Above: Jon Ashby: ‘How could I reach the whole town and get one new member into the fancy?’
JON ASHBY identifies an opportunity to attract newcomers to a fun and not too ambitious engagement with birdkeeping. Now what’s the best way to deliver the message to the public?
WE AS a hobby need to grow the fancy, that much is clear. The hobby does fit in with 21st century living, but we all need to sell it as doing so to others. This is a pastime where you can keep a single budgie as a pet, or a whole flock in a huge purpose-built birdroom. It is not an old-fashioned hobby.
I believe the secret to our future success as a fancy is to sell the bit in between the polar opposites above, where you can keep say ten birds and breed quite happily with four breeding cages. The hobby can be easily enjoyed by the young and elderly alike, since the magic is that you never really have to leave you home.
To my mind, the point we are mostly missing is that, collectively, we are all responsible for building the hobby for ourselves and, of course, the next generation.
There is a huge amount of good work being done by fanciers around the country regularly pushing the hobby to newbies, with advice and help freely given. I like the work done by the BS promotional team, but are we over- relying on just a few people to grow our hobby for the rest of us? After all, the BS promotional team are just a few people who are not full time in this role.
The question I want to put to readers is: how can you grow the fancy in your area? Putting a few old copies of the BS magazine or Cage & Aviary Birds in the local doctors’ waiting room is fine, but is unlikely to pull in new members. We all need to think bigger and wider in terms of the reach of our efforts.
In my neck of the Hertfordshire woods we have very few breeders. I am really the only breeder in town, where once many lived. I absolutely need more breeders around me, even if it is just one or two. So, after a discussion about this subject on the Exhibition Budgerigar Forum some time ago, I decided to challenge myself. How could I reach the whole town and get one new member into the fancy?
Initially, I tried to put on to local social media groups information about pet birds for sale, but this didn’t garner me any contacts. Indeed, these types of public information sites don’t want sales items on their pages, while the social media sales pages don’t really want livestock for sale on their sites.
The key in all this is not to try and spark an interest in people who might already be into livestock. I want those completely outside the hobby to take an interest and be drawn in. Next week, I’ll describe how I eventually got on! ■
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