1. Thursday, December 31, 2009

    remembering the decade that was 

    scoring the dream job of dream jobs – 11/7/07

    here it is new years eve and sadly i havent been able to look back at this wild and full decade in as much depth as i would have liked to, but maybe thats good for when you have time to look back that means you’re not enjoying the present.

    best present i ever had was starting this blog and sticking with it. i started it because i was bored at work, didnt really like my job, didnt feel supported by my bosses, and needed an outlet during my 2 government mandated 15 minute breaks at work and my 30 minute lunch.

    i felt like a loser, an outcast, and a failure. so i wrote “nothing in here is true” and began writing about being an undercover superhero who flew around hollywood in an invisible helicopter fighting crime and scoring chicks.

    strangely life started to imitate blog and i got girls – because of this freaking thing. then i got money, then i got gifts, then i got trips, then i got jobs. its weird and unbelievable even writing it down today. but here i am in Canada writing this, a country whose people i only know because of blogging. whose people i party with solely from relationships established through this http.

    the blogging led to a job at Buzznet where i launched a few blogs, drew millions of pageviews of traffic, and eventually got fired because i was constantly telling the decision maker that he was an idiot. sometimes thats not a good idea. so in this blog i wrote down all the things that i had accomplished there and linked to them all (for proof) and within days i got an offer to be the editor of LAist, an excellent group blog.

    yes they would pay me to stay in my apartment in my pajamas and blog. the date was 6/6/06. in many ways that was the best date of the last decade. LAist was getting around 150k pageviews a month, it was getting beat by the likes of blogging.la and laobserved, but the owners of the blog ran Gothamist so they had been to the mountaintop so they knew what would work. one thing they tried differently with me than with the previous editors was pay a full time wage. so there was a lot of pressure on me to do well so i wouldnt f it up for the next guy.

    fortunately i adore pressure and try to french kiss it whenever possible. i wrote 6-8 times a day and thanks to my bosses i was able to experiment in weird and wild ways, both in the posts, in the photos, in the videos, and even in the comments. LAist became wildly successful and within a year we had grown by almost 10 times. we had clearly become the local blog of choice of LA. in november of ’07 we had around 1.5 million pageviews – far more than those who once beat us. we had great writers, great photographers, and enough traffic that when i sent an email to the LA Times, my dream job, they had to give me an interview.

    three weeks after that interview i was the blog editor of the Times.

    all of it had to be a bizarre and complicated dream.

    at the time the Times’ best blog was being quadrupled by LAist. all of their blogs combined only did 3 million clicks a month. in my opinion it was due to many factors, the biggest being they were not using their best asset: their staff. instead they were using freelancers to write their blogs. fine writers no doubt, but not the heart and soul of the LA Times.

    for some strange reason the Times allowed me to air my opinions in meetings, and every now and then theyd actually take my advice. if it wasnt for the support of lots of people, including my boss Meredith Artley, none of todays success would have happened. But i got that support and buy-in and today, almost exactly two years later, the Times best blog triples LAist and our blogs as a whole consistently get over 20 million clicks a month. mostly because the staff has bought in and are blogging as a group. a powerful, brilliant, experienced, wonderful group. we still have some specialized kickass freelancers on the blogs, but they are the exceptions, not the rule. and the most exciting thing: we have only begun to rock.

    when i started at the times i gave a few interviews to blogs. in them i stated that the Times didnt have any blogs in the Technorati Top 100. infact they didnt have any in the Top 2000. indeed there were zero newspaper blogs two years ago in the Top 100. i predicted that that anomaly would disappear in no time, and indeed this year the LA Times had not one, not two, but three blogs in the Top 100, and last month we had two in the Top 20 – a feat that not even that paper in new york city could boast.

    i feel like a kid who was very happy riding a Big Wheel who was given a Corvette. and then allowed to pilot the Space Shuttle. i would have been just as happy to tour the facilities.

    there are many lessons that i learned this decade from blogging. the first is to identify your dreams and go for them. the second is you cannot get anywhere by yourself – life is a team effort. and the third is there is no limit to where success can end as long as your heart is truly in it and youre doing it for the right reasons.

    it all started here and i will never forget that. and i thank all of you for all the encouragement that you’ve doled out to me here so generously since 2001. this is the most special place in the world to me, even better than isla vista, wrigley field, or the playboy mansion. all because of you.