“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 from 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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