I wish I could say I started with a grand vision, that I had a road map that outlined exactly how the site would progress. In July, Shop-Eat-Surf recorded 165,000 page views and accessed by 7,000 distinct hosts (multiple readers at one company count as one host).
In reality, I started the site as an experiment. I made my living as a journalist for print publications, and I knew I needed to make the leap to the digital world or I'd be left behind. As a former daily newspaper reporter, I was also accustomed to finding news all the time and having a place to put it.
I knew I made the right decision when I saw how easy it was to become a one-woman publishing company. I have no technical experience, but armed with a $99 annual personal training membership at the Apple store and Mac's easy-to-use iWeb program, I was up and running in days.
Whenever I needed technical help, I ran to the Apple store to ask the guys at the Genius Bar or my great personal trainer, Gabe Wilson, left.
As I began to post stories, I told a few people in the industry about the site. Since then, it's spread little by little around the globe. I've done no marketing, no posting of my pieces on message boards. I probably should have, but I've been too busy writing stories - nearly 430 in a year.
I'm most excited by who is reading Shop-Eat-Surf.com. Readers include the very top executives in the action sports industry around the world, including brand CEOs, Chairmen, CFOs, Chief Legal Officers, VPs and others, owners and buyers at key core retail accounts, executives and buyers from important national retail chains, Wall Street analysts and bankers, private equity firms and private investors, and companies that service the industry.
It's been gratifying to know that Shop-Eat-Surf readers value the business news service I've created for them. I loved working at newspapers - they gave me all my great journalism training - and I still am an avid newspaper reader. But with that industry in decline, newspapers can be depressing places to work because it feels journalism itself is not valued as readership declines.
The fact that the action sports industry is opting into my site in a big way keeps me chugging along.
And I need the boost. I have a lot more stories to tackle. Even after a year of posting stories every business day, my list of ideas keeps growing. Plus, I've hardly touched on skate and snow and hardgoods, areas where I plan to expand.
Luckily, I now have some help on two fronts. I'm getting some technical help from Taylor Digital in San Clemente so I'll have a searchable content management system created just for the site and a firm to ask for help when problems or questions arise. We are also adding a place for more in-depth content.
My husband, Andrew Horan, left, formerly the front page editor for the Orange County Register, took one of those wonderful buyouts going around the newspaper industry. In addition to working with his corporate communications/media strategy clients, he's now helping me develop the business side of the site. Since he worked as a journalist for 25 years, I'm also tapping him to write the occasional story. He's going to help me expand my coverage at ASR, for instance.
I want to say thank to all the readers who have encouraged me to keep the site going and to all the people who have given me scoops and interviews over the past year. I also have a lot of smart business people reading Shop-Eat-Surf.com, and they've been very generous with their time, giving me great business advice for my little startup that I've listened to carefully. Thank you.
Finally, I have to thank Shop-Eat-Surf.com sponsors Moss-Adams, the Irvine Co. and Innovative Systems for financially supporting the site. It's pretty cool that they understand the complexity, power and reach of the action sports industry and that they are willing to support a small, grassroots business like mine.