Building a community, 1 year invested.

Building a community is hard work. There are a lot of steps that have to be taken to attract visitors, draw them in, and retain them. Fortunately, this project came with a community that was already there, just dispersed across 3 or 4 different sites on forums; 1 point for us. The downside is that the hunting/fishing crowd are not really very technical, are used to sites that are visual trash like this one, and are habitual people so they don’t leave the community they are already in if there is not some incentive to move.

One year ago today my company launched our first site, trackmytrophies.com. Of course, the company didn’t actually exist yet and wouldn’t for over a month, we were brand new to the technology stack we were building the site with, neither of us were extremely familiar with design or design tools, and we both had full time jobs working for someone other than ourselves. The site was built on Pinax 0.5.1. There was an early beta of Pinax 0.7 at that point but, for people new to the Django/Pinax world it was completely impossible to deploy, I spent ~17 hours, over 2 days, trying without success to deploy the site. At that point I decided to revert to the stable Pinax 0.5.1  which still took me 8 hours to deploy, but deploy I did.

Over this last year a lot of things have changed: we have become a lot more familiar with the platform we are using, our design skills and tools have increased, and we are working for ourselves…technically (we actually work for WebFaction). We have experimented with different layouts and designs, worked with serving our own ads (OpenX community is shit, don’t use it…), we’ve broken shit, read upgraded Django to an incompatible version, and we’ve even helped patch a minor bug upstream.

Enough of the boring stuff, here are some community stats:

  • 297 registered users
  • 612 uploaded photos
  • 10,000 total visits

…and we are not done yet. We have  a lot of ideas that we are still working on; there is a completely new design coming along with *many*, other backend upgrades that will be transparent for end users.

Here’s to the next year ending stronger than the first!