The Scentaur Turns 1

A lush birthday cake covered with pink buttercream roses and topped by three lit candles.

Happy first birthday to this glorious disaster of a perfume blog.

A few weeks ago, The Scentaur officially passed the anniversary of its first post (a review of Mugler’s Womanity, if you’re curious). I wanted to take a moment to thank you, all you lovely fellow bloggers and curious commenters and random readers, for a tremendously good time.

We read books. We reviewed perfumes. We talked about cars and chemistry and AI and AI again and NFTs. We sniffed charger cables. We got extremely smelly and complained about it. We decluttered. It’s been a year of adventures, and I look forward to many more.

To misquote the Public Broadcasting Service, this blog is made possible by viewers like you. Thank you.

If you’d like to support the blog and you’re planning on doing some fragrance shopping sometime soon, you can use these affiliate links to browse some great perfume shops:

I receive a commission on any sales made by following these links, at no cost to you.

I’m not really sure how to mark the anniversary of starting a blog, which is part of why I put off publishing this post for over two weeks.

I’ve also simply been feeling rather blocked. I got a new job a few months ago and over these last few months I’ve been having a harder time making a daily blog post a priority. But writing and creating here does bring me such joy, and I’m going to keep trying, even if my posting tendency drifts from almost every day to almost every week.

Two white wine flutes, two specialty cocktail glasses, and a wine bottle with a bow, all filled with sunset-pink champagne.

In addition to the blog’s, it was also my own personal birthday a few weeks ago. Reflecting on what I’ve accomplished and what I’d like to do in the future, I’m going to invest more time in learning the art of perfumery myself. I have so many things sketched out that I want to make, and I’m going to prioritize that craft. I’ll share more about that journey as I go.

One of the things I’ve wanted to do with the community I scrape together via this blog is to eventually run a traveling sample box, in which a box of perfume samples is sent from participant to participant in the mail, and each person can sample, sniff, swap some out for themselves, and add their own. If you’d like to participate, you can fill out the form here. I don’t really have a set date for it, but I’ll reach out to the group via email when we have enough people.

Well, I’m not quite sure what else to do with this post, so in the spirit of talking to myself in the shower and writing an advice column no one asked for — by the way, I love giving advice, please send me your problems — I’m going to script my own Q and A.

Q: Why is your blog called The Scentaur?
A: Before starting this blog, I was paralyzed by indecision. I made a list of over two hundred possible blog names and scored each one in seven categories, including wittiness, brevity, and spelling ease. In the end I drove myself up the wall, threw out the spreadsheet, and chose The Scentaur at random, a name that is not particularly self-explanatory nor direct (nor easy to spell). But I stuck with it because I had to stick with something. The tagline “where the best scents are” came to me afterwards as a sort of back-formed justification for the name.

Q: Is it a title? Like, are you the Scentaur?
A: No. I’d intended The Scentaur to be read like a publication title, like The Atlantic or The Onion.

Animation of liquid pouring in the overflowing top glass of a pyramid of wine glasses and trickling down to fill all of them.
Could the New York Times do this?!

Q: You think you’re like a newspaper? Is that why you italicize the name of the blog?
A: Fun fact! Italicizing the names of blogs is actually in the Chicago Manual of Style. It generally treats them as periodicals, which I find hilarious. There’s such a hallowed aesthetic of prestige around the way we style periodicals, and yet these days anyone can go online and publish whatever they want. This joke has sort of trickled down into the overall look and feel of my blog.

Q: So you don’t have any particular interest in centaurs?
A: Not really. When I chose the name, a friend advised against it because he thought it might signal I’m into centaurs at a more than friendly level. Because apparently some people are. But at that point I’d already bought the domain and thought it was too late to back out.

Q: Well, are you?
A: Am I what?

Q: Are you into centaurs?
A: God, no. Too many hooves.

Q: Let’s address the elephant — or perhaps the centaur — in the room. Do you have beef with Native, the deodorant company, for their Scentaur campaign?
A: I have beef with Native because their deodorant is too expensive. I make my own and know how much those ingredients cost in bulk, so I’m almost certain they sell at at least a 75% markup. But so do basically all fragrance companies, and that’s none of my business.

Q: So are you copying them?
A: Native launched their Scentaur campaign after I’d already decided on the name and purchased the domain for The Scentaur. It was unfortunate timing all around. I think I’m a minor thorn in their marketing department’s side because my site often comes up in searches above theirs. Such is life. Native, if you’re reading this, you can send me an olive branch in the form of free deodorant.

Q: Do you wish you’d named the blog something else instead?
A: Not really. I have a feeling I’d be a little dissatisfied by any name I chose. That’s how it goes with lots of projects. It’s how I feel about my own given name. You just have to pick one that’s good enough and stick with it.

