Writing this blog has been a great experience for me. For this column we’ve been tasked with doing a feature piece on someone with relevance to our blog. I struggled to think of someone I had access to who would be relevant to my sports theme. So I called up my old, friend Paul Homuth, who aside from sharing my passion for sports talk and news, also writes his own sports blog called DAS BOOT.
For as long as I’ve known Homuth he has been an aspiring writer. I called him up and started with the small talk. Feeling bad about not keeping in touch the last year or so, I didn’t want to jump right into the favour asking. After a half hour of “what’s so and so been up to,” I asked him if I could interview him for my sports blog. Homuth’s not the type to hold a grudge over friends for being busy, and as the super talkative guy he is, he was excited. The only thing he asked me is if he should wear a tie, which gave us both a laugh.
The following day I met Homuth in his multimedia basement writing room for the following Q & A session. His room is filled with fantasy books, video games, a nice TV and a computer lined up against one wall; everything the successful blogger needs to cover his favourite soccer team Bayern Munich. The walls were covered in more Bayern Munich merchandise than I’d ever seen, not surprising since Homuth is constantly saving for his next trip to Germany to see his team and homeland. Homuth’s appearance changes every time I see him. Today he was sporting a gnarly goatee which he told me he was hoping to grow out into a fu manchu. I handed him a large Tim Hortons coffee and after a few minutes of catching up we started the interview.
How long have you been writing DAS BOOT and what inspired you to start?
I've been writing DAS BOOT for about three years. I was part of a sports community related to Hardcore Sports Radio, a former off-shoot of The Score TV Network. As the biggest German soccer fan and follower of the community, I decided to start a blog to help educate and expose others to German football.
What do you do to promote traffic to your site and where are your followers from?
My largest vehicle of promotion has to be Facebook. By networking with many other German football fans, I have been able to attract followers from all over the world. About one third of my readership is from North America, another third from Germany, and the rest from all across the globe. I`ve also got the unofficial endorsement of GOL TV, who applaud my efforts and my dedication and have been a great encouragement to me.
What other writing endeavours are you working on?
I am also working on my own fantasy series, which is more of a long-term goal than a short-term project. Still, it is something to look forward to completing as I age and my writing technique improves. Blogging is great practice to keep me actively writing on a consistent basis, while the fantasy series is more of a pet project for rainy days and the off-season.
You recently made the trek to Germany to experience German football first hand. How did that experience improve your blog?
It allowed me to film some promotional videos of myself at the Allianz Arena in Munich. It helped me connect with other football fans in Germany and promote my blog there. Finally, it allowed me to experience a football match as a member of the media thanks to the help of GOL TV, which was a very memorable experience. It is one thing to blog as a fan of your favorite team sitting in the stands. It`s quite another to be granted a press pass to watch your favorite team play and participate in a media scrum. It was definitely a nice taste of the pot of gold that lies at the end of the rainbow.
I see you maintain a DAS BOOT Facebook fan page, how does this benefit your online following?
It does, though I find it is a poor barometer of sustained readership. The Facebook fan page does provide me with a medium to advertise new posts and post teasers or commentary to those who are interested, but I have found that many people will click “like” once and not come back to continue reading on a regular basis.
Your blog covers more than just German football; how much time do you spend watching and researching football every week?
Between television, internet research, reading columns and watching highlights, I would say I spend between five and 10 hours a week doing research, and another two to three writing the work itself. Some weeks are busier than others, depending on whether there are mid-week matches to consider or not.
You’re definitely the most hard-core Bayern Munich fan I’ve seen outside of Germany. How much Bayern Munich gear have you acquired over the years?
More than I would care to admit! When I visit the fan shop at the Allianz Arena, believe it or not, they know me there and remembered me the second time I visited, despite a 16-month space between trips. Given that I have literally spent thousands of dollars there, however, I suppose they should remember me. I pride myself on being Canada`s biggest FC Bayern fan, so I figure I should have the merchandise to prove it.
Writing about football is obviously a passion for you; do you think writing could become a full-time job for you?
It is difficult to find work when you have basically established that you are currently willing to do the work for free. I have received much support from GOL TV, but unfortunately, no pay cheque to accompany it. At one time, I was hoping to seek employment with the Score, but their soccer stable is currently full. I still hope to, one day, be employed by Bundesliga.de, the German league`s website.
You mention in your mission statement that DAS BOOT aims to maintain civility and diversity while not tolerating bigotry and racism, has this been an issue in the past?
Though I have not had any form of prejudice and bigotry form a serious impediment to my progress, my brave stance towards eliminating it and fighting against it has won me a rather dedicated following internationally; most notably, my very passionate following in the Middle East!
Any tips for aspiring bloggers?
Be consistent! You will be surprised at how much of a following you can acquire. I was fortunate to have direct contact with many of my readers early on. In the beginning, I became discouraged because I didn`t think that I had acquired much of a following, but as soon as I missed a post, I would receive reminders from readers asking “Where is DAS BOOT! I need my footy fix!” Once you have established a theme and carved out a niche for yourself, network. Post links to your work everywhere you can. You`d be surprised who will read it.
I thanked Homuth for his time and headed out the door for the biggest editing session I’d ever had to do. Homuth is never at a loss for words especially when it concerns his blogging endeavours. I did come away with a new appreciation for the writing my friend does and some inspiring words for all of us aspiring bloggers.