Saturday, January 30, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
How are you doing on those Resolutions you made for 2010?
Harvey has some help:
Harvey Mackay's Column This Week
Why do we fail? And how do we fix it?
As any successful person will honestly admit, I've had my share of failures. Since this column is limited to 750 words, I won't bore you with the details!
But from every failure I have learned an equally valuable lesson. The first lesson I learn is that there was at least one reason I failed. The second lesson I learn is that I can rebound from that failure.
According to Shiv Khera, author of "You Can Win," failures most often occur for one of the following seven reasons:
- Lack of persistence. More people fail not because they lack knowledge or talent, but just because they quit. It is important to remember two words: persistence and resistance. Persist in what must be done and resist what ought not to be done. We all have had setbacks in life. Failing does not mean we are failures!
- Lack of conviction. People who lack conviction take the middle of the road. But what happens in the middle of the road? You get run over. People without conviction go along to get along because they lack confidence and courage. They conform in order to get accepted even when they know that what they are doing is wrong.
- Rationalizing. Winners may analyze but never rationalize. Losers rationalize and have a book full of excuses to tell you why they could not succeed.
- Not learning from past mistakes. Some people live and learn, and some only live. Wise people learn from their mistakes. Failure is a teacher if we have the right attitude. I've always said experience is the name we give to our mistakes.
- Lack of discipline. Anyone who has accomplished anything worthwhile has never done it without discipline. Discipline takes self-control, sacrifice and avoiding distractions and temptations. It means staying focused.
- Poor self-esteem. Poor self-esteem is a lack of self-respect and self-worth. People with low self-esteem are constantly trying to find themselves, rather than creating the person they want to be.
- Fatalistic attitude. A fatalistic attitude prevents people from accepting responsibility for their position in life. They attribute success and failure to luck. They resign themselves to their fate, regardless of their efforts, that whatever has to happen will happen anyway.
The rebound lesson is the more pleasant part of the equation, but it is not without challenges. Here are Professor Mackay's lessons learned from the problems posed above:
1a. Try new approaches. Persistence is important, but repeating the same actions over and over again, hoping that this time you'll succeed, probably won't get you any closer to your objective. Look at your previous unsuccessful efforts and decide what to change. Keep making adjustments and midcourse corrections, using your experience as a guide.
2a. Decide what is important to you. If something is worth doing, it's worth doing right and doing well. Let your passion show in even mundane tasks. It's ok to collaborate and cooperate for success, but it's not ok to compromise your values — ever.
3a. Change your perspective. Don't think of every unsuccessful attempt as a failure. Few people succeed at everything the first time. Most of us attain our goals only through repeated effort. Do your best to learn everything you can about what happened and why.
4a. Define the problem better. Analyze the situation—what you want to achieve, what your strategy is, why it didn't work and so on. Are you really viewing the problem correctly? If you need money, you have more options than increasing revenue. You could also cut expenses. Think about what you're really trying to do.
5a. Don't be a perfectionist. You may have an idealized vision of what success will look and feel like. Although that can be motivational, it may not be realistic. Succeeding at one goal won't eliminate all your problems. Be clear on what will satisfy your objectives, and don't obsess about superficial details.
6a. Don't label yourself. You may have failed, but you're not a failure until you stop trying. Think of yourself as someone still striving toward a goal, and you'll be better able to maintain your patience and perseverance for the long haul.
7a. Look in the mirror every day and say, "I am in charge." You may not have control over every phase of your life, but you have more control than you realize. You are responsible for your own happiness and success. As I like to say, your attitude determines your altitude!
Mackay's Moral: You can turn "down and out" into "up and at 'em."
Miss a column? The last three weeks of Harvey's columns are always archived online.
More information and learning tools can be found online at harveymackay.com.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
But there are some good ideas too from the DLM Blog:
Posted: 17 Jan 2010 09:53 AM PST
Are you as sick as I am of blogs, ebooks and gurus all promising to teach you how to "make money online"? In many cases, they're people flogging a product that they swear any idiot could use to make a fortune … overnight … on the beach … in just two hours a day…
Let's get real about this. Making money online, just like making money offline, takes real work. However much you might wish you could just press a button and get a steady income stream going, that's not how it works. Scams, pyramid schemes, dodgy traders and fly-by-night sites abound: none of these are going to get you closer to paying off your debts or quitting your day job.
However, it is perfectly possible for you to make money online. I'm going to outline five straightforward, no-nonsense, spam-and-scam-free ways to do so. I've had experience – i.e. dollars coming in – with each of these areas, and I'll share some of my best tips.
(Hint: I'm also linking to some useful sources, so you may want to bookmark this post for handy referral.)
In almost all cases, you'll want to get set up with PayPal so that you can get paid.
First up, freelancing. This is how I got started with my business, Aliventures. Freelancing means selling a particular service, getting paid by clients either by the hour or by the project.
You can do all sorts of things as a freelancer, but some of the most common freelancing areas online are:
- Writing: including copywriting, blogging, newsletters, ebooks, articles
- Designing: including illustration, graphic design, logo design
- Programming: including web coding, custom software
- Administration: including accounts, personal assistants
To get started with freelancing, pick a particular skill that you have, and put together an online portfolio showcasing your work. Tell your family, friends, and Twitter followers that you're looking for clients.
Freelancing is becoming much more common as people look for flexible patterns of working (and multiple clients to provide job security) – so there’s a lot of advice, support and help around, often including grants and loans when you’re getting started. Your local Chamber of Commerce – or a similar organization – may be a good source of advice.
- Specialize. It might seem counter-intuitive, but it's better to concentrate on one area than try to cover all the bases. For example, writers might choose to specialize in copywriting (and ignore blogging, editing and so on).
