In the 1990’s, the wild world wide web was the stomping ground for anyone who fell in love with the possibilities the Internet provided. The whole world was just a modem screech away.
I was one of those crazy people who wanted to learn everything possible about the world and its people. To get on the Internet meant a long distance phone call to a town hooked into AOL. Every minute I spent learning how to make web pages in those days racked up my phone bill, but I was in love with the gray lifeless backgrounds, tables with cell padding, AOL chat rooms and the email discussion lists I joined, and soon, moderated. To learn everything about the world and its people meant figuring how to communicate with a keyboard.
My 286 PC grew to 386 and then 486 RAM. I had stacks of floppy disks, with clipart and documents. The computer was installed in the kitchen near the telephone line. Still using WordPerfect, I earned a tiny income typing for people and saving their documents on small disks. I made my first websites in 1995, and got my first job as a webmaster in 1996.
I was also a newly divorced mother of 3 and 7 year old children, who had not worked in 3 years. The divorce was mediated. We wrote our own divorce agreement and I typed it up for the lawyer who represented both of us. I declined alimony and child support, moved into a small condo near my ex-husband, and we co-parented our kids so well that most people had no idea were not married.
Determined. Stubborn. Scared sometimes. Often broke. I couldn’t afford beds for the kids. I went without stuff. It was a time where few people understand why I insisted on being independent. I kept my personal troubles as private as I could. Meanwhile, I worked full-time to pay for daycare, and when the kids were in bed, I freelanced in SEO and taught myself how to make better websites.
It was in those dark days of struggle that I launched the Cre8pc Website Promotion Club to teach SEO online and use my skills as an online community moderator. I co-moderated another club for small businesses too. It was 1998. It would be 2 more years before I got my dream job as a User Interface Engineer with a salary that let me move forward and provide better for myself and kids. I still freelanced in SEO and had some famous clients. The Cre8pc club became the Cre8asite Group in Yahoo and by then Bill Slawski was a moderator there.
By the year 2002, I was cross trained in software QA testing and human factors, freelancing in SEO, and had attracted friends like Ammon Johns and Jill Whalen who, along with Bill, helped me move the Cre8asite Group to a new server, with genuine online community software. In August 2002, Cre8asiteforums was launched with its core group of members like Adrian Lee and soon, Diane Vigil, Peter DaVanzo, Sophie Wegat, Ruud Heim, and Dave Childs. It was the first online marketing community to discuss and teach website usability and accessibility. Jill Whalen enjoyed the experience so much she decided to start her own forums under her own brand. For years, HighRankings Forums and Cre8asiteforums shared moderators, members and friendship.
The year 2002 was also when I was laid-off from my dream job and was picked up as a sub-contractor by AT&T Worldnet within 6 hours of leaving the building, thanks to two of my mentors from the 1990’s who watched me grow and wanted to not only match my previous salary, but increase it. I have been a consultant ever since.
Cre8asiteforums was acquired by Internet Marketing Ninjas in the fall of 2012. It joined the ranks of WebmasterWorld and SEOchat as a desired online community worthy of investment. I was retained to continue as Administrator for Cre8asiteforums. The community boasts members, moderators and administrators who are now famous in their industries. We gave up Pierre Far and John Mu to Google. Rand Fishkin, Ammon Johns, Chris Winfield, Donna Fontenot, Barry Schwartz and Miriam Ellis, to name a few, run their own companies. Joe Dolson is my long-time mentor on accessibility and today devotes time to improving WordPress software and application development. Some folks, like Barry Welford, Ron Carnell, Tamsin Stone, Stock Truslow and Elizabeth Able, have been steadfast supporters long past their years as moderators. They still stop by and contribute, along with many others who have never left and continue to provide assistance to members who need it.
Today, Cre8asiteforums is a community that manages itself, with some input from myself and my mysterious friend, “iamlost”. I refer to the community members as “professors” and “brainaics”. They are inquisitive, curious, love to test theories and debunk myths. We have a private area for long-timers called LABS, the brainchild of a member, and the Rookie Room, at the suggestion of another member.
If there is a lesson to be learned here, it is that anything is possible if you want it badly enough. I wanted to meet people and learn everything I could about website design and online marketing. After 17 years, that desire has never changed.
Take a bow Cre8asiteforums Community. Congratulations and thank you.