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Happy 5th Birthday GoGirlfriend

How did we get from there to here?

Five years ago this morning GoGirlfriend was launched into the world. I imagined the makers of the Queen Mary... Is she strong enough to handle the storms ahead? Will she shelter and provide camaraderie to all who seek her out?

steady as she goessteady as she goesIf you follow me on Twitter, you know I'm a positivity freak and will always choose the sunny side of any situation. But this birthday, for me, isn't about shouting how incredible we've been and how far we've come. It's about humbly and honestly looking back and giving thanks for all who've contributed to keeping GoGirlfriend afloat for the past five years.

Pushing away from the shore

GoGirlfriend was born out of desperation. I was working for a company that was on its way to closing its doors forever. I was part of a group of editors tasked with creating online properties that would serve as communal homes for niche groups.

a toast to girlfriend travela toast to girlfriend travelI proposed GG to the powers that be and they agreed it was a good business decision - especially once we added a backend travel agency and booking engine. Months of development, SEO research and content writing and GG was born. I stood on a chair in the cafeteria surrounded by a hundred coworkers and lifted my glass of champagne. GoGirlfriend was our lifeline and, unfortunately, the cheer sounded more like a call for help than a victory cry.

Celebrate your inner beauty queenCelebrate your inner beauty queenI'm thankful for the developers who worked with me and put up with my constant pushing, "It's not impossible and you're smart guys - figure it out." I'm thankful for my manager who pushed me to think like a rocket scientist. I've never felt so smart and so stupid and so capable of greatness at the same time - before or since. And I'm thankful for my co-editors who were my 911 line some days.

Six months later GG was abandoned, along with all the other properties the company had built. We dug into survival mode. I left the company when there were only 10 of us left - there had once been 300 - and begged to take GG with me. It was given (at a hefty cost) and the company died quietly shortly after. Of all the websites I helped build during that time, only GG is still alive.

Weathering the storm, staying afloat

have fun at what you are doinghave fun at what you are doingIn my next career move, I served as communications director for a mattress manufacturer and pushed all my learnings about SEO, forums and emerging social media against real business strategies. I honed my skills and enjoyed some incredible success, mapping sales to social media and growing a robust community filled with brand evangelists.

GoGirlfriend straggled along behind me during those years. She wasn't sinking but she wasn't carving a path to anywhere fantastic either. I wrote when I had time or needed to exercise my writing muscle. I grew the community when time permitted and things were cozy, if not entirely comforting.

Hitting the open waters of exploration

Don't let it rain on your paradeDon't let it rain on your paradeEver notice how our true passions keep coming back to find us when we leave them behind? We can't escape what we truly love because it's where we find our energy, our happiness. GoGirlfriend is a talisman to nurturing what I hold dear - writing and travel.

Last year, on our fourth birthday, I took a moment to celebrate some incredible milestones. I've been blessed to work with two seriously talented interns, Rossana Wyatt and Annie Tran, who both brought incredible energy to sharing the GoGirlfriend community on Twitter and Facebook. Working with these two powerhouses of energy revived GG and put us back on course. Thank you Rossana and Annie for giving so freely of yourselves.

Charting the path, staying on course

happiness is a beach in the Caribbeanhappiness is a beach in the CaribbeanThis past summer I took time to think about what I really wanted from GoGirlfriend and what I could give in return to make it happen. Even though that slick booking engine never materialized and I've never tried to sell advertising and the site has never made me more money than maybe a coffee here or there, I still love it. I want it to succeed.

So, I took my own advice. I made a plan and began to work the plan. Meaghan Coneybeare, our current community manager, came on board and dove deep into our community. She's done a brilliant job of growing our community and keeping them engaged. What's more, she's testing out her writing skills and is a regular contributor to the site now.

Our GG Escape sponsored by Ford CanadaOur GG Escape sponsored by Ford CanadaOur GG Escape, sponsored by Ford Canada produced more content and tweets in a two-week period than ever before. We launched our first official contest two weeks ago with sponsor Lansdowne Resort and Spa, and already more than 500 people have registered. I'm a little overwhelmed. We're official sponsors of MomThrive in May 2013 and we can't wait to share our passion for travel with attendees.

thanks to the GoGirlfriend communitythanks to the GoGirlfriend communityGoGirlfriend is five years old today. She's not what I expected she'd be when I built her but I suspect that happens to all of us. We're all a little bent out of shape and have more barnacles on us than we'd prefer. But you know what? I wouldn't trade any of GG's battle scars. I'm glad she's here and I'm glad she's still mine to share with the world.

If you follow me on Twitter and were expecting a glowing, sunshiny post, I hope you weren't disappointed. Sometimes it's important to look back and look at your journey honestly to be to celebrate where you are today.

Today I'm giving thanks. Tomorrow I'll buckle up again and keep on keeping on.

Happy Birthday, GoGirlfriend! You're looking mighty fine for five years old! Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook and let's continue our journey together!

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