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A Year of Manliness: Year One

Manniversary_Year_One

It’s always a good idea to reflect on the past year and set goals for the new. Wolf and Iron is officially a year old, and I thought I would use this space to provide some insight into what the year has been like for me in this new pursuit. As a person new to blogging, it’s always helpful to read about the experience of other bloggers that are a little ways down the road and what challenges and enjoyments they get from sharing their thoughts with the world.

First, a Hardy Thanks!

Before I go too far, I want to be sure to thank all of those who have read, shared, commented, and provided feedback during Wolf and Iron’s first year. Every Like, share, comment, and encouragement means more than can be expressed. Thanks again, and I hope you are looking forward to a  mantastic second year!

What this Year was Like

Blogging about Manliness is Awesome!

One of the best things for me about Wolf and Iron is all of the research I get to do on the many facets of manliness. Whenever you learn with the intention of teaching and sharing, the learning is so much more in-depth. Also, being constantly stimulated by stories of masculinity, bravery, honor, manly failure, and just watching the world and looking for manly things to write about, is a testosterone boosting experience. I have found that I am much more critical of the information that I would have previously assumed was true, since I may want to share it. In a few cases, I found that my initial assumptions about events in history or survival scenarios had some holes. More than anything, I evaluate the culture for signs of manliness or lack thereof and formulate ideas on how men can be more manly.

My First Year as a Blogger

Am I a Writer?

When I started Wolf and Iron, I wasn’t as concerned about my ability to write as I was about whether or not I was indeed a writer. Meaning, was I the kind of person that wanted to write and share badly enough that I would continue taking lunches and a few occasional hours on the weekend to do so? Part of this led to some hesitation in sharing Wolf and Iron with others. I didn’t want people to commit to a blog that would fizzle out in 6 months. Thankfully, I can say with great certainty that I am indeed a writer. Plus, blogging is so much more than writing. I am a photographer, a designer, and journalist — although I am something of a novice in all of these areas.

WordPress Management

As most bloggers will attest, a big part of blogging is managing WordPress. Thankfully, my background as a software developer has allowed me to do some neat things with the blog. That being said, a good part of this year has been devoted to making the website look good and work well.

For other bloggers who don’t have this advantage, here are a few things to pay attention to when setting up your blog:

  • HTML 5 and JavaScript\jQuery – This will make your site function well with newer browsers.
  • Responsive – The layout of the site will dynamically change to fit various devices and screen sizes.
  • Use Caching and Minify plugins – This will speed up your site.
  • Design is key! – Everything is about the user experience. Never sacrifice user experience!

Note: I would post about the specific plugins I am using, but divulging information about the technology behind your site may actually be a security risk. Just stick with the active and highly rated plugins and you’ll be fine.

Challenges

Pictures

The hardest thing about blogging has to be the pictures. While an article might take 45 mins to write, finding a featured image to use (the one you see at the top) will sometimes take an hour or more. The challenge here is finding an image I think I have the right to use, finding one that is the right size, and finding one that matches the style and content I am writing about. If I am writing an article about character or some heart and mind based, abstract idea, finding an image that portrays that can be a real bear.

Time

I do most of my writing during lunch, as I have a full-time job. In some respects this is actually helpful. The constraints of an hour or so lunch, time-boxes my blogging time. Time-boxing is an effective time management strategy and prevents me from going down rabbit trails when I really need to focus on an article. However, an hour or so a day and a few hours here and there really make it difficult to do some of the larger and more fun things I have planned for Wolf and Iron. And, since the site is not monetized yet (and won’t be until traffic goes up significantly), justifying the additional time away from family is hard to do.

Growth

Writers, artists, musicians, all want people to read, see, and hear what they have created. I’m sure there is some validation that we are looking for at the root of this but a large part is that it feels good to do something people consider worthwhile. At the outset of Wolf and Iron, I decided not to focus on the growth of the blog until I had a little traction. However, it’s hard not to think about it and when I publish an article there is a part of me that wants to see it go viral. I have had a few occasions where an article or two has gotten some love, and it’s really cool to see that happen. A spike in activity for a blogger is like an unexpected present. All that being said, growth has been rather slow, but it’s not bad for a guy that does this on the side.

What Manliness is in Store for Year Two?

Now that I have a year of writing under my belt, it’s time to set some goals for the new year. Here is a taste of that I would like to do in the coming year.

Videos

So far, Wolf and Iron has a reputation for looking good. While anyone can take a video with their phone and upload it to YouTube, I want our videos to have a professional edge much like the website. However, it is a pretty serious time commitment and requires experience I don’t currently have to do it well. I have some cool ideas, though, and want to see them come to life this year.

More How-To’s

How-to articles are fun to write and I want to do more of them. They are more time intensive but I know how much people enjoy them. Hopefully this won’t mean fewer articles about character and virtues, but a steady imparting of manly skills.

Hand-drawn Illustrations

I have become fairly handy with design on the computer but have recently began drawing…well, since I was a kid at least. The featured image in this post was mostly hand-drawn and I hope to bring more unique illustrations to Wolf and Iron. The challenge here is not only time but also it being an area I am pretty new at. It is a lot of fun though and a good way to be productive without sitting in front of a computer.

A Focus on Fitness and Style

The interwebs are full of posts on fitness and style, but I believe I can take a different approach and stand out a bit. With fitness, rather than pushing new techniques and diets, I want to focus on old-school, true strength building exercises and lifestyles. With style…well I need some help in that area. Keep a watch out and send your feedback when those articles appear.

A Bigger Audience

Since I have a year of blogging under by belt, I feel pretty strong about promoting Wolf and Iron and think it will grow.

Here are the current stats and where I want to be in a year:

Current

  • ~60 page views a day
  • 182 Facebook followers

Goal

  • 1000+ page views a day
  • 1000+ Facebook followers

That may seem like a pretty drastic increase, but to a degree growth can be exponential. I wouldn’t be surprised if we beat these numbers.

A Book!

I can’t give too much away yet, but I am working on a book about living manfully. I hope to have it finished before the end of the year and out to the masses shortly thereafter.

Final Thoughts

There is no doubt that I have experienced a great deal of personal growth this last year with such a strong focus on manliness. Blogging is somewhat therapeutic and restorative. It gives me a reason to recall old memories and focus on the things that have meant the most to me over the years. Thinking through those things, arranging them in logical order, and putting them in written and visual form really helps them to stick in my mind and merge with my character. I suspect that is what it does for other men as well. I hope Wolf and Iron will continue to lead us further up and further in until we reach the High Call of Manliness.

 

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