C40's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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bryan
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by bryan » Tue Nov 22, 2016 4:55 am

Nice post!

> - I don’t need to carry around a toilet inside my van, because all I need to poop in is a little hole in the ground, and a trowel takes up barely any space in my van (and in cities there are toilets all over the place)

On one hand I agree, considering I did without one for two years mostly in urban environs. On the other hand a toilet is the one item I kept telling myself I would be sure to include in my final build.

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cmonkey
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by cmonkey » Tue Nov 22, 2016 10:10 am

I practice that 'do nothing' thing quite often, usually with books I want or video games I'd like to get on Steam. Wait for them to come down in price to less than 90% of the original price. In fact, I might not even want them by then. If I do, then I get them and spend practically nothing.

We don't really get the "You could really use item XYZ" comments. Instead they are just bought for us. :? Unfortunately the only permanent solution is trash service as it just seems impossible to give certain things away.

+1 on the trash level, that is insane. :? Maybe they are in reality minimalists with relatives that just won't STOP giving them shit. :lol:

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C40
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 » Sun Dec 04, 2016 11:16 am

WEBSITE!
I made a website. It’s basically a blog. The website is called My Wild Dreams. So far I’ve just been setting up the front/landing page, and making a few blog posts to get started. I think I will try to get caught up on my trip reports so far. Now’s a good time for that because I’ll be moving slow during the winter.

Here are the main reasons I started the blog:
  • * To work on improving my writing (I think having a website will help me challenge myself more than I do with just forum posts)
    * To have a better place to share my travels, the places I go, and the pictures. I’ve been posting on a couple other travel related forums, but I think this will be a better outlet. I should be able to control the formatting better (though so far, within the blog posts, I definitely can’t). I chose a name that’s not specific to vanliving so that if I want, I could continue the blog after I move on to other things, without having a mismatched name.
Expected subjects:
  • * Travel tales
    * Some overall Vandwelling information
    * Some personal finance information (nearly all people who want to live in vans and travel are interested in that side of it)
    * Pictures!



PODCAST EPISODE
I was on a podcast. It’s called Fighting Failure. The podcast is mostly meant for people considering or making entrepreneurial efforts, but he story would be useful for his target audience. My episode can be heard here: Fighting Failure Episode 6 – A Path to Freedom. We talk mostly about personal finance, early retirement, and reducing spending. It’s 30 minutes long. It’s a pretty basic conversation. Those already familiar with ERE/FIRE won’t learn much new, or anything at all. If you’d like to put a voice to the name, here you go.

How it happened:
Not long after arriving in San Diego, I hung out with an old friend for a weekend. One evening, a friend of his invited us to meet them at a bar/restaurant to watch some UFC fights. While there, my friend was telling one guy (Jared) about me being retired, living in the van, and traveling. Earlier, I’d overheard Jared telling another about a project he was working on. Some stuff about how people don’t go after their dreams (enough) because they let their fear of failure get in the way. Jared talked to me a bit and asked me if I’d be on his podcast. Sure, what the hell.






FINANCE
  • * I chose health insurance for next year. I just continued with the same plan. The total price went up a BUNCH, but for my estimated income next year, the subsidy is huge. My projected monthly premium is under $40!
    * Looking at my data for the last two months, it appears my basic monthly spending will be around $600 per month. That doesn’t include hobbies or entertainment, so my actual spending will be higher. I could get the basic cost down to under $500 pretty easily.



PICTURES

(I’m behind on processing them… here are a few)

On a walk with friends:
Image

Image

Image

Image



I have some To-Dos for December:
  • * Update financial tracking file. Need to revise it to better match my current focus. My old file was build during my acquisition phase and focused on that a lot. I have some ideas but haven’t worked on it at all yet. I’d like to get it ready before January.
    * Need to check my capital gains YTD and see if it makes sense to sell some stocks to reduce it to zero. And maybe I carried forward capital losses… need to check that too.
    * Get the hell out of the city. I’d been in cities (other than while driving) all the time straight since I was in northern Oregon! That’s like 6 weeks. Yesterday I came out to a National Forest northeast of San Diego. It’s very nice up here. The weather is perfect during the day but cold as hell at night. My MIFI internet speed is faster up here than in most cities, so I have the best of both worlds – an amazing place to ride my bike, take pictures, look around, and still the ability to do computer stuff that I want to.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by frihet » Sun Dec 04, 2016 1:15 pm

Thanks for sharing your journey. Really beautiful pictures. Looking forward to see more of them on your new blog. The open spaces you have in the US is really something. Strikes an expansive cord in my being. Recently drove from Denver to Crestone for a retreat with some other Swedes. Wished the whole journey that they would stop talking and let the scenery wash through them instead.

