This is the first in a series of articles which will pertain to keeping in touch as a full time Rver by having a personal website. Prior articles that have appeared on our homepage, including our volunteer experiences at the Umpqua River Lighthouse, can be found in the article archive.
One endeavor which everyone who lives their life on the road undertakes, is, what is the best way of keeping in touch with friends and loved ones. Towards this end RVer's utilize many methods, ranging from old fashioned letter writing, cell phones, email and websites, all the while, trying to find what works best for them. While the majority, no doubt, just pick up the phone or send an email, a growing number have started a personal website. However, keeping a website up to date, let alone understanding how to operate it can be a daunting obstacle to many would be webmasters. We would hate to estimate the untold hours we have spent on our website through it's various incarnations from its inception three years ago to what it is today. But it was by choice that we did this and, should the time come when we wanted or needed to drastically cut back on the time spent on the website, it could be easily accomplished with a few small changes. The under lying goal of these articles will be to try to give a few pointers, if it were, on the leap to having a website and writing a journal.
When it comes to the content of the website, more than anything else your site should have personality, that is, it should sound like you and act like you. Ever try to change a personal behavior? It takes a lot of hard work, rigorously pursued over a lengthy period of time. Thus, why try to write about what you are not, to be something you are not? Remember President Bush's complaint in the 1992 campaign, how he had so much trouble with 'that vision thing'? Well, you have a vision or you wouldn't be a fulltimer or wanna be fulltime Rver, just express it. Many RVer's are familiar with George Lehrer's website The Adventures of Ms Tioga and George , a site which played a major part in Linda and I being where we are today. Once you have spent some time at this site, you will know George. His enthusiasm and love of life comes through loud and clear. George is a cancer survivor and he lives everyday as if it were the best day of his life. His journal truly expresses just who he is and is the one thing that all good sites have in common.
There are several familiar adages that pertain just as much to websites as they do to life in general. One is: �you can please all of the people some of the time, some of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time.� Another is: �it is not possible to appeal to everyone without appealing to no one.� Or do you remember this one: �It's all right now, learned my lesson well, you see, ya can't please everyone, so you got to please yourself.�
I find that last one especially poignant for a number of reason, not the least of which was the context in which it was written. Taken from a popular song of a few years ago, the first stanza goes:
The chorus following that verse goes:
Ricky Nelson packed so much meaning into those few words, that it is virtually impossible to comprehend everything he was trying to say. Trying to dissect those words and apply them to having a website or writing a journal, could he be saying most people start thinking their website will be a way to keep in touch with those they left behind, but what they eventually discover is that the life they live and the one they left behind are not one in the same. You, and those you left behind, share the same past, but your present is different and it is that to which you will speak when you write something on your full time RV website.
So, if you have the desire to have a website and think you have the 'vision thing', where do you start? By reading. Linda and I are constantly amazed at the sheer number of people who visit our website, but likewise, we also visit many websites ourselves. You wouldn't be reading this now if you didn't visit personal websites, and that is just what you should do a great deal of in order to determine what works best. Visit lots of websites. As you visit those different websites keep in mind what you like about the sites you frequent, those sites which keep drawing you back, and decide if that is something that you would like in your site. At the same time, pay attention to the sites you didn't care for. What was it that you disliked about those that didn't appeal to you, or even better, the ones you frequent in spite of something you don't like about them. Were they friendly, professional, fun, unique or unusual? What was it that really appealed to you: the thoughts, the tone, the words, the images, the concept, the layout, the speed it loaded, the overall look, just what was it that drew you in? These are all things to focus on as you consider starting your own website.
What each of us puts in "our site" is entirely up to of us, and us alone, which can run the gamut of all aspects of the RV lifestyle. This includes journals, life stories, travelogues, resources and information on various RV related topics, pictures and information about family and friends, and of course, rants and other weird things. There is absolutely no limit to what might be on your site and the variety found on the websites out there on the world wide web reflects not only what it means to be an RVer, but also what it means to be a human being.
RV websites seem to fall under one of three general types: 1. the blog, 2. the informational website and 3. the combination blog and informational website. If you just want to let people know about your travels then a simple blog may serve your needs. If you want to supplement your income by generating advertising income, or just want to tell others about what you have learned about the RV lifestyle, the informational website may be your choice. Whatever style you choose, it should be something you want to do, otherwise you will find yourself looking at it as something you need to do, rather than something you like to do. In short order it becomes work and then it won't be long until you will be referring to it in the past tense. The web is littered with the good intentions of RVers. As an example, here are several types of websites that fall under the different categories we discussed.
Filling a need: Hitchitch
Two ways to provide information:
The need to stay current:
Just a blog:
A study in contrasts:
Once you decide which type of website you would like to have you need to determine how you will get it up onto the web. Will you use a commercial blog host or will you design and create your own site. The rise in popularity of the commercial blog hosts has made the process infinitely easier for most people. This website does not use a blog template, but, then again, it is not something that most people would undertake. In the next article in this series we will talk about the different methods of creating and hosting a website. In the meantime, whenever you visit a site, besides throughly enjoying yourself, cast a critical eye and note its content and design. Then ask yourself, what appeals to you, does it seem to mirror your vision, does it reflect your point of view. As you surf, you will start to get a feel for what is 'just right' for you.