People sometimes ask me why I started blogging. There's a variety of reasons, but in the end it largely comes down to one person. A person who is, really, long overdue a big thank you. When I first started blogging at the now defunct blogger-hosted Coffee and PC in the late summer of 2003, it was largely down to my friend Jasmine.
Jasmine, or missiedith as she's known on her online community and blog, had been blogging for a while. She was definitely an early adopter.
I can't even remember why we got talking about blogging, or why she thought I'd be into blogging. It wasn't the kind of thing I'd have asked about or even had much clue about. Maybe her girlfriend mentioned it once. I'm not sure.
I do remember she kept bugging me to start a blog though. She employed a gentle nagging by frequently asking me if I'd started up a blog, or that I was the kind of person who would enjoy blogging.
She was right.
It took a bit of gentle nagging to get me to start blogging, but I spent plenty of time browsing her well-designed blog and the blogs on her blogroll. And other blogs on those blogrolls. And so on. And I was hooked.
So, one quiet and slightly dull day in August, I signed up to blogger and created My First Blog. Otherwise known as Coffee and PC, and complete with a pretentious image of Jean-Paul Belmondo in A Bout de Souffle as my profile picture.
Jasmine was really the cause of that and, when after a couple of months I seemed to have exhausted everything I wanted to say, she simply shrugged and said: "Everybody gets that. You'll find something to write about soon." Or words to that effect.
Because she'd been blogging for a while, and had picked up a fair bit of Google juice, when she linked to me, my traffic, comments and Google ranking went up. And so did my confidence as a blogger.
It's fair to say my style, and topics, have changed since the first few months. Back then it was a bit more ranty, with lots of swearing and focused mainly on either me or politics. I'm quite glad I don't write so much about me or politics these days.
Blogging, I think, would have been something I'd have eventually fallen into, but probably much later. But my life may have taken a slightly different route.
Ok, that's perhaps a bit dramatic. But blogging opened up my eyes to the possibilities of journalism outside of traditional media. I started reading some brilliant writers who I'd have never have found.
Insofar as it's possible to 'get' what blogging is about, I got a better idea of it, and started thinking how it could be used for journalism and PR. I kept close tabs on a lot of sites and ideas that now form the bedrock of social media thinking - and again was aware of how that could be used for journalism and PR.
And I've used blogging for journalism and PR. I've generated off-diary stories solely through the blogging community. I've worked on projects that have significantly boosted web traffic for assorted newsrooms because I was confident in how to work online and with bloggers and forums.
My blog wasn't directly responsible for landing me my current job. But it helped, I think. And, more than that, I've embraced blogging and social media to a degree that it's become much more of my job that I originally thought it would.
It's driven me to write about a subject I love - football - and get paid work off the back of it.
Plus, I've met some fantastic people - some of whom are now very good friends - through blogging.
As media enters into an uncertain, digital age, I feel excited and undaunted by the online challenges that my industry faces. Whether I'm working in PR or journalism, I at least feel I have some grasp on the media and the web and can handle the transition, whatever and whenever that may be.
Granted, I've made a lot of decisions along the way that you'd be hard-pushed to trace back to Jasmine. But in the back of my mind, I know that a lot of my current work and interests owe one hell of a lot to her gentle nagging and belief that I'd enjoy blogging.
Sadly, I've completely lost touch with her. After I graduated, I slipped out of touch with several friends and she was one of them. I have no idea what she's up to now, and until recently I assumed she'd packed up her blog completely.
And the funny thing is, I didn't even know her that well before she started nagging me to blog. But I'm sure glad she did.
So this is just a small thank you. It's the least I can do.
Well, that and return your Aladdin video I borrowed once and never gave back. Sorry about that.