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    The Small Site Survivors Guide
    by shiva

    It was with great interest that I came across the articles a while ago posted up at RTS Nation (NOTE: Since departed from the scene) about the plight of the small sites, and why so many have gone "dead" over the last few months. I can understand the problems that many small, and not so small, sites can go through over the course of time, especially considering all that I personally have gone through over my short existence. Those articles have prompted me to write my own, hopefully a small series of what I learned about my own small site, and what I learned about myself in the process. But first, a little history...

    This site was "born", I believe March 4th. It was pretty ugly to say the least, not that its all that great looking now. I don't think anyone will be surprised when I tell you that my total "web" experience was zero when I started this, so I guess you now know why this site looks the way it does. Of course, it's something I would like to improve, but its a learning experience to say the least for both myself and the people who visit me. I have had a bit of help, and   some were even kind enough to offer help with the design, but they are all busy people in their own right, so I couldn't take them up on their offers.

    I really started out in late February, after being  around the web for several months to feed my "passion" for StarCraft, emulation and pinball. I was pretty new to the total Internet experience, and soon got frustrated with the fact that it usually took 30 minutes to find one bit of infomation, especially news on one of my loves. It gradually grew to the point that I decided that I wanted to have my own site, dedicated to news, where it was easy for people to find all the infomation at one place, and pointers to where to go to look for more infomation to feed their "passions".

    So I started out, and I have to admit the first month was pretty bad. I totally redid the site at least 3 times, worked very long and hard hours every day, and totally ignored my family. (which I still do unfortunately) And for all my work and troubles, I got about 50 hits other than myself. It was, when I think back, pretty discouraging  to have all that effort to go to waste. And then I got lucky. Well, I guess it wasn't all luck, it's was just one of those things that you don't think of when you plan out your site. I spent days planning and going through the "search engine" route, but of all things, it was because I sent a email to another guy at another site that started this whole thing. I received a email back that encouraged me for what I was trying to do. And from there, anyone who has gone to StarCrafters knows, that things escalated into a "war" between me and them on who could promote each others site better, and at the time, I thought I had won, but as it turned out, I didn't.

    Because it attracted attention, and it got me "entered" into the news contest, which has since meant that my site has grown considerably since then. Before I joined HitBox last Sunday, I had a shade over 500 hits, since then, I have had 599 more hits in 6 days. To a big site, that's pretty sad, but to me, that's pretty incredible. I entered this with the full knowledge that it was gonna be long, hard, time consuming work, and I had to be prepared to be in it for the long haul. And I wasn't prepared. In fact, there was a day when I thought that it was time to give her up, that I was going nowhere fast, and if it hadn't been for David Shipley sending me the banner I now use, I might be in that long list of dead sites right about now.

    I guess what has kept me going was the fact that several people took the time to send me one little email and encouraged me to continue. To a large site, they more than likely get hundreds a month from people praising them, but to a small site like me though, its priceless. There is no better feeling in the world, when you get a message from someone that says "great job", especially for something   you love and  have spent a lot of time and effort into.  To me, that's worth 100,000 hits on my hit counter.

    And maybe that's what we should all do. Find a site that needs the support, and send them a "great job" of our own. I have done so, and now I count several people as among my friends, that I never even knew last month. The simple knowledge that someone took the time to write a message, goes a long way. I can't help but wonder how many "dead" sites would still be alive today if they had received some encouragement.

    Now you may think that what I have just said is absolute rubbish. You may even be right. But it worked for me. And maybe, it will work for someone else. A lot has been made of "the community", and I guess it's time we all acted like one. It's time we looked after our neighbors as well as ourselves, because we all become stronger from the experience.

    " "



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