I’m an adult from that area between Gen X and Y (Xennials I believe) who had to rely on learning things through our own mistakes rather than watching a YouTube video on the matter. This was all part of that so called analog childhood, where we experienced a sort of freedom our children will never know. Looking back we might think our parents did not care, as they seemed to just let us do what we wanted to some extent, but this was not the case – they might just have had less to care about and could trust that we would just be fine.
Times have changed... I bought my son his first bicycle helmet with his first scooter when he turned 2…in contrast I bought my first bicycle helmet at age 25. Children do not have the opportunities we had growing up and to an extent, freedom has been taken away from them. Where we had a life of playing cricket in the streets, riding our bikes anywhere, leaving our gear on the beach while we surfed and being home before dark was your biggest worry, they live behind 3 meter high walls and need to be taken or escorted most places. They are in a world where you need to drive your car somewhere to go ride your bike…
As a big supporter of active living as opposed to going to a gym, I am doing my best to make a living out of providing opportunities for kids and families to enjoy the outdoors. Yes, I agree that the majority of the activities I do and charge for are things you can do with your kids for free – but you (we) don’t. Parents are busier now than ever, and children need to be entertained that much more. They need to get away from those screens and into the sunlight, get their heart rates up, learn something about the wonderful environment we have around us and hopefully pick up a love for the outdoors and develop a healthy, sustainable hobby which they can pursue their whole lives.
July 23, 2019
Deciding on a logo
Tam and I sat one whole weekend working the logo. I had an idea what I wanted in terms of sort of shape and vibe, but putting it all together is always a bit challenging. Like the plebs we are, we tinkered around for hours on end on simple design programs and even Microsoft PowerPoint, to get a few options.
The final option felt so good…and I was so chaffed with the design and reasonably proud of our efforts! “Let’s send it to a few mates and see what they think!” I have two close friends and a brother who are very creative and artistic. The one mate is a graphic designer by trade, the other a budding artist and art teacher at a school and married to a graphic designer.First reply back from the art teacher, “Could also read Pusty Feet.” THANKS! Ruined it…because of course he is super right and now I cannot be unseen!He then proceeds to send me scribble on what looks much like a napkin with a, “how about this?” in about 5 minutes and of course, it is way better than my 25hour effort!An hour or so later and I had the first version of the logo we now use for DUSTY FEET
You know when you think you’ve nailed something and someone comes along an casually destroys your effort in one quick go... Like when you were 12 and had the high score on Contra and a mate comes along and just smashes it right in front of your eyes on your own home console….this was less devastating, but in the same ballpark.
I think the art teacher smashed this design and I instantly loved it! It look good on t-shirts, hats and hoodies and by deconstructing the logo who have even more options! Thanks a millions art teacher!
People might ask why I didn’t just tap into these resources of art teachers and graphic designers from the start….well, I didn’t want to be a burden. Guys are busy and have lives, and this is typically something they would have to work on after hours. While doing a design is fun for me, to them it is work, and nobody likes to work after hours or for free! PLUS, I’ll be tapping into their opinions for many more years to come!
July, 17th 2019
Starting my own business – DUSTY FEET
Everyone is always very opinionated on how people should be running their business, typically with great ground-breaking ideas, brilliant packages and angles to sell or promote…these opinions and epiphanies most often appear after a few drinks and perhaps around a campfire or braai. I do not exclude myself from this as I definitely did (do) it as much as the next guy – everyone’s an expert!
Starting up my own thing this year has brought me back down very hard, and I’ve come to the realisation that perhaps, in my case, that annoying saying, “Those who can’t do, teach,” might have just been a little too real for me. Not a week has gone by in which I have not doubted myself and what I’m trying to do – regularly thinking that maybe I should just go back to formal education – at least then I’ll be earning a salary again, but then one successful morning with a small group and I am fully energised once more!
The idea of starting your own thing is great, but I’ll admit that actually getting down and doing it is something completely different and extreme daunting. Whilst Dusty Feet as a concept wasn’t a new idea to me, the idea of trying to earn money from it was.
From the start I knew that I will not be able to make living out of solely doing these trips and the odd birthday, but it was more of a stepping stone…to what I’m still not too sure of. If someone had to ask me what my end goal is here I won’t be able to answer them. Perhaps this is a little short sighted, but if I can have some fun while earning some money at this point in my life, I am content.
Seven months in I have learnt a few lessons, but still don’t feel that much more assured about what it is I am trying to achieve with this business, with ideas and goals shifting regularly as I see another opportunity.
