Story by Neville Cole
Actually I’ve started probably a dozen blogs; but I’m hopeful this latest one might actually have some kind of payoff. It’s been a long, lean road so far.
Many years ago I convinced my company that I should go to a social media conference in Las Vegas and learn everything there is to know about blogging. My company still considers the word blog a four letter word but I took what I did learn and got to work on my own projects.
My first blog post “Oyster call Oystralia home” was probably my most successful effort to date. Somehow this fellow in Australia name Therese Trowseroff (or some such thing) miraculously discovered it the day of posting and invited me to be the North American Correspondent for something called The Window Dressers and Pig’s Arms. That fellow has quite an imagination. Wow. I thought, one post and the world is watching. This will be a piece of cake.
I sat at home and puzzled over one of the tips I learned in Las Vegas. Write what you know. I know, I thought I could write an advice column! I give brilliant advice. I created a character called Aunt Mary loosely based on a cross between Dear Abby and Dame Edna Everage. Who better to spew advice to a willing world, I thought.
My first Aunt Mary post was an qualified hit. Therese – who had changed his name to Emm or some such thing – sent me an email with the header “Holy Hits Aunt Mary.” Subsequent posts, however, did create such a draw. I also started to run out of advice.
That’s when I decided I was a modern day Charles Dickens. I would post – chapter by chapter – my tales of great adventure around the world, slowly gathering fandom until, at the conclusion of my story, I could self-publish a bone fide hit! I made it about 12 chapters into From Here to Nairobi before I was hit with the aching realization that this really wasn’t much of a tale and my projected sales would probably amount to about two days work in the office.
Undaunted, I hit upon the idea of using a blog to imagine a set of fanciful characters that could someday develop into a comic book series or animation. Chimp George, Pistol Palin and Smoking Rabbit never did catch on.
Intermittently I wandered back to the internet to do research. Why was I failing so consistently to create any kind of following? Sure I picked up some “followers” along the way but the only people who ever provided any feedback at all were the fine patrons of the Window Dressers and Pig’s Arms. They did say lovely things and Mike Jones (he changed his name again, I think) was incredibly supportive and thankful for my every effort.
The experts all over the Internet told me I should be blogging about gadgets, sports and/or fashion or providing brilliantly researched posts focused on important subject people need to survive or make money, or such. Hmm…maybe one on how to create a buzz in social media would be good. But, research and entrepreneurship is not really my thing. For a start, I’ve got a full time job; one I actually quite like and one that, knock on wood, I could potentially do till almost the day I die.
That said, I can’t shake this whole blog fantasy. Recently I read a quote from Stephen King about writing. “Write with the door closed”, he says. “Edit with the door open”. Brilliant, thinks I. I can write away on a novel idea alone, then post it out to the web and edit it with the world watching.
How does that song go? I started to cry which started the whole world laughing? We’ll I started a blog my novel which started the whole world reading anything else. Maybe, the problem is the whole world is too busy blogging to read anymore.
Anyway, long post short… I’ve started another blog about something I know: where to go out for a good time in this old town of mine. I’ve called it Around Phoenix. It’s full of good advice, local knowledge and a little bad humor for spice. I end each post with the catchphrase. See You Around Phoenix. The perceptive among you will notice at tip of the hat to Anchorman. It’s better than “Stay Classy San Diego” and nearly as memorable as “Go F#ck Yourself, San Diego.”
In the About section of my new blog, I say Around Phoenix only has one rule. I will only review places I really like. For one, I think reviewers who spew lots of vitriol about how bad some place is should probably just post on Yelp. For two, if I were looking for a restaurant or bar, I’d rather know I can go to a site where I know everything they suggest is good.
I also figure people with restaurants and bars are often pretty desperate for any good review and if they like what I write they may help promote my page with a reblog. I’ve got 5 followers so far (and one of them has 21 thousand followers), so who knows? The only potential problem is…what if I have to decide between giving a good review to a place with lots of followers and my promise to only review places I like? Oh well, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
I don’t have lofty goals as yet. I’m pretty much only hoping that maybe one of the places I review will offer me a free appetizer or a bottle of wine on the house or something. Hell, at this point if someone makes a comment I’ll consider that a victory.
But if this does start to pick up steam I got a lot of great ideas. I could write off my restaurant and bar bills on my taxes. I could let other people write reviews for me and just manage the content. I could set myself up for a second career as a social media expert in case my company has another round of layoffs. I can even picture an Around Phoenix app, or maybe a local TV series…and think of the franchise opportunities!
So anyway…I started a blog. It’s called Around Phoenix. Come visit if you’re looking for somewhere to go around Phoenix. God, I love that catchphrase!