Saturday, March 28, 2015

Putting yourself out there

I still get emails from people periodically asking me for advice on how to run a blog. No, not Hope Solo, although she could learn a thing or two from me, but from regular card-collecting people.

Some want to know how to get started, or how to get trades going, or how to get some interaction.

My advice is simple and nothing no one else hasn't said already: you just have to be yourself, write about what you like, and maybe most of all: get out there.

How does one "get out there"? Well, like I said, you have to be yourself and write what you like. Don't write things on your blog that you don't believe or don't interest you. There is a temptation to do that if all you're looking for are readers or comments. But it won't end well.

Write often. Yes, that takes time and none of us have time. But like anything in life, you get what you put in. Writing often not only attracts readers and keeps you in their very active and busy lives, but it makes you a better writer. That is basic advice for any writer -- whether they're publishing novels or hunting down stories for a daily paper -- write, write, write. It will make you better.

As far as getting cards and trading? My advice is: don't make this the sole objective. I've seen some blogs that existed only so the writer could obtain cards. The only time they commented was when someone ran a contest, the only time they posted was when loot was gained or could be gained. A lot of those blogs have short lifespans or operate on life support. A blog needs more than "transactions"; it needs you. It needs an invested you.

But if you want cards and can keep a blog going that at least entertains a handful of people, then you're going to get cards. It also helps to read other blogs because every once in awhile someone is offering cards you might like, and since you're "out there," you'll land some of those cards once in awhile.

An example:

This card is from Cardboard Collections. Colbey opened a little bit of Heritage, showed this snazzy Walmart exclusive Koufax Series card, proclaimed that the set wasn't for him, and I pounced. Because I try to keep up with what people are posting -- even during this very busy month -- I was ready.

See, it's not just about people interacting with you, it's about you interacting with others.

Once you've posted enough and drawn some followers, people will start inquiring about trading. When I first began a blog, I had no real thoughts about acquiring new cards through the blog. I just wanted to write about my love for baseball picture cards. But the funny thing about putting yourself out there is that the more you say you like cards, the more relationships you form and the more cards -- that you want -- will come your way.

After doing this for more than six years, I've developed relationships with collectors of just about every team (although some relationships -- like the Rays and Marlins -- are dormant). They know me and I know them.

Recently, Brewers fan Tony L. of Off-Hiatus Baseball Cards sent me some cards out-of-the-blue-like because that's what happens when you've put yourself out there.

He helped me get closer to finishing my Dodgers 2014 Allen & Ginter team set since I did such a miserable job on 2014 sets myself.

And he filled in a spot in the 1981 Donruss set quest. Just eight cards left to complete the set (you'll see a bunch of '81 Donruss in the near future).

And here's a weird little 1984 7-Up Cubs Ron Cey card that I just discovered a week or so ago. When you've put yourself out there, stuff like that happens quite a bit. You see a card and sometimes it magically appears in your mailbox. (I believe that's the famed Marla Collins in the background).

The Cey card is about one-third smaller than your standard card, which seems about right for a Cey-as-a-Cub card.

So these are the kinds of cards you get when you broadcast your interests over your blog. You'll notice that these cards are very specific: team-oriented, set-oriented, player-oriented. But you've got to get out there and let people know what you like. Write it on your blog. Be your own advertiser. But don't make it read like an advertisement.

If you're lucky and get enough of a following, people will automatically think of you or your blog when they pull certain cards. I consider that an honor. One person on Twitter who also has a blog once said that when he thinks of the Dodgers, he thinks of Jackie Robinson and Night Owl.

You can't have a better blog impact than that.

So, this is what happened a week or two ago, when Zach of Autographed Cards pulled a couple of Dodgers. He thought of me because I've been yammering about my appreciation for Dodgers cards for, oh, 5 or 6 times a week for the last six-plus years.

This is what he sent:

A Heritage Chrome refractor of the Dodgers' hit machine.

And purple refractors of the last two Topps flagship wrapper cover boys.

I daresay Zach hit the Dodger motherlode.

These three cards I believe exceed the total number of base Dodger Heritage cards I have for the 2015 set. That's the kind of craziness that can happen when you're writing a blog almost every day and at least a few people are reading it.

You got to get out there. Sometimes it's easy to do, but other times it isn't. It's almost like building a relationship with someone you like. If you want it to grow and see interest from that other person and get something out of it, you gotta do. You've got to put yourself out there. Hopefully -- and there are no guarantees -- you will have success.

And, if not, well, at least you won't be buried in cardboard.

There are benefits to that, too.


  1. Awesome post NO.

    "A blog needs more than "transactions"; it needs you. It needs an invested you."
    This particular line stood out. This is the key to blogging or doing, well, anything worthwhile.

  2. I'll be forever envious of your ability to take a trade post (or two or three) and turn it into a great read! I think if someone were to ask a blogger how to write a blog, starting with you is a great choice!

    1. NG took the words right off of my keyboard. Great advice Mr. Owl... and great comment Mr. Grande.

  3. It's that damn hypnotizing star background Jim. Look what it has done to Spock!

  4. I spent the first few years of blogging investing myself in the blog and I've gotten away from that. Thanks for the wakeup call.

  5. The posts you write about cards you received reminds me of the transactions section of the newspaper i used to love reading growing up before i discovered sportscenter

  6. Great post and great advice, too.

  7. I'm glad you got the cards I sent, and you've passed along some great advice. It can be a bit daunting for people to put themselves out there, but it is the best way to get people thinking about you when they see cards from a certain team. Great post.

  8. As always a good read, I started my blog august 12th 2012 and its been nothing but fun ever since. I am not a writer by trade (work in finance) so this is a fun outlet for me. I try and post once ever 3-4 days. I actually started trading with bloggers before I started writing. It was a good way to build rapport before popping up on the scene. The main influence though was my brother of the formerly dans other world. He rarely writes anymore but he still very much collects cards.

  9. The advice you gave in your article is spot on, Night Owl. One of the best pieces of advice when I started way back in 2008 was from the guy at White Sox Cards.

    "Write what's true to your heart and the rest will fall into place."

    The best blogs out there do just that. I am still working on getting there.

    The other piece of advice I received was:

    ""If you write something that people disagree with, then you're doing something right."

    Not saying that budding writers should come out of the gate swinging with opinions aplenty, but if he or she shows enough passion about their subject, then people will want to read what he or she has to say.

  10. Sal Butera is the father of Dodger catcher Drew Butera... Just in case you didn't know.

  11. I got some blue cards if you want some blue cards. Not a huge lot but you can have what I have. Send me your address (

  12. Great post! I'm pretty sure that I pulled more Dodger chrome cards out of that blaster than I did Royals cards. I am glad I could find a home for them. Thanks for putting yourself out there!