Seven years, 23 YouTube subscribers and a giveaway

Well, time flies. It’s already seven years since Bleistift started with its first blog post.

As done in in previous recent anniversary posts here’s a quick behind the scenes look and some of my thoughts about the blog.

This time I will mainly focus on Bleistift’s YouTube videos [1]which have 23 YouTube subscribers by now, in case you wonder about the title of this blog post., the first one which first appeared just a bit more than a year ago, in September 2015.


Video Quality

The videos are easy in a sense that they don’t require as much background work as blog posts, but the video image quality isn’t very good, mainly because of the lack of space in our home and the lack of light (because the windows are quite small). I could set it up nicely somewhere on the floor in a corner, with some lights, but there’s usually not enough time for that. Blog posts on the other hand can be started and interrupted as often as I like, because there is no set up time, so it’s easier to find a few minutes here and there to work on a blog post. Plus you don’t notice our kid making noise in the background. Something you do notice this in the videos.

No wonder there’s no space in our home, have a look at new home sizes around the world [2]Figures taken from The Telegraph and ShrinkThatFootprint.

CountrySize in square metres

Both issues, size and light, apply equally to taking photos, but with photos you can compensate for the poor light by exposing longer and the lack of space isn’t too bad as you can just put things on the window sill for close ups etc.

I hope to improve the quality of future videos. You might have noticed that for the last video (sharpening with a hard disk) I was wearing a coat. That was because I did that vide in the garage. Don’t expect too much though, for the foreseeable future there won’t be enough time to set the videos up nicely.


The most disliked Bleistift video so far: The Kuru Toga video

It seems as if the Kuru Toga is are always a source of controversy. The idea of rotating the lead wasn’t new, see Schmidt’s patent, and the implementation, i.e. Kuru Toga’s mechanism, doesn’t work for me, probably because I don’t use enough pressure when writing. This blog presents my personal opinion, but some people seem to get upset if you say that this pen doesn’t work for everyone as advertised.

The Kuru Toga Pipe Slide
The Kuru Toga Pipe Slide

Keeping this in mind it’s no wonder that my Kuru Toga video has twice as many dislikes as likes (2 dislikes, 1 like).

Well, I am sure it’s great if you write Kanjis, but they are officially selling the pen in the West, I am not importing a pen not to be sold in the west, so I think it’s only fair to point this out and to show what leads to the pen not performing as advertised. I’m not saying it’s a bad pen, I’m just disappointed that it doesn’t work for me. I don’t doubt it works well for others (unlike the uni-ball air. I have three of the broad type now, but with the best will: the uni-ball air doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do).


The most popular video: Refilling pencils? Why??

I also don’t get why some videos are popular while others aren’t.

The DelGuard pen force test, the first video and therefore online for the longest time, is not very popular (about 11 views per week overall), even though I find this test exciting. Also: getting the force to display correctly and in sync with the video wasn’t easy. I think the idea was good and the fact that a few weeks after my video Zebra, the company behind the DelGuard, made a Japanese video with similar elements shows that it’s useful in conveying how the pen works.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised about the lack of interest though, because the blog post about the DelGuard only got one comment, despite the effort that went into trying to produce an accurate diagram that shows how much pressure can be applied before the lead breaks when extended how far.

What force is needed to break a lead of what length.
How much force is needed to break a lead extended a certain length in the DelGuard.

In comparison the refilling a mechanical pencil video is quite meaningless, but is much more popular (about 35 views per week overall).

The lesson here is that my audience doesn’t like complicated stuff. No point in writing things down that no one wants to read anyway. You might have noticed that I am now trying to keep blog posts simple. It doesn’t always work as blog posts tend to end up more complicated than first planned – but I’m working on it.


Using bloggers to sell products

Something else I noticed is that since I started seven years ago there are more and more companies that want their products being advertised by bloggers, but they don’t provide a sample (so small bloggers are supposed to basically just relay a marketing message for a product you don’t know).
I have linked to many Kickstarter projects I found interesting, even though I didn’t get anything free from these campaigns, on the contrary I spent money to buy/back the product. Bloggers do that because they get excited about these products. What has changed is that now companies just sent you their press releases without any additional information. Unlike them I don’t earn money from this, it costs me money, like it does for many other non-commercial blogs. I do get some benefits from this blog: The two most expensive things I got in these seven years was (Number 1) being invited to Insights X followed by (Number 2) a Lamy 2000 mechanical pencil, worth £46 (~$57; €53). I guess you could count these ‘benefits’ against he cost of the server, but there still wouldn’t be any money left.
Because of the non-commercial nature of this blog I am quite unhappy when companies misuse non-commercial blogs, e.g. like Book Block did. I found the idea great so there was no need to promise me anything to get me to post about it, so why tell me they’ll send a notebook and make me design it when they won’t send it, even after repeated email exchanges about this? This is even more frustrating as they did send samples to the big blogs, like Desk of Adam, Gentleman Stationer, Pentorium, Woodclinched (I think Andy said he got one), but small blogs get like mine get told they’ll send a sample, but then they can’t be bothered to keep their word.