- Approach potential clients directly. Most of the freelance blogging jobs that I have weren't from applying for advertised jobs – they came through making contact with editors. You wouldn't be reading this blog post if I hadn't sent Jay (DLM's editor) a guest post ( and several hopeful emails) back in 2008!
Freelance Switch and Freelance Folder are both blogs aimed at freelancers, and well worth subscribing to by RSS.
Skellie's post 30 Days to Become a Freelancer is a great step-by-step plan for new freelancers.
On Dumb Little Man, there's some freelance-related advice in:
- Writing: including copywriting, blogging, newsletters, ebooks, articles
- Selling electronic products
Freelancers sell a service. Even when that service results in a product, like a logo, a website or an ebook, it's custom-made at the request of a particular client. That works well for some people, but what if you want to make money without having to work by the hour or by the project?
A tried-and-tested way of making money online is to sell electronic, usually downloadable, products. I'm sure you've come across a few sites selling ebooks – if you have a particular area of expertise, you can write an ebook (which doesn’t need to be anything like as long as a paper book), and you’ll find buyers. Time-sensitive information does particularly well in ebook format.
There are also plenty of options if you're not a writer. You can pay someone to write an ebook for you: then you can market and sell it. Alternatively, you can sell audio or video files, graphical content, software.
- Start with something small, like a $5 or $10 product; the learning curve is usually steep.
- Either build up an online audience of your own (via a blog or e-newsletter), or partner up with people who have a big audience – offer them commission as an affiliate for your product.
- Create Ebooks That Sell – article on Copyblogger
- The Comprehensive Paint-by-Numbers Guide to Writing and Publishing Your Ebook – article on ProBlogger that’s pretty much described by the title!
- Selling physical products
If virtual products don't interest you, how about selling physical ones? You may well have done this already if you've ever offloaded some second-hand books on Amazon.com, or if you've gotten rid of those wrong-size-wrong-color clothes on eBay.
You don’t necessarily have to have a large amount of storage space to sell physical products, and you don’t need to spend hours standing in line at your local post office; you can use drop-shipping to outsource warehousing and shipping.
Many small businesses are run entirely on ebay, often buying stock in job lots (at discount warehouses, for instance) and splitting it up for sale, thus turning a profit per item.
Artists and crafters can sell handmade products on sites like etsy, where customers are often willing to pay a premium price for uniqueness and quality.
If you have a site or concept which you could produce merchandise for (online comics often do well with this, and humor blogs), try CafePress.
- Take the time to get a great photo of what you’re selling. Make the photo as large as possible too. (Many new ebay sellers make the mistake of not using good photos.)
- Use testimonials, especially if you’re selling items which customers would normally want to examine and touch before buying – such as clothes or craft materials.
- Stick with one site – at least to begin with – so that you can build up feedback from buyers: I found that selling on ebay and Amazon was much easier once I had a good rating.
- Owning websites
If you own a website, you’ve got a potentially money-making asset. You can run adverts on the site. A good place to start is Google Adsense. Once your site starts getting a reasonable level of traffic and/or a reasonable Google rank, you can sell advertising directly. (Warning: Google sometimes penalizes sites which sell text links.)
For an example of Adsense and private ad sales in action, see my site www.theofficediet.com. You’ll notice that:
- There is a 125x125 banner, as well as a number of links under the headings “Adverts”. These are private ad sales.
- I’m also running Google Adsense
I don’t make a living from this site by any means, but I do make several hundred dollars each month from advertising.
Another method is simply to sell the site, which is often known as “flipping” it. If you have a site that makes regular income (such as through advertising or affiliate sales), then there’ll be interested buyers. A good rule of thumb is that you can sell a site for around 12-18 times the monthly income. You may be able to sell a site which has strong potential – perhaps a good domain name and some high-quality content – even if it isn’t yet generating income.
You can sell sites – and even great domain names (which should cost under $10 to register) – on the SitePoint marketplace.
- Once you have a large site that’s easily found on Google, advertisers will often come to you. Be prepared for this: decide what you charge for different types of ads, and have a simple means of accepting payment.
- You may have to decide between advertising income and maintaining the quality of your website. I run text ads and Adsense on www.theofficediet.com because I’m not too attached to that site – I’m much pickier about the ads on my “home” site, www.aliventures.com!
- My Adsense Tips on the Official Adsense Blog – videos from Darren Rowse (aka Problogger)
- ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income – by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett has good information about advertising and about flipping blogs.
- Find an Undervalued Asset. Fix It Up. Flip It. (Now It’s Web Sites, Not Houses) – article from the New York Times which is a good introduction to the area – and financial possibilities – of flipping websites.
- Selling other people’s products
Lastly, perhaps you don’t have anything of your own to sell – and you don’t want to create anything. How about selling other people’s products? This is a great way to let others do the hard work while you reap the rewards!
Like the other four methods, though, this isn’t without work on your part. Affiliate marketing (acting as an affiliate for someone else’s product, and earning commission on sales which you refer) requires you to have two things:
- An audience
- Provide high quality content (blog posts, emails or Tweets)
- Be honest, personable and real – we trust people who we can see as friends
- Don’t give an overblown review just for sales: mention any bad points about the product too
- Own every product and use every service that you review as an affiliate
When looking for products to promote, start with things you already own. You can promote anything sold on Amazon as an affiliate (though the commission isn’t great) and you’d be surprised how many sites and companies have affiliate programs. You can also review a post from Dumb Little Man that lists over 40 ways to make money online.
- Think about what you like in a review – and provide that! I put the price up front in all my reviews, for instance, as I hate not knowing the price of a product till I’ve read a ton of text about it.
- Give a personal story about your experience with the product or service. If you say in the review that your webhost has great customer service, give a concrete example.
- Many ebook authors (and sellers of other downloadable products) will let you have a review copy if you have a reasonable-sized blog or newsletter, so you can sometimes get free products this way!
