The Humble Beginnings of The Weekly Wanderer

From newsletter to website to blog: the humble beginnings of The Weekly Wanderer–two years later.

A historical perspective about The Weekly Wanderer.

BY PHILL FELTHAM, Publisher

Photo credit: Kristy Druce
Photo credit: Kristy Druce

If I hadn’t left Canada–my home and my career–there wouldn’t be a Weekly Wanderer. Let me explain. Like so many before me, I had decided to live in another country–Taiwan–for a year. It wasn’t easy to do, but it was a bucket list item that I had to check off.

In Taiwan, a number of cram schools hired me to teach English to adults and children. Overall, I found teaching students of all ages an educational and rewarding experience. However, I couldn’t fully embrace my life as an English teacher, because my true vocation was journalism.

On multiple occasions, I tried to establish a full-time career as a journalist in Taiwan. I applied to many local publications: the Taipei Times, the China Post, and other newspapers and magazines. However, my lack of fluent Chinese didn’t get me very far.

My failure to find full-time employment led to complete and utter frustration. I missed writing and editing; this was my vocation, and this is what I was trained to do.

I had heard of travelers writing journals to family back at home about their overseas experiences. My family also encouraged me to write lengthy emails to them as well as a way of keeping in touch.

Eventually, I thought, “why not start a newsletter?” Years ago, I had self-published a wrestling newsletter, which I distributed via email to more than 3,000 readers. Furthermore, I had heard that travelers were using this new journalling platform known as blogs to share their travel experiences with friends and family. I never really knew too much about blogs, so I decided to start a weekly newsletter, which I would also distribute via email.

I was able to collect four journals for my first issue. The goal would be to send my newsletter to a mailing list, consisting of friends and family members. I called the newsletter, “BLOG IT!,” a name that had nothing to do with blogging. I changed the name three weeks later, however, to The Weekly Wanderer.

There were many reasons why I started the Wanderer. First, I wanted to share my experiences with family; second, I wanted to further develop my writing and editing skills; and third, I desperately wanted to write, my favorite hobby.

A few weeks later, I moved the Weekly Wanderer to the now defunct GeoCities. At that point, I decided to stay another year in Taiwan for more travel. After a brief trip back to Canada, I registered the domain, “theweeklywanderer.com.” A few issues later, I finally embraced the blogging trend and moved The Weekly Wanderer to Blogger (blogger.com). By this time, I had also collected a number writers who were more than willing to write on a regular basis. A few months later, I moved “The Weekly Wanderer” to WordPress, a more popular blogging platform.

Once I returned to Canada in late 2006, I decided to continually publish The Weekly Wanderer. By this time, I embraced social media; I started a Facebook group as a way for to build a community for The Weekly Wanderer–in total, this group now has 150 members. It’s been two years and ninety issues later. Over 50 people have written for the Wanderer, and more than 100 people come to read The Weekly Wanderer on a weekly basis. Good times still ahead. Thanks for reading. iT!

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