I’ve been bad at blogging. My goal after football season was to publish once a week, and I had done well since November.
The last month or so, I have completely failed.
I do think I have a good reason, or at least an excuse, so I thought I would write about that today.
It all started with shiny, flashy, LED light rods.
A few months ago, I decided I wanted an LED antenna for my Jeep. I mainly wanted it for running the sand dunes at night. The last few trips to the sand dunes, I have had some serious LED envy and I decided to buy one. I started researching and found they were about $150, which is cheap in the world of Jeep parts and accessories. I had one in my Amazon cart, ready to go, when my wife asked me what I was doing.
Uh, oh. Busted.
Instead of chastising me for my never-ending habit of buying Jeep parts, she had a great idea. Lynette stated, “since you’re doing all this writing, why not write a letter to some of the companies and see if you could get some free product in exchange for writing about it or doing some advertising?”
This was a tremendous idea because I had other Jeep parts to buy. I began writing letters and researching light rod company addresses.
Fast forward a week or so and I was on the phone with Don Sura, the owner of Whip It Light Rods. I had already sent him a link to my blog and my social media and was explaining my idea: cool stuff in exchange for writing. All right, it wasn’t an extremely intricate plan or even very thought out, but I figured what the heck? I knew that Whip It Light Rods had originally been an Idaho company and I knew the past owner through events and wheeling, so it was interesting to learn about the history of the company and how Don ended up with it.
A few weeks later, two long cardboard tubes showed up at the house. Inside those tubes were two shiny, LED antennas with remotes and quick disconnect mounts. Don also sent a set of rock lights, which I wasn’t expecting. I wired up and mounted one LED whip on the Fire Jeep the first night. The next day I mounted the other one on the blue Jeep. Both worked flawlessly and were simple to install. The aluminum quick disconnects were super cool and are a great product.
I had never wanted an LED whip before and, in fact, kind of made fun of them. I won one once, about five years ago, in a raffle and I traded it for a new synthetic winch line. I still wasn’t convinced that I wanted to run a light rod but I kept coming back to my twang of jealousy as I drove behind other rigs on the sand and didn’t have one. I didn’t need one, and I probably wouldn’t have picked light rods as something to get involved with, but Free.99 was the right price, and I was incredibly proud of myself.
I thanked Don on social media, took some pictures, and thought that was the end of it until I got to the sand dunes for a night run. But, as Paul Harvey used to say, here comes the rest of the story.
A week later, I got a message from Don that he would like to have another phone call and had something to discuss. My heart dropped. Did he want his stuff back? How had I screwed up this deal? I hadn’t even mounted the rock lights yet — maybe he didn’t mean to send them?
It was nothing like that. Don wanted to talk about a job working for Whip It Light Rods. He wanted to know what I thought about doing some marketing, social media, and brand ambassador work. Would I be willing to have a conversation about working for him?
I hesitated at first. I had lots of reasons that flooded my mind. I wasn’t a light rod guy. I’m an English teacher and football coach. I don’t have a side by side and I know that’s the target audience for light rods. I have an ugly rock Jeep that I use all the time: I’m not sure it’s ready for Prime Time pictures and advertising campaigns. I’m not a social media guru, by any stretch of the imagination.
I told Don I needed to talk to my wife.
My wife looked at me like I had been hit in the head too many times when I explained the situation and my hesitation. I believe her words were, “So you could get paid to drive your Jeep and take pictures of it, as opposed to driving your Jeep and taking pictures of it for free every weekend?”
I texted Don back immediately and scheduled a call with him the next day to finalize the details.
The reason I am writing this is not to brag about my good fortune. This is a lesson in the power of the pen. Writing, and writing well, counts for a lot in our world. The biggest reason Don wanted to offer me this job is I am familiar with the industry and understand how to write about it.
Students ask teachers all the time “When am I going to use this?” While I agree some concepts we teach in school are too theoretical, writing isn’t one of them. Writing is a skill that can and will be used for the rest of one’s life. I started writing this blog because I wanted to share some of my thoughts. It has now paid off in actual money.
Even though they didn’t have a college class 25 years ago about how to run social media accounts, I did learn about rhetoric and writing, audience, the rhetorical triangle, and how to craft my writing so it is clear and concise. I have been learning some new tricks on Instagram and Facebook over the last few weeks but it’s basically the same stuff — I’m just using writing in a new way. And fun fact — I’m enjoying learning about social media and how to write for effect on it. I like being a life-long learner and finding new ways to challenge myself. People that remain stagnant rarely achieve great successes.
That’s why I haven’t been publishing much on the blog lately: I have been spending all my time on Instagram and Facebook, learning about flashy lights and how to show them off. I have learned quite a bit and have started trying out some new writing tricks.
For fun, I go wheeling, go to events, drive my Jeep, and write about those adventures. Now, I can generate a little cash by going wheeling, going to events, driving my Jeep, and writing about those adventures.
Life is pretty cool sometimes!