- What Is Affiliate Marketing? and 10 Tips for Using Affiliate Programs On Your Blog – great introductions to this topic, on ProBlogger
- How to Suck at Affiliate Marketing – what not to do, from IttyBiz
- Cloud Living review – where I discuss Glen Allsopp’s comprehensive and beginner-friendly ebook about affiliate mini-sites and blogging.
- An audience
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Tech Tip: What You Need to Know About the Browser War
Jan. 6, 2010
By far, the most important application on your computer is your Web browser. Surprisingly, many people don’t even know what a Web browser is, much less which one they’re using. Google recently created a site that very clearly explains this at whatbrowser.org. Visiting that site will give you a basic introduction and tell you exactly what browser/version you are using. As recently as 2002, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser (IE) had an overwhelming 95% market share. It would have seemed very unlikely, if not impossible, for anyone else to compete. However, in less than seven years, IE has dropped to less than 65% market share, losing share mostly to Mozilla Firefox, but also to Apple Safari, Google Chrome and Opera.
In the last month, there have been two interesting developments. The first one is a statistical fluke, but according to StatCounter, Firefox 3.5 has temporarily overtaken IE6, IE7 and IE8 to become the most popular browser globally. This is the first time in over a decade that the most popular browser version has not been a version of Internet Explorer. The reason for this is because IE7 usage has been dropping as users switch to IE8. The reality is that in a couple weeks or less, IE8 will once again overtake Firefox 3.5. But it is an amazing accomplishment nonetheless. The other interesting development is that Google Chrome, which was released less than 17 months ago, has overtaken Apple Safari, a browser that has been around since 2003. This is a pretty significant accomplishment since Google is now in third place and has a lot of momentum. The graph below shows the current browser market share according to Net Applications. I’ve broken out the IE versions, since they each have such a large market share.
As you can see, there are really only seven browsers that you need to understand. I’ve outlined them in the chart below.
|Internet Explorer 6||Aug. 27, 2001||Default in Windows XP. Still very popular with corporations and businesses due to legacy intranet and business applications.||Compatible with outdated business applications.|
|Internet Explorer 7||Oct. 18, 2006||Default in Windows Vista. Fixed many of the compatibility issues with IE6 and added support for modern Web technologies, but wasn’t quickly adopted by businesses due to compatibility concerns.||None. Switch to IE8.|
|Internet Explorer 8||Mar. 19, 2009||Default in Windows 7. Continued to improve modern Web support and added backward compatibility functionality.||Best integration with Outlook. Built-in IE7 compatibility mode.|
|Firefox (up to 3.5)||Nov. 9, 2004||Reignited the browser wars by bringing several browser innovations into the mainstream, such as tabbed browsing, customizable extensions and tighter security.||Extensions and customization.|
|Chrome (up to 4.0)||Dec. 11, 2008||Based on the same core technology as Safari, Chrome provides the speediest browsing experience at the expense of some of the complex features of the other browsers.||Speed and simplicity.|
|Safari (up to 4.0)||Jun. 23, 2003||Primarily used on the Mac, Safari offers an elegant, simple interface that quickly replaced IE on Apple computers. Although a Windows version is available, it is seldom used.||Fast, stable browser for Mac users.|
|Opera (up to 10)||Originally in 1996||While it doesn’t have much market share, Opera is known for innovating many of the features that we take for granted today.||Tons of innovative features over the years.|
So what do I recommend? Typical users can probably stick with the most recent version of the browser that came with their computer (IE on Windows; Safari on Mac). This avoids the confusion of juggling multiple browsers. However, if you are using IE6 or IE7, it is very important to upgrade to IE8 if possible. Major Web sites like YouTube and Facebook are beginning to reduce functionality for IE6 users, so you’re not getting the full experience unless you upgrade.
For those of you who want something better than the default browser, but don’t want to spend a lot of time tweaking, I’d recommend trying Google Chrome. It’s the fastest browser available and is extremely simple to use. I use Chrome for around 30% of my day-to-day browsing. The biggest advantage that I notice over Firefox is the ability to drag tabs out of the browser to create a new window without reloading the page. This is a huge advantage when you’re watching online video, since the video doesn’t have to reload.
If you want a ton of flexibility and enjoy spending the time to customize your online experience, then your best option is Firefox. Although Chrome has recently added extensions, there is nowhere near the variety that you can find for Firefox. With extensions, you can do things like:
- change the way the browser looks
- synchronize your bookmarks across multiple computers
- hide all banner ads and text ads from sites
- seamlessly merge multi-page articles into a single page
- add FTP functionality
Because so much of our computing time is now spent in a Web browser, it’s important to find one that fits your needs. Fortunately, due to the intense competition over the last five years, browsers are improving very quickly. Hopefully, this article will help you find a browser that meets your needs and enables you to discuss the browser war intelligently with the geeks in your life.If you enjoyed this article or would like to receive your own personal "subscription" to Villing & Company’s News & Views, click here to get free updates by e-mail or RSS.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Or Old Woman.
This picture is of two people I never met.
They are my Dad's parents.
The restaurant they are standing in front of is still around, still named Howard's Restaurant, although my family has not owned it for at least a dozen years.
My Grandfather died around 1953 or 54. My Grandmother died in February, 1959. I was born 10 months later.
My own parents are gone now too. My mom died in 2001 and my Dad died 3 years earlier. Neither one of them made it to age 70. But they have siblings who did. I have an Uncle Dean who is in his 80's, lives on the side of a mountain with my Aunt Jean in Maine and except for a few more wrinkles, is the same as I remember him 30 & 40 years ago.
I have an Uncle Bill in New Jersey who was my Mom's only sibling. He is in his 70's.
As I look around and see people living in their 70's, 80's and beyond, and living well, it gives me hope too, that I don't have to follow in my parents footsteps to death before 70.
