It started with a hobby: hiking the enchanting hills of the San Francisco Bay Area and writing about it on a personal blog. Over the years, Two-Heel Drive evolved into an asset that sustained my standard of living as the newspaper industry faded. Among the skills I developed:
- Design: Personalized the appearance with CSS, Adobe Photoshop and WordPress themes.
- Optimization: Attracted audience and revenue via Google Adsense and WordPress SEO plugins.
- Freelance: Successfully pitched a twice-monthly hiking column in the San Jose Mercury News and received freelance offers from popular outdoors sites.
- Content: Developed a guide to Bay Area hiking, a collection of the best paper maps for Bay Area hikers, and my popular 10 Essentials for Happy Hiking.
When my newspaper job went away in the summer of 2009, I relaunched my life in the middle of North Carolina. Two-Heel Drive now chronicles some of the best hiking locales in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Triad region (Greensboro/Winston Salem/High Point).
The blog paired my interest in the stock market with my personal connections to Caterpillar Inc., a Dow 30 corporation based in my hometown.
I figured daily news of Cat’s financial fortunes could become must reading for the company’s workforce, suppliers and customers — a potential audience of over 100,000 people. Content targeting that audience could generate reliable revenue because financial-sector keywords are among the top performers on Google Adsense.
Just a few of the things I did:
- Reported a quarterly earnings announcement in real time.
- Reported the daily stock close with charts and commentary on news, price and volume.
- Attracted a content partnership offer with Seeking Alpha, a popular financial news and blogging site.
- Developed an expansive list of links, authorities and news sources in the construction equipment industry.
It was a fun experiment, but I had to shelve it because Two-Heel Drive generated more lucrative demands on my time.
- Banned for Life: Born in 1997 as a simple online list of cliches best banished from news reports, Banned for Life generated responses from around the English-speaking world and inbound links from a host of language- and journalism-related sites.
- Prints the Chaff: Blog for editors and journalists I wrote from September 2003 to May 2004. Retired it and found a new hobby: hiking.
- Newsies on the Web: First blog devoted to finding and reporting on journalists’ personal websites. 1997-99. Sample page from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.