In starting this blog over again, I can't think of a better way than a tribute to the man who gave me my start writing online. The word that Luke Beatty, founder and patriarch of Associated Content, is leaving Yahoo was met with disbelief and sadness by his contributors and friends. This is not about me, it's about everyone who benefitted from his knowledge, wisdom and belief in us.
Imagine being in your 50's with no job and no hope for the future. All you have is a blog you just started about frugal living that isn't doing very well. Someone says you should write for money, and sends you to Associated Content. You check it out, but you think it's not for you, so you write a couple of articles and leave. Later, you decide to give it another shot and discover that it really is a wonderful place to be.
Yes, I started my online article writing career on July 20, 2008 at Associated Content, now known as Yahoo! Contributor Network, with an article on the pros and cons of working part-time in retail. Hundreds of thousands of people have published their first online article at AC/YCN since 2005 when Luke Beatty decided that everyone needed a place to express themselves, and the internet needed the content they could produce. He started in his basement in Denver, Colorado and built the largest people-driven content site online in just a few short years.
Luke had a vision, and he made it our vision. He never once forgot that his writers were the heart and soul, not to mention the backbone, of his business. He gave us as much encouragement and as many rewards as he could, because he couldn't give us much money. Still, we came, we wrote, and we stayed.
Sometimes we strayed away in search of greener pastures elsewhere, but many of us returned to the place that was our first writing home on the web. Some of those early writers have moved on to other pursuits, while some took the experience and lessons learned from Associated Content to build a lucrative freelance career.
Some of us did not fare as well as others...different personalities, different lives, different drives made us go in different directions. Still, we all took away something of value from our time at Associated Content, and we all left a piece of ourselves there in our words.
Now that we are part of Yahoo!, things are constantly changing, but one thing has remained constant...Luke Beatty has been around to make sure we were treated fairly, as he would have treated us. He made multi-millions of dollars from the sale of Associated Content, and he could have just retired and been resting on his laurels, but no...he stayed for us, and he will never know how much we appreciate and cherish him for that.
Yes, Luke Beatty changed lives, one poem, one image, one slide show, one video, one article at a time. He gave us a chance to show the world our passions and be recognized for what we knew best. When other website owners only thought of us as means to a public stock offering, or someone they could steal copyright from overnight, and treated us like a temporary commodity easily cast aside when the online content world crashed in 2011, Luke Beatty was behind the scenes at Yahoo! making sure the people who had been there for him for so long still had a champion at the company. Without his vision and love for his contributors, we would all be twisting in the wind, but no -- we still have a home here for the time being.
I can't imagine what would have made Luke ever leave us behind, but it does not bode well for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. The only reason I can see him leaving is that he saw his vision being destroyed. I know one thing -- it will pain him to know that he has left us to the winds of fortune, but I'm sure that in his mind, he had no choice. Hopefully, he will start something even better and we will all be able to follow him there. He has the money and he has the time to make another awesome, web-changing site.
In his goodbye message to his contributors, he wrote, "Lastly, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. You all, the Contributors, made my dream come true."
As you did ours, Luke. As you did ours. You are more than a mentor, you are the father of Associated Content/YCN and no matter who owns it, you always will be.