This video can give us some help and hope:
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Here's a few alternatives from the AOM blog:
Posted: 06 Jan 2010 01:32 AM PST
Back in the day, leisure time was not thought of as a chance to “veg out,” but as opportunity to pursue one’s passions and interests, an outlet for the sides of a man that were not stimulated in one’s career. Unfortunately, we now often spend our leisure time camped out in front of the TV or computer. We say that modern life has become too stressful, that when we have free time, laying on the couch is all we can manage.
The truth is that spending our leisure time in satisfying pursuits, “fun work,” will refresh us far more than a non-stop marathon of playing Call of Duty. Hobbies can bring you joy, increase your eye for detail, keep your mind sharp, expand your creativity, and help you meet friends and learn valuable skills. They add interest to your life and help you become a more well-rounded man. If you’ve been feeling depressed, restless, or apathetic, the problem may be the lack of having something in your life you feel passionate about, something that brings you needed fulfillment.
We’ve gotten several requests to put together a list of manly hobbies, and we decided that the start of the new year would be a good time to publish such a list. Many of you are thinking about what you’d like to accomplish this year. How about putting “start a new hobby” on your resolution list? Here are 45 hobby ideas; hopefully one will stick out and grab you. But of course there are many more out there as well.
Almost every hobby listed has a corresponding Group in the Art of Manliness Community. So if you have questions about how to get started in the hobby or if you’re already involved and what to talk shop with other enthusiasts, be sure to join in the conversations going on there.
Note: When we talk about “manly” hobbies, we’re defining manly in terms of activities with a manly history or traditions, activities that help you gain manly qualities or just make you feel manly, and activities that are generally enjoyed more often by men than women. If you’re favorite hobby isn’t on the list, don’t get your knickers in a knot. Rest assured, any hobby that you’re passionate about is manly.
Men have been playing chess for thousands of years in order to fine tune their concentration, critical thinking, abstract reasoning, and problem solving skills. AoM favorite Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay back in the 18th century entitled The Morals of Chess. In it Franklin argued that playing chess created “valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, [that] are to be acquired or strengthened by it, so as to become habits, ready for all occasions. For Life is a kind of Chess…” What better way to pass the time with a friend than to play a game that makes you a better man. If you don’t have anyone to play with, check out chess.com where you can play online. And be sure to join the AoM Community Chess Group.
Looking to be a part of a tight knit community with a focus on radio and communication? Look no further than ham radio. While the internet has taken radio’s place as the dominant form of communication, a vibrant community of amateur radio enthusiasts still exists. Radio hobbyists enjoy communicating directly with people from all over the world while expanding their knowledge of radio theory. In addition, most ham radio operators provide a public service to their communities by acting as relays in the event of emergencies or natural disasters. Radio operation is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, so you’ll have to be licensed to use a radio. Licensing isn’t difficult at all. You just have to take a multiple choice test that covers basic regulations, operating practices, and electronics theory. And of course you’ll need the equipment. Buying new will set you back a pretty penny, but you can find good deals on used radio equipment on eBay. For more info about getting started with ham radio check out the National Association of Amateur Radio and stop by the AoM Community Group-The Manly Art of Amateur (Ham) Radio.
Men today just don’t read, but there couldn’t be a manlier hobby. Theodore Roosevelt was a voracious reader and so were most of the great men of history. Reading allows you to connect with the great thinkers and writers of history and exposes you to new ideas, consequently making you a more intelligent and well-rounded man. If you have access to a library card, reading can actually be a completely free hobby. If you need some ideas on what to read, look no further than our awesome reading lists. And you can get even more suggestions on good books and also talk about the books you love in the AoM Community Book Group.
Playing the Guitar
Instead of spending your time playing fake guitar on Guitar Hero, learn how to play the real thing. It’s a skill that will provide you and those around you with years of enjoyment. Oh, and chicks like a guy that can play guitar. Personally, I’ve used my guitar skills to get myself out of the doghouse with Kate by serenading her. And later in life you can gather the family around for some awesome sing alongs. Learning to play any instrument is manly, of course, but guitars have the advantage of being relatively cheap and having an easier learning curve for beginners. There are tons of resources online that provide free guitar lessons. Be sure to stop by the aptly-named AoM Community Group: Guitar=Manly.
Your grandpa knew how to dance, so why not harness your inner Fred Astaire by taking up ballroom dancing, too? Ballroom dancing can help increase your self-confidence, poise, and posture. It’s also a fun way to get some cardiovascular exercise in. And of course, ladies dig a gent who knows how to dance. Most cities have ballroom dancing studios. Just Google to find the ones near you and then go talk to the instructors to get a feel for their style and check on their credentials. Private classes go for around $50 a pop. If you’re married or have a girlfriend, ballroom dancing is a great date night activity. If you’re a bachelor, ballroom dancing is a great way to meet new women. Join other men with dancing feet in the AoM Ballroom Dancing Community Group.
I’ve always admired men who could take pieces of plain ol’ wood and shape them into something useful and beautiful. They’re the men who make their own Christmas presents instead of buying them and can proudly point to furniture in their house and say, “I made that.” You can be that man by taking up the wonderful hobby of woodworking. In addition to giving you a useful skill, many woodworking hobbyists report lower stress levels and increased patience. When you’re taking a chisel to a piece of wood, it’s easy to enter into a zen-like state. Many technical schools offer woodshop classes. Woodcraft stores also offer classes on woodworking basics for about $50 each. Interested? Be sure to join the AoM Woodworking Community Group.
