The Substitute Paper Boy & Boring Blogs


Tony Casale, 11 years old, been selling 4 year...

The guys in legal have asked me to make you sure you know that I haven’t ever kicked a dog, drowned a cat or run naked down the street covered in green Jello.

I haven’t ever been arrested involved in a police chase, hijacked a plane or traveled around the world by steam freighter. Nor can I share tales of having ridden the rails across the country while traveling with Hobo Joe and his band of merry men.

None of those things are true and I haven’t come close to doing most of them, with the exception of the dog bit, but I can explain that.

Around 35 years ago I used to work as a substitute paper boy, but I didn’tlook like the boy in the photo above.

My best friend was a paper boy for what was then called The Valley News and whenever his family went on vacation I would fill in for him.

That meant I would fold the papers, wrap a green rubber band around them, stuff them in a bag, load the bag onto my bicycle and gracefully toss the paper onto the porches of the subscribers.. Or maybe it is more accurate to say I threw it at the houses.

Misty Colored Memories

Three things stand out about those days:

  1. In order to get it all done I had to wake up around 4:30 am.
  2. Individually those papers were light, but collectively they were heavy. Sometimes it was hard to maintain control of my bicycle.
  3. Every so often I would be chased by a neighbor’s dog.

That dog scared the hell of out of me. I don’t know if I ever knew its name but I remember everything else about it. He was probably a medium sized dog that wouldn’t scare me at all now, but I am not ten years old anymore.

There were more than a few mornings where many people in the neighborhood woke up to an empty porch. That was because on those particular mornings that dog  would chase me and I would peddle like crazy to get away. But the weight of the papers in the bag on my bike made it difficult to steer and I could never go fast enough to get away.

So on those mornings I would throw the papers at the dog and/or try to kick him. He never did bite me and I can’t  remember if he did more than nip at me.  Still, it doesn’t take any effort to remember how scared I was of getting bitten or the fear I felt when he would chase me.

The Connection Between Blogging and Josh, Substitute Paper Boy

The reason why so many blogs bore me and everyone else who encounters them is because the authors don’t use purpose, passion and personality in their posts. They rarely share stories about themselves and pick topics that have been written about 1,983,322 times before.

While there is no one single path to success in this field it is fair to say that dull and boring will kill your content. It is also fair to say you can cover the same topics as other writers as long as you use your voice in the post.

Pump that tale full of purpose, passion and personality and good things will come from that.

You don’t have to come up with crazy headlines or write about being mean to animals to get people to read your posts.

All you need to do is make a few easy changes and share some pieces of yourself. This can be applied to business blogs as well as personal. Help people find the human inside and you’ll build connections.

Connections are what power social media and what help to build communities that you want to be a part of.

What do you think?

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  3. Tim Bonner September 27, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Hi Josh

    When I was at college, during holiday periods I was a postman (I think that’s maybe a mailman to you?). That has to be the worst job to send all kinds of animals into a frenzy!

    I got bitten a couple of times and one time when I jumped on my bike to get away, I rode over someone’s pristine front lawn, left a set of tracks behind and they had the cheek to make a complaint… 😉

    I totally agree with what you’re saying here though. When I started my blog I certainly didn’t really put any of my personality into it. Now I try my best to always get it in there. It’s kind of conversational. I’m sure it’s still not to everyone’s taste though!

    What I like about yours is you know how to keep my attention and focus as you’re telling me a story, which then leads to me learning something.

    • Josh September 27, 2012 at 10:12 pm

      Hi Tim,

      My dogs have always hated whomever was carrying our mail. I don’t know what it is or why, but I can only imagine you must have had some “interesting” experiences. I would think it makes for good blog fodder.

      I am a fan of writing in whatever style feels comfortable to you. It is much easier to let your personality come through when you do that and that is how you build connections.

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  5. Adrienne September 26, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Boy Josh, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    I was on a mastermind just last night and I was talking about this. I was sharing with them that a lot of the blogs that I’ve been visiting because they’ve commented on mine, I’m having a very hard time keeping that up. Their posts are so boring that I just don’t want to drop by them anymore. Does that make me a bad person? There are just so many hours in the day I can spend reading and commenting on posts so if I hate coming to your blog because of the reasons you just shared then I guess I just lost me another reader. Bummer!

    Share a bit of yourself and let us get to know you and your posts will be so much more enjoyable. That I definitely agree with.

    That poor dog just probably loved chasing the bike. We had one like that too but she would never bite anyone. To a 10 year old though, that was one mean dog.

    Thanks for the story…


    • Josh September 27, 2012 at 8:28 am

      Hi Adrienne,

      Our time is limited and if we are going to spend it somewhere we need to feel like we are getting something out of it. That doesn’t make any of us bad people nor does it mean we think we are better.

      It is just how life is and if you are going to visit a blog you want to feel like you are getting something out of it. It doesn’t always have to be learning about business and blogging. Sometimes it is just like making a new friend in real life. You want to learn something about them.

      Sometimes I think that if I could go back in time I would find that dog and realize he only weighed 10 pounds. I really think he was much larger, but after all this time who knows. 🙂

  6. Jayme Soulati September 26, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Guess what? I used to deliver the Wisconsin State Journal on my bike every Sunday morning. Split it with my brother and I hated every frickin minute. But, I learned what good customer service was all about; and we had to handle money, too. Then, I got my driver’s license and what a hummer that was.

    • Josh September 27, 2012 at 8:24 am

      I love finding other people who used to deliver the paper. Sometimes it feels more like a Norman Rockwellish memory, something that other people did. I suspect that is because it has been so long since real paper boys existed, you just don’t see/hear about it any more.

      It really was a great teaching tool. You learned so many different things, like customer service and how to handle money.

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