2011 in Review: Launch, Growth, Lessons

by Mary Jo Manzanares on December 30, 2011

As 2011 wends to its inevitable close, we take this opportunity to look back on the year – our start, our path, our growth – in order to set goals and plan for 2012 and beyond.  The year has been full of challenges and growth, much like life, and we learned a lot.  Permit me, if you will, a little reflection and schmaltzy sappiness coming from a very grateful heart.

The Travelers Way soft launched in April, and after a month or so of getting writers hired and the site in place (albeit with a temporary look) we were ready to take on the world.  I learned important lessons during this time – being a publisher in addition to an Editor-in-Chief carries different responsibilities and pressure.  While I’d had plenty of experience as the latter, the business side of being a publisher drilled home that running a commercial online travel magazine meant that you can’t always have what you want.  It’s a good life lesson, too.

By mid to late summer, we were rolling along, getting attention from advertisers and sponsors.  We lost a few writers along the way, hired a few more, and settled into a steady hum of business.  By fall we were shaping up our editorial direction and focus, had launched our new look, and had a draft of our editorial calendar for 2012.  There was still plenty of tweaking to be done, change was our constant companion, but we were starting to get strong legs beneath us enabling us to look ahead.  We learned how important it is to have a plan, but just as important is the ability to remain flexible and open to change.  Sometimes we were better at it than others, but we always tried our best.  Accepting and adapting to change is another good life lesson.

As fall gave way to winter, the reality of the holiday season hit.  Readers and writers had calendars full of far more exciting things to do and advertising budgets were running low.  It was time to buckle down and come up with contingency plans to weather the usual up and down cycles that every business encounters.  I hired Mari, a very part time assistant, to help with some administrative things, which freed me up to work on other other projects.  We hired some more writers, lost a couple, but the staff was beginning to take shape.  There was plenty of aggressive goal setting going on, as well as an appreciation of how far we’d come in a short period to.  And, I was able to share some good news with our writers about the coming year.  Appreciation and planning are two good life lessons as well.

On this, our last publishing day of the year, my deepest thanks go out to the following:

  • To our readers – Thanks for accompanying us on our journey.  Any success we have is because of you!  We hope we can continue to provide you with travel information and inspiration in 2012.
  • To Jonah – Thanks for being an advisor, friend, and confidante.  I’m so glad that you and your family will soon be living here in Seattle.
  • To Juan – Thanks for your tech expertise and advice.  You got us up and running, and your passion for how technology and travel intersect is contagious.
  • To Andy – Thanks for being there. . . whether I’ve needed advice and help, wanted to bounce around ideas, or just needed to vent.  You’ve talked me in off the ledge many times, and I appreciate it more than I can ever say.  I’m glad you’re in Seattle!
  • To Deb, Rick, and the rest of the team at Blog World  – Thanks for believing in the value of travel, and laying the groundwork for the future.  I’m thankful for the trust you have in me to help shape it.  And on a personal note, It was great to reconnect with you all again.
  • To Chris and Margo – Thanks for being business and real life friends.  I love how we can chew on a topic, hash it around, and come out the other side with a strong answer and plan, and even stronger friendship.  Rare skills indeed, and I appreciate all the help and inspiration you’ve been to me over this year.  And yes, champagne will fix nearly everything!
  • To friends and loved ones – We’ve traveled together, planned together, and sometimes cried together.  Thanks for coming along on this roller coaster ride and for understanding when business needed to come first.
  • To advertisers, sponsors, and PR reps – Thanks for the confidence shown in our burgeoning publication.  We have great things lined up for 2012, and we hope you’ll want to continue to be part of it all.
  • And finally – last, but not least, as they say – to our staff of freelancers:  Abbie, Christina, Greg, Jenni, Katy, Pam, Rita and Tui, and to Lanee and Susan who will soon be joining us, a very BIG THANKS for helping to make The Travelers Way a reality.  Good things ahead in the coming year.

We’ll see you in 2012 with more travel information and inspiration.  Happy New Year!

| Mary Jo Manzanares is a founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine proving informational and inspirational travel recommendations for curious Baby Boomer travelers. She has been a speaker at various industry events and has a personal travel blog at Traveling with MJ. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Mary Jo's top travel destinations are Italy, Portugal, and the Caribbean.

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