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On our first birthday, enjoys stellar growth, but is still seeking a sales partner
This photo of the author on a ski trip in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah perfectly illustrate the ongoing mission of on its first anniversary: To ski and play in the Rocky Mountains as much as possible and write about it. And then also touch on the serious political and environmental issues impacting our playground. E-mail us at and let us know how we're doing.
By Dan Davis

On our first birthday, enjoys stellar growth, but is still seeking a sales partner

Local-content Web site registers more than 12,000 unique visitors a month in 126 countries
By David O. Williams

September 5, 2008 — turned one today – a year in which we’ve discovered a global appetite for our brand of offbeat news and blogs from the Vail Valley and the Rocky Mountain West.

We found you can mix skiing stories and articles about exploring the Central Rockies by boat, helicopter, bike, paraglider and on foot with local and regional political stories and environmental think pieces, all the while riffing on the wide variety of things there are to do here in the Vail Valley for the benefit of readers in more than 120 countries who have visited our site.

Starting with just a few hundred unique visitors (the Internet term for readers) in our first month, last month we crossed into the critical 10,000-unique-visitor-per-month territory for the first time, vaulting us into the rarified air where search engines sniff you out more frequently, or at least put you up higher up on the first page of search results.

This is a position we’ve found ourselves in more and more often, and we know our readers (ie, unique visitors … to the Vail Valley) have taken notice. Now we hope advertisers will follow suit. And when we say advertisers, we mean business partners who like what we’re doing and want to help us out and simultaneously let us help them to raise their profile on the Web.

Simply put, we do content, something most Web sites desperately need. Here’s our pressure pitch: Call now and ask about our display ad, Web optimization or RSS feed September special. Operators are standing by. We’ll help you to put your RSS feedbag on … or something like that. Seriously though, everyone wants to advertise on the Web, no one knows where to do it, and we offer an exciting alternative.

Both Tom Boyd and I come from print journalism background (as you can tell from the previous pitch), and both of us have learned more than we ever cared to about how to make startup print publications successful. You would think we’d have taken those lessons to heart.

But we started RealVail on a shoestring, bringing in tech partner Kent Van Vleet to handle all that nasty coding and uber-critical search-engine-optimization (SEO) stuff. Tom has become a self-taught graphics and flash guru, while sharing the writing load and jumping in on sales. I’ve tried to manage the marketing side, do some pr, chip in on sales and, of course, write and edit as much as humanly possible.

All of this was done without any startup capital, no bank loans, no nada, just plenty of blood, sweat and tears till three in the morning. We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished, creating an online magazine that we think sets a new standard in local-content Web sites. But we made one critical error.

Tom used this analogy the other night: We’re like a three-wheeled car ready to kick it into high gear but clearly impeded until we find that fourth wheel: A sales partner. There’s a reason writers write and tech guys tech. Because that’s what they’re good at. Asking them to sell ads is like asking John McCain to stick to the GOP playbook. You can tell it pains the man.

When I was part of the team that in 1998 created and ran the Daily Trail, the last competing daily newspaper in town before the new Vail Mountaineer, I watched the Knox family, owners of the Vail Trail at the time, make a classic business mistake.

Instead of beefing up their sales staff to handle five more papers a week, they went with the two very capable sales people who had been selling their weekly paper and asked them to step it up. Then they put all of their resources, somewhat to their credit, toward the editorial side of things, where it paid off with numerous press awards and critical acclaim.

Meanwhile, the sales side suffered and the new daily only lasted two and a half years. Because RealVail is Web-only and is not accruing huge printing or distribution bills, my two partners and I have maintained a moderately positive cash-flow position. But we clearly need that fourth partner, a sales and marketing whiz who’s passionate and connected to the Vail Valley, to take things to the next level.

If you’re that person, or you know of someone who qualifies, drop us a line at and let us know why you’d like to join the RealVail team (can’t believe I just used that corporate catchphrase). Attach a bio and/or resume if possible, and at all costs keep reading RealVail. We’re not going away, and we have a lot planned for our second full year on the Web.



Comment on article  1 Comment on "On our first birthday, enjoys stellar growth, but is still seeking a sales partner"


Alan Sandberg — September 8, 2008

Happy Birthday-
Nice analogy on the 3 wheeled car.
Looking forward to talking on Friday.




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