I want.

I know, I should probably let him pick out his own hobby.  And normally I would do this.  Really, who wants someone telling them what to do.  Well, in fact, in the end, he will choose for himself.  I just want my readers (few in number, but strong in wisdom) to give his some advice.

Left to his own devices my friend has considered some hobbies on his own, though the results have only given me cause for worry.  He has proposed indulgence in heroin and other recreational chemicals, and though he was kidding, the fact that the joke crossed his mind means he is bored and wants to do something.

His latest proposal is pipe smoking.  I can’t gauge his seriousness because our Skype connection doesn’t allow for really good reading of facial details.  I suspect he is serious.  Then again, do people still smoke pipes?  I don’t recall seeing anyone do that in a long time.  I know that there are still tobacco shops (at least in Canada) but I thought that they were mostly for people who want to buy Cuban cigars, or rolling papers for smoking marijuana–though I do go there to buy pipe cleaners to clean my airbrush– but they always have to root around in a drawer for them, so they can’t be that popular–can they?

My friend has shown an affinity for some TV shows, but he gets bored easily.  He could become a movie watcher, but I am not sure he has the patience.  Basically he needs something that he can pickup, and drop at a whim, that won’t take up too much space, won’t require too much concentration or money, and doesn’t involve a huge effort.   I am not sure he wants other people to be involved or not.

I have presented a negative picture of my friend, and as for thinking of a hobby that is very intentional.  I have proposed many things, only to be shot down, so I have stopped doing that.  However, my friend is a good person, a GREAT friend, incredibly moral and loyal, puts other people above himself far too often, as well as being funny and helpful.

He does crosswords, and he might be working on a Codeword book I sent him.  In addition to that he is a voracious reader, and has a huge amount of stories buried deep inside him.

I want to help, but frankly, I am stumped.