Welcome to 2016 Fountain Pen Friend,
2015 was one of my more challenging years. We moved a little over a year ago, and I’m still unpacking and clearing out things to donate to charity. We bought a fixer-upper and the dust has settled in 2/3 of the house. It’s about to commence for the last 1/3, including building out a master bedroom (yay!)
Our son started jr. high and all of the pertinent parental conversations with a pre-teen weighed heavily on my mind. Pen reviews slowed as my time to contact manufacturers and brands for fountain pens to review began evaporating with a longer commute, more employees and more accounts at my full time day job.
I failed at many of my goals in 2015 because I tried doing everything myself. With the increased responsibility at work, longer commute, and inevitably more hours, I was trying to digest the move, unpacking and trying to remain sane through the dust, circular saws and hammer swings.
Finding time to write these blog posts while my son walked up with a random question or wanted to talk complicated my schedule, mainly because I didn’t have one. I just did what I could every week or two without a lot of planning.
Yes, of course my family is at the top of them, but I was flying by the seat of my pants last year instead of consciously building in time for everything when scheduling out each week. Lesson learned.
2016 is a good year to clarify priorities and remember why I do this.
It’s supposed to be for the FUN of fountain pens!
Here are some changes you’ll see this year from Best Fountain Pen:
1. Getting Some Help
I’ve hired someone to contact manufacturers to see who will loan out pens for reviews. I’ve given her a very long list of distributors and brands to contact, which will hopefully lead to more regular pen shipments, which means more reviews! It’s already working as I’m sitting on four pens to review as I type this. More on that under #3…
2. Building Pens
My husband started turning ballpoint pens out of wood blocks for our friends and family and we finally put them up for sale on this site this week when our friends kept asking for more for gifts.
Fountain pens will follow later this year… he’s testing pen kits to find out which nibs he’s happy with. He already has many pen blanks (blocks of wood to turn on a lathe) and they are beautiful. I will be posting more photos of the Jack Daniel’s wood barrel pen we currently have up in ballpoint and I’m sure we’ll make it available in a fountain pen as well. I just put up this week and haven’t had time to take and post more photos yet.
3. Batching, Scheduling and Planning
I’m Type A. Hurried, harried and somewhat of a perfectionist.
So last year became really hard when I couldn’t devote enough time to any of my passions and felt pulled in too many directions. One of my biggest breakthroughs was the beauty of batching.
So the first year I founded my website I was spending A LOT of time calling manufacturers to pitch why they should send me some pens to review and asking for 3 pens at a time so I could build out reviews faster. That worked so well… until I ran out of time to call them. So, with the help of an assistant, I’m hoping to begin getting more pens 2-3 at a time so my husband can help me take photos all at once, size and format them all at once, and film videos all at once after using them for a few days each.
I also spent some time reading through survey responses for ideas for articles and started sketching them into a calendar for better upcoming planning.
4. Social Media Presence
I started Facebook for Best Fountain Pen in 2015 and haven’t put any focus on growing my list of friends. I will be focusing more on growing the Facebook following for BFP as it’s so easy for people to stay connected, post thoughts and share.
I will run more giveaways on Facebook of fountain pens I’ve reviewed as well. It’s really fun on FB, to see the likes/comments/shares. It’s sort of immediate gratification for things I’ve spent time writing and putting together for you. I didn’t realize how rewarding it would be. Hard work and time consuming, but rewarding.
Well along with Facebook, my YouTube presence is growing and I’m getting weekly or more messages to talk on camera rather than just showing my hands. I get it. When I watch videos, it’s much more engaging to see someone’s face talking to you than just their hands doing whatever it is they’re doing. Up until now, it’s just been my hands and voice. I’ll be doing more reviews on camera in 2016 and hopefully they’ll provide even more value and be more entertaining.
6. Connect With Other Bloggers
I hesitated on whether to add this in or not. Mainly because I don’t want you to call me out if I don’t make the time. 🙂
You can’t see my head hanging low, but it is.
I’m pretty bad at connecting with other bloggers. I constantly forget -or don’t slow down enough- to comment on posts I appreciate or questions I can answer. I keep telling myself that “someday” if I could make blogging a full time career, I’d make the time. This is something I really want to focus on as I’ve learned to appreciate the time that goes into putting a good blog post together and it’s important to share the love.