It seems crazy, but VodkaPundit is only two months away from turning 20.
What started as a one-man labor of love in January of 2002 is now a part of the Salem media empire.
It’s still a labor of love, though, for reasons I’ll get to in just a moment.
What drew me to blogging after 9/11 was the realization that bloggers — collectively and individually — could punch far above our weight. You didn’t need to go to the right schools or know the right people or even live in the right city.
Anybody with a computer and a dial-up connection could create a free account on Blogspot and start writing away.
The “flatness” of the internet meant that the sharpness of your thoughts and the quality of your writing could let you go toe-to-toe with the bigs at papers like the New York Times and the Washington Post.
Maybe not that often, mind you — a one-man operation has to enjoy a little luck, too, for one of his blog posts to get noticed on that level, by that many.
But collectively, the blogosphere quickly became a force the media had to reckon with, after at first dismissing us as cranks in our pajamas.
Remember, it was bloggers who caught out Dan Rather and CBS for the AWOL smear against President George W. Bush during the 2004 election. For good or ill, bloggers likely determined the course of a presidential election.
We hit the big time pretty quickly.
There has been one downside to all this remarkable progress.
When a hobby becomes a career, there’s something lost and something gained. The gains are obvious: money, security, and, thanks to Salem, a wider reach and more influence than many (most?) of us early bloggers ever thought possible.
The downside reminds me of when one of your favorite indy bands made it really big.
Back when VodkaPundit was a money-losing hobby, I got to write literally whatever I wanted. The results could be weird, charming, funky, informative, funny… sometimes all at once.
Readership was never Instapundit big (hardly!) but that freedom earned me what I say, with no undue modesty, was one of the best audiences on the internet.
Like the indie band that is still just playing local gigs for devoted audiences, without a care in the world about commercial appeal.
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But then, by hard work and happenstance, VodkaPundit hit it big, first as part of a privately held company, and now as a part of Salem. The focus shifted from being “weird, charming, funky, informative, funny,” to generating those album sales.
Er, ad revenues.
Some of you have been here, just like me, for almost 20 years. It’s been one helluva ride, one I’m not getting off until they pry my cold, dead hands off the safety bar.
But I have to tell you something: I am so in love with PJ Media’s VIP content that we’ve been doing now for exactly two years.
VIP allows me and all our other PJ writers to go back to our roots, like the indie-band-who-hit-the-big-time going back into the studio to record new material just for their original fans.
More than that, making certain topics just for our VIP supporters gives us the financial independence we need to avoid the social media censors at Facebook, Twitter, and Google.
When we first started reporting the news the Media-Democrat Complex didn’t want you to read, the social media giants throttled our ability to reach people so badly that I privately wondered if we’d survive.
Instead, we created a brand-new business model and tacked it on right alongside the old one: VIP and VIP Gold.
The VIP section allows us to stay in business yet still report on the most vital stories of the day — and allows your PJ writers to continue writing in the ways that drew us to blogging in the first place.
The VIP Gold section allows us to reach you in podcast, live chat, and video formats. For me — a guy who has been blogging since before Blogspot would even host still images! — the move to A/V has been thrilling for me and rewarding for our supporters.
As VIP turns two years old, we’re ready to take the next step towards the kind of growth that will both get us out from under Facebook’s thumb and let us pursue the kind of quality that I sure hope you’ve come to expect.
And I — we, all of us at PJ — want you to be a part of that — to part with a few hard-earned dollars each month in support of reporting and commentary that we try to make both honest and entertaining.
You can sign up to become a member here. Use the promo code 2022 for a 40% discount — the largest we’ve ever offered — this week only. I hope you’ll join us.
Join the conversation as a VIP Member