Envious of your long silent drives.

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Ego
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by Ego » Sun Dec 04, 2016 3:11 pm

Hey, the website looks fabulous! And the podcast. Nice job. You did a particularly good job outlining the basic ideas of ER to an audience who wouldn't naturally be open to them. Very well done with both!

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BRUTE
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by BRUTE » Sun Dec 04, 2016 3:59 pm

cool interview. very good beginner's explanation of FI, and how it ties into overall life goals.

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Gilberto de Piento
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:45 pm

I liked the interview too. You are good at explaining things in a way that makes sense without overcomplicating.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by Farm_or » Mon Dec 05, 2016 9:33 am

Great job on the website and podcast. I've book marked your blog and will be following. DH and I have been talking about our next transition, five years later plan. I've traveled a lot and moved a lot, but she hasn't, so it seemed like a good option to vanlife for awhile. We've been reading and researching areas, but there's no substitute for the first hand experience that you get actually living in a place for awhile.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by thrifty++ » Tue Dec 06, 2016 12:28 am

Your website is awesome. Its well set out and the photos are so nice. I look forward to reading your blog updates
Whats made you more comfortable to reveal your identity now? Is it because you have left corporate life? I can imagine I will be much less concerned with people knowing my details once I have passed the FI finish line and left full time employment.

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giskard
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by giskard » Mon Dec 12, 2016 8:26 am

Your website is looking great! I followed you on instagram, looking forward to more awesome photos coming up.

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C40
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 » Mon Dec 12, 2016 9:37 pm

Thanks everyone!! :-D :-D

I'm in the process of moving over a bunch of posts that I had on a Vandwelling and Overlanding forum to blog posts. I have about 80% of them done. I have putting a lot more detail in these about my travels than I was sharing in my journal posts here, so if you'd like to see more, it's there.
thrifty++ wrote:Whats made you more comfortable to reveal your identity now? Is it because you have left corporate life? I can imagine I will be much less concerned with people knowing my details once I have passed the FI finish line and left full time employment.
Yeah, I suppose it's mainly that. I'm still a bit nervous about it though.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by Tyler9000 » Mon Dec 12, 2016 10:41 pm

Just wanted to join the My Wild Dreams fanboy train. Awesome work!


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Re: C40's Journal

Post by James_0011 » Wed Dec 28, 2016 8:28 am

@c40 really inspirational seriously, thanks for writing.

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C40
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 » Wed Dec 28, 2016 9:42 pm

Thanks James :-D

New blog post: Get the hell out of the city: Camping near San Diego

Ok, So I traveled down the California coast during October and November. Then I spent about a month in and around San Diego. Because it's tricky to free camp along the coast (especially because the National Forest at Big Sur was closed, I had spent every single night for the last 2-3 months inside cities. It's no big deal, but there are small annoyances: putting up and taking down curtains, moving the van around often, not being able to just step out of the van and pee, etc. Plus, it's great being out in nature. So I was craving it. A lot. So, I got he hell out of the City for a week and went camping in part of Cleveland National Forest that is near San Diego.

A preview of pictures:

Image


Image


Image

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bryan
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by bryan » Thu Dec 29, 2016 11:54 am

I really need some windows in the van..

C40, what's your assessment of the windows, generally? Anything you would change? I've been thinking of doing a sort of skyline window (long but not too tall, 6"?) across one or both sides.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by vexed87 » Thu Dec 29, 2016 3:19 pm

@c40, thanks for sharing all this, its really cool. Sorry if this came up before, but how are you cooking in/by the van? Or are you eating only raw/pre-cooked foods? I don't recall seeing any cooking apparatus during the van build. Also, where are you getting/storing your drinking water whilst wild camping?

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C40
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 » Tue Jan 03, 2017 7:25 pm

bryan wrote:I really need some windows in the van..

