Today is South Florida Food and Wine’s 3rd Anniversary. It has been a long and winding road of discovery and expression since that landmark August day back in 2009. I’ve learned a lot, good, bad and otherwise. It’s not always about eating and drinking and weekend getaways; while it looks like that from the outside, there are the inner workings, the things that make all that eating, drinking and weekend getaways look glamorous, exciting and fun. I know things that are mentally painful and things that make my brain ache like SQL, WCS, SEO, NUI, SLA and many other multi-letter compilations that don’t spell words. I have learned that I really don’t want to know about these non-words, I just want it to work and when it doesn’t I want someone professional and capable to take care of it. The growing pains of managing your own site.
On the heels of today’s momentous occasion SFFW experienced some “down time” this week as a result of changing servers. I don’t believe there has been one 3-letter-non-word that caused me as much stress and as this project did. For me to go offline was the equivalent of death; one I did not see coming and most certainly was not prepared for. This imminent migration came about due to the very steady increase of visitors to my site over the past six months. Which is all things wonderful, exciting and survival but certainly not without having learned another lesson, it is imperative to have the right team in place, and no matter how many bells & whistles and how beautiful your site may look on the front end, your dashboard and back end needs to be be 10 steps ahead to keep up with all the admirers. I learned I really don’t love the back end functionality, and have a world of respect for those who do and excel at what they do.
One thing that has not changed over the past three years is the popularity of my lists. Not to be confused with The Chowfather’s Lists; just simple informational lists. As much effort as it takes to write a post and one that you want the whole world to read, it’s those crazy lists that gets me server-stopping traffic. People want to know where, when and how much. Break down the information to the lowest common denominator and give readers what they want. I write like I talk, in story form and at times, as any writer/blogger will tell you it can be a painstaking process. These lists of mine are no exception, while gushing over some fabulous dinner will take time and thought, putting lists together accurately is equally as time consuming and at times, a royal carpal tunnel pain. Fact checking is important to the credibility of any list and in the food and beverage world people, menus, product and restaurants change with the wind, it’s tough at times to keep up with these lists but I’ve managed to do a pretty decent job, I actually use my lists all the time, especially for Happy Hour and breakfast. OK so the lists? My compilation lists, where to go for Breakfast and Brunch from Palm Beach to South Beach, Waterfront Restaurants in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, Happy Hours from Palm Beach to South Beach.
Change is inevitable and it’s an ongoing process here at South Florida Food and Wine, as is our growth. I adapt daily, some days more easily than others, but nonetheless, I adapt. I’m constantly looking to introduce new topics and new funnels of information. Sharing, I have learned is essential in this online world. Some people you just like, they have a great online persona and you want to retweet, repost, and reblog their work. Nothing wrong with a little sharing. From sharing, much professional collaboration has come into my life. I learned if you throw someone a bone, very rarely will that hand that catches the bone slap you. Case in point, the biggest sharer I know, South Florida Daily Blog, the resource aggregator of news and blogs in South Florida. I have met many people and made some wonderful new friendships. When I started “blogger in the spotlight” back in 2010 I asked this question every week to every blogger: “What is the greatest opportunity that has come from blogging?” and the common answer across the board was “meeting other people with a like minded passion.” There you have it, a solid blogging community has the power to unite, divide and conquer.
So as I move through year three with all this learned knowledge and growth on the horizon there is no doubt that I will always raise glass or two to those who have inspired me, motivated me, and encouraged me along the way. I’ll leave you with a quote from the acknowledgement section of my book, Food Lovers’ Guide to Miami & Fort Lauderdale: “To the fans, followers, and readers of South Florida Food and Wine, thank you for reading, emailing, commenting and staying around longer than a happy hour. I am successful because of you. To the South Florida food community, fellow food and beverage bloggers, chefs, restaurateurs, and staff, I am a great enthusiast of food, drink, and the atmosphere in which it is served; throughout this book I hope you see how much I truly love being a part of it all in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.”