Phoenix rising: The New Winehiker Witiculture Blog.

No doubt many of you recall the frustrations of the 2008-2010 economic downturn. Housing bubble, financial crises, stock market woes, massive unemployment hitting home for so many of us. The course of my life and career were certainly on a parallel: I found myself scrambling for a paycheck – almost any paycheck that I could earn with a keyboard. Furthermore, I had developed problems with my left hip that precluded any hikes longer than 4 or 5 miles.

And I crashed head-on with the realization that I could no longer operate my tour business, California Wine Hikes.

It was a grim time, and I felt its deep, bitter bite for weeks, even months. Feeling the heavy weight of failure, dwelling more than I should on how I’d wasted five good years, and desperately searching my soul for any kind of meaning as to where my life had gone and why, I realized I needed to close operations on my business, shut down my website, and springboard full tilt boogie for Jesus into the job search.

Those were dark, dreadful days. It was not easy to appear enthusiastic during job interviews, but somehow I managed to dig deep and shine. It took a long while, and it was damned hard to stay focused and positive. Thankfully, after many months, the phone finally rang and I came away with a technical writing job that pays the bills – a job that I still hold today, nearly 2½ years later.

I quickly discovered that landing that job was not the only silver lining to my recent dark storm cloud. While I had already possessed the chops to fulfill the role of technical writer, it had become very apparent to me that my company’s website needed work. A massive lot of work! It helped immensely that I had spent the better part of the previous 5 years managing a business and website, honing my HTML, SEO and content-creation skills, building an understanding of social networking, and even building the vocabulary, the jargon, of the web developer. Right then and there, two weeks into the job, I volunteered to own the company website.

Those 5 years of skill-building hadn’t been wasted after all.

I threw myself lock, stock and barrel into the job. I worked hard to heal my hip. For two years, I rarely came up for air. Though on salary, I worked nights. I worked weekends. Twitter, Facebook, and blogging, to me, were abstractions I could not afford. And, though I felt all the while a strong compulsion to drastically improve my company’s website and technical documentation, I felt equally strongly about resurrecting my own sense of self-worth, of contribution, of accomplishment. As I ticked off each painstaking milestone, both job-wise and hiking-wise, it began to occur to me that light was actually beginning to appear at the end of my own personal tunnel.

And I began to reach out again.

Many of you who are reading this post have certainly noticed an upturn in my social media activity, which I returned to in the Spring of last year. Some of you are even reading my online paper, Winehikers’ Daily, which I felt was a way to not only inform and perhaps enlighten my audience about the topics they find interest in, but also a way for me to keep my finger on the pulse of current topics – and reconnect with my social network. Though I had been away from social media for what seems an extended hibernation, this journey back has, in retrospect, been very much a sound mental health decision.

Let's hit the trail.

Let’s hit the trail.

I don’t regret that journey.

Today, despite the ritual and the process of these past few years, I realize that this journey has turned out to be a very redeeming one. I have emerged from the other end of my long, dark tunnel. I’m largely satisfied with my job accomplishments. And I am hiking again!

And, if you’ll permit me to be so bold: I have returned to blogging.

Behold the new winehiker witiculture!

I am deeply grateful to you, my readers, for your abiding warmth, understanding, and patience. I hope you’ll join me on the next leg of this journey.

————————— ♦ —————————

Folks, what do you think? Was my return to blogging a good idea? Or, is blogging dead?
Did I wait too gol-darn long to resurrect my blog?
Are these all just silly questions?

————————— ♦ —————————

Love,
winehiker

Advertisements

Page strength of californiawinehikes.com

I regularly read an ezine from Larry Chase, who operates a site called Web Digest For Marketers. In his current issue, Mr. Chase lists a number of Search Engine Optimization tools, one of which is a web page analysis tool from seomoz.org.

According to Larry, this tool:

“…was designed to give marketers a quick, one-stop, bird’s eye view of just how “strong” a given page on your website really is. The analysis is based upon a number of interesting factors, including the number of human-created mentions your website has (del.icio.us tags, Alexa Rank, mentions at Wikipedia, etc.), how old your website is, the quality of your site’s inbound links and a variety of search engine-based results (the number of pages indexed, internal link percent, PageRank, etc.).”

I thought I’d punch up http://www.californiawinehikes.com/ and see the results of the tool’s analysis of my website’s home page.

In effect, the result was: The current page strength of californiawinehikes.com. from seomoz.org.

The seomoz.org’s results page goes on to state:

“Although not a considerable presence, your site/page is making inroads online. Visitor traffic and search engine visibility is within your grasp.”

I think that’s pretty good, considering my site is only 8 months old. But I’m going to keep working it. As I continue to gain more subscribers to this blog and links from other related sites, I’ll revisit this analysis and report the findings.

If you have a website, you might also want to check out how much pull you’ve got out there on the Great Bucksaw that is the Internet.

~winehiker