C40, what's your assessment of the windows, generally? Anything you would change? I've been thinking of doing a sort of skyline window (long but not too tall, 6"?) across one or both sides.
I like the windows. I wasn't specifically looking for windows. The first good van at a cheap price I found happened to have them. Some thoughts:
- Safer driving. It's nice to be able to turn and look through the windows when switching lanes, backing up, etc.
- More work in cities. I have curtains that I have up most of the time in cities. When I first started, I would take most of them down for driving. Now I take fewer down so it's less time and work, but it is something to deal with.
- Cold! I insulated other parts of the van but the windows let out a lot of heat. I don't know if that is really a factor or not because I just let it be about the same temperature inside the van as it is outside. This way I don't have to worry about condensation or deal with heating the van. I just wear the approriate amount of clothes so my body is warm enough. (sometimes that is a LOT of layers). It is possible to make insulated covers, but compared to my curtains, they would be a PITA to store while not on the windows.
- The views are awesome
- If I didn't have windows, I don't think I would bother cutting the walls to add any. I'd probably spend more time outside.
- When you're parked at an angle (when the van is not level) the windows help. Without them, being un-level can cause some feeling of vertigo (because the visual cues of what's normally vertical don't match up with your senses). But I guess having the view of outside helps your brain to understand the positioning and not get bothered.


vexed87 wrote:@c40, thanks for sharing all this, its really cool. Sorry if this came up before, but how are you cooking in/by the van? Or are you eating only raw/pre-cooked foods? I don't recall seeing any cooking apparatus during the van build. Also, where are you getting/storing your drinking water whilst wild camping?
I use a single burner "camping" stove that screws onto the top of 1lb propane bottles. (one of these. I sit that on the floor and cook on it in the van (with proper ventilation). Right now I mostly eat:
- Chicken (Rotiserees, so I don't have to cook it)
- Sweet potatoes
- various vegetables (brocolli, cauliflour, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, green beans, etc.)
- fruit
- lentils
- Indian curry seasoning, +some kind of hot sauce
- sardines
- whey protein shakes

(not all together at once.. my cooked meals contain some combination of the chicken, potatoes, and vegetables)

I store the water infour 2.5 gallon jugs. I keep two in the wooden cupboard next to the fridge. One on the floor that I'm currently using. (its out of the way) and one under the passenger seat. I have a metal growler that I use for water dispensing (and I fill taht a few times a day from the jerrican).

I get the water mostly at grocery stores. Out in the western U.S. they are machines in front of the store where you pay about $0.30 per gallon.

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C40
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 » Tue Jan 03, 2017 7:43 pm

2017 Goals

First…
2016 – Results vs Goals

Image

Things went well.

On the squats, I could probably call that a success. I was doing 215 5x5 at a pretty low intensity at the end of January. So I’m certain I could’ve done 235 right then. But I what I meant with the goal was to lose fat, and be able to do the 235 5x5 at the same low intensity. I stopped lifting in April when I was selling my house, so I never checked if I could do the 235 after I lost the fat.





2017 Goals (Draft)

Here’s what I have for now. There are more numerous goals than I’ve had in previous years. Now that I’m not working, I have a lot more time for my own goals.

Image

For more details, see here: 2017 Goals Blog post

Any feedback/advice/suggestions? I didn't really cover the travel and travel-related fun stuff I'll be doing. But of course I'll do that.
Last edited by C40 on Thu Jan 05, 2017 2:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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BRUTE
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by BRUTE » Wed Jan 04, 2017 2:02 am

wow, 55 blog posts is a lot. big plans! sounds like a pretty comprehensive set of goals.

for the Spanish, brute recommends some type of spaced repetition app for vocabulary/sentence fractures, plus lots of practice or the memorized particles. there are online sites for finding language partners via skype.

about the cooking situation, is it feasible to run a slow cooker or similar in the van to batch cook food? brute isn't sure what those things pull in electricity.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by _JT » Wed Jan 04, 2017 12:37 pm

Duolingo for language learning

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Gilberto de Piento
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Wed Jan 04, 2017 7:57 pm

You have the skills and experiences for a successful blog. I'm looking forward to following along. Good luck!

For information about the geology of the areas you are travelling through try https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/rockd/id1153056624?mt=8 and Rising From the Plains or Assembling California (depending on where you are in the West) by John McPhee.

I think you should add trying rock climbing to your list of things to do. Be wary of just climbing with random people though, not everyone knows what they're doing.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by jacob » Wed Jan 04, 2017 8:10 pm

You could cannibalize a lot of your journal for "how I got to this [FIRE] point"-posts. Especially graphs and numbers (people love numbers).

I would suggest holding off on this until you have a "base" of 50 or so posts because those how I beat the system and did something awesome posts have a high level of virality and you want enough good posts already for your blog to be sticky when that happens.

Also, the sooner you start developing a "read this [first]"-list or some other organization of subjects, the more your future self will thank your present self.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by theanimal » Wed Jan 04, 2017 10:26 pm

How do you plan to get to 20,000 followers on Instagram? Posting more photos that are high quality? I don't use instagram so I'm curious how one goes about attaining this.

