Friday, July 8, 2011

I Don't Really Have A Good Title For This

It's been just over eighteen months since I started this blog.  When I think about the time that has passed, there's a disconnect - A year and a half isn't really a long time, yet the day I started the blog seems like it was ages ago.  This feels strange to me as I usually have a pretty good perspective on the passage of time.  But maybe this is how time should feel after I've spent the last two years of my life being more active than I've ever been while still trying to maintain the rest of my life, only to usually end up piling on more.

The truth is that when I got into triathlon, I immediately sensed that it was more than just training and racing - it was a community.  And this was a nice stroke of luck because I really needed a community.  It had been a rough couple of years - I was suffering from an awful case of self-doubt and was questioning everything about how I had lived my life up to point.  I jumped in with the hope that it would help me both build a new future and forget the past.  

One part of "me" that has generally proven itself equal parts beneficial and detrimental is my predisposition to take something I enjoy and try to commercialize it.  When I was growing up, music was all consuming.  So when I was given the opportunity for a career where music was a focal point, I naturally jumped at the chance.  If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know that opportunity was not always sunshine and ponies and has definitely had it's ups and downs.

When I got into triathlon, I couldn't help but also look at the business side of it as well.  There are many parallels between the sport and parts of the music business I have been involved in - they are both emerging "scenes" with a lot of innovation happening.  This was exciting to watch, and I spent a lot of time thinking about what I might be able to do to get involved.  Looking back, I wish I'd had the sense to stay focused on the sport only.

I must admit that originally this blog was a center-point of my ulterior motives.  I had Google ads.  I used the blog to try and launch a clothing line (failed).  I then used it to try and launch an online social network (also failed).  I did my share of product reviews.  Essentially, I was trying to build myself up as some sort of "brand" or "expert".

I lost interest in all of the business stuff a few months ago, mostly because it just wasn't fun.  Ultimately, the failures were the result of a lack of passion.  But I was passionate about triathlon and having a lot of fun - so why complicate things?  In fact, I was having so much fun with triathlon that I was starting to enjoy working in music again.  The thought occurred to me that maybe it made sense to not mix business with pleasure anymore.

There where early warning signs of the discontent that in hindsight I now realize I missed.  Example:  About a year ago Kovas and I reviewed some a fortified chocolate milk drink that was being pushed as the "ultimate recovery drink".  I remember thinking that the stuff was OK.  However (and I don't remember if it was me or Kovas), one of us mentioned to the marketing guy that there was a concern about how high in calories it was.  The marketing guy's response was somewhere in the neighborhood of "there are other athletes that are less concerned with calories that we will be focusing on."  Basically, Kovas and I were called fat (in marketing speak) by some a**hole because our review was a little less than glowing.  Great.

I'm also turned off when someone comes along and saturates the blog world with offers of sample products in return for blog coverage.  CSN comes to mind, as does some company that was trying to sell signs.  I know that I might be putting myself on a slippery slope with some of you here.  And I'm certainly not against blog giveaways and contests, because they are fun.  But over time, I realized something - there is a lot of advice out there in the world for the taking.  You know what, though?  The best advice I get consistently comes from the blogs.  And I think this is because we all have a lot in common.  At the end of the day, we are all amateur athletes.   We all work.  Many of us have families and children and all the responsibilities that come with that.  Many people would call it a day right there.  But we don't.  We find the time to train, race, push, learn, improve and share.  So for me it comes down to this - I'd rather hear what you have to say rather than what someone else wants you to say.

I'm going to keep it simple going forward.  No more hair brained business schemes.  And I'll be wearing this blog on my sleeve; no more ulterior motives.  I'm going to focus on doing my best to keep generating content from the first person.  Hopefully you'll like it and will continue to put up with my occasional twisted sense of humor.  Sure, if I come across something I really love then I'll tell you about it.  But I believe that the most authentic thing I can do is make my little corner of the community as white-noise free as possible.  Lord knows there is enough noise in the world and it's doubtful we need more.  Some of you figured this out a long time ago.  Well played.

And then I'm going to train, race, enjoy and repeat for as long as I can.  Sorry about the missteps. 


