It was a year ago that I first launched my blogsite online to really get a voice out there and put positive information out there and give a place to coordinate all my event information to. I was headed out on vacation and had a plan to spend some of the late night around the campfire pushing out the look and adding the first posts to the site. The site went live as I pushed the buttons and transmitted files from a campsite in the middle of no where in West Virginia on the way to my final vacation destination. Little did I know around my campfire in Virginia Beach that summer that it would take off like it has and allow me to reach so many people, goals, and see a difference in the world. I had a few hits here and there after it went live, but it was slow at first and had me worried. The site was very empty and didn’t have much information or oomph to drive people in, but that has changed!
Hanging out the shingle
I went back and forth many times about would I launch the website or not and finally I knew I had to make the push. A movie quote from the 90’s kept coming to mind from the film Jerry McGuire at the opening. Jerry (Tom Cruise) takes his manifesto to the Copymat and is greeted by the longhaired assistant who says “that’s how you become great man, hang your balls out there,” in reference to his writing. What started out as a memo for Jerry was titled “The things we think and do not say, the future of our business. Click here for a Youtube of the clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eulCLmohqSQ
Let me say that throwing your name out there and getting your voice in front of people is a huge thing and not as easy as it seems. It is very much about “hanging your balls out there,” and being very open. Say the right thing or something that sparks a lot of positive feedback and you are golden, go against the grain or make a mistake and you become the Internet whipping boy and take a beating. Having been involved with journalism in a small town for years before going regional I’ve seen my share of interesting moments. One thing that I have learned and have to continue to tell myself is that not that everyone’s opinion matters, the other is that where are they? Are they out there at these events, or a sponsor, or paying my way, or beside me training, if not then how much should I let it bother me?
My blogsite on the other hand is a little different whereas its not local news and not necessarily a single topic, but more complex, has opinion, covers a very specific niche, and gives information where there are many in competition. Far from being the first blogger out there in the fire service I watched and was inspired from some of whom I consider the best and tried to mold it into what I was looking for.
Just how widespread have I gotten with the blog?
I thought maybe, maybe in the first year a few thousand people out there would see the blog and comment, email, or get in contact with me and thought that to be a good goal. Little did I know that in the first year it would be a success and the marketing of it would go so well. In the first year I’ve reached over 38000 people around the world, not just in the United States. Coming to events I have been met with people that I have talked to online, and others that had seen the website, videos, or posts, some while competing ask about the website and who I’m representing.
Hard to miss
Marketing in any business can be a challenge and an ongoing battle and you really have to put your back into it…literally! Part of the marketing goes right down to the bunker gear, shirts, and equipment that I wear. The custom bunker gear is emblazoned with the website name, shirts with hashtags, websites, and logos, and keeping it branded is important. Just as important are a few names on there. Wherever I go I represent my department, I am here because of them and its what I do and whom I serve. My website is back there on the rear, and does that ever get attention and people heading to the site. My last name, well its who I am and my family and a big part of why I got into this.
Does the marketing work? Well at several climbs and one race in the last year I’ve had people sending messages before I even left the event because they wanted to know what FF4CURES is about.
Where will I go in year two?
Let me tell you, year one was pretty explosive with the number of events, the places, and the amount of information I’ve put out there so I sure have a tough act to follow. Already looking at my events page, things are starting to fill up and September is going to put some miles on the truck…and my body. My goal is to continue the momentum built in 2013 and 2014 so far, compete in some new events, hit some PR, and get even more involved with events. With any luck, maybe I’ll be hitting some VIP statuses this year or maybe heading to a few award ceremonies. Yes I said luck, because you can train as hard and work as hard as you want, but when it comes down to game time for an event months away…the common cold can happen, the bumps and bruises can take their toll.
Most importantly in this next year I want to be happy. I truly am and doing these events and being a part of something bigger than yourself is a great feeling that I don’t think everyone understands. When you meet the survivors, their families, honored guests, coordinators, and others involved, you truly see and feel the impact that you make.
In my writing am I trying to achieve the status of other fire bloggers out there, no because I think I might have a slightly different niche. I am however trying my best to stay as active as they are at promoting the causes that mean the most and stay as active as they are. Hats off to my fellow fire bloggers you have inspired many (this guy included) to get out there and make a difference and be the change.
Thanks for checking me out the first year, heres to hoping the next year is even bigger and more exciting yet!