By Steve Outing
I did something this afternoon on a couple of my company’s websites that’s probably unusual: I admitted that they’re having a hard time, and asked users of the sites to help out if they’d like to see the sites survive.
The short version of our story is that my company’s original model was to be a publisher of social media websites (in other words, sites based on grassroots media and social networking functionality) serving niche adventure and outdoors sports. While the sites have attracted a decent and loyal member base — YourClimbing.com, for example, has 5,000 members and runs at about 100,000 pageviews a month — the growth has not been fast enough for that to be a sustainable advertising-supported business.
So we’ve decided to sell the sites and transition into serving media and brand companies with our social media publishing platform and services. (The sites really needed a strong partner with a big audience to leverage, so an appropriate acquirer can succeed where my small company did not.)
I have mixed feelings about posting these notes. It’s not a comfortable thing to admit your troubles publicly. But, I think there’s much to be gained from bringing in the users of our sites — to tap their ideas (that we may not have thought of) and their collective contacts within the sports that our sites cover. It’ll be really interesting to see if anything comes from this.
Asking for our users’ help fits in well with our larger mission, which has been to involve everyone who uses our sites. They’re not “readers,” they’re truly “users” or “members” who contribute to the conversation and content of the websites. It feels right to involve them.