Thursday, September 27, 2012

Blogging ain't easy

I'm going to try something here and it's probably the first and last time that I am going to do it.

I am going to write a post without any accompanying photos.

Don't groan. You'll all live. I'll try to make it interesting even without the pretty pictures.

So ...

There are a lot of people out there who read blogs and don't have a blog of their own. Some of them probably think that blogging isn't that tough. What's the big deal, right? You just click on the computer, open up a page, and write. Anybody can do it, stupid.

Well, yeah, Stupid is here, admitting that anybody can do it. And just about anybody has. But not just anybody can stick with it. There are endless examples of bloggers, or wanna-be-bloggers, quitting after 2 years, 1 year, 6 months, 3 months, one month, even one week. Blogging, more than anything, takes dedication. If you're not dedicated, if it's a problem for you, you're not going to be a successful blogger.

Take the last post that I did, about the A&G mini pages.

Some may think that was a throwaway post. It was essentially a trade post. A fairly brief trade post. Hell, even I thought, "I should be doing something more interesting than this." But I stayed with what you saw because that's all I had time to do. Wednesday was tremendously busy.

But even that post took a lot of effort.

First I had to decide the nature of the post. What angle was I going to take and what cards would I feature? Would there be a theme or would I just randomly show off cards?

This is a daily question. On busy days like these, I don't have time to search through all my cards to do an epic post about the evolution of baseball caps or whatever I think is going to get some reader to gobble up my garbage. I have to hope the cards sitting on my desk or in my draft folder form some sort of an idea to get me through the day.

On days when I have a little more time, I dig through my binders to find the right cards. This takes a lot of time. I stack my binders flat, because I was told that this is a better way to store them. And also because they take up less room that way. But it's a real pain in the bum rush to dig out cards. I can't tell you how many times I've realized that I had to scan a 1984 Topps card and thought, "UGH! That binder is at the bottom. Do I really need that card?"

Often my card room is scattered with opened binders, balanced carefully on the desk or on a chair on on a book shelf, because I took a card from a page and it's waiting for me to return it like I found it.

And then there are the cards in boxes. I can't tell you how many times I've dropped a box and cards have spilled everywhere because I was in a rush to get to some cards. A couple of times, I've just left the cards scattered right there, like a 9-year-old kid, closed the door and hoped no one went in there until I had time to clean it up.

Once I've settled on the subject and the cards, I go about scanning the cards. For the last post, I wanted to show the cards inside the mini pages, because the point of the post was I was more happy to see the mini pages than the actual cards.

So I started to scan the mini pages, but I realized something.

Mini pages show -- and they show it extremely well -- all the crap that you have on your scanner. The dust, the dirt, the food bits, the blotch of ink that I can't get off the scanner because my daughter placed a piece of paper with an ink blot on it about a month ago.

So I had to break out the glass cleaner and give the scanner bed a few good swipes.

Then I cropped the scans down just to make sure you couldn't see any remaining dirt.

Of course, every time I scan cards, I have to repeat the scanning process for at least a quarter of the cards because the damn scans don't come out straight. This is frustrating on a daily basis. But I'm resigned to it, because I don't want to keep buying scanners, because I am aware that every single scanner has a flaw. So I  just scan the card and hope it ends up straight, and if it doesn't, I let out a sigh that everyone ignores, and I scan the card again.

Then, after cropping the cards, there is uploading the cards. I don't have a lot of the problems that other people have with uploading cards. My cards always come in the way I want them. They're not sideways or appear in the wrong place or anything. So this is relatively easy. Unless Blogger is being uncooperative, and then it's the most excruciating exercise after, I don't know, say, removing a rusty nail from your foot.

While I'm uploading card images, I am also writing. Writing comes very easy for me. I'm lucky that way. So this is not the difficult part of blogging for me. But I do admit to struggling with writer's block periodically. I'll stare at the screen and before I know it, it's like 4:38 in the morning and I just give up. And you wake up in the morning and wonder why there's no special morning post from night owl just for you.