Perhaps one of the most powerful manly images in America is that of the yeoman farmer- he’s the self-reliant man who cultivates his own land to provide for his and his family’s needs. You don’t need a homesteading plot to start getting in touch with the land; a small square in your backyard will suffice. If you have a job that keeps you cooped up in an office all day with artificial light and stale recycled air, gardening is a great hobby to pursue in order to get some exercise, sunlight, and fresh air. As you watch your garden grow from seeds to plants, you’ll find yourself becoming more in tune with the seasons. When you harvest your small crop, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that beats any high score on a video game. And when you make your first meal with vegetables grown in your very own garden, you’ll feel a surge of manly pride. If you’re looking to get started with gardening, check out this informative and well written article by J.D. Roth of Get Rich Slowly. And be sure to stop by the AoM Community Group: A Man’s Garden.
Classic Car Restoration
In days gone by, men would stay in their garages for hours at a time tinkering with their cars. As cars have become more sophisticated and reliant on computers, home mechanical work is going the way of the dodo bird. However, if you have an itch to become a grease monkey, you can always take up classic car restoration as a hobby. With classic car restoration you’ll learn a bit of engineering, improve your problem solving skills, and experience the sweet feeling of success when the engine you rebuilt purrs like a kitten. Car restoration is an expensive hobby to get into. Not only do you have to buy the car to restore, but you’ll need the tools, space, and custom parts to finish the job. However, the time and money can pay off as fully restored classic cars sell for a pretty penny (even though you probably won’t be willing to part with your baby). For more information about classic car restoration check out Second Chance Garage.
Metalworking has all the benefits of woodworking, except instead of the sweet smell of sawdust, you surround yourself with the delightfully noxious smell of burning metal. My brother-in-law picked up metalworking in high school, and it’s amazing the stuff he can make: cast iron headboards for that room your wife wants to decorate shabby chic, hanging pot plant holders, and garden archways are just a few of the things he can whip up. Your local vo-tech should offer classes on metalworking. Metalworking.com is a great place to find more info. They have a list of local clubs dedicated to metalworking.
If hunting isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy the pleasure of shooting a gun by taking up a shooting sport and becoming an expert marksman. Marksmanship requires pure concentration and a steady hand. Shooting clubs exist all over the country that emphasize different gun sports. Take your pick among clay pigeon shooting, hand gun and rifle shooting, and even Frontier and Cowboy shooting. Shooting can get expensive. Guns are expensive and the cost of ammo has gone up dramatically due to increased demand. You’ll also need to find a place to fire your weapon safely, so if you don’t have property to do it on, you’ll have to rent some time at a gun range.
If you’re not sure about forking over the dough right away on a real gun, consider getting started with marksmanship with air guns. The basic principles and skills used with real guns are the same with air guns, except you can fire an air gun in your suburban backyard and a round of 100 air gun pellets cost just a dollar or two compared to the $10- $15 you have to drop for real ammo. Check out this informative article on using air guns as an alternative to getting involved with shooting sports (the article addresses the recoil factor).
Collecting things is something a lot of men love and most women just don’t get. Females are multi-taskers, while the male brain likes to single-mindedly zero in on something. We tend to get obsessed with things. Take this tendency and couple it with man’s primordial desire for the hunt, and there you have a man’s love for collecting. A man can spend a lifetime looking for that final item to complete his collection. It becomes his obsession. His White Whale if you will. Of course, completing a collection is usually anti-climatic. In collecting, the thrill is in the chase. Pick your poison. Duck stamps, baseball cards, antique typewriters, whatever. Just don’t get too carried away with it.
Modern man is restless and unhappy because he’s lost touch with the great outdoors. Every man should seek to regularly connect with nature for the sake of both his physical and mental well-being. He needs to break away now and again and sleep out under the stars. Leave your cubicle behind and spend a few days breathing fresh air and sitting around a campfire. In this recession, camping is one of the most economical ways to “get away from it all.” It’s a great way to hone your outdoorsman skills, reconnect with your buddies, and get some alone time with your significant other. We’ve done some articles on camping tips and backpacking tips, and you can also join the Camping Group in the Community.
Ship in a Bottle
It’s the classic old man hobby: putting intricate model ships in a glass bottle. Amaze kids with your ship in a bottle displays! They’ll spend the rest of their childhood trying to figure out exactly how you did it. Placing a ship in a bottle (or impossible bottle) is a task that takes dedicated focus, patience, and a steady hand. You usually build the model ship on the outside of the bottle with the mast down. After you insert the ship into the bottle, you raise the mast with a pair of long forceps. In addition to placing ships into bottles, you can create impossible bottles with other objects like a deck of cards or tennis balls. Find out more about impossible bottles here.
For millennia, a man’s role in his family was to provide. For most of human history this was done through tracking down and killing wild animals. The hunt was a way that many cultures and tribes initiated boys into manhood and provided men with an opportunity to bond and connect in a completely male setting. Fast forward to today. The way most men get their meat is wrapped in a piece of paper that says “Big Mac” or packaged in plastic at the grocery store. And usually the meat is injected with hormones and antibiotics. There’s a huge disconnect between man, his food, and nature.
If you’d like to reconnect with the “Circle of Life,” it’s high time you go on a hunt. The benefits of hunting are innumerable, but here’s just a few. First, it gives you a chance to give you and your family a source of quality lean meat free from the antibiotics, hormones (and even ammonia!) that lurk in most factory farmed meat. Second, it gives you a chance to get back in touch with nature. Third, you’ll be supporting wildlife conservation as your dollars spent on hunting licenses and equipment goes to fund state wildlife agencies. And fourth, even if you don’t kill anything, hunting provides an opportunity for male bonding and friendships which is an important part of your overall happiness.
Maybe the idea of killing a deer or bear isn’t your thing. You can still enjoy the benefits of providing your own food and getting outside with fishing. Fishing is an iconic man hobby. It’s a great way for friends to bond (See Grumpy Old Men) and father and sons to spend time with each other (See Andy Griffith). It doesn’t cost too much to get started with fishing. A decent pole and reel will set you back about fifty bones and lures and bait are just a few dollars. Every state in the U.S. requires fishers to get a fishing license before they drop their line into the water. Check your state’s game and fish department for costs of licenses and information on the best fishing spots.
