A decade ago – almost to the day – I penned my first post on WordPress about my crazy dog Chili on a blog called Random Musings on Life. I was hesitant, shy, and certainly not confident about that first post, but I knew I had to express myself. The post was personal, contained awkwardly-sized images, and was fun to write. I won’t forget the moment I hit the light blue “Publish” button. I still get that same combination of fear and excitement to this day.
Looking back on 10 years with WordPress, I realize the indelible impact that blogging has had on me, and how it serves as a time capsule of my personal and professional evolution as a writer.
When I discovered the WordPress platform in 2008, it was the tipping point for blogging platforms: Blogger.com (bought by Google in 2003) and WordPress (still independent) were duking it out for dominance, and it seemed anyone with an internet connection was calling him or herself a “blogger.” That became my perfect moment to start writing in public, hone my craft, and freestyle whatever was on my mind. Most importantly, I, too could claim those blogger bragging rights.
I had sublimated my love for writing after a brief stint as a cub reporter post college. Instead of the path to journalism greatness, I pursued higher-paying jobs as a Silicon Valley careerist, first in the corporate tech world, and then in my own marcom business in ’99 (here we are 19 years later!).
Though I did write in my communications roles, most was uninspired and none stirred passion or a strong connection. Think: technical data sheets, sales campaigns, and carefully-crafted emails to higher-ups (though I guess those could be considered creative non-fiction).
Over those early years, I tried to get a handful of feature articles published on the side, but submissions were ignored or editors wrote back with “Love it but we’ve covered this before.” I was always late to the game and, worse yet, I wasn’t becoming a better writer.
That all changed with WordPress: For the first time, I could write whatever and whenever I wanted and get published with the click of a button. Voila!
Many times in 2009, I wrote poorly-constructed but passionately penned blog posts on just about everything: the Barack Obama presidency, the personal effects of the recession, an anti-Facebook rant that now seems prescient, ethical issues of eating meat. You name it, and if it interested me, I turned it into a blog post, or at least a draft. I curated an overflowing list of topics that I would write about one day (many still there). I promoted posts to family, friends, and colleagues. I got likes, shares, and comments. I was in blog bliss.
After a year of flexing my writing muscle, in 2010 I started a new blog called Marketing Sparks (now on my current website). It focused on all things marketing to build credibility for my business, and yes, that hokey word…”thought leadership.”
I even recruited my Dad, an established writer and stellar editor, to read drafts, where he pointed to poor sentence construction or a witty turn of phrase. (Side note: my Dad started his own WordPress blog on education a year after I started mine. Without fail, he cranks out two posts weekly. I am still blown away by his dedication).
My writing confidence grew on a variety of marketing topics: from evaluating Groupon competition to why QR codes are dumb (I haven’t changed my opinion on that); praising Mad Men product placement to questioning cosmetic manufacturers’ claims. In the process, I also tuned up my interviewing and research skills. Best of all, blogging supported my goal to establish myself as a writer, which paid off in spades for business and bylines.
I got a gig as a small business columnist on a popular blogging site after doing a guest post. I was invited to write for a national PR digital outlet after the publisher saw a blog post he loved. (Along the way, I also found out publications’ dirty little secret: many “pay” in bylines when you’re not well known. Fair? Maybe not, but that’s a whole other blog topic.)
Despite the financial downside, the upside was that these articles helped establish my place as a legit writer for hire. I started getting gigs without bylines but with the pay: I was a blog ghostwriter for a famous psychologist, a nationally-known customer experience expert, and a number of CMOs and engineering leaders. I sealed the deal with several clients sharing related expertise on the blog.
During those years I threw myself into writing, I also became a pretty big blog nerd. I attended blogging conferences, a WordPress boot camp, and joined a blog meetup where I met a fellow writer that has since become one of my closest friends. (He’s also replaced my Dad as editor so blame any mistakes on him).
As part of my evolving interests, when I moved the Marketing Sparks blog to an expanded website in 2014, I started looking more inward at my business and blogged about issues freelancers face, offered tips working with clients, and other related topics.
Now in 2019, another big change is coming: I’m moving my website to the WIX platform for technical reasons. Luckily, I can integrate my WordPress blog so I’ll bring my followers and SEO with me!
On my 10th year with WordPress, going down memory lane is a reminder of what a wonderful canvas it’s been to explore my writing. It is a living, breathing journey that will continue to evolve.
I thank my readers for all of their support along the way. Your clicks, shares, and comments will never be forgotten.
See you on WIX!
Image credit: PhotonicsSweden