101 Posts & Counting: So Where Do We Go from Here?
Wow – so in just under a year we have done some really amazing things here, and sometimes it’s good just to take a step back for a moment and reflect over where we started, how far we’ve come, and just how much work we poured into taking a simple thought or idea and transforming it into the blog you’re reading today.
This is a lot more than just a blog to us or just another online project. Jon and I have both grown up camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, and otherwise finding our peace in the great outdoors. Even as education, life, and the skills we’ve shown led us to office jobs, there’s no question that when it was time to re-set the mind or let the stress peal away it was time to hit the beach, all meet up with Dad for a fishing trip at Lake Erie, or a hike exploring Alaska’s true wild or Austin’s amazing Green Belt hiking trails (two of my happiest places). The outdoors have always been important to us, and remains so.
So this thought of celebrating how far we’ve come – it’s important but in a way that is a really weird thought because it feels like we’ve barely gotten started and barely scratched the surface (which in many ways is actually true) and yet this is post #101 and we have typed 183,451 words before this post.
To put that in perspective word-wise that is:
- Approximately the size of 3.5 young adult novels
- Just under the size of two average sized adult novels
- About 77% of a single Song of Ice & Fire George R.R. Martin novel
- Almost 40% of War & Peace – that legendary thick tome
- Nearly 18% of the entire Harry Potter series
- Nearly 4.6% of the entire U.S. Tax Code
That’s just words that have been published. Between guest posts on other blogs (thanks for the opportunities, guys!), e-mails, Facebook posts, Google+ posts, research notes, draft posts, and tossed away ideas, we’ve easily moved past 200,000 words by this point.
That is a whole hell of a lot of writing.
And we’re hoping to triple our production this year because…we’re passionate sadists? We bite off more than we can chew? We drink too much whiskey during out planning sessions? Might have to get back to ya’ll on that but none of those factors change one thing: we love this site and pour our passion into it because we love everything about the Great Outdoors.
How Our Website Started
To nobody’s surprise who knows either one of us, the idea for Amazing Outdoor Adventures started with the two of us in a bar at a trendy little downtown Mexican restaurant/bar at around 3 p.m. We both remember having strong drinks…we don’t remember if we had food or not. With us, who knows? Not a given, for sure.
After talking about our past failed start up and blogging efforts several years previous, we talked about doing this work again, this time around a passion project.
Movement went two bars over, and over several strong whiskey and cokes we scribbled out notes, a basic website set up, a really loose year long strategy, and what I had learned from Spencer Haws’s internship program in early 2016. We both knew what to expect over the year, what each of us was responsible for, and committed to making it work this time.
So in a bar over bar napkins, note pad scribbles (barely legible to even the most skilled of code masters), multiple whiskey and cokes, and a lot of excitement Amazing Outdoor Adventures was the name we both liked to share our passion of the great outdoors and see if it could help us fund more outdoor adventures – maybe even provide for ourselves and our families down the line.
Things developed really slowly at first but a little bit of traffic here a small trickle there and by September/October we started seeing about $30 a month in sales and a steady movement of more traffic. The money is nice (shameless plug: support us by shopping at Amazon) but even more gratifying was the fact we were providing the information and resources that other outdoor enthusiasts could trust.
Traffic picked up going into the Christmas season, and with a really strong dedication to putting out new material in the early part of this year, we’ve seen that traffic explode. We get nearly 9,000 unique visitors a month now, which was about as much as we got all of last year. We couldn’t be more thrilled, and we feel really blessed.
We hope as we keep putting out more incredible in-depth writing that those numbers will continue to grow, and we thank each and every one of you for the visits. Seriously, this isn’t lip service. It is really touching to us that our love for the outdoors, hiking, camping, and everything else are so widely shared and we can be so helpful.
Our main writing goal: To ALWAYS put out the absolute best content you’re going to find anywhere online. If you’re not putting out the best information, then what’s the point? We want to be known as THE place to go.
Let’s face it: you don’t go half-assed with something you love. We pour so much time, research, and effort into these posts – and seeing that many visitors tells us that a lot of people appreciate it, and that matters a lot to us. So thank you all!
So What’s Next?
That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it. Jon and I love writing for this blog and seeing it grow, but man, even as a writer this is a lot of work and we’re not anywhere remotely close to being able to just commit to this blog for making a living.
So we both have work, community involvement, family life, all the other responsibilities. This is a passion project but it is also a side thing. We have the overly-ambitious goal of creating three times as much content as year 1 and no idea how to pull that off, but go big or go home so we’re choosing to take a chance with going big and see just how close we can get.
While we have covered so much information, covered so many outdoor products and topics, there are also so many things we’re passionate about we’ve barely touched.
