Thursday, March 09, 2006

Celebrating A Year In the 'Sphere

One year ago today, I created and wrote my first post for Palmetto Pundit. It actually had a different name for the first couple of weeks, but I finally settled on Palmetto Pundit. My first post was a rant about Social Security and it was awful. Of course, Harvey of Bad Example says the first post should be bad, so I guess I passed an early first test even though I didn't know it.

There’s a story behind my entry into the blogosphere that I would like to share with you. I’ll let you be the judge as to whether it is interesting or not:

On March 9, 2005, I stayed home from work to take care of my 21-month-old daughter, when she was sick. The virus she had made her weak and she slept a lot, so I decided I could either watch soaps or surf the Internet. I chose to surf the Internet and happened to find Blogger. I had heard of blogs and was somewhat aware of their significance, but I knew very little about them. When I saw the word “Free”, I decided to give it a try. So, whether you enjoy Palmetto Pundit or hate it with a passion, you can blame my daughter. If I hadn’t had all that free time I probably would have never started blogging.

My entry into the blogosphere certainly hasn’t changed the world, but it has changed my life. I’ve always loved writing and blogging has given me the opportunity to do it without keeping up with a bunch of spiral notebooks or word documents. I could now rant or comment on practically anything, click publish, and I was part of the discussion. It has given me the opportunity to get things off my chest that have often gone unsaid and been a great stress reliever. I now have my own personal Wayback machine that allows me to go back in time and see what was on my mind on a particular day. Is there anything cooler than that?

Here are 12 Things I’ve learned about blogging this year:

1. Some of my best friends are those I’ve never personally met. They are the ones who stop by regularly, drop me an email to let me know when I get something wrong and check on me to make sure I’m ok when I don’t post as often as usual. Bloggers are some of the nicest, most considerate people in the world and they genuinely care about other bloggers.

2. I have relatively few loyal readers and return visitors, but I wouldn’t trade one of them for a huge list of occasional readers. Loyal readers are more precious than gold.

3. It’s ok to give your opinion, but it’s also ok if no one cares or agrees with it.

4. If no one is reading your blog, don’t take it personally. There’s probably a blog out there somewhere that you aren’t reading either.

5. There are millions of blogs out there, so if one of the big fish links you just once, you’re ahead of the curve. Don’t expect it to become a regular occurrence because it probably won’t.

6. Shouting Glenn Reynolds name from the 50-yard line of Neyland Stadium will not cause an Instalanche, but it just might get you arrested. Besides, he probably won’t be able to hear you over his blender anyway. Don’t blog for the professor, blog for yourself.

7. If you aren’t doing it for yourself, your lack of passion will be obvious.

8. If you write with passion and no one reads it, it doesn’t matter. Someday when you look back on what you wrote, you’ll still be proud of it and will appreciate the effort you put into it. It is a snapshot of your thoughts from that particular day; so make sure you get it right. It will matter to you regardless of whether it mattered to anyone else.

9. Don’t post just for the sake of posting. If you don’t have anything to say, don’t say it. You had a life before blogging, and you should still have one now.

10. I have run ads on my blog for over a year and have yet to make one red cent from them. I doubt I ever will. Money is great and I’ll take all I can get, but that’s not why I blog. If it were, I would have quit the first week.

11. Your blog is about what you think. Decide your position on each issue before you read someone else’s take on it. Don’t follow the herd to get recognition, follow the herd because you belong to the herd. I doesn't make you wrong to be outside the majority, it makes you honest. Be true to yourself first.

12. Always provide a link to another person’s work when you cite it, even if you are criticizing it. If you forget, correct the mistake and apologize immediately. Update your post to reflect the mistake. The author will appreciate your efforts to make things right and your readers will respect you for it as well.

This isn't an exhaustive list to be certain, but they are some of things I've found to be extremely important. Actually, number 6 was intended as a joke but the last sentence really is true.

I would also like to offer my thanks and gratitude to a number of folks who have helped me along the way:

Jay at Stop the ACLU: He was one of the first to ever leave a comment on my blog and offered a lot of early support. We started blogging within months of each other and even though his blog has become wildly successful and influential, he still finds the time to drop by from time to time and leave a comment or say hello. Thank you, Jay for recognizing the value of upstart blogs and taking the time to pay attention to mine. It has meant more to me than you’ll ever know.

TranSient: He also was one of the very first people to visit my blog and it is an absolute rarity that I don’t find his tracks in my referral logs. He’s also a Clemson fan, so I know he had a decent upbringing. Although we’ve never met, I consider him to be a true friend.

John in Carolina: John is one of the most gracious and thoughtful bloggers I’ve ever come across. He has personally thanked me for every link I’ve ever given him. I’m not talking about providing a return link as a goodwill gesture either. He actually composes an eloquent, well thought out e-mail and deposits it in my inbox without fail. He is truly a class act. You won’t find a ton of links in his sidebar; they’re all in his posts. He is a pure blogger who obviously does it because he loves it.

Michelle Malkin: Not only is she the best blogger in the business, she also taught me a valuable lesson about humility and she probably doesn’t even know it. When my blog was about 10 days old, she linked one of my posts and my hit counter went through the roof. Being new to blogging, I thought I was hot stuff, but when the post moved off of her front page, my hits dropped like a rock. This taught me that you have to be true to yourself and blog because you love it, not because you crave attention. What you attempt to add to the discussion with your own style and originality is much more important than the number on your sitemeter. You alone are responsible for driving yourself to be the best you can be, and while recognition is a great feeling, it is not what determines your long-term success. It is a lesson that has been invaluable to me ever since and one I was glad to get early on.

Mike’s America: Mike is also a South Carolina blogger (Hilton Head Island) who has been a good friend to this blog. He is a frequent visitor who leaves a ton of comments on my posts and has added a lot to the discussion here. He asked for my input and included me in his recent tribute to Ronald Reagan and I was truly honored that he asked me to be a part of it.

Joshua Gross: He runs The Body Politic , and is a frequent visitor of this blog. He always finds a way to include me in his weekly roundup and I am extremely grateful for the additional exposure he gives to Palmetto Pundit every week.

These are just a few of the folks who have made an impression on me during the past year. Everyone in my blogroll deserves a mention because I consider them to be valuable sources of information and all have made an impression on me in some way during the past year.

Ironically, this is also my 300th post. Not a lot, but 300 more than I ever dreamed I would write.

Thanks for reading and here’s to another year!

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