is five years old!

Be warned, this post might get a little navel-gazing. I’ve already written up my observations about the industry in 2021, now here’s a state of the nation for, which first said ‘hello world’ way back on 1st January 2017.

By the numbers

I published around 65 posts (so far) in 2021, totalling 65,000 words, and garnering over half a million views — more than in 2020 and my best year yet — despite consciously writing and publishing less in order to maintain my work-life balance (for comparison, I published twice as many posts in 2020).

Over five years that adds up to 500 posts and well over 1.5 million views. Looking back… wow, that’s a lot of words and pictures.

Plenty of memories

There have been some standout posts that I’m really proud of, or that apparently you guys really enjoyed.

I’ve run the gamut with:

Amateur vs professional

Phew! After these highlights and 472 other blog posts… well, let’s say I’m proud of my output and the professionalism of my thinking and writing, and I know I’m having an impact. The numbers tell part of the story, but what really make it clear are the hundreds of comments, emails and DMs from readers asking for advice or saying thanks for my words. Then I know I’m part of the lives of real people. So thank you to all the regulars who like posts and leave comments month after month, year after year: Martin, Rupert, Tom, Julie, Ead, Gary, Jo… you guys know who you are.

While I put in the hours, churn out the posts, and make an increasingly visible impact in the pen blogosphere, in the cold light of day I’d be kidding if I thought this was anything but hobby territory. My WordPress ads generated in the order of several hundred dollars in revenue in 2021; a few kind donors contributed maybe another couple of hundred (I received 13 donations in 2021, several from repeat gifters — double thanks to you guys). This covers my hosting and domain costs, but little more. Nobody gets rich as a pen blogger, it seems.

So as always I’m very thankful to the brands and retailers that share products with me that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford (and heaven knows I already spend too much on pens). I’m thinking in particular of Giuli and the team at Iguanasell, Claire and all at Cult Pens, Kate at Benu, Feng at Onoto, Ben at Gravitas, Norbert at Otto Hutt… plus Scribo, Gioia, Esterbrook, Drillog, Venvstas, Dominant Industry and many more. These guys keep the wheels of this blog and our wider community turning, and while I’m grateful for their support in terms of access to product, I’m more grateful that not one of them has ever tried to influence my editorial output. I love the integrity of this industry.

Everything changes with time

Looking back at the pen tray I showed in January 2021, fewer than half of those pens are still in my possession today, whether in my pen tray, my purgatory pile or my ‘retirement home’.

And that January tray was after a big purge, remember. So whatever I said in my 2020 reflection, there is clearly still churn in my pen tray, month after month, and I would be naive to expect that I won’t buy or sell anything in 2022, especially since in 2021 I became a verb! To Newmanize: to ruthlessly cull one’s pen collection. I have a reputation to live up to now, don’t I?

But looking ahead to 2022 I’m not planning to make any wholesale changes (famous last words). I’m mainly thinking about grails that will finish off my collection. I have said before that I’ll rebuy a Conid Kingsize the first day they reopen. I want another Onoto, this time a bespoke one that fits my needs perfectly. And I fully intend to order a Hakase for 13-month delivery. Others? A Long Cap Elbwood, a Montegrappa Gnomo… the new ST Dupont Space Odyssey got me all excited. I could think of others if pressed. But isn’t that always the case? Anyway I’m planning to set a hard limit of 24 pens (including pocket pens) governed by a custom chest that I asked Toyooka to make for me, so I need to keep the acquisitions under control.

Actually my resolution for the new year is ink related. After a huge binge this autumn I need to do a mega swatch menu again and cut some dead wood. Ideally I want to get down to 50 inks, and I think I’m at about double that at the moment.

This time last year I decided to take December off from blogging, but I have a few really interesting pens in my queue right now (including the new Hahnemuhle pens that nobody else has yet reviewed), enough material for a second gift guide, and part two of the guest post from Claire. So I reckon you’ll hear from me over the next couple of weeks!

I hope your 2021 was safe, well and happy — thanks for accompanying me over the past five years of this journey, and I look forward to seeing what the next five years have in store. Hope you stick around.

10 thoughts on “ is five years old!

  1. Evening Ant,

    Just dropped you a small donation to say thanks. Looking forward to the YouTube channel 😀👍 (joke!)


  2. Congratulations on 5 years, that’s a brilliant achievement. I can’t believe I started following you a year ago and now I’ve had a chance to contribute to you page and cent at your audience! Thanks to you I’ve tried a Nakaya (errr thanks?!) and have taken a 2nd chance on a MB (also reluctant thanks lol). Here’s to 2022 and more penslorations, inky confessions and hopefully better QC all round!


  3. Congrats on 5 years! I still remember that I stumbled upon you due to your review of Monteverde Fire Opal, wasn’t long after you started but I only discovered this as a hobby in mid-late 2018 (how time flies…). I’d love to Newmanise the mid-range pens from my collection but seems like a lot of hassle. Glad you found a new balance with the blog and the rest of your life. Looking forward to seeing what 2022 holds.


  4. Happy birthday to your blog!
    I have been exploring your content since September when I stumbled into it looking for information about the Pilot Murex. I am grateful for your work. You have rekindled my passion for all pen related subjects and led me to the excellent Facebook fountain pen uk group. I have supported you and hopefully will do so in the future . I think yours is one of the most insightful voices in this community.
    Best wishes for you and yours in the new year.


  5. Thanks for the mention. Congratulations on the 5 year anniversary! The statistics are awesome. (By comparison my little blog started just a couple of months before yours, in November 2016 and is currently at 185 posts and about 200,000 views). I always look forward to reading your posts whenever they appear. I shall continue following your adventures with interest in the year ahead!


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