This is it. For real this time. I know I’ve written various “goodbye” posts over the years. (Looking back, I’m almost sorry I didn’t create a separate category for them.) But today, this one, at long last, is the one. I am officially retiring Back to the Fridge. But don’t worry! There’s good news at the end of this post.
But before we get that far, I wanted to engage in some serious navel-gazing just one last time, in the form of a Back to the Fridge retrospective. It’s long. And if you’re really just here for the punchline, then feel free to skip over all this and jump to the end. But me, I love history and it seems fitting at this juncture to take a long look back. So hop into the DeLorean, set the time circuits for early 2008, and let’s hit eighty-eight miles per hour.
The site’s history can be easily divided into ages. I count seven of them and they look like this:
The top chart shows the frequency of posts over the years (each blue vertical line is a post). Each background color corresponds to an age. The second chart shows a count of comments per post.
That is all. I like numbers and graphs and charts, so why not kick things off that way?
The Prehistoric Age
After I published Why Your Last Diet Failed You in October 2007, I immediately began looking for ways to promote it. One early fan of the book asked me, “Do you blog?” to which I replied, “What’s a blog?” A short time later, after I hired a publicist, she said, “Do you blog?” to which I replied, “Okay, I think I really need to look into this ‘blog’ thing.”
That’s when I decided to: 1) find a dictionary and look up the word, and 2) start my own.
The Dark Ages
The first version of the blog. Man, that was one ugly site. Go ahead, click on the thumbnail for a full-size image. (In fact, all the thumbnail-sized images in this post will link to their large-sized counterparts. So be sure to enjoy this walk through time in high def.)
At the time I thought it looked okay. I knew I could do better, but I also just wanted to get something out there. It’s hard to look back on it, though.
Before moving on, though, a confession. The astute reader has by now discovered an anomaly. Just above I said I started the blog sometime after the book’s launch yet the first blog posts go back to May 2007. What gives? Well, I’ll tell you. The first “year” of posts are fake.
Well, I mean, they’re real posts. I wrote them and everything. However, I spent the months of April and May 2008 writing a year’s worth of posts. When I “launched” the blog around May 30, 2008, I didn’t want it to be empty. Plus, I wanted to document the time leading up to the book publish as well as get some experience writing posts. Looking back, it was a stupid idea. But there you go.
The Golden Age
Ahhhhh . . . This was, without a doubt, the blog’s Golden Age. I spent a LOT of time over the summer of 2008 working on a new, unique, from-scratch, custom WordPress theme. This would be the first thing to set me apart from the crowd and help “build my brand” so to speak.
I posted once each weekday. Each weekday had a theme:
Monday: Return to Onederland. My personal weigh-in and weight loss talk.
Tuesday: You Know What Sounds Good Right Now? A post about food!
Wednesday: Leftovers. A day where I could post about anything.
Thursday: No Help Here. Semi-serious weight loss information and advice.
Friday: Pizza Night. Posts about restaurants and eating out.
And the posts were just half of it. I spent just as much, if not more, time visiting other bloggers’ sites. I’d leave comments, talk, engage, and again, just tried to keep building my brand. It was an exciting period, truth be told, and one I’m not likely ever to repeat.
Click here for a sample post. One of the many cool things about my custom theme: the header would change depending on the category of the currently-displayed post. I’m sure no one ever noticed, but I had fun coding it.
Lastly, here’s what readership looked like:
Though I had a couple large spikes, on average daily visits ran anywhere from 200 to 300 a day. I did my absolute best to keep that number going up, but I just couldn’t budge it.
I do like this next graph because it includes April 1, 2009. For whatever reason my April Fools Day-related post hit something on StumbleUpon, and I got over 6,300 visitors in one day, then over two thousand the next. It was pretty cool having a high traffic blog, even if it only lasted for a blip.
The Silver Age
To freshen things up a bit I created this particular aberration of a theme. The colors were horrid. The layout, very busy. The main reason for shaking things up was to make the site look more like a “real” blog. The site with the splash page confused people and I thought this would help. The five-days-a-week posting format didn’t change. It was just the layout.