I feel my biggest hold-back at this stage is still capital. I never had much going into the idea, and I have even less now. What I had I spent on some equipment I haven’t really used all that much, and it disappeared quickly into “life” as I still have bills to pay and the transition from a life with a fixed salary to that without took some time adjusting to. I often think what I would be able to do if I was to acquire 200K or so to spend straight on Dusty Feet…what would I buy, what services would I be able to offer, what marketing will I be able to afford…
I don’t have that kind of money though, so time thinking and dreaming about it might just be time wasted.
I am extremely nervous about the “grown-up” obligations such as insurance, tax, bank accounts, investments, savings – all things I know very little about and things that, to be honest, scare me a little. I know there are professionals who would be able to assist and sort me out with this sort of thing real quick, but I am somewhat embarrassed to go to anyone…I should know more shouldn’t I? I didn’t grow up in a family with any business interests and money was never discussed around the dinner table, or at all for that matter. Four years at University, a Degree and a Post Grad didn’t prepare me for any of this either…what did it prepare me for…knowing how to handle a hangover (which it turns out I’m also pretty bad at).
Let’s reflect what we have done in the last few months. I’ve acquired a few SUP’s with the intent of renting them out – haven’t brought me any income yet, but in fairness I haven’t done much to try (waiting for the weather to improve). I’ve had two school holiday programmes which offered adventure activities to kids. Although I had some people attend these, I can sadly not convert the positive praises and comments received into cash and basically I’ve had to write off the holiday programmes as marketing exercises. I’ve also rented some equipment and in some cases the rental companies have made more than me, the one out there doing all the work. My most successful activity on offer to date must be the snorkeling – an activity which not many people would associate with Hermanus. I’ve had numerous return customers with the snorkeling and every time I’ve gone, the clients enjoyed it and were fascinated by what they found and experienced. I’ve hosted two birthday parties, both also having an element of snorkeling. The surfing lessons have been moderately popular as well, but since I do not own any soft-boards, I end up renting them or passing the business along to one of the surf school in our area. Running a session while renting a board and sometimes a wetsuit as well, just isn’t worth it, with more than half the charge going toward rentals.
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve learnt a few lessons and I still look forward to what’s too come, but the question I have to ask myself is, “When do I pull the plug on the idea and go look for a real job?”
August, 13th 2019
The social media headache
Instagram and Facebook
I have always wondered how people find the time and energy to become “influencers” on social media platforms. From the get-go I have been told that I have to concentrate on social media and that what I put there is very important. I consider my social media (Facebook and Instagram) to be quite good and always get positive comments about my posts, but I am battling to see the point at the moment. My own screen time has more than quadrupled since the start of this and I find myself looking at my phone, obsessing over likes, views, shares and comments like a teenager. I check how many followers I have, research how to get more followers and likes and is very disappointed when the use of new hashtags and methods do not equate to more. I do not like this person who feels the absolute need to check his phone constantly, but at the same time I am so scared I might miss a message from a potential client or something – “I better just check.”
My first post on Facebook which I felt was successful was “Getting to know Kobus Stofberg – the guy behind Dusty Feet” – a typical quick Q & A type post with a picture collage.
After this post it seemed that people were putting my face to the Dusty Feet logo and I really thought that it was a good start, but in the bigger scheme of things, it didn’t do much. While I see Facebook as a way to get business, thinking that people are likely to message me through Messenger, share my posts and adverts to other pages, I feel Instagram is a platform where I can have more “fun” with posts. I’ve run a few ad campaigns on Facebook, promoting my page or a certain post. The first campaign was good, with me gaining quite a few followers in the process and there seemed to be some interest, but the second and even third campaign was less successful.
I am weary to share posts across both platforms as I do not want people to unfollow my Facebook page, but I try to put something on Instagram as often as possible. While I feel a post on Facebook needs a point or explanation, a post on Instagram, in my opinion, could just be a picture – no explanation or justification needed. I also have this weird desire to have more (many, many more) followers on Instagram. I guess, like a teenager, I crave to have more followers as a part in this weird, misplaced dream to one day be closer to an “influencer” or someone who might get free stuff to promote. Seeing as my business, and by default me, need quite a bit of equipment, I yearn to be a brand ambassador for something cool. I follow, I tag, I use hashtags, but my followers do not increase.
