Happy Birthday, jlcollinsnh; and thanks for the gift Mr. MM!

In 1974 my dad died.  I was 23.

(Didn’t expect the Happy Birthday post to begin there, I’ll bet!)

He never had much interest in kids so our relationship didn’t really begin to develop until I was in college and could relate to him as an adult.  Of course, by then I had my own circle of interest and a very busy life.  Looking back, I never really got to know him.  It is a lasting regret.

I know the basics of course.  He was born in 1911 in Duluth, MN.  His father was a lawyer.  His mother died when he was two.  His step mother evidently didn’t care for him.  He was sent to boarding school in the winters and to his Aunt Jessie and Uncle Ben’s farm in the summers.

He took his degree in Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin and his first job was selling for 7-Up.  My mother was a school teacher when they met and since she wanted to keep working they married in secret.  In those days only single women could be teachers.

Her father had a business as a manufacturers’ rep.  Her brother, my Uncle Linton, and my dad took it over.  They were very good at what they did and earned a handsome living for many years.  But dad, like many men of his generation, was a smoker.  By the time I got to college his health and, by extension, his business were failing rapidly.

My daughter and I have had a much closer relationship.  She knows far more about me, what I believe and why.  But now in college she, too, has her own circle of interest and a very busy life.  So a couple of years ago I began writing some letters to her.  Life lessons if you will.  Things I wanted her to know that she might not be yet ready or interested in hearing just yet.

Then last year I retired….

 ….leaving behind my business friends and colleagues, and wondering how best to stay in touch with them.

Those two goals in mind, the blog idea occurred.

I had never read a blog.  I had never seen one.  I barely knew such things existed.  But I asked around and got pointed to WordPress.

Poking about, I managed to cobble together the format you see here and I started writing.  June 2, 2011 The Monk and the Minister appeared.  My first post.  I sent the link to my friends and family.  The name jlcollinsnh was chosen so they’d know it was me.

Over the next month I posted 17 more before disappearing to Ecuador for the summer.  The blog went dark until I returned with the appropriately named Lazy Days in late October.  Since then I’ve published about two posts a week as ideas and interest come.

Today jlcollinsnh is one year old.  The blog, that is.  It seems it is customary on this august occasion for bloggers to post a review of the year just past.  So, here goes….

As of last week:

  • 50 posts, an average of just about one per week.
  • 41,752 total page views, a little more than 800 per week.
  • 928 page views on my single busiest day.
  • 66 subscribers, although I’ve come to learn regular readers have other ways of accessing it too.
  • 502 comments.

But then, last Saturday, everything changed.

an early present from MMM

Mr. Money Mustache published my guest post on his far more popular site.  What I thought was going to be just a bit more work for me turned out to be a huge gift to this modest little blog.

In just the past week:

  • Just 1 more post.
  • 31,852 more page views.
  • 6811 page views last Sunday alone, the busiest day.
  • 110 additional subscribers.
  • 267 additional comments.

It has been nothing short of breathtaking.  So now, on the blog’s one year anniversary, here’s where the totals stand:

  • 52 posts, including this one
  • 73,604 page views.
  • 6811 page views on the busiest day.
  • 176 subscribers.
  • 769 comments.

But what really made my day is the incredible warmth and kind words in those comments.  Boy howdy.

So a big “Thank You!” to all my loyal readers and an equally big “Welcome!” to all of you who have found your way here this past week.

With out you, this blogging thing would just be so much talking to myself.

Here’s what I learned along the way:

I picked the wrong name.

While jlcollinsnh works fine for letting friends and family know it’s me, it really doesn’t properly brand the blog as what it is.  Most have descriptive titles that help potential readers know what to expect.  But I’ve grown fond of it.  It’s not going to change.

I picked the wrong category (s).

Business – Life – Money, works fine in describing what I cover here.  Although, given the posts, it should be:  Money — Life — Business.  Successful blogs seem more focused.  But I like the freedom to range about my topics.  That’s not going to change either.

There’s no money in it.

The good news is that it costs nothing other than time and effort to do this.

I did just learn that some of you may be seeing ads here.  They never appear on my version.  WordPress tells me they place these and it provides revenue to them.  That, in turn, provides their hosting service to me for free.  Works for me; hope they aren’t a distraction for you.

But, there might be a book in it.

I’ve always wanted to write a book but have never had the discipline to sit still and crank out the chapters.  The blog has provided the structure, and the response from readers like you the motivation, to write.  Slowly the material is accumulating.  The next step will be to organize it and give it a rewrite so it flows.  We’ll see…

There could be money in it.

But not much.  I’m only just beginning to learn there are ways to monetize it, but it seems the amounts are minimal without a far, far larger audience.

I could be doing far more to build the audience.

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, lifehacker, reddit, yakezie are all apparently venues that would drive traffic, but I do none.

So far what readership the blog has, has grown organically.

With a big boost from MMM.

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