Why Do I Blog?

At this weekend's Get Together of kayak anglers and hopefuls at Lake Grapevine I visited with lots of people about kayaking, kayak fishing and this blog. I heard lots of good things, some points for improvement and one other question that came out time and time again.

"Is your website your job?" or sometimes "Do you make money doing this?"

When I gave the answer, the followup question was usually, "Really? Why?"

It became apparent that while many of you know me through the blog, you didn't know the background of how it came to be and why I do it. I've done a poor job of communicating that and the answers are very important to the success of PPF.

For those who are curious, keep reading. For those who aren't, I'll be back with some regularly scheduled content at the end of the week.

The Beginning

I finished my grad degree in August of 2012 and had been on a blistering pace of writing to finish quickly. My wife was also in school and we had two kids under the age of 8. I needed to be done with school therefore, I finished as quickly as they would allow (16 months). What I discovered during that year was my love of writing. I didn't ever think of myself as a writer but my course loads demanded thousands of words a week. When August came and my classes were done, I missed the writing. I missed being able to convey information through my keyboard, I missed the sound of the letters being clicked out on the plastic keys and I missed the connection of brain to computer screen. I decided I would start a blog.

Blogs are great outlets for writers and desiring nothing but an outlet I started a free blog on Blogger. I wouldn't be out anything but time and I could do it late at night when the kids and wife were tucked away in Sleepy Town.  My first post just said a little bit about how I got into kayak fishing and I wanted to pass it along to my kids.  I love kayak fishing and this blog would allow me to be passionate about a subject and write as much as I wanted.

As the blog started to form I found myself doing reviews, talking safety and trying to tell people in the sport and interested in the sport about the mistakes I had made along the way. I tried to give good information and unbiased information. The blog readership was starting to grow and my kayak fishing had become a new focus in my life. I didn't know the direction I wanted to take the blog, my kayak fishing and whether I should join a manufacturer team if one offered or what. So much to think about for a hobby and a late night electronic legal pad.

So what do you do when you don't know? You call someone who does. The biggest name in the sport I could think of was Chad Hoover. Many of you know Chad through kayakbassfishing.com , HOOK1 or through one of his media outlets like his fishing shows on WFN and NBC Sports. Chad and I had visited through Facebook a few times but I needed to have some real guidance. I messaged him and he said "Call Me."

That conversation helped me to see what he and many others felt the real value of my site was to the kayak fishing community. Having a non-biased voice that can say what I want, respectfully of course, and be honest about equipment, gear and boats was something that didn't exist in many forms. To pay the bills, people need sponsors, endorsements etc. Being as this was not my job, I just needed a few partners to help me get going.It wasn't money I was in need of (since it's a hobby), but access to product.

I visited at length with other folks familiar with the kayak fishing scene in Texas (where I am at). Guys like Rob Milam, Alan Sladek and several others encouraged me to do what I wanted to do and helped me get in front of the people I needed to talk to. I continued to weigh options, talk with Chad and formulated a game plan. The thing that kept me going was something he said in the wee hours one morning.

He said, "Be patient. Know exactly what you want and pursue it. Don't settle."

That still rings in my ears. I was looking for a partnership that so many had told me was just not a deal that existed. I needed access to kayaks for long periods of time to do reviews. I needed access to gear to do reviews. I'm not wealthy. I have debts that could make you shiver. I needed help if the blog was going to succeed. I couldn't pay for any of it.

I'll spare the details, as this is getting long and robust, but I pursued the partner I wanted, turned down other offers that didn't meet up with my needs and began working with Mariner-Sails of Dallas. Aris agreed to let me pursue my dream. He knew what my goals were and allowed me to "do my thing". I am beyond glad to work with his team. Mike and Aris and the gang at Mariner have helped me achieve things I never thought possible and access to other companies and gear I couldn't have done without their help.

At this point, the snarky people in the room make lots of assumptions so let me answer a few questions for you.

Am I paid by Mariner? No.

Do I get kick backs or commission from Mariner for recommending them? No. I get to demo their boats but that doesn't pay the bills. I still work my 8-5 for that.

Do I get to keep the boats I demo? No. I just gave them back the Outback and took home a Slayer. I keep each kayak for 6-10 weeks to get ample time in to give valuable feedback on the boats.After that, they go back, rigging and all.

Do I ever say anything negative about the products I review? Yes. I try to always give points for improvement. (How many of you guys have heard me complain about the handle position on the back of the Hobie Outback or the toe box in the Astral Brewer?)

To be clear, I have never cashed a check written out to me for this blog or anything associated with it.

So why do I do it?

I love this sport. Kayak fishing is a beautiful symphony of man and nature that no other experience I have had can match. The community of kayakers is an amazing fellowship of brothers and sisters in water that will help each other at the first opportunity. Do we have our knuckleheads? Sure. Every group does. They're few and far between with us though.  My hope is that people looking into kayak fishing will come to my site to get information before they purchase. I hope they will make purchases that they still love after three months of on the water time. I hope vets in the sport can pick up some info here and there about new products or kayaks. I hope that my safety posts will some day save a life. I hope that every person who comes to my blog knows why I do this and can tell how much I love kayak fishing.

It's a lot of work to design, write, update, review, shoot pictures, video, interview, travel to and from events all out of love for the sport but I would do it all again with no regrets if you hit the reset button. I'll wake up tomorrow and think about kayak fishing. I'll try to think of new ways to share the passion we all share with those that don't know and I'll go to sleep late late at night knowing if one person learned about kayaks and safety today it was a growth in the sport.

Will I always do this? I don't know. Things change. New opportunities arise. But I will always be an ambassador for the sport of kayak fishing, no matter that hat I wear or the kayak I paddle.

If you have any thoughts for improvement, have ideas for gear or kayak reviews or other comments feel free to leave them here or even better yet, click on one of the sharing icons below and let me know that way. Please tell your friends!