Graphic symbol representing the centaurus constellation in astronomy and astrology, shaped like a stick figure of a centaur.

Q: What does the logo for the site mean?
A: It’s the graphical symbol for the centaurus constellation, which was designed by Denis M. Moskowitz and is used under royalty-free license via The Noun Project.

Q: What’s the technical stack behind your blog?
A: I self-host WordPress and use a theme that I wrote (and am constantly rewriting) myself. I do set up websites for small businesses on the side, so if you’re reading this and would like help starting up a blog of your own, feel free to contact me.

Q: What’s up with the advice column?
A: I started it as a venue for perfume-related advice. This was really just an excuse to include an advice column on the site because I love doling out advice like I’m everyone’s wizened aunt hopped up on inspirational Pinterest quotes and a desire to help people find their way and not a twentysomething whose collection of crockery had until fairly recently consisted of just two big mugs (one for eating and one for drinking). It turns out that is a very specific niche, and that the majority of people are not having interesting interpersonal problems defined by perfume.

Q: So are you not writing advice anymore?
A: I would love to keep writing advice, honestly. The “my boyfriend doesn’t like my perfume” story was some of the most fulfilling, healing writing I’ve done. I’m now more confident that my website can be whatever I want it to be. I can have a random unrelated advice column on a perfume blog, cohesion be damned. Send me your woes and I’ll take a crack at ’em.

Q: Anything you want to say to someone out there who’s thinking of starting their own blog?
A: Do it. Do it for the joy of the craft. Do it for the delight of making things and putting them out there in a space that’s all your own.

Q: Is blogging a good way to make a quick buck and retire early to a life of martinis on the beach?
A: No. Don’t start blogging for the money, because for the vast majority of blogs, there isn’t any. You’d have to be exquisitely lucky to see any significant amount of income within your first year, anyway. I’m saying this because I often hear blogging (or “affiliate marketing”) bandied about as a get-rich-quick thing. It’s always a disingenuous scheme to get you to buy someone’s course or sign up for their SEO service or use their affiliate link to buy hosting.

Q: How much money have you made from your first year of blogging?
A: $21.58 in commissions.

A stack of shiny silver coins.

Q: Any plans to stick to a consistent publishing schedule in the coming year?
A: Nope.

Q: What is your posting schedule, exactly?
A: Trying and failing to post every day, with widely varying results.

Q: Are you going to put ads on the site?
A: Not right now. Maybe not ever. Ads are ugly. The visual aesthetic satisfaction is a big piece of what I find gratifying about building this blog. If site traffic ever gets to a point where ads would bring in a significant income, then maybe.

Q: Why don’t you have an affiliate relationship with Amazon?
A: Because I despise Jeff Bezos and his company with the fury of a thousand suns.

Q: Do you have any other questions you would like to answer?
A: Well, I’m scripting this Q and A, so if I did, I would just write them in. Bit of a meta question. So I suppose not.

Thank you all for reading and for a fantastic year. Here’s to many more!

5 thoughts on “The Scentaur Turns 1

    • Why, thank you for witnessing this mess and being part of the fun with all your lovely comments! Here’s to many more happy blogging years for both of us.

  1. I saw your comment in The Long Goodbye post in The Alembicated Genie, and was pulled in by the discussion of writing to the void, because I’m eyeing my blog, looking at old posts, remembering how much fun it was, and wondering what the odds are that I will resume. Reading your comment, I went to see, is she still blogging, and, yes! You are blogging, thoroughly!

    So I bookmark and I comment and I hope that I will be inspired, by the still active bloggers, to keep blogging. (Less thoroughly. I haven’t changed my blog’s design since…ever?) But blogging.

    • What a beautiful and special comment this is to read. There’s something very gratifying about experiencing that through your eyes. It made me go back and find the comment I wrote on The Alembicated Genie’s post close to a year ago. I am indeed still happily and heartily blogging. It’s been such a blast even when it’s felt like no one’s reading (I wrote a little more about this here) because it feels so satisfying to make something, publish it, and see it out there straight away. In the world of social media, writing a blog post no longer comparatively looks like instant gratification, and yet, compared to writing novels (as you and The Alembicated Genie have done) or translating poetry (as I do), it’s a much more direct sort of rush.

      And so, Martha, my vote is for you to keep blogging! Even if infrequently and un-thoroughly. I’ve slowed from a post almost every day to just a couple a month due to life and work happenings, but I miss working on the blog every day and I’d like to get back to it. It’s just such a joy. I’ll be glad to read whatever you have to say, even if that empty blog-reader void grows ever-larger.

    • Well, happy belated anniversary.
      “Indecision IS the decision to do nothing.” Peteism nbr 9.
      Glad you decided to do something.

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The Scentaur