“I should write a blog post about 10 years of blogging, but I’ll do it after I watch this basketball game.”
That’s how I was thinking tonight about acknowledging a decade of publishing online. No careful marketing plan, no organized campaign – only wondering if I can pop out a coherent post after a gin and tonic plus some hoops on TV.
For a moment, I worried about writing this. How long it would take? Did I have anything profound to say? Did I have a photo to go with it….because we can’t just WRITE any more; we must have images with every post or we’ve broken the visual storytelling “rules.”
10 years ago today, I published my first blog post – the next one was about (WTF?) American Express traveler’s checks, because who needs an actual blogging plan or editorial calendar – on my new family travel blog hosted on the BootsnAll Travel Network.
I had just retired from a 22+ year seagoing career in the U.S. Navy and decided to become a travel writer. An old friend, Dwight Silverman then with the Houston Chronicle, told me that “a writer should have a blog,” so I went and got one.
I had no idea what I was doing.
Folks, if I had a $1 over the last decade for every time I’ve said, “I wish I knew what the hell I was doing!” I’d be a rich woman.
Here’s what’s changed in the media landscape since February 10, 2006
1. I worked in such isolation back then. I didn’t know anyone who did what I did, until I found a travel writer’s BBS bulletin board (now defunct) and got active on the BootsnAll travel community forum boards. When I told people I was a blogger, they looked at me like I was a complete nutball.
2. To get people’s attention, I linked to them in my blog posts. I couldn’t tweet to them or tag them on Facebook or LinkedIn – those platforms didn’t exist yet or if they did, I’d never heard of them or didn’t know how to use them. So, I was really big on outbound links as shout-outs, plus I commented a lot on other people’s blog posts.
3. Comments by actual humans on my own blog posts made my day (they still do.) I had conversations with readers of my blog via the email they provided when they left a comment, and I am still in touch with people like Kara Williams from the Vacation Gals who I met through their blog post comments.
4. WordPress software was not as easy to use as it is today. My early posts with photos were butt-ugly because I did not know the small snippet of HTML code that would nicely wrap my text around my photos. I had no idea about re-sizing photos or any of that, so I just sort of eyeballed things and jammed them in until they pretty much fit.
What is not very different in 2016
1. I still get a thrill when I hit the blue WordPress “Publish” button. Hello, world!
2. My blog is still MY house; my personal web real estate. Mark Zuckerberg does not have any control over it. The Twitter people don’t either, and Lord knows the Google+ weenies can take a hike. For a perfectionist control freak like me, that means a lot. I will never give it up.
3. My most popular posts on here are often the ones that I least expect to get any attention; the ones that I toss off without much thought. They often reflect whatever I’m personally dealing with at the time, like how to set up a trade show booth when you don’t have any money.
4. I am still so grateful to have a publishing tool that reaches around the world, 24 hours a day, at a very small cost. If I have something to say, I always have a place to say it, and I don’t have to play “Mother, may I?” with an editor.
Thanks to Sean Keener and the BootsnAll team for giving me a place to get started.
Thanks to all of my readers over the years; you’ve made it one hell of a ride.
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I like your thoughts. I too started my blog, Music Road, in 2006, after decades of writing about folk and world music for print — and writing a lot of daily news and reviews in those fields online for Barnes and Noble and the MTV folks — and covering politics and the arts for broadcast media.
It has been and continues to be an adventure, one which has helped me get gigs and connect with people in and outside the music business I’d not have encountered otherwise. It has also been a way to keep my own voice clear as media outlets in my fields (okay, all fields) have been transforming beyond recognition.
Here is to both of us keeping on with our blogs. It is a pleasure to be your colleague in writing at Perceptive Travel, too.
Thanks so much, Kerry. It’s nice to have a place we can call our own, isn’t it? 🙂
A long strange trip indeed! Even though I started two years later than y’all, I still remember people looking “at me like I was a complete nutball” when I started blogging. You’ll never get invited to cover destinations they said changed quite quickly into the tune of being told that bloggers were more important than the “media” (to which I replied “we ARE the media”). I was fortunate enough to come in with a whole wave of new bloggers who started in 2008…when many of us were “downsized” in our previous careers or found things bottoming out for things for the print media in a lot of places (we personally got the double whammy that year…one of us was “downsized” and the print market dried up locally for me with the secondary career I’d hoped to establish as an “encore” career). I’ve appreciated the ability to keep blogging through a series of setbacks for us (disease and death being the other parts of our lovely triumvirate of challenges we’ve faced since 2008)…and to grow (more slowing that I liked at times) our blog. Yes, Tim has become a more integral part of Midwest Guest as his health improved and we are traveling more together these days…so I appreciate the flexibility of the platform as well. And like you, Sheila, I like the fact that Midwest Guest is our own piece of “real estate” online and that there is always a platform where I can say what I’d like to say without asking permission from anyone else! Now if only it was a little more lucrative 😆
I love that you found a good travel niche, Dominique – travel in the U.S. Midwest – and stuck with it, because now what you offer is very valuable to Midwest destinations (although they may not recognize that as much as we might wish.)
Our Pleasure Sheila,
Sending you massive good vibes.
Yes, the landscape has changed in a HUGE way in these past 10 years. I expect it will change even more the next 10. Embrace Change!
I’d love to catch up sometime.
With Gratitude and Love
Hi Sean! Gosh, it has been forever since we’ve talked; really should do that soon.
I admire the direction you’re going with BootsnAll as a resource for independent & round-the-world travel, and in fact we’re even thinking about doing a RTW trip in a few years. You’ll be my first stop for info & booking.