Today marks the fourth anniversary of Workers' Comp Insider. Since the Insider was the first insurance blog, and by extension the first workers' comp blog, in the nation, I thought that perhaps a moment of reflection might be in order. Jon gave his thoughts on "why we blog" a few days ago, but I wanted to share my thoughts on the matter.
In July, 2003, Julie Ferguson, who knows more about blogs than any three people I know, came into my office and said, "Tom, I think Lynch Ryan should create a weblog."
Up until that time, it seemed to me that two kinds of people had blogs, rabidly radical political reporters who posted five or six times a day whenever anyone in Washington sneezed, and teenagers who wanted the world to know what they ate for breakfast. So, when Julie proposed that we join the crowd all I could say was, "Why on earth would we want to do that?" Thus began my education. Over the next few days Julie persuaded me that this was a natural for Lynch Ryan, because we had always been innovators and path-finding pioneers. Blazing the trail of insurance blogging would continue that tradition. Plus, fostering open communication between employer, employee, physician and insurer has always been one of our core missions. A blog would be the perfect medium to take that communication to an even higher level.
We went to see Chris Miller, our Internet technology guru, from Artefact Design in Worcester, MA. We said, "Chris, how’d you like to build a blog?" I think, initially, he wanted to run away, because Chris is a corporate technology specialist, and at the time there were no corporate blogs – anywhere. But, after thinking about it for a bit, he said, "Sure, why not."
Julie discovered that inexpensive software was available to build the blog, so we anted up the licensing fee and went to work. It was Julie, too, who came up with the name, "Workers Comp Insider." I thought it was a bit long, but, once again, she convinced me, and on 17 September 2003, the Insider was born.
That first entry arrived with a whimper, not a bang. The topic was October Events, and it was about eight lines long. Not particularly auspicious for the first insurance blog entry in America, but, then again, neither was "Watson, come here. I need you," another communications first.
We didn’t start to count readers until February 2004. That month, we had about 75 readers per entry, and most of those were family and friends. It’s since grown to closer to 20,000 and seems to keep growing a little bit nearly every month.
The entries have changed, too. We discovered that we had quite the writer in Jon Coppelman, our resident Ivy Leaguer (Columbia, in case you were wondering). Jon is the one who set the tone for entries that more closely resemble thoughtful, well-sourced op-eds with a tiny hint of attitude. His informed and colorful posts have developed quite a following.
Since that first entry in 2003, there have been more than 800 others spanning 15 categories. Julie has created and refined our endless sidebar, and it’s become the best workers' compensation reference library in the world. Along the way, we've met and come to know and respect many others who've joined the workers comp blogosphere. For instance, Jordan Barab, at Confined Space, who showed us what passion for safety really is; Joe Paduda, at Managed Care Matters, who brilliantly bridges the workers' comp and health care fields; and Peter Rousmaniere's Working Immigrants, a blog that covers an important and timely topic. We're also proud to have played a role in helping to create and support Health Wonk Review, the premier health policy carnival or "aggregator." And, similarly, we're proud of our affiliation with Cavalcade of Risk. These carnivals help to foster community and promote our industry.
Early on, we decided not to allow advertising on the Insider. We wanted to keep it pure, the message focused. Every once in a while, we reconsider that (Google calls every month, or so), but, so far, we've held firm.
So, four years in, we think we've created something good, something valuable, something that helps and supports the larger community. We thank you, our readers, for your loyalty as well as your comments (yes, even when you disagree with us – we believe that if we can't defend our position, we don't deserve to hold it). But, most of all, we thank you for your constant encouragement over these last four years. You make us want to make the Insider ever better, the best that it can be. I promise we’ll keep trying to do that.