Stan's Tuesday Walks

A Weekly Feature
by Stan Evans,
President, Santa Fe Always Online


June 12 , 2001

Well, today's walk was more or less routine, after my recent travels and last week's nostalgic memories of grass. My neighbor joined me once again, which is always nice; but he likes these early-morning strolls so much that he often comes along, so it wasn't really a surprise. Thus my mind was free to reflect upon . this Web site, SFAOL.com.

It was almost exactly a year ago when I decided to take the plunge, to see if we could pull this thing off. It seemed to me that although there were several Web sites focusing on Santa Fe in one way or another, none of them was really comprehensive. I envisioned a site that would be informative, fun, useful, surprising, practical and constantly expanding.

To convert idea into reality, I recruited two partners: Webmaster Andrew Elliott, a wizard at all things computer-related, and Dick McCord, former editor and co-publisher of the weekly Santa Fe Reporter. Meeting at my house, we hatched some rather amorphous plans for making SFAOL (which stands for Santa Fe Always Online) truly exceptional.

Each of us had a specific role. Andrew was our computer guru, the only one of us who actually understood the cyberworld, which still mystifies Dick and me to this day. Dick was our writer, editor and content provider. And I was everything else-businessman, financial backer, marketing director, salesman, drum-beater and bottle-washer.

For four months we worked behind the screen, so to speak, designing SFAOL's graphics, producing and recruiting articles, finding unique Southwestern items for our online store, linking with dozens of other sites, experimenting with any idea that came into our heads. Then last October 1, we went online. SFAOL was out there for all the world to see.

In our first month, SFAOL got 51,152 hits and 16,032 pageviews, as tracked by Andrew. Seven months later, for May 2001, we got 265,420 hits and 56,955 pageviews. That's how fast we're growing. And although most of our visitors, by far, come from the United States, we literally ARE being seen by all the world. In our short existence we have gotten messages from Spain, the Philippines, Indonesia, Russia, South Africa, Australia, Bosnia, Germany, Brazil, France, England, Japan, South Korea and several other nations.

Many of the queries seek information about visiting or moving to Santa Fe: Where to stay, where to dine, what to see, what to do, where to shop, the price of real estate, the educational and employment opportunities, the camping and RV scene, how to find a certain artist, the climate and on and on. And some queries are unusual-one woman, for example, said she had been e-mailing a Santa Fe man who now had invited her to come meet him. She asked our advice if she should go. To handle the ever-growing queries, we recently enlisted local Web expert Mona Yardumian to send back individual answers.

It doesn't surprise me that so many people are finding, visiting and liking SFAOL. We feature hundreds of articles, by many of Santa Fe's leading writers: storyteller Joe Hayes, historian Marc Simmons, Carmella Padilla, Dan Gibson, Michael Hice, Richard Mahler, Nasario Garcia, others-and of course, our own Richard McCord. Andrew has enhanced the content with striking graphics and strong, user-friendly design. We can help almost anyone learn what he needs to know about Santa Fe. And we add to the site almost daily.

Yet on my walk this morning I also felt a sense of frustration. At some point, sooner rather than later, we need to make SFAOL provide a financial return. In just the past few weeks we have begun adding paid advertisers to the site, for a modest $50 a month. The initial response has been encouraging, with some of Santa Fe's leading businesses. But every day I run out of time to do all that needs to be done. Now we're seeking sales reps.

One problem that we've encountered is that despite the explosive growth of the Internet, many business owners still are unfamiliar with it. I do understand that-until recently I was one of those people myself. But now I'm a total convert. I'm convinced that the Web is the wave of the future, and I'm glad that SFAOL is out there on the cutting edge.

So now our task is to spread the word of SFAOL far and wide, up and down, quick and fast. I assume that if you're reading this report on my walk-and if you are a regular fan of this weekly feature-that you know and like our site. If so, then please do us a favor: Notify all the people in your e-mail address book about SFAOL, and ask them to pass it on to their friends in turn. The faster our visitor list grows, the better we will be able to gain advertisers and meet our goals. Then we'll keep on making SFAOL even better.

And while I'm thinking about it, we'd love to hear YOUR ideas about how we could be better. It's easy to contact us-just click on "Contact Us" on the left-hand listings on our Home Page, and send us your comments. You can really play a part in our young venture.

As you can see, I got distracted by my own activities during the pleasant walk with my neighbor this morning. I'll try not to do that too often-after all, my Tuesday strolls are meant to be a nice break for both me and you. But today, SFAOL was on my mind.

Thanks for "listening." I hope your day and your own activities are going great.

Stan

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