Jennifer said...

I really like your "new" approach! I am on the same boat and feel similar about the commercial side. I think we might have talked to the same energy drink guy; the stuff tasted yummy but lord it had enough calories for two whole meals. He was pretty rude I thought.

Keep up the good work Patrick. you are a talented writer and an observant commentator, that what is the best about your site, not the ads!


If you will notice the plethora of ads on my site... I am in agreement.

I have a job and this isn't it.

But if Trek or Zipp will send me a few aero wheels, I might change my mind....

Caratunk Girl said...

You are always awesome and honest, I love that about you and your blog. I do have some sponsors from being part of Trakkers, and since things cost so much in this sport, I am willing to plaster their logo on my site for free gear. I am all slutty like that. ;) But I won't do this for something I do not like or use, and I try to make my blog about what is going on with me and my training, not pimping products (although I do that occasionally).

Anyway, love your approach and your blog rocks.

MissFit Island said...

Well said!

M said...

What a lovely post. And I totally agree about the CSN/sign thing. Le sigh.

It's nice to, umm, have you back?? :-D

Unknown said...

Extremely well stated Patrick! You are in a good place right noe my friend! I hear ya on the giveaway stuff and pretty much agree.

However, everyone does this for a reason and if that reason is to get free shit then good for them.

My reason is because I need a place to mind-dump. My wife, family, and friends can only take so much endurance talk - you guys, on the otherhand, suck it all up!

Have a good weekend!

Tri4Success said...

Very interesting post and feels like I could have written it myself. My initial approach to blogging was like yours. Fortunately, blogging about a whole family getting active has kept me too busy to ever develop the commercial aspect, and by now I've seen the flaws in the system. End result is an unintentional side-stepping of exactly what you went through.

misszippy said...

I wouldn't call anything you've done a misstep--there's nothing wrong with trying to marry passion with making a living. And many of us aren't willing to take the risks you have, so kudos.

I've never doubted getting authentic material here, so keep it coming. And if anyone is offended by your comments, well, then they go elsewhere. It's the life of blogging.

ShutUpandRun said...

Love the honesty here. The blog thing is tricky. Keeping authenticity should always be the primary goal. Once you stray from that, it's over. I'll keep coming back to read your "real" writing and thoughts.

J. L. said...

I'm glad you're going to "keep it going" I just finished my first 70.3 I had no one to train with, and no one that I knew of that was doing a HIM. So many times it was blogs like yours that kept me going, so THANK YOU! And sometimes it's the fact I now have someone to laugh at when I pay for a $3.59 bill in change that makes me appreciate your blog.

Emz said...

Were you that huge freaking fly on my wall last night? Actually, it was trying to fly right into my eye/nose region but.....seriously.....
Freaking. Freaking. Crazy.
The pita & I had this almost exact talk last night.
Blogs present opportunities. Which is awesome.

Ahem....[I hate the word "however"]

If I'm so caught up in #'s [followers, giveaways, self promotion ;) ] ..... anyway I need the training way more than I need to sell shirts/giveaway free crap.
This community is absofreakinglutely amazing.
That's why I started.
That's why I'll continue.
Back to basics, right?! ;)
Loved. Loved. Loved. This.

I'M Tri-ing said...

All the blogs I follow vary from beginner runners/triathletes to the more experienced and just reading their ups and downs puts my own little world into perspective. Love this post and your humor as always.

Now I have to get back to riding my Trek on the CyclOps trainer followed by a run in my Brooks Glycerine's after which I'll drink some Gatorade.

Unknown said...


I love reading blogs with real emotions. Talking about real stuff. I too tried the reviews and went broke trying to keep up with ones getting things for free. So I write about my dogs, my training, aches/pains, the weather...whatever suits me for that day.

Thanks for putting it all out there!

KovasP said...

For me, it's about the free stuff and trying new products I otherwise might not, among other things. Watching you try the marriage of art and commerce was exciting and hopefully you'll jump back in at some point. I can see how separating the two is appealing, just not sure I have enought to say.

Jill said...

18 months ago I developed the injury from heel hell. Coincidence? Hum.

