In 2003, we launched the most aggressive and progressive version of Seahawks.Net to date. It became known as "6.0", which simply meant it was the 6th generation of the site since it's creation in 1998.
Version 6.0 was significant to us for several reasons. It was the first time the site was completely database-driven including a staff admin (Intranet) which forever changed the way content was managed. To everyone's absolute delight, gone were the days my staff had to wait for me to be online to upload their content. Now, each writer had their own login access and permissions that enabled them to manage their content quickly and efficiently.
Now, more than ever before, our readers and community were getting their Seahawks news and related content published online within minutes – instead of hours – from the time the content was originally written. This was an integral element which I felt made 6.0 the best version of the site to date, although admittedly, this feature could have gone unnoticed by the casual reader for the most part.
The other major significance of 6.0 was not quite as easy to miss. In fact, it was about as inconspicuous as a Boeing 747 landing on an otherwise quiet suburban neighborhood cul-de-sac.
"MyNET" was our first version of a premium subscription business model. The goal was to eliminate the perpetual donation requests within the community by offering selective content, features and services for a modest monthly fee. This way, our readers were getting much more than just a "thank you" from us and in turn, the money generated went right back into the site to pay the monthly bills, fund events, prizes and generally keep the lights on.
Well, not exactly everyone.
I quickly learned that there's a difference between reality and perception and some readers – even former staff members – saw the idea of offering anything on the site for a fee – no matter how minimal – as a powerful indication that we had stopped being a true fan site only to focus on being a business simply for the generation of profit.
The fact that I was deeply saddened by these untruths was merely a speed bump sitting in the way of our true goal – which has always been the driving force all along – to become the Seahawks fan's ultimate online experience. How naïve I truly once was, to think I could get there entirely on my own, out-of-pocket, without a core group of talented professionals who shared in my vision.
You see, there's a certain intimate charm in maintaining a smaller community, staff and set of features and services offered, but I've always wanted more for the diehard fan because I am a diehard fan. It's a simple philosophy that instigates continued growth for NET, and I don't see that ever changing.
Which brings me to our decision to join The Insiders.
To be perfectly honest, it took me quite a while to consider joining a major network. At first, I refused to see the forest for the trees, and all I could think about is losing our ability to design the front-end of the site as I had been doing since the beginning. As The Insiders kept giving us dozens of reasons why it would only benefit us and our readership, I could only counter with losing control over excessive drop-shadows and beveled edges.
In other words, my pride was getting in the way.
The reality was that the revenue we were generating in our attempt to keep the lights on was nowhere near the site's exponential growth and thus the server/hosting fees to support that growth. Not even close.
The Insiders not only instantly took away our overhead concerns, but they gave us access to major sports networks, professionals, experts and content we could have only dreamed of on our own.
This directly impacts our reader's experience. That matters most. Not what a few noisy negativists say about us, but that our readers are getting more now than they ever have before.
And guess what? We're just getting started.
As the Seahawks have finally reached the point of respect (many around the league see the Seahawks playing in the NFC Championship in 2004) giving us diehards a tangible reason to believe, NET will be there for you. Above all else, it will continue to be a place you can count on, every single day of the year to rejoice with you, to cheer with you, to vent with you and to ultimately celebrate a championship with you.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
Todd Breda is the Owner and Creative Director of Seahawks.Net. If you would like to e-mail Todd, send any and all love letters, hate mail, whimsical musings or prime UFO hotspots to: email@example.com
Breda Report: Changing Times Part II
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