What if you want to start working with wood, but don’t have the money to get into real woodworking quite yet? Try whittling. All you need is a knife, a piece of soft wood, a rocking chair, a corn cob pipe, and most importantly, plenty of time. Whittling is one of those activities that can really help you relax and settle your mind after a hard day’s work. Stop by the library and pick up a book on whittling. You’ll find plenty of ideas and plans to help get you started.
Never grew out of your love for the game of hide and seek? Always wanted to go on a treasure hunt? Then the hobby of geocaching may be for you. People around the world hide objects or containers in all sorts of places and post the coordinates for the location online. People then go out with their GPS devices, seeking these well-hidden “treasures.” It’s a great way to get out of the house and explore parts of your town and area that you’ve never been to. For more info on geocaching and to find a list of geocaches in your area, go to geocaching.com.
Every man, whether nerd or meathead, should have some sort of physical activity in his life. The dichotomy between brains and brawn has always been a false one. Physical activity boosts your testosterone level (which men today really need since our T levels have been slowly dropping), keeps you healthy and in shape, staves off depression, and soothes your stress. Sports where a man’s competitive spirit can find outlet are particularly beneficial to one’s manliness. Tape part in pick-up games of football, basketball or soccer in your hometown, or form your own. I started playing weekly games of ultimate frisbee this year and absolutely love it. But solo activities-weight-lifting, running, bouldering-also have a lot of merit and allow you to space to think and get right with yourself. It doesn’t matter what the activity is as long as it gets the blood pumping and heart racing.
Model building-building replicas of cars, planes, and ships-might have been something you enjoyed as a boy. But there’s no reason not to take up the hobby as a grown man. Model building helps you hone your eye for detail and will inspire you to learn more about the history of the things that you’re working on. Plus, you’ll end up with something cool to put in your office or man cave. Community Member Paul wrote up a great post about scale airplane modeling that is chock full of great tips and information.
The smell of leather always brings out the frontiersman in a man; the part of him who loved the stories of Davy Crockett as a boy. Leatherworking is a great way to get in touch with your inner-cowboy and learn an uber-manly craft. A skilled leatherworker can make a variety of manly goods- wallets, leather pouches, belts, gun holsters, and saddles to name a few. The downside? This can be a pretty expensive hobby. You’ll need all sorts of special tools to really make a go of it. To get started, try buying a starter kit from the Tandy Leather Factory. They include everything you need to make small stuff like a wallet and key fob. That way you can gauge your interest before plunking down big time cash to get into bigger projects. Be sure to read this thread in the Community for more info and join the Leatherworkers Group.
Fred Flintstone, Homer Simpson, Ralph Kramden, and the Dude. What do these iconic TV and movie men have in common? They bowled. During the 1950s, men flocked to bowling alleys to join league teams. It was a way for men to spend some time with other men, drink some beer, and smoke a cigar. The bowling alley became a refuge of masculinity in homes that were feminized by the constant presence of the stay-at-home mom. What’s great about bowling is that it’s a hobby you can share with your buds. Plus, it gives you an excuse to wear a kick ass, manly bowling shirt. So call up your buddies and put a team together.
While guns almost completely supplanted the bow and arrow in both hunting and self-protection, sometimes going back to the old ways can bring great satisfaction. A gun is to a sledge hammer as a bow and arrow is to a paintbrush. Archery allows you to connect with one of the most primitive of weapons; it works entirely on manpower. It’s the kind of quiet, repetitive, focused activity that can truly settle your mind. While the bow and arrow is rarely used for hunting anymore (although that’s certainly an option), great satisfaction can be found in target shooting, in training your skills to the point where you can hit an apple off someone’s head (metaphorically speaking, of course). Simple, beginner bows can be had for relatively cheap, so it’s a hobby you can start trying right away in your backyard (makes sure it’s a safe area!) There are also archery parks like this one, where 3-d targets that look like animals are scattered in the woods. Cool.
We’ve discussed the benefits of rediscovering the lost art of letter writing before, so suffice it to say that writing letters in your spare time can be a very satisfying hobby. You can get into the cool tools of letter writing like fine stationery and fountain pens. Fire off a bunch of letters to friends and family. At least one will write you back and you can begin a lifetime correspondence with them. Or make your letter writing really count by using a program like Pen Pals for Soldiers. Soldiers love to receive mail, so take the time to write these brave men an encouraging note. Also take a look at something like the Bridge of Hope Nursing Home Pen Pal Program. Give a lonely senior citizen something to look forward to in their mail slot.
There are a myriad of benefits to learning a martial art: gaining self-defense skills, building your discipline and focus, increasing your health, connecting with a manly tradition, and giving the warrior side of yourself an outlet. There are a ton of different martial arts out there-choosing one will come down to what you are personally looking for. Do a lot of research and shopping around to find the discipline and instructor that’s right for you. You may wish to go the MMA route and learn how to incorporate a variety of techniques into your fighting repertoire. And of course, boxing comes highly recommended. You can join with other martial artists in the AoM Community.
Nothing beats a long hike to relax, get some fresh air, and rejuvenate your man spirit. What’s great about hiking is that in most cases it’s completely free. All you need is a pair of sturdy shoes or boots and a place to walk, be it some fields behind your house or a trail in a state park. Check out trails.com to find a hiking trail near you. There are always trails where you live, even in the flattest states-I should know- I’m from Oklahoma. You might just have to drive a little to get there.
