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