Bushcraft is one of the skills I've been working on myself. This is one of the best books I've read so far Bushcraft: Outdoor Wilderness Skills and Survival The book mainly focuses on northern environments but the fundamentals apply everywhere. You'd just have to figure out what to substitute for various plants, trees, animals etc. I can provide some more book recommendations if you're interested.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 12:44 pm

BRUTE wrote:wow, 55 blog posts is a lot. big plans! sounds like a pretty comprehensive set of goals.
Yeah, I’m not really sure how much effort the posts will take. There’s a good chance I’ll decide to do less. If I get in a groove, 55 should be no problem, but we’ll see. It will also depend on how long I make the posts vs. splitting them up.

BRUTE wrote:for the Spanish, brute recommends some type of spaced repetition app for vocabulary/sentence fractures, plus lots of practice or the memorized particles. there are online sites for finding language partners via skype.
_JT wrote:Duolingo for language learning
I used Duolingo and I think Memrize before and I liked them. I’ll probably use them both again. My cousin also sent me something to download and I think listen to. Not sure what it is exactly because It’s a big file and I don’t have it downloaded yet.

BRUTE wrote:about the cooking situation, is it feasible to run a slow cooker or similar in the van to batch cook food? brute isn't sure what those things pull in electricity.
It’s possible but I doubt I’ll bother. Using electric resistance for heat is inefficient. Upon a quick check, a really small crock pot uses like 6amps. On a sunny day in non-winter seasons, I could run that during the day without it being a problem. But I don’t see much use. It’s easy cooking with propane. Even if I batch cook (which I already do with lentils/beans/rice) I’d probably still want to heat it up each time I eat.



Gilberto de Piento wrote:You have the skills and experiences for a successful blog. I'm looking forward to following along. Good luck!

For information about the geology of the areas you are travelling through try https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/rockd/id1153056624?mt=8 and Rising From the Plains or Assembling California (depending on where you are in the West) by John McPhee.

I think you should add trying rock climbing to your list of things to do. Be wary of just climbing with random people though, not everyone knows what they're doing.
Thank you :-D

I’ll check out that app and those McPhee books. I’ve been hearing about how good McPhee is, so I look forward reading them.

I suppose I should try rock climbing. It could be a good way to meet people. I had two classes when I went to a fancy high school where we climbed on indoor climbing walls so I’m a bit familiar with it. I’ve just never had any desire to do it.


jacob wrote:You could cannibalize a lot of your journal for "how I got to this [FIRE] point"-posts. Especially graphs and numbers (people love numbers).

I would suggest holding off on this until you have a "base" of 50 or so posts because those how I beat the system and did something awesome posts have a high level of virality and you want enough good posts already for your blog to be sticky when that happens.

Also, the sooner you start developing a "read this [first]"-list or some other organization of subjects, the more your future self will thank your present self.

Yeah, come to think of it, there are probably entire parts/posts I can copy and paste into blog posts (with some editing and expansion). I need to figure out how much financial stuff I think is appropriate to share on the blog. I’m not exactly sure yet, but I expect I’ll eventually share everything I do here.

Thanks for the advice on timing that kind of post.

This kind of blog advice is very helpful for me. So if you (any everyone else) want to give me more, please do.



theanimal wrote:How do you plan to get to 20,000 followers on Instagram? Posting more photos that are high quality? I don't use instagram so I'm curious how one goes about attaining this.
Briefly: Automation. I post nice pictures, and that is important/required, but what gets me a lot of followers is using a computer program to interact with other Instagram users.

Details: I read some mainstream articles/posts about how to do well on Instagram. They say the way to do it is post high quality content and they emphasize that you interact with the community. That you like people’s pictures, make real and thoughtful comments, etc (interacting with users who are interested in the same things as you). This does work… There are basically two ways that people follow you on instagram:
1 - They search for a hashtag they are interested in. Say, they search for #Vanlife. Thousands of pictures come up (always sorted by most recently posted, but with 9 fairly recent pictures stacked at the top that got a lot of likes quickly - these end up being pics from users with many thousands of followers as thats the only way for your pictures to get >1000 likes quickly). Ok.. They see a picture they like and view it. Then maybe they decide to follow the person who posted that pic. So, getting followers this way depends on posting high quality pictures and tagging them appropriately. A really good picture might get you ten followers.
2 - Community interaction. Like Facebook, you get notifications when another user has interacted with you. There are many ways (liking their picture, commenting on it, liking a comment they posted, replying to a comment they posted, following them, sending them a direct message). When they get notifications (especially for people who don’t get a lot of notifications) they will often look at the person’s profile who liked/commented/followed them. If they like what they see, they may follow that person.