Sorry, I needed my sleep. Nothing was coming to me. Go to work and come back later when I'm rested.

Of course, there is the whole "finding time to blog" thing, too. This doesn't have to do solely with my job or other time-sucking adult responsibilities. It also has to do with computer availability.

I don't have a laptop. Neither does anyone else in the family (although that's going to change in a few months -- ssssssssssshhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!). So that means there is a daily battle for computer time. Almost every day, when I pick my daughter up for school, the following conversation occurs ...

Her: I've got so much homework to do. I've got math and science and speech and English and French ...

Me: Wow, you'll be ...

Her:   AND I HAVE TO USE THE COMPUTER!!!

And you wonder why there might be a typo in my post? It's because I'm trying to pound it out during the second half of my dinner break from work.

I'm pretty much a stickler for how my posts appear on the blog. It's a product of my profession. I'm just used to looking for mistakes and expecting writing to be A Certain Way.

After I write a post, I go through it again in draft form. Then I click "preview" and read through it again. If I have time, I'll read it one more time. And, of course, there are always corrections and updates to make.

Sometimes, I'll update something after the post has already published. Often times that's at work. In the middle of whatever newspaper thing I'm doing, I'll click over to my blog, hit "edit," and change a sentence around. (Don't tell anybody).

And then there's all the other blog stuff: the updating of the items on the sidebar. The Nebulous 9, the regular features, the Dodger Player of the Day. And there's updating the tabs. The want lists and the Awesome Night Card, etc. Those get neglected a lot.

Oh, and there are two other blogs of mine that require not as much care, but a lot of the same care (plus, the 1975 Topps blog, that I still maintain periodically).

And, if you're a card blogger, it doesn't end with your blog. There are the trades. The packaging and searching and sorting and mailing and purchasing and stacking and organizing and listing. But that's another story.

No, blogging ain't easy.

And that's why every card blogger has my sincere appreciation. I know what you go through because I do it myself. And the longer someone does it, the more respect I have for them.

There are many times, when I'm in the middle of scanning a card -- bending over to reach the scanner below me, trying to straighten it ever just so and closing the lid, hoping it doesn't mess up the card, and then doing the same thing over and over and over again -- that I think, "damn, this blogging thing is a lot of work."

Even with the shortcuts -- trying to scan nine cards at once, and trying to post in advance, and trying to combine trade posts -- it's still a lot of work.

And nobody gets paid for any of it.

That's OK.

Because I love to write. And I love cards.

And it's great to have someone out there that feels the same way.

Sorry that there are no cards with this. I just wanted to go behind the scenes a little. For those who don't know what it's like.

It's not the most difficult thing in the world, no.

But try doing it for a couple of years.

You'll think the way I do.

Blogging ain't easy, yo.

21 comments:

  1. Preach on brother. That from someone who has one post in the last two...weeks. I'm about ready to dive back in, at least in the shallow end.

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  2. Very true. When I was just a reader, I never thought it took that much to put together a decent blog post.

    I've certainly gone back on that belief. I end up putting a good amount of time and effort into blogging, especially since I try to post at least once a day.

    But it's definitely worth it.

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  3. Great post! Lol... every now and then I think the same thing. Especially when my friend gives me crap about having a blog. I'll have to send her a link to this post.

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  4. This post was longer than I expected, but very true on all accounts. The amount of time I take on the blog has increased as I've gone forward, but in the end I think all the extra work is worth it.

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  5. Right on point, great post. I am still struggling to balance it all and figure out a system that works for me (evidenced by almost 20 trades I still need to post about).

    It is much more challenging than I expected.

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  6. Completely agree. One word of advice to anyone who wants to blog, play with your scanner often. I didn't realize a lot of the features mine had until just recently.

    My dumb self used to scan a full letter size area for one card, in high resolution, then crop it and convert the .bmp to a .jpg. Then, I had to delete the .bmp becuase it was a huge file. I did that for every card. Then, I figured out how to just scan a custom size (2.5" x 3.5") and only scan as lower-res and only as a .jpg. Saved a ton of time. Now I can scan 50 or so cards, front and back, in a half hour, easy.