I went to that blog conference a couple weekend's ago with SUAR, Jason and Amanda and I walked away with many negative thoughts about the blog world. Being a number number ranking means nothing to me than the friendships I find.

Anonymous said...

I was actually puzzled by this post because I always thought you were authentic and not trying to commercialize. Agree with MissZippy... no missteps. Blogging is all about exploration, trial, see what feels good, what fits you. I have unfollowed bloggers like Steve in a Speedo who seem to have giveaways every single week... just to get more followers? To win an award? No thanks. Just keep doing what you're doing, it's all great. :-)

Austin said...

Absolutely great call man. Have fun.

Tough Chik said...

I wanted to add my 2 cents and it is worth about 2 cents...

I have a bit of a different perspective as a small business owner trying to grow a business and a brand. Bloggers have helped me tremendously gain exposure in areas of the country that it is physically impossible for me to get too. I have gained in sales due to reviews and giveaways. My brand appeared in Runner's World this month due to a relationship with a blogger.

THAT SAID, when I am approached by a blogger, the first thing I do is go to her blog and see how many giveaways/reviews she does. If every entry is some product mention, I usually decline to work with them. I have to be very selective as to who I give product too, because I am loosing money when I give it away. If you are constantly pushing product then most likely people stop seeing you as an authority and more as a free stuff machine.

It is a double edged sword, the giveaways help gain followers and give you something to talk about and a great way to promote your blog. On the other hand, some of you are great sources of stories, advice and a good laugh (that is you Patrick). That is why we started following you in the first place.

You are great at doing what you do, so keep it up. I still think about you when i go to Kinkos/Fed Ex...

Jason said...

Great post man. I do reviews (sometimes on my own dime b/c I think its a product that the readers can use) and giveaways although I tend to do fewer and fewer of those and really hope to promote the sport of triathlon as a great way to live a healthy lifestyle.

This whole blog thing is a slippery slope but in the end you have to do what is right for you and your blog. If you are comfortable with it then go with it and people will drop off b/c they don't like it but others will come on because they do.

Just keep being you.

krystyna47 said...

Good on ya, mate! That's exactly why I enjoy reading this blog (and well obviously the Metrosexual Triathlete Tip of the Week is key!)

TRI714 said...

I read blogs for different reasons. Yours is almost always a mixed bag of tricks. And never dull. Reviews, are for whomever will take the time to do so. I have been approached many times and almost jumed a couple of times. Bottom line on that is. NOT FOR ME. I have read and liked your blog from the first day I looked and found tri blogs. It is pretty straight forward.

ajh said...

I love your blog. Sometimes it is too far "above" me and what I know about biking right now but I take what I can and enjoy it. I especially love your title today.

Aimee said...

Patrick, you are awesome! I don't think you have anything to apologize for AT ALL! I follow your blog because I like it...I like what you have to say and you always keep it interesting!
I do agree with you that the blogging community is an amazing resource for advice! Sometimes I write a review for a product/service, but it's always my honest feelings/thoughts about it and I will never endorse anything that I don't personally use!

XLMIC said...

I come here specifically for the twisted sense of humor…oh, and your fantastic training and life insights.

I going to put it out there that many of us do a little pimping and whoring in re the blog from time to time. And I'll take it a step further by saying there is nothing inherently wrong with that as long as we are honest about it.

Your authenticity is so refreshing. Thanks for this.

Anonymous said...

I've also had some self reflection about the same topic. I think as long as we keep the reason why we blog in mind, whatever that may be, we remain on the right path. Your blog is YOURS, not anyone else's. And as such, it should reflect what is important to you. You get credit for determining what that is for you! :)

Bryan S said...

Well said man. I get on these blogs and read because I like to see other people succeed. I like to hear about what others are doing to push the limits. I love to see how we all transform in this crazy world of endurance sports. I'll continue to read and follow like I always do. I have to admit I do love the "Free Yourself" t-shirt you sent me. I wear it often. Keep up the solid writing.

Big Clyde said...

Nice peek behind the curtain, P. I like your fun stuff as well, because it is fun for me to read more than the most recent workout reports. You have a nice blend on your site.

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