Well, a while ago Paper Oh told me on Instagram they want to send me a notebook. Let’s see what will happen.

I know many other examples that shall not be named where other companies use bloggers not only for input, but to do important tasks that are part of product development or creation and after the work is done the bloggers then get ignored or don’t even get to see the final product, even though it is sold for a cheap price, i.e. is available. I have not been treated like this, but it is a shame that the small bloggers sometimes do get misused in this way.

It didn’t used to be like this and it is a shame that it is like this now.


Well, since this is an anniversary post there’s also a giveaway.

The winner will get a surprise package that contains at least one item from each of the following categories

  • wood cased pencils
  • mechanical pencils
  • sharpeners
  • erasers
  • fountain pen

I think it’s definitely worth taking part!

Why? Look at this previous giveaway: The pens from the previous giveaway are currently selling for £68 + £44 = £112 (~$139; €131), the RRP is even higher, but there were only 30 comments, so on average every commenter won more than £3 (even though that’s no consolidation for those who didn’t win).

…and the best things is that I don’t make you follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and don’t make you write a poem either. All you need to do is post a comment here. The giveaway will be open for one week, until Monday, 28 November 2016, 23:59:59 Zulu time (GMT). If you don’t know what to write, just write “I would like to win” or something like that…



1 which have 23 YouTube subscribers by now, in case you wonder about the title of this blog post.
2 Figures taken from The Telegraph and ShrinkThatFootprint

42 thoughts on “Seven years, 23 YouTube subscribers and a giveaway”

  1. Happy blog anniversary, Matthias, and thank you for so many great posts! Please keep me out of the giveaway – I have already gotten so many beautiful items from you 🙂

    Regarding “Using bloggers to sell products”: I have made the similar experience, although luckily only few companies have approached me in that manner. I especially remember one company which I have told about a blog post about one of their products (yes, this was silly). In her reply a lady from the marketing expressed her disappointment and urged me to replace the text and the photos by what she send me 😉

  2. Dear Friend,
    Over the past 2 to 3 years, I have been reading your blog always with interest. I like to learn from people who know more than I do, and who can help me with products, opinions and knowledge. As I collect pens and pencils, I try to be always up to date. In Portugal, there are several collectors and interested in this topic, and I try to exchange opinions. I would be proud to receive your prize, but if it does not I will not be sad. Votes very successful in your project. Best regards, Carlos

  3. Matthias: I’ve followed Bleistift for most of its existence and enjoy the blog. Thanks and best regards

  4. * smiles * it’s amazing how people’s tastes vary. I have several Kuru Toga pencils lying around and to be truthful, I love them. Pricewise they compare well to my other great mechanical pencil love, the Graphgear 1000.

    Bit then I don’t quite get the Blackwood thing. Lovely pencils bit not life changing. Not as dear to my heart as the Caran d’ache Swiss wood anyway.

    I love your blog. I love especially that it is Europe based. So many of the high profile stationery ones are not.

  5. Thanks for sponsoring this giveaway! I love the odds. How can I discourage others from entering? (I wouldn’t do that …)

  6. Julie Paradise

    Happy Blogoversary!

    (I am not in it “for da wins”, just saying hi and thanks for your posts and videos.)

  7. I would like to win, so other people should stop commenting. haha Seriously though, I don’t even own a fountain pen or a decent mechanical pencil. Obviously, I need to win. <.<

  8. Congratulations on the anniversary! Only discovered the blog about a year ago, and I must say, it is solely responsible for getting me back into using pencils besides my trusty fountain pen!

  9. Congrats Memm!

    Being your 7th year, it’s bound to bring good luck! 🙂

    (No need to include me in the drawing).


  10. Many congratulations on the anniversary! Nowadays I am mostly using fountain pens, yet a pencil is still always at hand, sometimes simply more convenient or pleasant to use. I have learned a great deal from your blog, even though I have discovered it rather recently. Thank you, and best wishes!

  11. Happy Anniversary!

    I don’t find the Kuru Toga appealing either, for what it’s worth – I much prefer to decide what I want to do with a wearing lead myself (the slight “chisel” tip produced by prolonged drawing at one angle can be useful/fun).

