a social media talent marketplace
This question is mostly geared towards the lifers, or people who started pre-2010 but is obviously open to everyone. I'm very curious how people like William Dobbs and Jim Durbin began when social media was an even more nebulous concept to society than it is now.
I personally started with a shared journal on the site LiveJournal. I had a core group of "friends" comprised of about 4 or 5 other models traveling all over the globe who also had LJs. We would share stories or just express ourselves and be able to comment on each other's posts. That's where I picked up most of my HTML coding skills, blogging voice and a sense of online community.
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That's a great question Marcia, and welcome to the site.
I was on the BBS's in the 1980's, then the university networks in the 90's, than the Usenet forums, writing about politics and social life and philosophy. That's where I learned the basic rules of online writing and interaction, and they haven't changed much since then.
In 2000, I started reading Drudge Report and Best of the Web, and in 2001, the blogs around Instapundit.com. I started my own in 2002 on the Blogger platform, writing about my social life and politics, before starting the StlRecruiting blog in 2004.
For a sense of how blogging got started, check out this post from 2006 on why blogs got popular.
Like you, my first blogs were about community, and as they grew, and as my influence few (links, comments, traffic), patterns began to appear that tracked the general rise of social media (we called it new media). As I wrote, my business flourished. Managers and candidates read what I wrote, making it easier for me to excel at my job. National attention, followed by press attention, got me thinking about the role of blogs in SEO, advertising, and marketing.
My wife is a web designer, and had just started a firm, and in 2006, I realized I could bring the social media marketing to power traffic to the sites she built. I started out with copywriting sites and teaching blogging, and then quickly adapted to the growth of YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. My background as a recruiter and a lot of friends online helped me grow and learn. Well, that and 15 hours a day online.
My success was built on my recruiting, sales and marketing background. Social media started as a hobby, and I quickly realized it wouldn't pay the bills. Instead, I used social media as a tool to help clients with their sales, recruiting, and marketing problems. That focus on integration was much different than most consultants, who were preaching engagement, but lacked business experience.