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John Simon of XOJOHN
There is a breed of New Yorker that everyone who has just moved to New York wants to be, and who all who have been here for a while secretly envy. It’s the New Yorker who has the most access. Access to the coolest parties, intel on the newest scene, and has already been to that brand new hotspot that just opened up … twice.
Some would say that John Simon of XOJOHN is one of those New Yorkers. But he doesn’t stop there. Years in the television industry and event production broke him into ‘the scene’ but it wasn’t until he decided to share this access with others that he truly found his niche- and expanded that niche across the world writing about lifestyle and experiences. Here he talks challenges, his motivation to keep writing, and staying honest to himself and to his readers.
My name is John Simon, editor of XOJOHN. I hail from Washington, DC and have been residing in New York City for 10 years. I’ve worked in Television and event productions for many years, before starting my blog. Since XOJOHN was launched in January of 2009, we have collaborated with brands like Seamless, Nestle, Intel, Smartwater, and New Balance, to name a few.
Q: How would you describe your blog to a person that has never visited it before?
John: I normally would tell someone to just visit the site because it’s that good and informative. The direction of XOJOHN is very clear. I would describe it as a lifestyle entity with a focus on hospitality and experiences.
Q: What made you decide to create a blog?
John: After many years of working in the entertainment business and attending various events throughout New York City, Hamptons, Los Angeles, and Paris, I just thought it would be a great idea to share my experience with my friends and family. At the time, I was sharing photos and a little blurb on Myspace because that was the only way to really connect with everyone. Then I saw that the following was great and I decided to launch my own website. I learned the basics of coding on my own and XOJOHN.COM was born on January 1, 2009.
Q: Was there a moment when you thought, “I could do this professionally”? If so, what triggered that desire/realization?
John: It actually never crossed my mind; I was just doing it as a hobby and something I enjoyed. Everything else happened organically. I was pleasantly surprised when opportunities started to come my way.
Q: What fuels your passion for creating content?
John: My passion is fueled by many things, including being my own boss and selecting my own topics of discussion; also being invited to some of the most exclusive events under my own brand. I’m often on red carpets with the world’s top magazines and to think I am there on my own merit, it definitely fuels my passion for creating.
Q: Are there any blogs or publications that you follow closely? What makes them successful in your opinion?
John: I wouldn’t say I follow any particular blogs but I’m always on my Facebook and Twitter feed checking in on the latest stories, especially from my fellow blogger friends.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge in maintaining a successful blog?
John: When it comes to blogging, there can be so many challenges, for me, it varies, it can be technical issues one day or finding the time to get things done. The business side of blogging can also be a challenge.
Q: What is your favorite post that you created? Why?
John: Besides visiting over 100+ restaurants, one of my favorites was writing about my experience in Anguilla (linked here and here). It was one of my dream destinations and the trip exceeded my expectations. Recently, I went to Club Getaway, a sleep away camp for adults (and kids) in Kent, Connecticut. I’m currently working on the article and cannot wait to share it with our readers.
Q: How much does social media influence your writing?
John: Social media absolutely does not influence my writing or sharing content on the platforms. I simply just write what’s on my mind or go with the flow. Sometimes it feels like people/brands aren’t who they “Post” to be, so I don’t get any influence from it.
Q: What is your favorite social media channel? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, other? Why?
John: I love and hate them all at the same time. I do enjoy Instagram and Facebook more because they are easier to navigate and perfect for connecting with our readers and gaining new followers.
Q: Do you have any last piece of advice for aspiring bloggers?
John: Be authentic and original with creating content. If you feel the need to mimic other blogs, then blogging is not for you. If you want to create a blog for “free stuff” or to make tons of money, then blogging is not for you. Focus more on curating great content that makes you stand out among the many blogs on the internet. Be sure to learn the business side of blogging and know your worth. Never be afraid to go for what you know you deserve.
Q: Lastly, what is something that you could share with us that we wouldn’t learn from reading your blog?
John: My very first job was working at Six Flags for over 6 years in the Human Resources department.
Thanks for stopping by! Stay tuned for next week’s Bloggers’ Corner feature!
-Blaire Massaroni, for Cooperatize Journal