© 2009 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
"With some luck, the framework you have built will stand up to the pressure and keep you from becoming another skid-mark on the underwear of life experiences."
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Things have been a little different lately. With over 8000 unique hits per month and almost 12000 page views, I’m beginning to feel some pressure to up the writing ante a little more. After a long discussion with my good friend Mike Riddle of Native Hunt on the music industry and issues of marketing, and then working with and doing the interview with Scott Croner of Nebraska Hunting Company, I was doubly convinced that the time had come to really push and try to create something with even more value for my readers.
My buddy Rick over at Whitetail Woods happened to respond with a comment on the interview post. It got me thinking deeply about the following. I’ve been blogging seriously for about six months, and the question before me now is where and how do I go from here.
Rick made the comment that we as bloggers can bring business to people in the outdoor industry, and the unspoken converse is that we can just as easily demolish them. I hadn’t really thought of that with any intent. But as many of you know, I did both over the last few weeks. And when you stop to contemplate that, you find yourself realizing that you wield an enormous amount of influence when you write about someone or something. That’s quite a bit of responsibility. It is a lot of responsibility not only to the subjects of your articles, but especially to your readers.
The folks that read your blog are certainly expecting you to give them something of value. The desires may be different, and whether it is information, a respite from the day’s trials, humor, or moral support, they want value for their time. You have worked hard to build up that trust and relationship.
At a certain point though, you have to determine what it is that people come to you for. I really like the issues related posts like the high fence ones, and product reviews remain a favorite too. People really like the gossip ones, and the how-to articles also. It is the combination of those genera though that has made me a somewhat popular blogger. And it has brought me some attention from the bigger fish in the outdoor industry pond.
The one thing I have tried to do is stay honest with my writing. I write in my own voice, from my own experience, and using a style that I have developed over time that communicates in what I think is an effective manner. Now as my writing has matured, and the demands become greater, I find myself wondering how am I going to keep the Albert Rasch that everyone knows and either loves or hates, speaking to them.
When I found myself this past weekend wondering about that, I stopped and considered the ramifications. As you start to push the envelope, one of three things will happen: you throttle back to a comfortable range, keeping satisfied with what you have and the status quo. You break through and find a new pace in this new region, completely foreign to you, but exhilarating in its new opportunities and horizons. Or you get torn to pieces, burning up through the atmosphere as you splatter and crash in an uncontrollable wreck of furious destruction, to be forgotten in a couple of days.
Well, I’ve done the latter all together too many times, and the former is not that appealing; I mean really, I’m middle aged not dead. The middle choice though seems just about right. Fortunately having just about made it to the mid-century point, I have learned that it never hurts to lay off the throttle a moment, size up what is going on around you, then punching the afterburners. With some luck, the framework you have built will stand up to the pressure and keep you from becoming another skid-mark on the underwear of life experiences.
You might have noticed that I’ve been feathering the throttle on occasion here and there. Link posts, silly post and things of that nature. Those are the days when I am either working my way through another project, or setting up a project. Those lightweight posts, they serve a purpose too, they don’t just take up space. The link posts in particular are important in that they are there to help everyone, but they are pretty easy to put together and they give me time to work in depth and breadth on other things.
Going back to the framework, I think that as you mature as a blogger, and the assignments get tougher, you really have to sit down and decide what your core values are. I think I am fair, honest, flexible, hard driving, combative, credible, and honorable. And I think my writing reflects that. When you’re wondering how you should handle an opportunity or assignment, your stated values help you determine how to handle them. It really has made a difference for me to frame and build a structure around many issues by falling back on these values. I’ve also avoided a few things because there was no way to work within my values. The ability to walk away from things is what keeps you credible.
I have had the opportunity to work with several professionals in the outdoor industry recently. What I can tell you is that the last three weeks or so have been an altogether cram course in Al Gore’s Internet, marketing, SEO, Google, and stuff that I can regurgitate if not expostulate. I have learned about e-mail, g-mail, snail mail, and chain mail. The last one was coincidental by the way… along with SEO, B2B, B2C, CNC, NBC, AWHFY and assorted and sundry other shortcuts and what not. This past weekend though I hit the saturation point and I just had to slow it down. There are only so many acronyms you can remember, and only so much ingenuity at any given time in this brain.
Working with others in the outdoors industry has been a great experience for me and has added immeasurably to my ability to communicate with my readers. I am on my way to being able to put together better and more useful content that helps you be a better sportsman and outdoorsman.
A little introspection, some analysis, defined values, and a few clear goals will really help you focus on any project you may have in mind. Whether it is the next step in your plan to conquer the Internet, or your next post, having thought about it with a little more structure in place can only make it better, and perhaps easier on you. Reach out for advise, and be willing to stretch and learn new things. As I am fond of saying, the best investment you can make is that in yourself.
And of course I invite all of my fellow outdoor bloggers to always feel free to ask me about anything. Any time you need a hand I am always available and ready to assist, if you want to do a guest post, if you want me to do a guest post, blogging advise, some linking, or just to throw the bull around. The campfire always has space for one more, the pot of coffee is always fresh, and a tumbler of Bourbon is always handy.
Albert A Rasch
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...