Alcohol/Cigar/Pipe Smoking Connoisseur
You can walk into the store and grab whatever whisky you recognize or is cheapest. Or can you can become a bonafide whisky connoisseur, understanding why one whisky differs from another, where each brand comes from, and which you truly like. Things like whisky, beer, wine, cigars and pipe tobacco, can be things in which you become a true expert, a man who understands the subtleties that make each brand, each vintage unique. Not only can this heighten your pleasure in consuming such things, it can also help you meet others who share a similar interest and make you a desirable friend, the man who can mix the perfect martini and share his tips on the best cigar. Pick the thing that most calls to you and start reading books and blogs about it. Go down to the local tobacco shop and have the tobaccoist show you the ropes. And of course you need hands on study! Sip and smoke until you find the gems that leave you relaxed and smiling at the end of the day.
If you’ve always wanted to pick up an art, but don’t have the painter’s touch, try photography. With digital cameras and digital editing software becoming cheaper, photography as a hobby is more popular and accessible than ever. One benefit of photography as a hobby is that you can combine other interests with it. Love the outdoors? Snap some nature photos while on your hike. Are you an aficionado of classic diners? Take a picture of every diner you visit. A vibrant community of photographers exists online and many photo hobbyists have free sites dedicated to teaching photography. Check out Digital Photography School and Strobist to find out more info on how to get started with this hobby. And be sure to join the friendly and welcoming AoM PhotoGroup
Every time I watch the The Hustler, I get the urge to walk into a smokey pool hall and become the master of the cue stick. Pool and billiards combines strategy, geometry, and oftentimes psychology in order to win. It’s also a great way to spend time and shoot the bull with your friends. If you can’t convince your wife that the game room won’t be complete without a pool table, try hitting up a pool hall or bowling alley to get your game on. A game costs a couple of bucks, more if you get hustled.
If you’re into camping and hiking and are looking for a new challenge in the great outdoors, then look no further than mountaineering. Mountaineers, well, climb mountains. Why? Because it’s there of course! There are few things as satisfying in life as getting to the peak after a grueling climb, gazing out to a breathtaking view, and knowing that you just conquered the mountain. For some mountaineering tips, check out this good article by Adam Cook.
We’ve said it again and again; every man should know how to cook. The benefits of knowing your way around a kitchen are legion-it gives you independence (no more relying on others to feed you), it saves you money over having to go out to eat or buy pre-packaged foods, it impresses the ladies, it helps you stay healthy (ever read the nutrition information for fast food?), and it’s just plain enjoyable. You’ve got to eat a few times every single dang day, so you might as well get some pleasure out of it. Plus it’s a cheap and accessible hobby to take up. You can get fancier foods and tools down the road, but with the basics already in your kitchen, some groceries, and a few cookbooks, you can send your HungryMan dinners packing.
If you think blacksmithing went extinct along with the horse and buggy, you’d be wrong. While very few men make their living these days by being a blacksmith, there are men who enjoy this craft as a hobby. For the cost of buying a nice camera to get into photography, you can take up this classic, manly and tradition-rich pursuit. Soon you’ll be building a fire in your forge and hammering away at a glowing piece of iron on your trusty anvil, just like Vulcan himself. See if a local blacksmith offers classes, as some do. Also check out this site for more info on what to expect from a class and this site to read about the experience of a middle-aged electrical engineer who took up blacksmithing as a hobby.
Some of history’s manliest men were those who conquered the skies- men like Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Yeager, and Wiley Post. You may not be setting any records, but you can still soar like an eagle. Of course, the biggest obstacle to taking up flying as a hobby is the cost. It’s expensive. Pilot lessons can run a couple thousand dollars and licensing is a few hundred. On top of that, you’ll need a plane. Some men combine their love of mechanical work with flying by building their own prop plane. But even so, you’ll need a place to store it, so you’ll probably have to pay a monthly rental feed for that as well. Despite the cost, many amateur pilots I know say it’s completely worth it just to feel that sense of pure freedom up in the air.
Every man should know at least a couple of good magic tricks to impress friends, woo ladies, and delight children. There are few hobbies as fun of the practice of magic; the pay off of having people beg you to reveal the secret will leave you with a lasting grin. Practicing a trick over and over again to make it absolutely smooth and seamless is the kind of work that doesn’t feel like work. And every man knows that the only kind of shopping that is fun is that which is done in a magic store. Finally, magic can become a new hobby for very cheap; all you really need to start is a good book of magic tricks and a deck of cards (a magic deck of cards never hurts either). You can keep working your way up to more and more complex tricks until you’re sawing your mother-in-law in half in the living room.
Learning a Foreign Language
There are few hobbies as unarguably useful as learning a foreign language. How many times have you been in a situation where you wished you could communicate with a server/student/parent/victim, but could not. And how much did you wish you could speak the native language the last time you traveled abroad? Learning a foreign language can be pretty difficult, but when you really think about it, the ability to speak two entirely different languages is pretty dang cool. Community colleges always offer language courses for a good price, or you can try an at-home method like Rosetta Stone. The key is to continually practice or you’ll never get better and retain what you’ve learned. Some libraries host weekly get togethers where people can come and practice speaking a foreign language with others. Watching movies and television and listening to music in the language you’re studying helps too.
From cribbage to poker to hearts, men like to play cards. The perfect social setting card playing creates-low key and relaxed but coupled with friendly competition-allows men to talk and hang out without it being forced. Get some cigars, have some guys over, and play for all the chips.
Writing is a manly hobby in and of itself, of course. But blogging offers its own interesting twist on this timeless activity. A blog can be an outlet for sharing something you’re passionate and knowledgeable about with other people. You can meet people from all over the world that share your interest, and you can start great discussions and online friendships in that way. Or you can use your blog to update friends and family on the goings on in your life (moms love their kids’ blogs). Or you can use your blog as your personal journal, a permanent treasure trove of musings and photographs that you can look back on in the years to come. You can also use your blog to boost your professional career, network, and build your personal brand. No matter what reason you start a blog, it can also teach you a bit more tech savvy- how to upload pictures and videos, web design, online marketing and so on. It’s the kind of thing you may not understand the appeal of before you start, but becomes addicting once you get into it.