This age came to a close on June 5, 2009 when I said “so long!” for the first time. I didn’t actually leave of course. I called it “summer break” and just posted a few things here and there.
After my summer break, I got back to my nice, white, fridge look, ditching that ugly orange thing. I retired my custom newsletter in favor of Feedburner support. Fixed the site’s search function and added the All Posts page.
Content-wise, I decided it was okay to just talk about anything and post more freely. The rigid schedule of The Golden Age was tough and more than anything I just wanted to enjoy blogging. My only real rule at this point is I would post on days beginning with a T.
This was a very memorable period of the blog. See, there was this one time where I . . . uh . . . um . . . well, there was also this other time where . . . hmmm . . . oh! And how could I forget that one post about the . . . uhhhh . . . well, something. But trust me, it was very memorable.
The Artistic Revolution
I’d been thinking about Shaking Things Up for a few months when a Big Life Event finally pushed me over. The shaking part? Making picture posts. The event? The oldest daughter heading off to college. While I provided photos and graphs in my posts, they were nonetheless very wordy. I was curious what it would be like to write posts heavily supported by artwork.
Hmmm, but what would it look like?
Kids drawings, of course. That’s exactly the kind of artwork that goes on a fridge. So I went offline with real life paper and real life colored pencils and started drawing. The resulting pictures are so childish you might be surprised to know how much time I spent studying kids artwork and refining my style. (I’m not joking.)
I then had to do some major tweaking to my custom theme to make the whole drawings-tacked-to-a-fridge thing work.
And then I actually had to write my first post.
I think start to finish the whole first post (drawing, scanning, storyline, and final assembly) took about twelve hours. Or more. Definitely more labor-intensive than the usual blog post. And, in my opinion, definitely worth it.
This period was brief. Like a long-distance runner putting on an exceptional burst of speed near the end of a race, the few pic-posts I did took it out of me and in early January 2012, I took another blogging break.
The Modern Age
A nasty bout of non-Hodgkin lymphoma cut short my blogging hiatus. Through the remainder of 2012, I wrote several cancer-related posts. But by the end of the year, I was all out of steam again. I didn’t actually say it this time, but Blog Retirement Number Three happened with my 2012 Year in Review post. I wasn’t in a very good place. There were only five posts in all of 2013. Strange to think back on a time where I wrote five posts a week.
I posted in bursts throughout 2014 and 2015, “quitting” again most recently on April 20, 2015. This retirement was highly similar to the one in 2012, in that I felt like I’d done everything I could with the blog and really just wanted to focus on my other creative endeavors.
Whelp, that didn’t go as planned. Five months later I resumed blogging and I’ve been posting once a week (each Friday) since then. In my own humble opinion, I think the content has been pretty good. I like the frequency. Overall, it’s actually been going pretty well.
So well, in fact, I don’t even feel like retiring today . . .
The Good News
. . . which is why I’m not. The only thing going away today is Back to the Fridge. What lives on is me: Charlie Hills. I started a new blog today. For the foreseeable future, I plan to continue posting each Friday. Content-wise, the posts will be more or less the same as they have been lately.
Which likely begs the question: why not just keep doing it here? Believe me, I’ve asked myself that a few times. But I weighed the pros and cons, and eventually a coin toss decided it.
Just kidding. I used a Magic Eight Ball instead.
It’s a primarily symbolic move. I find myself at another crossroads. And it’s one of those where I want to break some ties to the past and establish a path for the future. Outwardly, and publicly, I want to keep working on all the same things: writing, music, art. Inwardly, I need a fresh start. And I’d rather not carry around the baggage of the “weight loss blog” forever.
My secondary reason is: simplification. Back to the Fridge isn’t my only blog. I’ve had many over the years and a few are still semi-active even today. But not one of them really represents the Charlie Hills direction, so it made sense to create something brand new and focus all my efforts there.
I hope you’ll come along. I always love the beginning of new things.