I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The Recreational Society wasn’t meant to be a website. It was supposed to be a book.
In 2019 the plan was to make a kiwi camper book, not about motorhomes, but the style of camper and camping you and I like. It was daunting. How do you find the people doing this… this is years of research. I was confiding in a mentor about the mountain to climb. That, while it could be a good idea, it’s just such an unknown quantity. The mentor, straight off the bat, ‘make it a website’. My reaction,’ oh nah, that’s waaay too much work bro.’ Even as the words were said there was an immediate gut feeling; he’s right.
In 2020, prior and oblivious to goings on in Wuhan, the Recreational Society launched. There was already a lot of How To’s written and a couple of profiles of people out there doing it. The expectation would be the How To section of the website would be the most popular. Wrong.
The Recreationalists section took off. Do a post about cast iron cookware, yeah ok, fair traffic. Do a post featuring an epic DIY build, holy shit, check those analytics! The content of the site evolved and refined.
Covid hit. Lockdowns and travel bubbles. The site went nuts, well my version and scale of nuts anyway. The emphasis for every Kiwi became; can’t go overseas, how do we enjoy our own backyard better. Seemed like everyone that was thinking about a camper, built their camper.
A cool thing was, featured Recreationalists suggested future interviewees. ‘Hey, have you seen such’n’such’s set up, they’d be up for an interview for sure’.
There were s’posed to be adverts on Recreational Society. The traffic was there, some industry heads were cold called. I hated it, not the idea of adverts, I loved that idea! But cold selling. The site didn’t need hundreds of adverts, just a dozen or even less. I love making the content. Finding, chatting and emailing questions, subbing up stories, creating a flowing feature. Dreaded the advertiser’s call sheet. It was frustrating. The website was humming along, daily visits in the thousands, the analytics were great.
So you’ve done all this work and followed a passion. Found a like minded community of people that share the interest. The website is working. You’ve over frothed. Instead of interviewing a Recreationalist every fortnight, over 50 had featured in 6 months. Oppps.
What do you do with that?
This will be the last time analytics are mentioned, promise. They gave up more than traffic numbers. It also showed historical top posts, what’s the most popular.
In 2019 the idea of a kiwi camper book seemed like a great, but daunting idea. By 2021 there was an over flowing coffer of content with clear data around it all.
Instead of a book about how to do it. The theme became the people that are doing it and how they did it. The Recreationalists: Intrepid Kiwis And Their Campers is a best of the website. Many of the interviews have been revisited, updated and changed quite significantly.
The Recreational Society website content slowed down over 2021. I don’t feel good about that. All efforts were on the book. This is my tenth book, so you’d think I’d be all knowing and sitting back issuing orders to the minions. Doesn’t work quite like that. Every element of every page has to be pawed over and over again and again. I’ve been in print media for 25 years, so I do know some talented people, they make the book look great.
The book’s graphic designer Luke Darby is the best example of this. He also features in the book with his beloved Mitzi Delica. Luke and I started working on NZ Surfing Magazine together in 1993. He created the book’s look. He silently vetoed my font size for something superior, he designed the Rec Soc logo, he makes everything better.
Over 25 Recreationalists are featured, it’s more like 75, if you include couples and family members. Their chapters infused with first person tips and tricks. It’s surprising how many of the featured Kiwis are first time builders. The underlying vibe is have a go, it’s ok to make mistakes, learn, make things better.
Book stats; Hard Cover with 200 pages. $49.95 rrp. Available at all good bookstores nationwide late September 2021.
Presales are now available HERE