I’ve been in the blogging game since 2007 and with the end of the first full decade in the internet era, you’re bound to see lists compiling the best and the worst.

Since I like to join the party in my own way, I decided to revisit the stories that defined my journey from blogger→EIC→broadcaster and now, business owner.

In this special one-off episode, I’m going to list the central themes I’ve learned–sometimes the hard way– in hopes it can serve as a compass to my fellow content creators and entrepreneurs.

Lesson #1: Be Vulnerable

Some of my best work was done through personal, work, and sports heartbreak. Sometimes I think I shared a little too much but looking back over all of it, I’m really proud of this work.

Articles mentioned:

AFC Championship Game:

Interviewing Jaguars LB Telvin Smith live on location.

 

Lesson #2: Try New Things That Scare You

I used to conduct all of my interviews via email because I was a little bit of a chicken shit. Nowadays, I won’t conduct an interview unless it’s via phone or in-person. Check out the evolution of my interview styles with some of my favorites over the years.

After climbing ‘The Watchman’s Trail’ at Zion National Park

Women Working in Sports

Athletes

Everyone Else

Interviewing Jaguars Kicker Josh Lambo

 

Lesson #3: Fall in Love With Telling Stories

Telling stories that interest you can almost be tougher than telling stories that keep the lights on.

Interviewing the captain of the Becky Jo Shrimp Boat outside of Safe Harbor Seafood

At Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival staying curious and spoiled.

Lesson #4: Don’t just have ideas. Execute and Distribute.

I’m incredibly guilty of having ideas that I just run with without thinking them through. Before you know it, I’m elbow-deep in a project that will never work–or worse–I spent so long creating the project that I didn’t leave any energy or enthusiasm to actually sell the damn thing. I didn’t realize this until mid-2019 and have already implemented strategies to help channel that excitement in the future.

Speaking at Freightwaves to promote the Digital Dispatch brand to more than 1100 industry leaders.

 

 

Interviewing (and teaching!) kids with 5000 Role Models

 

Honorable Mentions

You know when you start digging through old photos and you find some really good ones? And then you start thinking, “I wonder if I can find that ONE photo” before you ransack the house looking for it. That was me with these older articles. So I figured let’s compile a list of the articles I loooooooved to create but didn’t make the show.

 

  • Expedition Jax Hopes to Tag Great White Sharks off Jacksonville’s Coast: On my first day working for Void Magazine, I felt so much pressure along with extreme excitement. My first assignment was to cover an oceanic research company dubbed OSEARCH who were working off Jacksonville’s coast. I think I spent the entire day working on an article that should have taken me a couple of hours, tops. But I still love reading it because it reminds me of the variety of content I was able to cover for Void from the very first day I started with them.

 

  • Is a Magician Considered an Artist? During my first few months as EIC at Void, I wanted to push the limits on perceptions. We had a resident artist on staff (s/o Kingsley Spencer) who was so patient with my lack of artistic depth that during our annual Art Issue brainstorming meeting, I wanted to ask the “What is art” concept as the central theme of the issue. Kingsley debated the choice at first but I feel like this story, along with others like tattoo artists and architects, was the lone instance where I maaaay have taught him a little something new in the perception of the art world.

 

  • Looking Forward: Why Jacksonville needs to Invest in a publically owned ISP: Written way back in 2014, I’m sad to say absolutely nothing has come from this effort. It’s a shame because when I visit other cities, I realize how far Jacksonville still has to go in so many ways. And for a city that is only one of 32 with an NFL team, it’s frankly a travesty that our local government operates as if we’re in the 1950s. Looking directly and intently at you, Lenny Curry.

 

  • The Art of 8 Limbs: Bringing traditional Muay Thai teachings to North Florida– even if Jacksonville’s local government is operating in a vacuum, there are other bright spots in the city such as this story–which was a game-changer for me to research. As a football fan who’s used to the American philosophy of “win at all costs” mentality, it was damn near therapeutic to discover the teachings Giles Willey, owner of Jax Muay Thai, has brought to the area. The central theme? It’s better to lose respectfully than to win with ego.

 

  • Local Comic Book Podcast is Well Worth a Listen: You ever read your old work and cringe? That’s what I did with this article. Not only is the title trash but the body could use A LOT of work. But I still love this article because back in December of 2013 was the first time my (now) boyfriend and I met. He’s the host of The Shortbox Podcast and I remember getting email after email of this guy wanting someone from Void Magazine to come on his show. Podcasts were VERY new back then so I’m glad I eventually caved and wound up meeting who would eventually become the love of my life.

 

  • GuysGirl Fantasy Football League– in what was once a novel idea, the GuysGirl fantasy football league has been going strong for 10+ years. The all-girls league was started around the same time I started taking the blog seriously. Even though I kinda hate the in-season maintenance of playing fantasy football, draft day is still one of my favorite days of the year.

 

  • Shooting an NFL Commercial with Jaguars Owner Shad Khan– While the on the field success of newish team owner Shad Khan hasn’t been the best, there’s no denying he’s a delight to actually speak with. The self-made billionaire has genuinely cared enough to ask in a few different meetings how I’m doing, how my business is doing, etc…And he remembers everything. Seems fitting that he’s a little too loyal to coaches and employees at times when fans think he should be the opposite. But he’s the team boss and all fans can do is voice our frustration. Until then, I’m going to enjoy my incredible day with my bff shooting an NFL commercial where Shad is the star.

 

  • Earning my Ears-My First Disney Press Passes: Anyone who knows me is aware of how much of a Disney fan I am. I attempted to work there during my traveling hockey days (see above WAGs story link for reference) but it wasn’t until I was settled into the GuysGirl side hustle that I applied and eventually earned my first press passes to the happiest place on earth. Since then, I’ve ponied up the cash for an annual pass–making what was once a dream of covering the park for “work” a reality.

 

  • LPGA’s ‘Know Before You Go” video series: You gotta work in this sports blogging industry a while before the big leagues start to notice. And that “pinch yourself” moment came for me when the LPGA reached out with interest in hosting a golf series for newbies to the game. My grandpa would be so proud [heart emoji]

 

  • Watch these kids answer “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Talk about a pinch-yourself day. Two years in a row I was invited to bring a table and talk to some great kids about working in sports. Only instead of a traditional table, I wanted to flip the script and ask these kids the infamous question of careers when you’re grown. Believe me when I say each and every kid gave an answer that made your heart skip a beat.

 

A sincere thank you to a few people that came along the GuysGirl journey and helped tremendously with coverage:

  • Lauren Rogers–my first right-hand woman who helped not only with blogging but with some of our first clients at Brumleve Brands. She had faith in my little business that could
  • Ryan Day– for helping to take some of the blog management off my plate. In our hay day, we had close to two dozen writers and he helped manage them all plus the social media for all GuysGirl channels–a void that hasn’t been filled since.
  • Adam Stevinson— for providing top-notch gaming articles, baseball and college football coverage that STILL rank well in the SEO search engine land.
  • Meg Smitherman— hands down one of the best writers I’ve ever worked with. Her Oilers story is still one of my favorites out of the entire site of more than 3,000 articles.
  • And last but not least, Rob Lazlowho’s passing three years ago changed the trajectory of the entire brand. His writing was so well done and in his prime, he was covering at least 4 stories every week for zero pay. Sometimes I had trouble editing them all to get them published in time! These were the early days of blogging and I had no idea how to monetize back then (just create content and the money will come, they said). But man, I wish he could see the company now and I could finally give him those paid opportunities that only came after his death. RIP Rob–glad the Eagles finally won you a Super Bowl.

 

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