#1 is making good product. #2 is advertising it. Your product does have to be good for the advertising to be effective.


Ok. so. Doing each of these take a lot of time. For me, #1 is easy/automatic because I’m already making the nice pictures. #2 takes a lot of time because it’s just a lot of looking and button pushing on your phone. I started doing my community interaction faster. Like searching for #vanlife and similar tags and liking the first 100 pictures. And commenting on 20 of them. Eventually, I was liking the pictures without really looking at them. Then after a while of that, I searched for and found a little bit of programming that I can paste into my browser console to make my account Like X pictures from a certain hashtag. Now I didn’t have to push the buttons on my phone so much. The code worked, but not perfectly, and only ran when I triggered it, and took some ongoing work to keep it running each time. So I tested some more fully automated services. There are websites/companies/apps that automate Instagram (and other S.M. types) community interaction for you, and that make your actual interaction easier (like ways to make it easier for you to see comments and respond to them. When you get a lot of notifications, it’s gets difficult to see and respond to comments, but a website app can make it easier for you to do by displaying them better). I tested out a couple. A really good one is called Archie. But it’s expensive. I use a cheaper one called Instagress. It’s $80 per year. These kind of services can do much more complicated interactions than the little “like” code I used. They can automatically like the pictures of users who follow/like/comment certain popular users that I designate. This is useful because it can expose my content to people who dream about living in a van but don't yet and thus don't post any content tagged #vanlife (Here's an exampleof a popular account whose followers I have my automation targeting ). So now this thing can do quite a bit of community interaction for me all day long. While I’m sleeping, bicycling, taking pictures, masturbating, when I don’t have internet for a week straight, etc. That gets me another 40-120 followers per day.

Some of the automation tactics are annoying. People also do these manually and they are just as annoying. For example, the comments. Since you’re automating them, the comments pretty much have to be generic. (There are ways to automate comments that will usually look real by commenting on pictures with specific or multiple tags - for example “Wow, nice sunset!” on pictures tagged with #sunset). So the comments are like “Wow, great! :-D :-D”. Right now, I’d estimate that 90% of all comments on Instagram are generic, and that well over 50% of all Instagram comments are made by a computer. When I used to get those comments, it was of annoying to get a notification and then look at it and see that it was probably just pasted in really quick by a person with no thought, or just made by a computer. Now it’s kind of funny. There’s another annoying tactic: following and unfollowing. You follow a person, hoping they will also follow you. Then you unfollow them. The automation can do this. One interesting thing since starting my automation is seeing people who’s pictures my automation commented on respond really happily. And then I think “wow, that automated comment seemed to really brighten up that person’s day”. So there is some positives to this robot bullshit game :-D :-P

Anyways… This is all pretty stupid. Why do it?
1 - To drive traffic to my blog
2 - It can be monetized. Instagram itself is not monetized for content creators like Youtube is. But, when you have many thousands of followers, you have many thousands of people looking at every picture you post, and many of those reading the caption you put in every picture. So you can get companies to pay you money. For example, they may pay to, say, hold their Hydroflask water bottle in your hand the next time you pot a picture of yourself hiking, and link to the @Hydroflask account in your comment. For people with huge follower amends (like >a million) a companies supposedly pay many thousands of dollars for just one advertisement post.

So, I look at this as fun. It’s a game to play. A way to experiment with human behavior that might just make me some money. There are some other side benefits that can happen, like meeting cool people with similar interests, getting useful feedback on what kind of pictures people like the most (in this specific format, which can be a little annoying - people like bright pictures with too much saturation. And they rrreeeeeaaaally like pictures with attractive women)

The results so far:
  • From September 2015 to September 2016, I posted ~180 new pictures. My followers went from about 100 to about 700. Then I started using Automation, and:
  • From September 2016 to now (early January 2017), I posted ~60 new pictures. My Followers went from 700 to 3,500.

    Over time, I was posting better pictures and tagging better, but most of the increase is from using the automation to 'advertise' my content.

    theanimal wrote: Bushcraft is one of the skills I've been working on myself. This is one of the best books I've read so far Bushcraft: Outdoor Wilderness Skills and Survival The book mainly focuses on northern environments but the fundamentals apply everywhere. You'd just have to figure out what to substitute for various plants, trees, animals etc. I can provide some more book recommendations if you're interested.
    Cool. I’ll try to get a copy. I’ve read a simple book (or two), and found some good Youtube videos (I really like MCQ Bushcraft His advice isn’t significantly better than others, but his voice and presentation is wonderful.) I think the important part for me is to actually practice these skills, so I need to make sure I challenge myself to do so.

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