A few examples on my part:
Current info on fishing:
- One blog post on carp fishing gear
- Jon’s picture of a Lake Erie walleye on the “About Us” page
- One blog post on Mares spearguns (it’s fishing related)
- A series of blog posts on fish finders
While that last one is a bit of a saving grace from what would otherwise be near complete neglect, it doesn’t even scratch the surface on fishing. Really, seriously, that’s all we have on fishing right now. Us who went to Canada for years on high adventure trips, who go to Lake Erie for walleye fishing, who grew up fishing and have caught 100s upon 100s of bass, walleye, and northern pike.
That’s it, that’s all we have after a year on fishing. It’s not that we don’t care – it’s just that’s all that’s come up in our first 100+ blog posts.
This is one area I would like to see us cover a lot more. We haven’t even touched most saltwater fishing, fly fishing, or most fishing gear. When you think outdoors fishing tends to be in the big three just like hunting (which we also haven’t touched) and camping (here we’ve done GOOD – and yet there’s STILL so much more to go, *resigned laughter*).
Hiking is another area I’m passionate about that we’ve briefly touched on a couple of times, but even then it’s:
Yup. And I’m super passionate about hiking – it’s my #3 behind travel and camping, and obviously all three of these are tied together. I guess you could include the posts on signaling for rescue in a wilderness survival situation or surviving animal attacks, but even then to me those are different kinds of posts (and I’d like to write more of those, too).
So What’s This All Mean?
At the end it means there are major things I really want to do and things Jon really wants to do, and we have a few exceptional outdoor oriented friends who might show up for a few posts on the blog this year. This is also a long way to basically keep in mind that if you’re a hunter, hiker, adventure traveler, or outdoor blog enthusiast who wants to see a lot more than what we’ve covered – we’re getting there. This is definitely a long-game type of process!
So what am I looking at for year 2?
- A lot more diving into fishing topics this year. This just seems like an area we haven’t come remotely close to covering properly and I’d be much happier if we could get 20-40 posts on this over the next year.
- Introducing more travel posts. Guys, I’m a travel junkie. I spent most of my twenties eschewing a career or putting off school to travel. No regrets on that, and I’m all about the adventure travel and would love to open up those posts on here.
- More straight out blog posts. They might not be money makers but I enjoy them, I think voice is important, and sometimes you don’t necessarily want information – sometimes a good story hits the spot.
- I want to hike the Effigy Mounds in all 4 seasons with my brother and record the results
- Get out more this year myself and share more of those stories with ya’ll
- A touch up on website design – category pages and the such so if you find one good article you can click on the top and find all of them in a category. Not a necessity since our on-site search is really good, but that would be a nice convenience.
- And of course creating 300% more content this year than last because yes, still crazy (and possibly mildly intoxicated)
Jon, I’m sure, has his own long list of things he wants to see, as well. While his complete list is something we’ll want to visit later to make sure we have it up, he’s a little bit more on the go and a little bit less on the plan, but I know at least a few of his big goals for the blog over the next year of its existence, including:
- Bringing more posts about products you guys probably don’t know about or haven’t heard of. Some of his favorite posts are about these “cool new things” because, hey, the joy of discovering something cool. So upside down life jackets, pocket sling shot crossbows, & connect tents are the type of posts Jon wants to find a lot more of in 2017-2018
- More personal fishing & camping pictures & stores
- He’s all about the Effigy Mounds 4 Season hikes – if he can somehow get away four days away from the energy-filled little kids for a while (they’re not quite old enough for that level of hiking)
- And of course 300% more content, although he agreed with the weird words of “What the **** are you thinking?” Weird. English – not his strong point.
Hopefully it goes without saying we want the quality to be as good as ever. In the same way we absolutely update our top 5 or top 10 lists based on products getting better (or unfortunately in a few cases this year when we had to revise the list, worse) we always want to make sure everything we put out is quality. In fact, it’s our goal that whenever we write Google sees the absolute best article on the Internet on that topic because that’s what we’re trying to provide our readers with.
Here’s A Beer For All Of Us
There are already so many ideas for camping, hiking, and fishing trips in the months ahead, travel hopes and plans, and let’s face it after nearly 200,000 words of writing and an ever increasing number of readers, it’s nice to take a step back and take a toast. So here’s me raising a PBR while simultaneously remembering $1 can days in Alaska with great friends and company, and toasting to the work that’s been done, the work that’s being done, and the work that we will be pounding away at to get done over the next year and beyond.
Since we don’t have our own comedy channel (yet), I’m going to end this post with what seems appropriate: a great Red Green sketch. Enjoy!