Annoyingly I open my niece’s profile, she’s 17, and he has 5 times more followers than me and all she ever post is selfies. This is the same with just about every ex-student I happen to locate on Instagram – 1000’s of followers…
if you are not already following me on Instagram, you better help me out now
YouTube Channel – or the lack thereof
A guy called Brodie Moss and his channel Youngbloods Spearfishing (YBS) got me, and another 1mil others according to his latest subscription count, dreaming about being a successful vlogger. Essentially Brodie started out filming his dives and did a whole “Catch and Cook” series. Being based on the Australian Coast, the abundant sea life, Brodie’s skills and his amazing enthusiasm makes for great viewing. Who wouldn’t want to make a living out of filming yourself doing cool things and posting some videos on YouTube?
I set out to try and do a few short films on some things I deemed to be “interesting enough” and in the process put myself in yet another social media cavern of frustration. Getting subscribers on YouTube is way more difficult than any other platform and the amount of effort which goes into making a video just doesn’t pay off in views (yet).
Most of the videos I am doing are now more for marketing purposes and I end up posting them on all platforms – especially across Facebook and YouTube, with shorter versions posted on Instagram which has a 60 sec limit.
As the idea of vlogging came up around the dinner table and braai fire on occasion, most people showed me support. I consider myself to be a nice enough guy and I definitely have a humorous side which could, potentially, make for some interesting viewing. A lot of people will give me the sort of, “Ja man, why not just do it; of course you can; I’d watch that,” type of comments. Although there was some support lacking at times when it felt like some were taking the piss out of it, which really took the wind out of my sails but was completely understood at the same time – how can I think my days would be more interesting than the next…
I have realised a few things about trying to start out a successful channel. You need more or less original content – not doing your version of 100’s of other videos. The very successful channels out there puts out 2 or more episodes a week. Mostly it has people talking into the camera, narrating or being the “star” in their own video.
All three of those points have proven troublesome…
Original content is not that easy, and my life, however fun I think it might be at times, is extremely dull compared to about a million other people who are doing the same thing. Putting out more than one episode a week is also intense! The amount of footage and editing needed for that should not be underestimated. The biggest thing perhaps is that I feel like an absolute idiot talking to the camera. I still cannot take the sound of my own voice playing back in my ears.
I have changed the way I look at people who run successful channels as I’ve realised a few things. Pushing consistent content is definitely a job! It takes a lot of work and a huge commitment. Personally I find most the people on YouTube rather annoying – entertaining yes, but I cannot always envision myself being mates with many of them. The term OTP (Over The Top) comes to mind. For example I used to watch a fair amount of Dude Perfect, but the OTP rating on that has reached its limit with me – perhaps I can try watching it with the volume down. It seems you need a specific type of personality and definitely cannot have any issues with self-esteem. As I type that I realise that this is perhaps not true as there are also some out there who are possibly not natural extroverts. I take my hat off for any teenager trying to do something like this and in the process open themselves up to the possibility of ridicule and bullying.
MTB Club at school
Finally we’ve manged to start up this MTB Club as an afterschool activity! I am having so much fun with this as watching the kids getting better and more confident as we go is very rewarding!
This MTB Club is a helicopter parents’ nightmare I reckon…we are doing what some might deem extreme activities in a world unknown to most of these kids! The track we’ve built is at the furthest corner of the campus – far enough to discourage some parents from walking all the way to come and watch. Once done on the training track, we head off onto the mountain trails – even further away from mom’s eyes!
I love how some kids are so confident, only to be brought down rather quickly by my simple track. “Ja sir, but I’ve done events and stuff – I can ride.” Sure you can…you’ve done that 5km kids race on the wine farm on their big roads…now can you stand up off your saddle and ride over 5 consecutive bumps while keeping your line…Oops, are you OK, seems you can’t.
My time at the International School gave me some good preparation for this. Having done quite a bit of biking with the kids there, setting up very rudimentary courses with minimal equipment and time, I now had a little more time to plan and envision what I wanted to do. I used pallets as the base for most of my pieces – cheapest wood you can find and relatively strong already. I am quite chaffed with what I've managed to put together, and they work very well in the clinics!
While I was putting these together, I also took the opportunity to put together a little video of the builds - another stab at my YouTube channel!
I started with a few free days of skills clinics as demo sessions. The kids who came didn't mind repeating it again once hte club started. With the track being able to constantly change, I've manaegd to keep it interesting and challenging all the time. We moved off the track and onto the gravel roads behind the school and the kids' confidence grew quickly.
This video are a few shots in slow-mo of the kids (and I) hitting a rock in the road, using the basics I taught them to get the weight off the bike and get the bike a little airborne.
Once we hit the trail it went really well! It was interesting to find that the ones who spent lots of time with me in the Skills Clinics have shown the fastest and most improvement! Kudos for my track!