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  7. don't think of trade posts as filler. I find most of my trade partners from reading other people's trade posts, then reaching out to the person linked.

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  8. I'm new to the scene. I started by reading thru Andy's 1988 Topps blog, then Andy's other card blogs, and then moved on to your 75 Topps blog and am about halfway thru it. Love it. It's a great go-to when I'm bored. I'm also go thru Kevin's 1965 Topps Project. I have been toying with the idea of myself doing a blog dedicated to a heretofore neglected set, such as 1990 Topps (yes, I know it's a whipping boy of collectors, but I started collecting in '90, so it's got sentimental value for me.) But I don't really have a lot of player knowledge, so it'd be like, "Here's Glenn Braggs.. He was ok. I had this card back in the day." I suppose Google/Wikipedia/B-R can help with interesting tidbits, but it's gotta be a lot of work, especially if starting from zero. So anyways, this is a rambling comment to say hello and thanks for the blogs.

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  9. Anyone who believes that blogging is easy, has obviously never blogged. Thus, I have great respect for those who slog through day after day, etc.

    I'm just trying to get one a week and even that's tough.

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  10. Halleluiah! Even when things are planned out, life gets in the way, time shortens unexpectedly and occasionally writer's block permeates the mind. Kudos to those of us who are years into this venture and those of us who will join the journey in the future.

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  11. One little efficiency of mine is that I will only scan sheets at a time - either a custom group of 9 that I want or a page from the set. I may not need all the other cards now, but I might want it someday and at least I just need to chop it out of a larger image.

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  12. I actually get mad at myself when I cannot post every single day. I hate it. But the truth is, I just don't have time sometimes. Also, sometimes I think that no one will really care what I think of the cards I just pulled, so I talk myself out of a post. I am always impressed how your posts are always substantial and interesting. You set the standard, my friend.

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  13. I gave up on caring about whether or not my scans were straight years and years ago. When I started out, I didn't have a scanner and was just using a digital camera. I would serious spend 95% of my allotted time for blogging just making sure those pictures were in focus, well lit and relatively straight. Never again. If the scanner doesn't do its job, you're going to get a crap image (if you're lucky, maybe there will even be a hair on it!) and that's what you get. The only times I ever go for a do-over is when my scanner ignores a card (or cards) completely.

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  14. I love it! As long as I collectI will blog. I try to think up something new evertday. i have 4 kids 9 and under...ut can be crazy. but it gets done!

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  15. One of your best posts ever, Greg. I have had many of those same thoughts while doing this. I know that when I began the '59 Topps blog I felt an obligation to post a card every day. And it wore me down to where I stopped completely for awhile. And I felt guilty. So when I started back up (and began my second one) I told myself that the world wouldn't end if I did three or four posts a week or if I skipped a couple of days completely. Made it much easier and I've enjoyed it much more.

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  16. I've been wanting to comment on this post for a while. This has to be one of my favorite posts by you so far(I've only scratched the surface reading in some of your archives).

    Very well said. I didn't realize how hard it would be before I started my blog a few months ago,and you've explained card blogging in a way that only you can!

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  17. But what's tougher, blogging regularly or keeping up with everything you want to read? :-)

    Great work telling the story!

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  18. Agreed. With everything.

    I too have sent a box of cards flying while stepping over other boxes of cards.

    I was going to post some links to pics of my miniature card city I have amassed on my desk, which has been growing slowly as I look through stacks of cards to get some post ideas. But after seeing the dust in the pics, I won't now. There isn't a photo editor powerful enough to remove the dust! lol

    I got rid of a ton of stuff on my sidebar because I asked my self if I would want to look at that stuff if I was a reader. And I decided I wouldn't.

    Everybody has my appreciation for blogging about what we all love-little rectangular cardboard pieces that have colors and stuff on them.

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