Well folks, all good things must come to an end, right?
Nearly seven years ago to this day, I published my first post on News of St. John. At the time, I lived in Connecticut, had a full time job and recently completed a master’s program. When I mentioned the idea of buying a blog in the Caribbean, people told me I was crazy. And maybe I was – lol. But I didn’t care, and I did it anyway. 🙂
My trips to the island soon became more frequent. Every three months became every month, and before I knew it, I rented a small, one bedroom apartment in Cruz Bay. I bought a nice little island Jeep to go along with it.
I ran out of vacation time a few months later. My initial thought was, if I can’t visit St. John so I can write this fun little blog that really doesn’t make much money at all, I should probably quit my fancy corporate world job and move to the island permanently. Maybe it wasn’t the smartest decision to make. But you know what? That’s exactly what I did!
The first four years were so much fun. Perhaps they were too much fun. 😉 I spent my days writing about island happenings, and I spent far too many nights over at The Beach Bar where I often posted pictures of cocktails at sunset. I did it for all of you, of course, and for the sake of independent journalism!! Haha … Cheers! Well apparently I posted too many boozy photos for one frequent reader’s liking, and he subsequently dubbed me the “Booze of St. John” back in the summer of ’16. It made me laugh, especially considering the majority of the drinks were borrowed from other patrons. But nevertheless, I’ve been the proud owner of BoozeofStJohn.com ever since.
Turning lemons into lemonade, folks!
So as I mentioned, there was a lot of fun and games at the beginning. I spent so many days lounging at the beach, soaking up the sun, swimming around with the turtles. There were boat trips and passport stamps. St. Thomas staycations and quick little jaunts to Puerto Rico. A friend often told me back then that we were living the good ol’ days, and boy was she right.
Then September 6, 2017 came and went, and our world changed forever.
Prior to the hurricanes, readership wasn’t too shabby for this little Caribbean blog. We hit 1.2 million page views in 2016, and I was thrilled. On September 6, 2017 alone, we had more than 126,000 page views. We received more than one-tenth of the previous year’s traffic in just one day. I was stunned. A few days later, a Facebook post I wrote was seen more than two million times. All eyes were on me, and I knew it.
When you have a website like this, you sort of invite the world in to experience life along with you. That’s something that I’ve truly loved over the years. You were with me when I adopted Charlie, my ACC rescue dog, back in 2014. You were with me in 2015 when I grieved over the loss of Captain John Brandi, my self-adopted island dad. You were with me through the storms and when I announced my pregnancy shortly thereafter. And most importantly, you were there when I introduced Dalton to the world in 2018. And now, during this unprecedented time, you continue to be by my side, reading every word I write. The majority of us have never met, yet I feel like I am friends with each and every one of you.
But, on the flip side, when you have a website like this, you also open yourself up to public scrutiny. And let’s just say I’ve been scrutinized – lol.
Not everyone liked what I wrote following the hurricanes, and I quickly became an online target for some. I even received death threats. Why? Because I told the truth.
I had a stint as a crime reporter in my past life in Connecticut, and I received death threats back then too. Truthfully, I was pretty shocked to receive such violent threats as the writer of News of St. John. But did I lose sleep over it? Not a wink.
They say all publicity is good publicity, and I agree with that wholeheartedly. Every time News of St. John was slandered online, people viewed my website. And when they viewed my website, it increased the all-so-important page view number. That subsequently made my advertisers happy, which made me happy. So these people who sought to tarnish my name ultimately helped me transform this tiny little Caribbean blog into an actual business. I should probably send them all a fruit basket. 🙂
In 2017, NewsofStJohn.com had more than 2.7 million page views. In 2018 and 2019, we passed the two million mark yet again.
Back when I bought this blog in early 2013, I never, ever thought that this many people would read the site. I didn’t think anyone would care about what I had to say, nor did I expect anyone to rely so heavily on my words and advice when planning a trip to St. John. To say I am thankful and overwhelmed by your continued love and support is a gross understatement.
