It’s 20 years since I began writing on the internet. Or at least the archive has two decades worth of content. My first internet shenanigans began all the way back in 1997, but unfortunately none of it exists today. Over the years, close to 800,000 words have been written and published. That’s equivalent to the word count of the first three books of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. While I haven’t had the same commercial success as Martin, I’m rather proud of the word count. Quality, as we all know, comes from quantity: If you produce enough crap, the odd gem is bound to appear.

But as you’ll now learn, I didn’t write very much of what I’ve posted in the previous 20 years myself.

SPAM To The Rescue

SPAM has plagued the internet even before it was the internet. The earliest documented case of spamming was a mass message sent to 393 recipients on ARPANET in 19781. Since then, our inboxes have been filled with penis enlargement offers, Nigerian princes with way too much money on their hands, and enough pharmacy SPAM to get the entire planet hooked on antidepressants many times over.

I got my first e-mail address in 1994, and since then I’ve swallowed the SPAM bait twice. I’m not going to tell you what the first offer was, but the second was an e-mail promising high quality ghost blog writing. This was in early 2000, when weblogs was in its infancy. I was trying to build an audience of loyal weblog readers, and finish my bachelor’s degree in computer science. Every seasoned blogger knows that one of the main keys to getting a loyal audience is to post regularly.

With not enough time on my hands to properly juggle every ball in a busy student’s life, I jumped on the ghost writing offer. For just a few dollars a month, someone somewhere would regularly write something for me to post on my site. It wasn’t exactly Shakespearean level masterpieces, but it was better than nothing.

Down The Rabbit Hole

From there on, I dug myself a nice little hole. Why should I spend my valuable time writing, when I could just throw a couple of bucks at the problem and have it magically disappear? As it turns out it’s surprisingly easy to find freelance writers online who’ll work for scraps. Some of them are even willing to create content for free just to get a written reference. I’ve changed ghost writers roughly once a year, which is the reason you would see subtle differences in writing styles happening every now and then.

My contribution hasn’t been totally lacking, though. I wrote all of the comments signed by me on the site. I even authored some of the more personal posts, and few posts have also been loosely based on my notes. In most cases, though, everything written has been taking out of thin air, and I haven’t even read most the books I’ve “reviewed”.

But I did drink all the energy drinks.

Person sitting on a bench, enjoying the sunset.
Why work when you can pay someone to do it for you? Photo by Sid Leigh on Unsplash.

Coming Clean

Why did I keep using ghost writers all these years? My dream has always been to make a decent living from writing, and the plan was to build a solid audience with ghost writers before taking over myself. In its heyday, this site had close to three thousand unique visitors each day, and I had a slim hope I could monetize on that and turn a profit. But the visitor count has decreased dramatically since then, and dwindled down to a meager 100 unique visitors on a very good day.

The internet is not what it used to be, and sites like mine simply drown in the rest of the noise. Attracting enough readers now will be a monumental effort, one that we all now know I won’t take on personally. Paying someone to do it will require a considerable financial investment, and it’s simply not a risk I’m willing to take.

After two decades, it’s time to admit defeat, and call it quits. My contract with the current ghost writer expires in June, and I won’t try to find another one. From now on, what you’ll see on this site will only be my own words. Posts will appear far less regularly than before, once or twice a month at best. The dream of become an internet super star is dead.

And now the question is; did I even write what you’ve just read?


  1. At 30, Spam Going Nowhere Soon. ↩︎