On January 30, 2000, I launched CoasterBuzz.com, a news/portal site for roller coaster enthusiasts. It was kind of a hobby, but it was something I wanted to be a big deal in the long run.
Back in those days, there were new coaster sites every day. It was hard to keep track of them, so I figured having a directory for them was a good idea. It was also hard to keep up on news from around the industry, so having a central place for that seemed like a good idea. We were doing similar things at Penton Media back in those days for the vertical markets we covered, so in terms of design and content, I didn't need to do anything radically different. The more interesting twist was that news would come from not just traditional news sites, but also from these niche enthusiast sites out there.
Five years later, it hasn't changed much. It has been rewritten two and a half times since its launch (the half coming with changes to POP Forums). It still serves many thousands of visitors every day. It's also home base for an enthusiast club, CoasterBuzz Club.
Keeping up with it has really been easy most of the time. The day-to-day time requirements of running the site aren't significant. I spend probably less than an hour a day looking for news, since most of it is user-contributed anyway. Moderating the forums isn't a big deal either, because for the most part the community is self-governing. I can't remember the last time I had to delete something inappropriate, aside from the occasional spamming incident.
Hopefully the site is at a turning point. Back in the days when I spent a lot more time on it (because content management wasn't as easy at the time), I used to have to spend a lot of money as hosting costs went up and ad revenue went down. These days, there's a lot of money to pay back from that era, but expenses are relatively insignificant compared to what they were. If I could only pay off that business credit card, life would be grand.
The highlight of running the site these days is probably the events we do. In particular, we have a great event at Paramount's Kings Island every year that is a total blast. Last year we had well over 200 attendees. I'm not the hardcore enthusiast I used to be, but I enjoy spending a full day in the park on that day.
The site is more of a business than a hobby these days, and I'm happy to see it thrive. There is certainly a revision in the site's future, but it's more of a function of my writing projects than it is a deliberate need to update. The site doesn't really define me the way it used to, as my interests have diversified quite a bit over the years. I need to keep in mind though that the site has been the testing ground for so many other things I've done professionally, not the least of which is write a programming book. It deserves my ongoing attention since it and its community are bigger than my own needs at this point.
So after five years, I hope that there will be five more. In terms of the Web, not many things have stuck around that long. It's weird to realize that there are things (other than my marriage) that I've really committed to long-term. :)