Together we’ve chatted about the beaches and bars, restaurants and regattas, openings, closings, events and more. And how can I forget our raffles… The raffles! Because of you, we donated more than half a million dollars to so many deserving charities! That’s so much money!! You have been with me every step of the way, and when I asked for support, you responded in such a big way. I truly cannot thank you all enough.
St. John was really starting to bounce back this season. We had strong seasons following the storms, but this past winter was different. The amount of people I saw milling about in Cruz Bay, dining at our restaurants, enjoying our beaches and trails, was, by far, greater than any other year in recent memory. Businesses were finally bouncing back following the dual 2017 storms. People seemed so happy again. And then the pandemic hit.
I was sitting at home in late March when I received an inquiry about St. Johnopoly. This casual conversation about the game’s next edition soon morphed into a serious discussion regarding a potential sale of St. Johnopoly and subsequently News of St. John.
This wasn’t the first time I was approached to sell News of St. John. But it was the first time I thought the timing may be right.
I’ve spent nearly every day since May 2013 working on News of St. John. Whether it’s posting stories, monitoring website comments and social media, or answering emails, I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every minute of it. But the thought of taking a break did intrigue me.
I’m not really good at taking time off. I even wrote a story from my hospital bed when Dalton was just a few hours old. I had every intention of taking a two-week break last May when I traveled to Italy to enjoy a vacation that was postponed from September 2017. But then a big story about the Cinnamon Bay campground broke. I immediately grabbed my laptop, so I could share it with all of you. What can I say, I simply love sharing the news with you!
And now here we are, joined together amid this pandemic. I, like many people I love, have been forced to take a break. I’ve continued writing the News of St. John, of course, but my island tours have been temporarily placed on hold. Like many people, I’ve had the ability to spend so much time with family. I’ve cherished all of these extra moments, especially those spent with Dalton.
Here’s a quick update on Dalton: He swam by himself for the first time ever this past Saturday at Maho. Ok, he had a life jacket on, but it’s a big deal for us! 🙂 Within 48 hours, I officially deemed him a fish. He’s walking and talking, and keeps his daddy and I on our toes. Dalton turns two on July 1.
So as I mentioned, I’ve received a handful of offers to sell News of St. John over the years. I politely declined them all, as I simply was not ready. But after spending these past two months with Dalton and experiencing moments I would have otherwise missed, I’ve decided the time is right.
That being said, I recently accepted an offer to sell News of St. John and St. Johnopoly.
The new owner is a St. John resident who is excited to launch a company that combines News of St. John with a local radio station and St. John.Deals, a new website that will offer discounts on accommodations, boat charters, restaurants and more. They will officially take over News of St. John and St. Johnopoly on June 1. I plan to contribute from time to time, so definitely keep an eye out for me. The new owners plan to keep the same format, and I hope you all continue to read. I know I will.
But this is in no way a goodbye! You didn’t think I’d leave you all, did you??!
Yes, my time is ending here at News of St. John, but it is not ending on the island. I will continue to offer my island tours, which is now called ExploreSTJ.com. You can follow me over on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ExploreSTJ. Please click that link and give the page a like! (I will be going from 54,000 likes to 300, so please go and give me some love!) You can also email me at my new email address – [email protected]
Or even better, book an island tour with me! I’d love to catch up with you all, share some island tidbits and perhaps even a little gossip, all while exploring this beautiful community with you! And be on the lookout for my new hiking tours that will begin this fall!
But before I end this today, I need to say thank you. Thank you for reading this site. Thank you for stepping up and supporting the island when we needed it most. Thank you for coming back after the hurricanes. Thank you to those of you who are planning on returning, yet again, once it’s deemed safe. Thank you to those of you who have entered our raffles. I still cannot believe that we raised more than half a million dollar over the years … That is simply astonishing. And inspiring. Thank you for caring about me as a person, and thank you for caring about my family. And lastly, thank you to all of the St. John businesses who supported this site over the years.
Because of you, I’ve been able to live my dream. I encourage you all to go out and live yours.