We were going to publish an Axon on-snow review today, but realized we need to sit down, lean back, breath a big sigh, and feel the glow of WildSnow’s first millennium. Yep, today is blog post 1000 (counted as actual existing posts).
It’s been a ride, that I can say. Prior to starting this blog three years ago in December of 2004, we’d had this website published for about seven years as a repository of my ski writing.
Over those seven years, I experienced what in retrospect was a natural and organic transition to web publishing.
I’m the kind of writer who likes to get published (some could care less, probably the majority). While base human emotions such as ego are no doubt part of that, I can honestly say that I simply love backcountry skiing and communicating the sport is my passion. Thus, Wildsnow is a indeed a love child.
But a child needs food and shelter. In the early days, I was bringing in a meager income with books, magazines, and doing content work on people’s websites. After trying to rope my webmaster brother Tom into installing some of my writing on a site, he suggested I learn how to do it myself. As most writers make about 1/100 what a webmaster does per hour, I jumped into webwork like a newbie being offered first tracks in the Wasatch.
I got quite a few web clients for basic business websites, and did okay with that. But communicating about wild snow kept pulling me. So I kept this site going, eventually installing Google ads and a few affiliate banners. Much to my amazement, the basic ads generated tangible income. I wasn’t on the way to being Bill Gates (wouldn’t mind if I was), but was stunned by the fact that doing some basic web content on my own site could generate coin — and had the potential to easily exceed what I could do with book publishing and magazine writing.
Then blogging happened.
Prior to the invention of blogging, many small web publishers such as myself were realizing that publishing frequent and somewhat personal content on their homepage was the way to a successful website. (Success meaning writing for someone other than yourself.) So when blogging took off like Bode Miller slamming a timing gate, I knew it had traction. I watched the trend, and in 2004 restructured WildSnow as a basic blog with a new post almost every weekday.
It was only a matter of weeks before my site traffic exploded. Because I was simply doing basic HTML web pages as my blog, I had no way of allowing interactive comments. Nonetheless I got a ton of email comment traffic, and published the highlights. That led to my switch to Word Press blogging software, which is the engine that powers this blog.
Soon after that our traffic ramped up again as folks who enjoy commenting or just reading comments tended to visit more often. Also, it’s more fluid to blog using dedicated software, so I was able to ramp up my daily wordcount and easily work while traveling.
Meanwhile, web advertising was also gaining traction. Companies were realizing that branding themselves on websites is incredibly cheap compared to buying ink and paper. But at the same time they realized that buying advertising on some bloated scattershot website might not be all that effective. What they needed was focus and authenticity. Committed bloggers such as myself can provide that. More, I’d platformed myself with a “name” after years of ski mountaineering, climbing and writing. Thus, I had a winner combo that was perfect for advertising, and the support came.
So here we are, a viable blog with monetary support from the backcountry skiing industry, guest writers, and beautifully succinct comments from all you “blogsters.”
As I do ease back in my chair and let the glow of 1000 posts wash over me, it’s with a feeling of appreciation and thanks. You readers and sponsors have given me a gift. You’ve given me an exciting interesting job writing about what I love. The job includes travel, an opportunity for hands-on work with gear, and more, an excuse for many days in the backcountry. But mostly, you’ve given me the chance to give back to the sport that’s defined my life.
I’ll do my best to keep that going. To that end, today dawned with a classic Colorado bluebird sky. Avy danger is rated considerable in most places, but by knowing some lower angled tree skiing terrain we can still go out and reap a few face shots. Perhaps I’ll write about the experience as a trip report, maybe I’ll just publish a string of photos, perhaps I’ll use it for gear testing (promise, I’ll keep that one in reserve). Whatever, I’ll blog about it! See ya, and keep those comments coming!