I love BYU. And I especially love BYU football, basketball, and rugby. I don’t know if I would consider myself a huge sports fan–I watch just 40-50 total sporting events each year–but I’m definitely a big BYU sports fan… Those 40 to 50 games = 13 BYU football, 25-30 BYU basketball, 2-3 BYU rugby, and maybe a volleyball game or two. I also watched the 4th quarter of the National Title game last week.
I started BYU Insider in fall 0f 2014 because of my students at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. I had just taught a lesson on the value of “becoming an expert” at something and challenged each of the students to start a blog on something they were passionate about. One student responded with “well, what do you blog about?” Much to my chagrin I had to admit that I wasn’t currently blogging (although I had done several blogs in the past) and I committed to finding a passion and blogging about it each week for at least a year. And so BYU Insider was born.
I found that I really liked blogging about the Cougars and by the end of that first year I seemed to have found a niche–BYU football recruiting. In year two I started getting requests from other BYU blogs to write about recruiting, and started writing once a month for the Deseret News. I also started doing occasional interviews with BYU recruits and alums and my average article jumped from 2-300 views to 2-3k view. I think that the blog got much better last year with much less work than the first year.
Throughout the growth of the site my wife and kids have been pretty supportive. I did most of my research and writing between 3-6:00 a.m. so it didn’t take away from family time, and I put a few ads up on the site that covered the cost of hosting, domain, etc. I was even able to take some of the extra dough to buy my better half a valentine’s dress last year and got the whole family Repping the Y t-shirts this fall. So BYU Insider is a pretty productive diversion.
However, we’ve had a pretty difficult last year or two as we made the decision to leave a good teaching job in Wisconsin for an uncertain position in Utah. We came here on faith and unfortunately the position I hoped for was pulled last minute. We feel we’re where we should be so we committed to staying and I got some web design jobs, a part-time teaching gig at Dixie, and my wife went back to work. We’re making it work until a tenure line position opens up (and they hire me for it).
I was recently talking to a good friend and advisor about our situation and he had some pretty strong words for me. He essentially told me “you need to stop giving so much to strangers and start giving more to your family.” We argued that point for a while and I explained that we have a good life, live in an outstanding neighborhood, and I like providing service to others. That’s why I have BYU Insider (which I’ve poured hundreds of hours into) and have created several free sites for cool people like Kyle Collinsworth, Sage Brocklebank, and Patrick Sabongui. He reminded me of the ten years of my schooling my family endured (with student loans to go along with it), that we only have one car, an unfinished basement, and that I’ve always wanted to buy my wife a new couch.
So this fall I made a new commitment. This time that commitment was my to my friend and to my wife (not to my students or readers). I’ll continue to do BYU Insider on the side and keep it free, but I’ll put at least one thing up for sale on the site and try to get some Amazon products up that I can sell as an affiliate. I’ll also take what I’ve learned about recruiting to create a new site (www.d1recruiting.com) where I can sell more stuff. I don’t want to pull an Ogletree (perhaps the best BYU football blog ever created) and go straight to a paid model–especially as BYU Insider was created as an anti-subscription site–but a compromise needed to be made.
So I created my first “product”–a 40 page 2017 BYU Football recruiting guide–and I hope that some people will buy it. If I learn of a need for other products I’ll try to create more things that I can sell as well (you can email me any suggestions you might have). Meanwhile I’ll continue to interview and post profiles on BYU recruits, post occasional articles about BYU basketball, and keep up with the Prep and Pro Trackers. I hope to be doing some good in the BYU world and also hope that I can do a little more good in my small families world.