Hi Craig, itís a great pleasure to speak with you. When we heard about your story and your site we were anxious to learn more about you and your ambitious plans. Would you mind telling us a little about yourself, what your background is and what other interests you may have in addition to your website?
Sure. I am a 51 year old male and survivor of a traumatic brain injury. My traumatic brain injury occurred when I was 10 years of age in 1967. Although I was not expected to live the night of the accident due to my injuries I have since gone on to achieve well beyond all reasonable expectations. As a result of my experiences I have developed a passion to encourage, motivate and empower my readers to live life on life's terms and to pursue their dreams.
I have an undergraduate degree in Theology from Oral Robert's University and a master's degree from the University of Kentucky. In addition I am training towards my black belt in the mixed martial arts. The interesting thing here is my Sensei comes from a line of Instructors originally taught by Bruce Lee. I am slated to test for my black belt in October 2009.
Most importantly, I am the creator and author of Second Chance to Live, my website/blog - http://secondchancetolive.wordpress.com
Well we love to ask you all kinds of questions about your mixed martial arts but we be disciplined and stick to the topic. Can you tell us how Second Chance to Live came to be?
Great question. It all began long before my site became a reality. Following my injury I had a conversation with my Sensei in which he encouraged me to change my email address to be more descriptive of what I wanted to achieve through my web site. He gave me several suggestions Ė at my request. One which really struck a chord with me was "second chance to live". It was then that I decided to change my email address and make this the title of my web site.
Is this your first site?
Yes. I had never done anything like this before other than use the internet and check my email.
And how long has your site been live now?
I created Second Chance to Live on February 6, 2007, so coming up on a year and half now.
Is this your primary job or do you also work elsewhere?
This is my primary vocation.
Do you do all the writing for the site yourself?
Yes I do. I am the sole author and creator of the material that is found on Second Chance to Live.
How long have you used SiteMeter?
I have been using Site Meter after learning about stats and stat counters, which was toward the end of February 2007.
Can you think of a particular instance where SiteMeter has helped you?
SiteMeter has helped me to understand some of the demographics of my readers.
Like what specifically?
Well, things like the geographic location of my visitor traffic.
And how have you used that information?
By knowing where my visitors are located I am able to target specific states or countries with information from Second Chance to Live. My goal is to be available to encourage, motivate and empower individuals with and without disabilities. As a result I can place more emphasis on contacting groups, organizations and agencies within those states or countries that have not been visiting Second Chance to Live. I have even developed an introductory letter that I use to contact the groups, organizations and agencies with in those areas.
Conversely, in regions where I feel my readership is strong I am able to contact the groups, organizations, and related agencies with in those states / regions for potential speaking engagements.
Are there other blog/site tools that you currently use that you are especially impressed with? If so why?
Well, I continue to be impressed with SiteMeter and their staff. They have been very helpful and a blessing to me.
I am also equally impressed with Wordpress. Between these two organizations I have been able to move closer to realizing my own personal goals as well as touch the lives of many individuals who may have lost hope because of life changing events.
What was it like for you during the first few months of your site?
After creating Second Chance to Live my first several months of operation were very focused. I probably spent 10-12 hours, 7 days a week for the first 2 months of operation. Consequently I spent long hours to start up and present information to my readers.
So what was your level of experience when you first started?
I had zero experience. I had to teach myself through reading and researching. The folks at Wordpress.com were very helpful and attentive. I received assistance through the Wordpress Forums and especially from a friend I met through the WordPress Forums. Many thanks to Judy.
And now, how much time do you think you spend on your site on average a day?
I currently spend between 8-10 hours a day. I am trying to balance my daily activities between creating content and learning about the blogosphere.
How do you go about learning what was required to get going initially?
Research, reading and asking a bazillion questions.
Are there any specific resources out there that you have used that you would recommend to those looking to get started or expand their understanding?
In the event that you are using WordPress.com reading their FAQ's and by visiting the Forums -- where you can ask questions -- you can build upon your knowledge base. When you have questions that are not answered in your mind, put those questions in whatever browser you are using and then visit those web sites that your search reveals. I have a mentor of sorts that I met through the WordPress Forums who has and continues to be a tremendous blessing to me.
Developing a web site -- with all the in's and outís is like baking a cake. Many ingredients are needed. In my experience, learning how to combine those ingredients took time. Each person is different so allow yourself the time to get the proper ingredients. Combining or synthesizing the ingredients takes time. And remember there are no stupid questions. I continue to remind myself that with all learning there is a learning curve and I get to set that learning curve. I learn as I go. Progress not perfection.
And looking back now on the first days of working on your site compared to today what is the primary difference?
For the time being I have learned all that is necessary to run and operate the web site. I now devote my time to creating, responding to comments and questions. I am learning to use my time more effectively and efficiently. Iím also working on improving my delivery systems with writing and speaking, as the opportunities become available.
I noticed something related to this on your site. How did you get started doing speaking engagements? Were you approached by someone through your website or did you solicit for opportunities to speak?
The speaking engagements were a result of organizations contacting me through Second Chance to Live. They were an incredibly positive experience and the organizations were thrilled that they contacted me. I have helped to motivate, encourage and empower their participants to seize the day. I have even added an endorsement page on my site from those speaking engagements which can be found at http://secondchancetolive.wordpress.com/endorsement.
So what has been the most rewarding part of owning your own website?
The most rewarding part of having my own web site is that I have the opportunity continue to create for Second Chance to Live. Second Chance to Live has empowered me. I am able to use my gifts, talents and abilities in ways that work for me to provide motivation, encouragement and empowerment to people who want what I have to give.
What do you think is biggest challenge you face in running a site like yours - Second Chance to Live?
I believe my greatest challenge is to how to make people aware of Second Chance to Live. My desire is to provide a message of hope to individuals who may have lost hope so that they do not give up on their processes, a loving God or on themselves.
How about from a financial perspective. How is the site doing? Are you staying above water?
This is a great question. I am currently receiving a disability check each month from Social Security Disability. As I have shared in "My Journey thus Far", for many years I felt like someone all dressed up with nowhere to go. Because of my invisible disability I had a long history of getting and losing jobs. I was deemed to be unemployable by the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation approximately 9 years ago. My hope is that my site, Second Chance to Live, will evolve into a situation where I could make a good and stable living, get off of Social Security Disability, and be entirely self sufficient. To that extent, if you know of individuals who could assist me making this dream become a reality, I would love to hear from them.
Well I am sure there are many SiteMeter users out there that can offer suggestions, resources and examples of success stories. Whatís the easiest way for people to contact you?
The easiest way to contact me is to go to - http://secondchancetolive.wordpress.com/leaving-comments. I am very good about responding to emails from my readers and those interested in having me speak to their group or organization.
What are your ultimate goals for the site?
To continue to share material from my experience, strength and hope with my readers. As previously shared above I would like to see my readership increase for sake of getting the information in to the hands of people who may have lost hope. I would also like to see opportunities develop where I can speak / present / conduct seminars at conferences, conventions, churches or any other venue that could benefit from the message of Second Chance to Live.
And for those people just getting started what piece of advice would you give them?
Follow your dreams and don't give up. Learn to use what you have been given regardless of how your circumstances my look, because our circumstances are not meant to keep us down, but they are meant to build us up.
"If you advance confidently in the direction of your dreams and endeavor to live the life that you have imagined...you will meet with success unexpected in common hours"
Henry David Thoreau
Thanks very much Craig. We appreciate your time and thoughts. We hope that this opens more doors and opportunities for you to reach not only your own personal goals but to inspire the lives of others.