Assorted Blogging History Lessons

We haven’t forgotten to announce the winner for the prize with Do You Own Your Web Site? entry. One commenter is on vacation and we’re waiting for him to let us know what computer he has.
This entry’s prize is a full copy of First Class Flurry PC game from Chanon Sajjamanochai of Viquagames. Meryl’s First Class Fury review. This only comes for Windows PCs, not Macs. You have until June 14 to contribute a valuable 30+ word comment.
I met Janet Lee Johnson in 2004 under unusual circumstances as she’ll explain here. Though the reason for our initial meeting is long past, we stay in touch. I enjoy having discussions with her and exchanging ideas. It’s not often you meet someone who puts fun in work and marketing. Most companies still do thing traditionally… read: boring. Not Janet.

Marqui Sensible Gal

Assorted Blogging History Lessons

… History is a fun subject, now that I no longer have to pass any tests. I couldn’t think of a better subject for my guest post for her blog’s 8th birthday celebration (congratulations!) than to relate a little of the history that Meryl and I share from what some might call the ugly teenage years of blogging.
In fact, this post might be called “Sordid History Lessons,” had Meryl not been quite so sweet about our initial meeting.
I met Meryl in late 2004 while serving as VP Marketing for Marqui, a CMS startup out of Vancouver, BC, bent on moving into the US.
I was the lone marketing person there at the time (we were a bootstrapped startup with fewer than 25 employees) and we desperately needed to get into the awareness, minds and (we hoped) hearts of developers.
In August of 2004, a group of Marqui advisors, including Marc Canter, were brainstorming about breaking through the cluttered CMS space and into developer awareness when someone had the auspicious idea of paying developer-centric bloggers to blog about us.
Marc was tasked with coming up with the program and a short-list of bloggers who had the developer community’s ear. He did so, and Meryl was one of the first he identified to be a part of our “paybloggers program.”
My job was to manage the program, give the bloggers something to talk about every week, in case they needed it, and generally provide any support they needed. Oh, and run the rest of Marqui’s marketing at the same time.
Mine was a rough entry into the blogosphere when I started seeing emails pass amongst those chosen to blaze new ground and blog for us – these people were wicked writers! And back then the blogosphere was a lot more like the “wild, wild west” than it is today. These people had opinions, they weren’t afraid to leverage the pulpits they’d spent time nurturing, and I’d just better get used to it.
Our terms?
n exchange for $800/mo., we asked our bloggers to link to our site once a week, to state clearly that they were being paid to write about Marqui (we provided “blogger flags” to select from) and write whatever they wanted to about us.
We’d promised not to censor anything, and we didn’t. We promised to publish everything, and we did. We got trashed, we got praised, we became the poster child (no pun intended) of an ethical debate — should bloggers actually get paid to post?
The jury is still out on that question. In fact, we found that the best way to engage in the discussion was to do it ourselves, and I started blogging immediately as the debate began to rage — to give our perspective, straight from the horse’s mouth.
And while I nursed my initial wounds and bruises from our many detractors, and while my skin became thicker and hair grayer, and while I was finding my voice in my initial, tentative posts I found there were many wonderful, decent people “out there” too.
And Meryl was a pioneer for me in that role. She was not brash. She did not bully. She actually tried to write about the product. She selected the “sensible lady” as her blog flag… I’ve always pictured her that way. Smiling with a confident — yet gentle — look in her eyes.
Hers was a welcome, guiding hand and wisdom from the blogosphere that I will always appreciate, and I will never, ever forget.
About the author
Janet Johnson calls herself a bridge: turns out after 24 years in the business, she is a technologist for marketers, and a marketer for technologists. She is in her bliss when collaborating on projects that bring social media into organizations. She lives in Portland, Oregon, blogs here, and follows Meryl on Twitter from here. Her Facebook page is largely neglected, as she lives in the moment when not tackling strategic issues.

6 thoughts on “Assorted Blogging History Lessons”

  1. What a nice post. A nice balance between the personal and the professional.

    Gee Janet, got any more of those $800/month blogging gigs laying around? I don’t know much about technology, but can give my input from the user end. Maybe a “I wonder if the average Joe schmoe can use this product” lying around that you need tested. 🙂


    The Freelance Writer’s Blogs last blog post..$20,000 for 20 Pages: Learn about the Highest Paying Freelance Writing Niche

  2. Janet, what a great history lesson! I was not around for the early blogging days but I remember the early wild days of the net so I can imagine. Lots of things have changed but it’s nice that the one constant has been the wonderful people “out there.” Meryl, again, congratulations for blazing new trails and guiding the way for the rest of us. Thanks also for introducing me to Janet!

    Karen Swims last blog post..Riding the Wave of Imagination

  3. Part of what amazes me about Meryl being here for 8 years is stories like this. I had blogs, early on, but they weren’t on anyone’s radar. Heck, I could barely convince family to check them out, even when the blogs were, usually, about those family members!

    Somewhere along the way, Meryl figured it all out, and it paid off with the project you’ve described.

    Very cool story, Janet.

    Bob Younce at the Writing Journeys last blog post..My Blogging Journey

  4. @Bob, @Karen, @Yuwanda,

    Thank you for the lovely comments on my post. I has been a joy to have been involved in some of the history of the blogosphere that (thank goodness) is, indeed, history.

    The very best parts have always been the relationships I’ve been gifted. And Meryl is absolutely one of the greatest gifts.

    Janet Johnsons last blog post..An Ostrich Approach to Branding


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