It is a funny thing, letting go of your baby.
Even stranger, perhaps, to get used to the fact that your one-man blog has quickly grown into a national portal with over 80 contributors in less than two years.
Even harder, perhaps, to train oneself to stop obsessing over the website statistics and AdSense earnings every 10 minutes, or to relax and trust others to publish articles for your site without you checking them first.
Even weirder, perhaps, to train oneself to switch off the phone and computer one day a week and let others run the site, and then when you return, discover that not only does the site function well without you, but there are amazing articles ready for you to enjoy.
My baby has become an adult.
Time to set her free.
Nobody is more surprised than me at how a little blog started with the help of a cold beer in a cafe in Jelsa in October 2011 has mushroomed into the Total Project you see today. Not in my wildest dreams could I have foreseen that we would have a popular national news website, or national portals for wine and cycling, as well as destination sites for places like Zagreb and Dubrovnik, with expert local writers applying their knowledge and enthusiasm to bring these sites to life, many of them voluntarily. It has been truly humbling, and I am very grateful to all who have contributed and supported the project so far. Blogging here in bed in a village near Varazdin is a far cry from those early Jelsa days.
Letting go is hard, though, although I realise that it is clearly necessary, and there is no way I can do everything on my own. The speed with which both Total Dubrovnik and Total Zagreb went live, with little input from me, made me realise that empowering others to take responsibility was a positive thing, and delegation is the key to a normal lifestyle and a chance to grow the business.
I have been delegating a LOT in the last few weeks, and the future of the Total Project is looking very exciting indeed. Coupled with the inspirational entrepreneurs I have been meeting in recent months in Zagreb (which is SO much more accessible than commuting from Jelsa from this rural Varazdin base), we are about to enter the most exciting period of my six years of writing online.
Next month should see the launch of four new Total websites - two of them international - and all four have been put together with minimal input from me. Total Croatia Dental will seek to address the growing dental tourism market in Croatia (did you know, for example, that there is one clinic in Rijeka, which has 120 dentists, such is the demand from nearby Italy and elsewhere?), while the initial reaction to Total Croatia Sailing has been very encouraging indeed.
We will also be starting two international sites outside Croatia. The first, Total Medjugorje, is almost ready to go. It is of course a very unique destination, due to the apparitions of Our Lady, but a smaller miracle for a destination with over a million tourists a year and allegedly more tourist beds than the rest of the country is the fact that there is no local tourist board, and getting basic tourist information about the town is really hard. A local restaurant owner told me recently that when a tourist asks for information about things to do and what is happening, he typically makes three phone calls to different people to get all the information. While Total Medjugorje will of course feature the religious aspect of Medjugorje, it is primarily a tourist information service, as well as a bridge between the town and its regular visitors.
Total Slovenia News will also go live shortly, our first franchise, and I was in Ljubljana last week to meet the core team. I am particularly excited by this project, and starting it from scratch with a great local team, which will include a former online editor of leading Slovenia daily, Delo. Whereas Total Croatia News came about via a long journey from Hvar, Split and inland Dalmatia, the Slovenian version will start at a national level, which makes it a lot easier to plan and run.
From a solo blogger to a growing team running various projects, managing and admin are taking over a greater part of my time, so I have taken the decision to hand over certain responsibilities to others. I am delighted to introduce Lauren as the new Editor-in-Chief of Total Croatia News. Lauren, who has very generously been writing for us on an ad hoc basis for well over a year, will take up her duties on May 3.
A Nottingham lass and resident of Dubrovnik, Lauren is not only an Editor at the EU (as long as Nigel Farage is not the one requesting a translation), but is also a grammar Nazi with a deep understanding of both cultures. Our growing army of fans in Sydney with their Tito conspiracy theories I am sure will be delighted to hear that Lauren's politics are right of centre, which I am sure Tito, George Soros and the host of other supposed financiers of TCN would object to, were they infact financing the portal, which continues to be 100% independent.
I will of course be continuing to spam you on the web, but I look forward to watching this younger generation of Total writers move things forward (and proving to me that Instagram is not in fact a colossal waste of time), while this old fart takes more of a back seat, focused on a little more admin and strategic thinking.
Many thanks to all the team and all who have contributed to TCN thus far. It has been a really fun journey so far, and the future is looking very fun indeed. Thanks also to all our faithful readers - your interest and support is much appreciated.