WARNING! This will be a long rambling diatribe by the author about boring events that happened to him over the course of 2004. Call it a history of Autoblog so far. If you want facts and numbers check out the survey we posted yesterday.
In the spring of 2004 I answered an ad on Craig?s List looking for guys who want to write about cars. I was already writing a regular newspaper column here in Chicago and wanted to make more of a transition from entertainment and music writing to the auto industry. Why? Good question. Mainly because I love cars, I?m getting a bit older and late nights at concerts is getting tougher and there seems to be much less competition among auto writers versus music journalists.
I got a response fairly quickly from this guy named Jason Calacanis. During our first conversation I said ?sure I know what blogs are? but readily admit I had never checked out Engadget and had never read the name Calacanis anywhere. Later I would find out I was probably one of the few people ?in the know? who hadn?t.
In May fellow blogger Christopher Diken and I began work on Autoblog, writing posts for the site not viewable to the public. This is when we started to find our voice, learned how to post, discovered our common mistakes and compiled a hearty list of contacts, bookmarked enthusiast sites and prepped the site for launch.
During the first few months we were unsure of the impact of Autoblog. Once the comment sections went to requiring e-mail responses we got much less feedback from folks. Yet we watched our traffic numbers steadily rise. The first Autoblog Garage vehicles were posted. Basically I posted the notes about cars I was testing for my newspaper column. Eventually the newspaper thought car reviews weren?t important for their demographic (the hot 18-34 one that is probably the most interested in the car industry right now). But by this time Autoblog was more fun anyway.
In the early fall I noticed some odd things. A few industry folks were leaving comments. USA Today?s James R. Healey correctly defended himself on our site. And even more odd, while at a rally most of the industry folks I met already knew of Autoblog. Color me floored we?re making an impact. Then came the press. A segment on public radio, a big story from J.D. Power and a mention in Fortune just recently all inflated our egos.
Christopher had to leave Autoblog a few months back for a full time job that required a heck of a commute (ironic ain?t it) so the search was on for new bloggers. Dave Ko came on board to handle the tuner market and still writes the Tuner Tuesdays. Steven Diver is another blogger who has added a lot of motorsport knowledge and then there?s Walt. Walter Keegan has brought so much passion to the site you?d think he was an original Autoblogger. He?s also a workhorse and posts nearly as much as I do. The man owns a classic Avanti and knows a crapload more than I do about almost everything, but especially GM products. Autoblog would not be having the recent success without Walt. At some point during this whole mess I was given some ?editorial powers? on the site. While blogs don?t have true editors I?m the closest it comes.
I?ve also been writing more and more for other outlets and will see the first of a new syndicated column hit newspapers in January. It?s all on the aftermarket scene. As soon as I know which papers pick it up I?ll fill you guys in.
Another aspect of Autoblog that slowly developed was a terrific following. Our readers have to be some of the smartest, funniest and most mature (for the most part) people on the internet. Autoblog is lucky to have such high quality comments as we do. The site would not be as good without them.
And to make this post even more like a blog here?s some personal info on 2004. In July my girlfriend of five years and I got engaged and began planning a wedding for September 2005. I get to call her my fianc?e for the next nine months and since you only get to use that word for a short time I use it frequently. For example: My fianc?e and I picked up our new boxer puppy from a breeder in Indiana in the Toyota Prius I tested for the Garage.
2004 has been one of the most successful years in my life both personally and professionally and I can?t even guess what 2005 has in store. If you?re still reading at this point you truly have nothing to do on New Years Day or are bored with football already. Or if you?re like me you just needed your Autoblog fix. I admit I enjoy posting and reading the other bloggers posts as much as our readers do. Thanks for taking the time.
Now back to football.