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Celebrating One Year of MVacay's Substack
a look back at why we started and what's to come for us this year
Why we started + How we evolved
I love Martha’s Vineyard. I love how much there is to see - that on a tiny island you can spend years there and still have areas unexplored. I love that the businesses continue to evolve, but there are still traditions stitched into its’ fabric. I love to bring new friends to visit us there, but when I look back to years ago, it was difficult to help people find up-to-date information on how to visit and what to do when they got there. The internet was filled with out-of-date info across multiple sites. There was no centrally consolidated visitors guide that I felt confident pointing to, and with a background in journalism, I wanted to see if I could fill that gap.
MVacay started on Instagram in 2017 with a goal of educating visitors on tips and tricks to make visiting Martha’s Vineyard more enjoyable and accessible. I shared photos, longer captions, and tips. As I grew a small following, I started doing Ask Me Anythings in stories, and added infographics to our rotation. In 2019, I added in restaurant updates and weekend roundups of activities happening on island. I realized these were the two most in-demand categories - simple, straightforward guides without all the clutter. In 2020, my husband Courtland, put out version 1.0 of MVacay’s app, but it was difficult for us to update as he was just learning about mobile app development. In 2020, I kept sharing on social media, and really found my voice and cadence for what I wanted MVacay to be.
I want MVacay to be as curated and straightforward as possible. A place you go for quick information - on-the-go in the app, or at-a-glance through our emails. I want information to be easy to find, concise, and reliable.
What MVacay isn’t - it isn’t a news outlet, a social media hobby, a photo dump, a place for sporadic updates, a personal blog, or a host of sponsored posts.
What we accomplished so far
In the past year since joining Substack, I’ve published a weekend update post every single weekend year-round! This highlights a curated list of events happening on island with locations, times and applicable links that gets sent straight to your inbox.
I also have posted 20+ guides and roundups on travel, activities, itineraries and more.
We’ve launched our 2.0 App - where you can simply grab our up-to-date calendar info with save the dates, a running list, and quick-links to our guides. It even has a widget of real-time events you can add to your home screen.
I’ve stopped posting as much on Instagram in order to prioritize the app and blog. I want to truly deliver value for those who chose to be paid subscribers, and that is my number one priority.
What’s next - personally
In 2022, our daughter Evelyn was born! Due to my husband’s job, we were offered a contract in Richmond, VA where we are spending more of our time now. My mother still lives on the island and sends me real-time updates constantly, and we visit as often as possible.
Next month, our second child will be born! I will be on maternity leave from my full-time-job in education for most of this year, caring for two under two. Wish me luck!
I promise my readers consistency throughout the journey. When you support MVacay, you can do so confidently knowing that despite my personal life, I will still show up for you here every week.
What’s next - professionally
What’s staying - a big focus on a comprehensive weekend update for events and restaurants. Updated, reliable guides and a constantly updated app.
What’s new - In 2023, I hope to work alongside more hotel concierges. I hope to try my hand at more physical marketing materials. I hope to see more downloads of the app, and build out an Andriod version. Courtland is working on an MVacay AI chat component to incorporate into the app that is coming soon.
A heartfelt thank you
I have felt so much support and encouragement from our island family throughout my time publishing MVacay. Your kind email replies, comments on posts, stopping me to say hello on Main Street…all of these things make me feel so valued.
I don’t run MVacay to make a profit, I do it because I see a need and I feel like I’m the right person to fill it. Someone with a big heart for growing island businesses, an open mind for how we connect with each other, and someone who loves simplicity and straightforward information.
It takes me a minimum of 10 hours per week, on top of my work and family commitments, to publish MVacay. Every financial contribution is a true blessing to our family, and helps to continue making this possible. Even if you’re not able to become a paid subscriber, the engagement with our posts and sharing our app and blog with others is a huge act of generosity to keep us going.
A majority of MVacay’s posts are free to the public. If you want to support the work we are doing, please consider becoming a paid subscriber, gifting a subscription to someone who might enjoy, or making a one-time-donation.
Thank you for being here!
With love and gratitude,
Lis, Courtland and Evelyn Bluford (and Baby Blu!)