2011 Review: The business

posted by Jeff | Friday, December 30, 2011, 9:21 PM | comments: 0

When I started to think about how things went this year with my humble little side business, I started to realize that I pretty much didn't do anything for it. While I did all kinds of stuff for CoasterBuzz in 2010, I added nothing to it this year.

First, the hard numbers. Ad revenue dropped by a third this year. That sucks. Granted, it was up over 60% the year before, but that's still a crappy dip to deal with. I was able to partially offset the drop by spending less on travel and hardware, but it was not a good year. Google took a shit toward the end of summer, and it just never got better. Fortunately, club memberships were relatively steady, but with the higher hosting costs, I could definitely use a boost there.

PointBuzz held the status quo for the most part in traffic, while CoasterBuzz held on to visitors, but saw a 15% drop in page views. That doesn't really surprise me, because the site is getting a little stale. It's in desperate need of a refresh, after three years of sameness. The 2010 changes really gave it a nice boost, but it's time for a bigger change. I'm happy with the quality of community, but I definitely need to give more for the non-posting drive-by crowd to do. They still account for 85% of visitors.

Walt and I launched MouseZoom this year, but we never really "finished" it. The funny thing about sites with lots of photos is that you actually have to put photos on them. For me at least, I'm sitting on hundreds of photos and I just haven't got around to posting them. I spend most of my time wrangling Simon photos, I suppose. There was, however, a positive side effect of getting that site into production...

I finally finished a rewrite of POP Forums for the ASP.NET MVC engine. At the beginning of the year, as I was winding down in my old job at work, I had a burst of energy and cranked it out. While the business "sponsors" it, it's not a for-profit thing at all. It's open source. I've since published one update, and have another in the pipe, hopefully ready in a few weeks. I've really enjoyed working on it in the newer framework, though it would've been nice to get it done a year earlier.

I've thought a lot about setting up a non-profit affiliated with the amusement park sites, to donate some portion of the revenue worthy causes. It feels like the right thing to do. Playing a big role in the promotion of the big Give Kids The World fundraiser, it's like a calling to me. I'll definitely spend more time thinking about that this year.

For next year, I have to get my ass in gear and modernize CB, particularly now that I have a newer forum version ready. I also have to address some of my science projects, and see if any of them are worthy of becoming actual businesses. I just have to better maintain my spare time.


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