Remember when you were a kid and you’d play war with your friends with imaginary grenades, bazookas, and bullets? Well, now that you’re a “big boy” you can play war, but this time with the experience of getting shot at with 100 mph paintballs. Trust me-it definitely adds to the excitement factor. Paintballing isn’t too expensive. For about $30 you can rent a gun, CO2 cartridge, safety mask, and enough ammo to last you most of the day at a paintball course. If you really get into paintballing you can always buy your own equipment and just pay for the cost of using a facility
En garde! What do The Three Musketeers, Zorro, and Luke Skywalker have in common? Mad sword fighting skills, of course. A sport that has been around since ancient Greek and Roman times, this is a true gentleman’s pursuit. Take part in a tradition that the knights and lords of old were schooled in, a last vestige of proper dueling. Gain balance, coordination, flexibility and focus as you learn the ancient art of parrying with an opponent. There are three different types of weapons used in fencing-the foil, the sabre, and the épée. Each has a different weight and is used in conjunction with different rules. Do some research on what fencing is really like and watch a video of a match to understand what you are getting into; it is different than the movie version with the continual clashing of swords; much of it consists of bouncing around, carefully looking for an opening and an opportunity to thrust at the opponent.
It’s Saturday morning. Your favorite team is playing on College Game Day and you’ve invited your friends over. What sort of beverage will you provide? Sure, you could go to the grocery store and pick up a 12 pack of Miller High Life, but wouldn’t it be cooler, nay, even manlier, to offer a cold one that you brewed yourself? Well, you can once you get started with beer brewing as a hobby. Getting started with home brewing is cheap and easy. Trent at The Simple Dollar provides a step-by-step photo walk-through and cost breakdown of brewing your own beer. For $35 worth of ingredients and equipment Trent was able to brew seven six packs of beer. Not too shabby. Once you get familiar with the brewing process, you can start experimenting with the flavor of the beer and make your own limited edition beer that you can give as gifts to friends.
Drawing and Painting
Winston Churchill was an avid painter. He would spend hours in his garden or indoor studio painting while smoking his cigar. It was his way of keeping the black dog of depression at bay. He understood the healthy affect having a creative outlet can have on a man. Many men give up on art because they feel they have no inherent talent for it; this may be so, but classes and practice can make you a lot better. Drawing is the most accessible art to try. A few art pencils and a moleskine will keep you busy. Painting requires a bit more set up and cost depending on the type of painting you want to do. Watercolor painting is cheaper (and easier to clean up) than oil painting. Most hobby and art stores provide drawing and painting classes. If you’re too cheap for that, you can always watch the man with the greatest white-man fro in history, Mr. Bob Ross. He’ll teach you the Joys of Painting. That’s a happy little tree…
Space. The final frontier. While you might not be able to actually visit space, you can still get caught up in its awe and majesty right from your backyard. You’d be surprised what sorts of things you can see in space with a small telescope or even a pair of high powered binoculars. If you really want to see deep into space, you’ll need to get a high powered telescope which of course will set you back a thousand dollars or so. But the payoff may come when you spot something in your backyard observatory that even the big dogs at NASA haven’t caught; amateur astronomers have made several big discoveries. And remember that astronomy is more than just looking in a telescope; it’s also learning as much as you can about our wondrous universe from books, shows, and lectures.
Genealogy is a funny thing. It’s the kind of hobby that seems really boring from the outside. But once you get into it, it can totally grab hold of you and become something you love. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but how do you know what kind of apple you are, if you don’t know from whence you fell? Every man should know and understand his roots. You’ll understand more about why you are the way you are, and why your parents are the way they are and their parents and so on. You’ll come to a greater appreciation of the people who made your existence possible. Once you start building your family tree, you’ll be amazed at the long lines that lead to you. You’re not just an isolated man; you come from a very real lineage, and your ancestors are all a part of you in some way. Start building your family tree by talking to relatives that may have already started on it and by searching free sites like Family Search.
Looking for a bigger challenge than running a 5k? Has doing a marathon become too cliche? Check out the world of adventure racing. Adventure races last all day and incorporate a variety of activities; you may have to run/hike for 10 miles, paddle a kayak down a river for 10 miles, and then mountain bike through a forest for 20 miles. And along the way you have to stop at checkpoints which can only be found by using a map and a compass. Physical activity+the great outdoors+orienteering=very manly. Check out the United States Adventure Racing Association to find an event in your area.
Knitting? Knitting?! The thing that your grandma adores and your great aunt uses to make you a scarf for Christmas? Yes, knitting. Far from the sissy activity that many think it to be, men invented knitting, and it’s time we reclaim our place in its history. Men were the first professional knitters, plying their trade in Europe during the 16th century. And sailors were the other original knitters. They would make fishing nets and sweaters to keep them warm. These days, knitting for men is making a comeback; it’s both useful and relaxing. My good friend Cameron learned to knit while on a mission in Bolivia ,and he was the only man in the knitting club at law school. And his manliness is unassailable. Be sure to watch this video about knitting and men and join your knitting brothers at Men Who Knit.
What ham radio was in the 1950s, computer programming is today. While women are making advances in the area, coding has traditionally been a male pastime. Many men have made computer programming their living, but there are millions more who have day jobs but pound out code in their spare time just for kicks and giggles. These are the people who make silly online games, useful open source apps, and cool web projects. There’s a variety of code languages you can learn. Personally, I’m fond of web programming and have found W3Schools a great resource to learn PHP, SQL, and CSS completely for free.Inspired to take up a new hobby? Remember, starting out is always the fun and exciting part. But getting good is never as easy as you think it will be. You’re going to hit bumps in the road. Don’t make your new hobby another things you drop by the wayside and let gather dust in your closet. Good luck!