Since 1999, I have had the wonderful opportunity to run a website that I built from scratch. VirginiaEquestrian.com is a website that helps folks from Virginia, who love and typically own horses, to communicate with each other without walls. Just about everything on the site is free, though banner ads and Equestrian Estate listings do have a small charge. We serve over 5,000,000 webpages every year to over 125,000 unique visitors from all over the globe. Take a look! http://www.virginiaequestrian.com
As a web developer in 1999 I found myself in discussions with potential clients around web applications that would NEVER take off or perform as hoped. So many people assumed “if I build it, they will come” – it was the wild west of the Internet. I set out to demonstrate the power of the web with an application of my own. I decided to limit the site focus on the equestrian sports, and limit the geographic target to the state of Virginia. I bought the name VirginiaEquestrian.com and got started.
My primary goal was to build a site that allowed users to contribute content. I stared with a business directory, and called it “The Green Pages”, and classified ads. I sent the link out to my friends in the horse business, and spent a few dollars with Adwords. I could not use Facebook or Linkedin, as they were still years away from being launched!
Within a couple months I had a few dozen ads on the site, and a few business listings. After three or four months there were several dozen ads, and more businesses. The search engines had picked up the site, and were delivering a ton of traffic through organic search. By mid-2001 the site was serving close to 500,000 webpages per month, with over 1,000 registered members/users.
Today, twenty years later, the site still thrives, serving over 5,000,000 webpages per year to over 125,000 unique visitors. More than 2,500 users are posting something on the site each year, and the feedback I receive from members is extraordinary. Since launching the site, many other sites and services have been launched that run on a similar principle: let the users post content. Craigslist, Facebook, Twitter – all depend on users posting content. I like to think I was a trail blazer in this regard.