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Tim Challies

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A Blog Is Born

Continued from yesterday and the day before.

And so it was that I found myself an entrepreneur—the owner of my own company. The story of this little company cannot be separated from the story of this blog. I’ve told the story of this blog’s early days, but will tell it again here.

In September of 2002 I decided, rather on the spur of the moment as I recall, to begin my own web site. I really knew very little about web sites but thought maintaining one might prove to be a fun distraction for me and one that would allow me to hone my design skills. My parents and four siblings had recently moved down to the Atlanta area and, with a one-year old son and with my wife pregnant again, I thought I would use the site as a photo gallery to post pictures of this growing family. Since this was going to be a site by family and for family I spent thirty five dollars to reserve the family name, choosing the domain challies.com. Using some borrowed web space, I pieced together a really bad little site. I uploaded a few photos and over the next few months updated the site every now and again, adding a new set of pictures or writing the occasional personal comment.

As the months passed I continued to update the site, but did so only every few weeks. It was really a sad little site in desperate need of attention. But I found that I did enjoy posting little updates on my family when I got around to doing so. In late 2003 I heard a new word in the media. This word, blog, sounded intriguing. I inadvertently stumbled across one of these blogs, one day, while doing some research and realized that it was really not much different from my site and from what I was already doing. The only real difference was that blogs offered the ability for people reading the site to interact with the content by posting their own comments. That seemed like a great idea, so I installed some blogging software and began calling my site a blog. When I posted an article my mother or my wife would post a little “Good job!” comment for me. But I still didn’t update it much.

October 31, 2003 was a pivotal day. I decided that day that I should get serious about this blogging thing and committed to either blogging every day for a year or giving up and getting rid of the site altogether. So I wrote an article on November 1, November 2, November 3…and before I knew it, it was a year later and I was still going. I recommitted in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008. That was over five years ago and I’m still blogging every day and look forward to doing so almost every day.

It was only because I was self-employed that I was able to dedicate the time to writing. Had I been working a nine to five kind of job, there is no way that I would have been able to make time for a job, a life and a blog. But being self-employed afforded me the opportunity to carve a little bit of time out of my day for writing. Had I not been laid off in 2002, this blog would never have taken off.

It came as a great shock to me that, when I began to write, people began to read the site—people I didn’t know and people from all around the world. Before I knew it I had twenty people reading my site every day. Then it was fifty and a hundred and a thousand and two thousand and five thousand and ten thousand…and then it occurred one day that my site had become one of the most widely-visited Christian blogs. I realized that I had been plunked into the center of something that was getting really big really quickly. I was a strange and almost terrifying thought to me.

When I began my web site I had no plan for it but to post pictures of my children. When I began writing I had no plan but to give my family and immediate friends the occasional article to read. Yet it has grown into something so much more. A quick search of the Net will turn up all kinds of articles telling you how you can quickly create a blog that is widely-read and influential. Apparently there are certain shortcuts a blogger can take. The thing is, I didn’t know about any of this when I began and have done very little to deliberately promote the site. I just kept writing. That’s all I’ve done and all I’ve wanted to do. And I guess that’s what I’m going to keep doing until it becomes clear that the time has come to do something else.