Thursday, March 22, 2012

Benefits of blogging

I started my farm blog after I'd had my first run-ins with the pack of regulatory agencies that I have to deal with.  My reasoning was to provide a forum where I could talk about farming, and my farm, and shine some light on the process of bring food to peoples plates. 

Over the years I've looked at what people read, and what they comment on, and what they refer to -- either on blogs they write, or social media, or email links to friends.   What people seem to like in my blog is honesty and the nitty gritty.  Like the luckiest chicken in the world (who's still alive and kicking, by the way) or my chicken eating dog (hard to sell anything when your dog is eating your product.  ) or when I challenge some other farmer to actually raise pigs per his written claims

What I didn't expect is that I'd get offers to write a book every 3 months for the past three years.  Books on farming particulars - slaughter and meat cutting - homesteading - husbandry ...  variety of topics.  It's a bit flattering, but I have had to turn the offers down due to lack of time.

...although the last offer with a $10,000 advance, was pretty tempting. 

As an off-farm income stream, books are a pretty good thing.  They don't require any of your time, royalties continue after you're done, and after a while, you can have several of them.  My offers were from publishers, but just about anyone can have their own book published on any subject for a few thousand dollars.  That's what Tim and Liz over at Naturesharmony/farm-dreams did with their book.

One of the main advantages I've found on the regulatory front is that none of the government officials like the idea of being in my blog.  They hate being photographed.  They hate having their names here, and they really REALLY hate it when I talk about what they do.  Like the time I found a county employee writing complaints about me and then enforcing her own complaints.  That was fun.   It doesn't mean I'm friends with them, but for the most part they came into my life in an adversarial way, and it's been very  useful to be able to poke fun at them in a way that they care about. 

When an agency writes you a ticket/complaint/notice and order/compliance order they have some sort of process that they want you to jump into, and to be blunt, that process is so expensive and time consuming to navigate that the vast majority of people they interact with just give up and do whatever they want them to do, no matter how ridiculous.    It doesn't cost the agency much to put you through the grinder, and my blog has been a useful grinder of my own.   Sunshine, light and air.  Lets see what folks think of what you're doing. 

And that's been a benefit that continues today.  Being able to focus some sunlight on the officials has actually made my life a little better.   For the most part, they'd rather chase someone who doesn't have a blog, which actually suits me just fine, thank you.  I've been regulated plenty. 

I don't take advertisements or endorsements on my farm (at least not intentionally; there may be a link here or there that promotes something, but I don't get paid for any of them), and that could be a benefit, but I'm ok with being ad-free for right now.  It just doesn't seem worth the bother for the $50 a month, but I guess that could be a benefit, too.

I'm also able to talk to and meet other folks who are interested in the same sort of venture that I am.  6 years of full-time farming and I'm able to say that I enjoy it as much now as I did.  The challenges are different as the farm matures, and I think I should write about that.   So I guess I will. 


craig said...

If you do decide to write a book, you could call it The Accidental Pig Farmer.

becky3086 said...

Very interesting. I would love to be asked to write a book but I don't think I know nearly enough yet to fill a book.

Bruce King said...

Becky, you'd be surprised how many authors have no idea what they're writing about.

It used to be that publishing was so expensive and time consuming that you needed to be an expert (or a fiction) writer. Nowaways, you can just pay a couple of thousand dollars to a publisher and SHAZAAAM! you're an author!

Bruce King said...

Craig: I'm hoping to avoid the word accidental in my farming. Deliberate, maybe.