How it started
In its original form LandmanLife was a blog on Blogspot.com that I started while working as a landman in rural Pennsylvania. Since it was my first landman “gig” I naturally had no idea what to do or how to do it, and being a Texas boy (fish out of water in rural PA) made things even more interesting. I’ll never forget walking into bars with some of the other guys on our crew and all of a sudden Motorboat has the thickest Texas accent you’ve ever heard as he shouts “’l’ll take 2 kewrs lighs and turn on th’ Cowboys game!” We got into a few bar fights for that routine.
This may be the point where some of you might ask “WHO is LandmanLife?” I am Gates Mueller, the voice of LandmanLife. I’ve been a landman for 12 years (that’s exactly how long LL has been around too, funny right?) and spent most of my professional career working in South Texas. The original intention of LandmanLife was just to scream into the void, I didn’t know or care if anyone ever read my rants. In 2011 I bought the domain LandmanLife.com and moved the blog over from Blogspot. That’s when things started to get fun.
Turns out, screaming into the void isn’t very discreet when you do it on the internet, and no matter what strange obscure topic you choose to write about, at some point SOMEONE is probably going to read it. Or it’s just bots crawling your site. Regardless, I started getting contacted by readers who wanted to share their own stories, rants, and raves. That was when LandmanLife became more of an idea than just a blog.
How it’s going
I believe we’ve had 9 different authors over the past 12 years. Still, for quite a few years I assumed our audience was rather small and known to me. Sometime in 2014 I was sitting on the back porch of a hotel in Halletsville with a couple landmen and I listened to one of them tell one of my stories as their own. That gave me a good laugh, but I also realized that I needed to be careful with my words. We had fun writing about the drunk times and ranting about the shit parts of the business, and people were starting to notice.
The website had its ups and downs just like the industry. I remember getting a text from a buddy in 2013 that our broker had heard about a story on LandmanLife.com and was about to look it up. Mysteriously there was no website when he tried to access it a few minutes later. Web development is also definitively NOT something I would list as a skill because I have figured out 10,000 different ways to crash this website. We’ve had 6 different hosting companies over the past 12 years before I finally had to bite the bullet and learn how to set it up on AWS.
Whenever I found myself staying in a hotel in the middle of nowhere, new rants just seemed to come to me. All of you field brokers know how much “down time” there is when you’re living out of a Best Western. Grab a 12 pack and a pizza to go and let the good times roll! That experience may be a sign of my age, there are lots of landmen that think courthouse records have been online forever. I’m glad that I got to have the “old school” experience, because sitting on a computer all day every day is just plain boring.
I’ve always wanted to “give back” to the community, and for a long time that just meant giving them a couple of laughs. Over the past couple of years the store has taken precedence and given us a new way to give back. We started hosting a kick off happy hour the Tuesday night before NAPE starts. We sponsored golf tournaments and skeet shoots. We donated money to various charities. It’s been a really fun experience, but in the process I lost something. The spirit of LandmanLife has always been the stories, lessons, and laughs.
We’re getting back to our roots. The store will be closing for renovations starting in January, and I’ve been working on a lot of the content ideas that have been floating around forever but managed to never get written. There will be some “how to” posts, probably a lot of book reviews (I read a lot), a few stories, and general musings about the industry to look forward to. It’s been a quick 12 years, let’s hope the next 12 go just as well.
Thanks for joining me on this roadtrip to nowhere.