In the Beginning - Kathleen Celmins
In the beginning

In the Beginning

Travel back in time with me to 2006.

It doesn’t sound like a long time ago, except when I tell you I’m talking about internet time. Facebook was in its infancy. Twitter was just getting started. Phones were starting to allow for text messages, but they didn’t make writing them easy.

In short, daily life was different enough from today that if you see a movie from 2006, you’ll laugh at the size of the phones/laptops/any other advanced technology.

My first blog was on Blogspot, and it was little more than a diary. In fact, I found it a few years ago, and spent a few hours reading everything before deleting it altogether.

I wasn’t focused on page views. Heck, I wasn’t even focused on telling a story through my blog posts. My friends each had a private blog on Blogspot too, and we exchanged “stories” about how we liked iced tea and seltzer.

Remember those survey things we used to share via email?

That’s what my original blog was.

I had a theme from TheCutestBlogontheBlock or something like that. It was pinstripes.

I called it “Deep Thoughts, by Kathleen” and it later morphed into “Musings von KOPrime” and it was pure drivel.

Some posts had 30 words. Some had 1000. Most posts didn’t have a point, but some had many points, helpfully listed bullet-point style.

I loved writing, and I loved reading what my friends were writing.

I never once thought I’d turn that into a career, but then again, I didn’t think there was money in telling my friends I ate gummy bears or walked three miles. Seriously, why did I think anyone cared?

I wasn’t even the best writer among my five friends who also had Blogspot blogs.

At some point, the blog tapered off, and I stopped writing.

But other people didn’t stop, and blogging became more and more popular. I read blogs religiously, but never connected the dots between my original blog and what I was reading.

Then, I got myself into debt.

Mountains of debt. I wrote a check off a credit card that gave me far too high of a spending limit and that check was turned into an investment that (surprise surprise) never amounted to anything.

Aside: My actions were stupid because the investment didn’t pay off. If for some reason the money I invested actually did help someone to get his intellectual property back, and if for some other reason (altruism, perhaps? We didn’t have anything in writing!) the person paid back my investment the 10X he said he would, I would be seen as brilliant. Hindsight, man.

Anyway, I ignored my debt as long as I could, and by 2009, I had finally landed a full-time job (no vacation, no benefits, but full-time hours and pay!) so I felt safe to start my spreadsheet.

The debt was so staggering (I wish I had a better record-keeping system, because it was more than $25,000 but I don’t know how much more) that I hardly knew where to start.

So I started reading personal finance blogs, which gave me great ideas to get started, then also started writing about how to make money from blogging, and those topics combined to give me the confidence I needed to register (which is now a travel site!).

At first, Frugal Portland wasn’t all that different from Musings von Koprime (and yes, in case you’re wondering, it’s impossible not to roll one’s eyes after writing those three words).

“Dear diary, today I have less debt than I did yesterday.”

“Dear diary, I didn’t go out for lunch today so I added $5 to my debt payoff.”

“Dear diary, I think I’m going to use the debt snowball method.”

And on and on.

I made friends with other people in my situation, and they were writing diary entries, too.

We’d send virtual cheers to each other on Twitter. We’d comment on each other’s blogs. More and more, I was starting to realize that I was not alone.

Then, I went to FinCon, the financial blogger’s conference, and everything changed.

My internet friends were real people (who were friendly and not at all “person from a Craigslist personal ad” sketchy). Some of them were making a lot of money doing what I was doing (albeit with a better storytelling style).

It was fun.

I look back on those days fondly, though I’m talking about less than four years ago.

When we were new, we were vulnerable.

We told stories.

Some were quite stupid, and some were raw.

We helped each other through breakups.

We helped each other make more money. “Hey, this advertiser paid me x dollars and the ad wasn’t half bad. You should email him!”

There was a sense of togetherness that came from not knowing what we were doing.

Now, hardly any of my friends are writing personal stories. Cait Flanders is the exception. Her writing is as personal and raw as it has always been, but her five years of consistent writing has sharpened her saw and made her a better writer.

I miss personal blogging.

I miss coming in and writing whatever I feel like. Even though I write every day, it’s not the same as it was.

So, I’m bringing it back. Embarrassingly, I’m going to do it here, so I won’t be able to hide. I’m not going to select a keyword, I’m not going to optimize for social, and the only things I’ll write are whatever I feel like writing on a particular day.

I thought about using Medium, and I still might, one day.

But today, it’ll live here.

If you’re reading this, I’m simultaneously grateful and apologetic.

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