Following Up on the “Narrowing Focus” Podcast
Due to the limitations of recording the last podcast on my phone – the recording app has a time limit, and I talk too much – I wasn’t really able to go into a lot of detail about my reasons for ending the podcast and what the plans are for the future. I’m sorry for that. But I’m hoping that this post will shed some light on some of the questions you might have after listening to the last episode.
Several weeks ago, I got a disturbing image on my Macbook as I attempted to boot it up to edit a video – a grey screen with a flashing question mark. For PC users, this is the Apple equivalent of the blue screen of death. After working with an Apple tech support representative and doing everything we could, it was determined that it is almost certainly a hardware issue and that the machine and everything on it is likely toast. My initial reaction was a nauseating feeling in my gut. That hard drive contained all of my podcast audio files, and all of the video files that I’ve uploaded to YouTube in the past several years. Now it was all gone. However, after settling down and thinking about the options for a few days I began to look at things through a slightly different lens.
It’s been over 11 years since I wrote my first blog post on my now retired Logan Cabinet Shoppe blog. A short year after writing that first blog post, I started making woodworking videos as well. Though those early videos weren’t originally posted to YouTube, they were eventually migrated to my current YouTube channel after the original video host all but kicked the woodworking video makers off their servers. And while I didn’t dip my toes into the audio podcasting realm until just a couple of years ago, that has become yet another outlet for sharing my woodworking journey.
In just a few short years my personal “woodworking community” has grown from just me in my shop to me and thousands of followers who read my blog, listen to my podcast, watch my videos on YouTube, and like my posts on Instagram. I’m not complaining. I love being able to interact with so many like minded folks from all over the world and I’m extremely grateful for all of the connections and friends I have made as a result of these advances in technology. My opportunities to write for Popular Woodworking Magazine and work with folks like Christopher Schwarz, Megan Fitzpatrick, Chuck Bender, and a host of others are a direct result of being involved in the online woodworking community.
But having all of these different avenues to share my woodworking has also come at somewhat of a cost to me. While at one time I could just focus on what I was working on, these days, I can’t step foot through the workshop door without thinking about getting just the right pictures for my next few Instagram posts, getting the right camera angle for the YouTube video I’m working on, or coming up with a good discussion topic for my next podcast. With so many different outlets for sharing what I’m doing, and feeling like I need to keep them all current, I’m not doing a very good job at any one of them.
I equate my situation to the woodworker that wants to do a little bit of everything (I include myself in this group). With so many different unique types of woodworking – like furniture making, chair making, carving, marquetry, parquetry, green woodworking, basket making, coopering, etc. – it’s impossible for a person to dedicate enough time to each one to be able to get really good at all of them. Instead, we get to a point where we know enough about each one to be able to do it, but we never become an expert in any one area. We become the proverbial Jack of all trades, and just like the jack of all trades woodworker will likely never become exceptional at anything (which is perfectly fine if that’s the goal), I feel like trying to focus on too many methods of teaching & sharing my woodworking will prevent me from becoming really good at any one of them.
So this is the long winded way of saying that I need to narrow my own focus. I wish I could continue the blog, podcast, YouTube channel, social networking, writing, and teaching and bring them all to the level I would like them to be at. But I simply can’t. I need to decide where I want to focus my efforts and then do that to the best of my ability rather than half-assing my way through every possible outlet.
I’ve known for a long time that my heart lies with my writing and teaching. I’ve always felt that I was a better writer than I am a radio or camera personality. At this point, I’ve dabbled in those other realms long enough to know that they’re really not my long-term thing. They were fun for a while, but when it comes to sharing my woodworking, they’re just not where my heart lies. The death of my laptop was a sign to me that I’ve dragged these things on long enough and it was time to cut bait and reassess my priorities.
So where do I go from here?
Well, as you already know if you’ve listened to the latest episode of the podcast, I will no longer be making the audio podcast. This wasn’t an easy decision as I really did enjoy interacting with so many of you, but it’s best for me moving forward if I can focus my limited time and energy elsewhere. If you are or were a Patreon supporter of the podcast, I cannot express my gratitude for your generosity enough. You are the reason that the podcast continued for as long as it did, so to you all I offer one last “Thank you for your support”! Moving forward, the Patreon auto billing has been turned off so you will no longer see monthly charges from Patreon. I will be shutting down the Patreon page completely at the end of September.
As a result of discontinuing the podcast and shutting down the Patreon page, I’m not quite sure yet what will happen to the old audio podcast files. My plan for now is to continue to maintain them with my current podcast host (the only place they’re available since I lost all of the original files with the death of my old laptop). However, I’ll be parting ways with that host at the end of September as well. If I can find a place where I can host the files for free and continue to offer them for download, I may try to move them if it doesn’t take too much time and effort to do so. However, I am not making any promises at this point so if you would like to keep any of the old podcasts, I recommend that you download them for your own personal use before the end of September.
As for the YouTube channel, that will remain up since it doesn’t cost me anything to keep that going. I may upload a new video from time to time (so you may want to stay subscribed to the channel if you already are), but it likely won’t be regularly, at least until I finish the new cabin and we’re all moved in and I have a new laptop.
Regarding social media, I have already discontinued use of everything but Instagram. For now I plan to continue posting to Instagram as much as possible, so that is where you will likely find me the most.
In addition, if you still like to read, and you still subscribe to this blog, you’ll still continue to hear from me here. As I mentioned earlier, my heart has always been with my writing and it’s probably the way I enjoy sharing my woodworking the most. Hopefully, once I have my family’s new home finished and moved into, I’ll be writing much more regularly here than I have been in recent years. Maybe someone might even read it (does anyone actually read blogs anymore?).
I’ll also be putting more effort into trying to teach classes more often. As soon as the cabin is done, I will be looking to schedule more teaching appearances at the Chestnut Creek School of the Arts, and maybe even other schools if there is any interest. You’ll be able to find out about any classes that I’m teaching here on the website. Just keep an eye on the blog and the Classes page.
So thanks for all of the support you’ve all shown me through all of the years. I hope I’ll continue to see you all here on the blog, and I hope to meet some of you at my classes in the future!
Thanks for all I’ve learned from you. It would be nice if you mention in Instagram when you have a new blog post. I don’t see them unless I am reminded by something else. Good luck with whatever you want to do in the future.
Thanks James! I’ll try to remember to put the new posts on Instagram. But you can always subscribe by email as well using the form in the sidebar of the blog. Then you’ll get an automated email every time a new blog is posted. I don’t share anyone’s email and I don’t send any spam. It’s strictly signing up to be notified when there’s a new blog post.
Sounds good, Bob, blogs are my favorite anyway, with IG a distant but respectable 2nd. Podcasts have never been as effective for me, but I guess we all learn differently. Btw, you’ve been doing several things well, which is exceptional with all you’ve had going on. Thanks for all you do!
Sorry to hear, but I understand where you’re coming from. Best of luck, and the Podcast will be missed!
Thanks for sharing!
I learned a lot from you from this podcast and your videos. You podcasts were so clear and informative. You’re a natural teacher—hopefully, teaching will remain one area of focus (if not now, then later).
Thanks Elmer! In fact teaching is one of the things I want to focus more on. I’m hoping to do a series of classes next spring and summer at the local school. And I still plan to do videos on both of your suggestions as well (molding plane tuneup and curved moldings). They’re topics that are just too good not to do.
Hey, thank you for a job well done. I will inded miss the podcast. your humble and informative way of teaching realy made it a plesant listen.
Thanks for your efforts. I always look forward to your podcasts and have learnt a lot. Good to reassess and rationalise your commitments (though not for me!).
All the best with your projects