    Further to Treasa’s comment, the Blackwood is a great art pencil (ime) – I have one in my scenery painting kit at the moment, for putting outlines on scenery cloths before they are painted. For drawing “normally”, like any other Jumbo, the chunkiness encourages more expressive, looser strokes (which the graphite is smooth and dark enough to deal with).

  12. Hi Matthias, a late congratulations on your 7th anniversary!

    Just to comment on the blog posts you consider “unpopular”: I confess I don’t always understand all the details contained in your graphs, but I always find your approach revelatory (and very scientific). IMHO a blog post is more satisfactory when you’ve thrashed out all the aspects to your satisfaction, regardless of how long or complicated it gets. It’s just a way of thinking through something out in the open, no? I look forward to even more interesting posts in the next seven years. Cheers!

    P. S. No need to include me in the giveaway 🙂

  13. Congrats on 7 years! Thank you for the behind the scenes look. That is helpful for those who hope to start a blog one day. Oh, and, I’d like to win 😉

  14. I would like to win woodcased pencils or a fountain pen. Anything would be great though. Congratulations on seven years and here’s to seven more!

  15. Happy anniversary and many more posts. Aren’t you suppose to receive gifts on your anniversary instead of giving?
    One comment about the kury toga controversy, I enjoy mine a lot, except the bad plastic clip which is awful.

  16. Thank you for you blog
    About your Refilling pencils veideo
    I am not very long interested from (mechanical) pencil and yes, I dont know how to refill mechanical pencil before watching your video. (used some strange/stupid tricks to get refill to pencil) So there no secret, I think, why it more popular, than your pressure test, what are too interesting.

  17. The role of the blogger in the commercial world is a difficult one. I think its important to adhere to ones ethics as the base which counts, there a too many others who dont. The small gain of a product is not worth the trouble.

  18. Happy anniversary and thank you for your interesting posts! Greetings from Germany, I’m happy to read an european blog.

  19. Congratulations, I’ve been enjoying the posts all this time. Many thanks for helping in the discovery of some wonderful pencils and other stationery objects.

  20. I love your videos! I especially like the Shanghai stationary store video! Thanks for the giveaway! Happy anniversary and I’ll be looking forward to future posts!

  21. Congratulations! I’ve only been reading your blog for the last year, but very much enjoy what I read and enjoy learning from what you write.

    It’s interesting that the Kuru Toga video has two dislikes because that’s the pencil which I think I’d owned before but picked up again when mentioned by Brad Dowdy either on his blog or podcast as being highly recommended – though these days it’s the Rotring 600 which gets most of the love. It’s a great pencil and I really like the fact that I don’t have to keep turning it – though part of that is likely because I press fairly hard and tend to want to write small and dark. Anyway, I’ve bought one for both my kids and probably have at least one at home and at work. But I guess everyone is different. 🙂

    Thanks for all the time and commitment involved in not only writing your blog and the articles, but for the web site and everything else. It is appreciated.

  22. Thank you for your comments. I am very happy to have received so many positive comments. To make reading my reply-comment easier I won’t reply to every congratulatory comment individually.

    Gunther, sounds like they thought you are their employee. How odd.

    Treasa, the Kuru Toga is nice, just the rotating lead doesn’t work for me. I also don’t get the new Blackwing, probably because I use pencils for writing and I write small. When I first got one I took it to a meeting and it was completely useless for taking notes as the point would wear down too fast.

    Andreas, that’s good to hear. When my stationery fever restarted a few years ago I also restarted with fountain pens first.

    John, that sounds like a good way to use them.

    Sola, thanks for telling me. It just shows that I need to explain the graphs etc better. I”ll try to do that in the future.

    Gokce, I didn’t realise that some people found me this way. Thanks for letting me know.

    Rares, I wish 8^) The Kuru Toga is a nice pencil. I like it, but its main selling point doens’t work for me. It’s still a nice pencil though, even without the ‘rotating lead’ feature.

    Ivar, that’s interesting. Your answer makes me think that many haven’t used them in school and buy their first mechanical pencil as an adult.

    Luke, you already found it and I haven’t even posted the blog post for that video yet. There are more like this to come.

    Rob, I guess the dislikes show that people don’t want to hear any criticism of this pencil. In terms of expensive Rotrings I have the 800+ and the rapid pro, which are similar to yours and I also like them very much, even though the 800+’s stylus function doesn’t work well. What lead do you use in yours?

    Congratulations to Julie Paradise. I have already contacted her, asking for the address. As usual I have used to determine the winner.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.