By Stephen Spry
Around late 1997 through to 1999, difficult personal circumstances mean that my memories are a tad on the cloudy side.
I do know that during this time I met a couple of people who were to have a significant impact on my future in the industry… one of whom I’ve done a lot of work with over the years.
But around that time I saw that, by trying to do more for Australian web-based businesses, and by getting my name “out there”, I could grab some more web design work.
And one of the ways to do that was to take my “SydWest” local business concept and enlarge on it a little more…
“Today, Sydney. Tomorrow – The World!”
(can you hear the evil maniacal laughter there?)
Well, maybe not quite the whole world… Australia should be an easier target 🙂
So it was time to set up my first “Aussie” business directory where people could promote their Australian website for free. To be brutally honest, at that time the concept never really took off. There was no real “hook” to inspire the masses. I mean it wasn’t a “Google” or a “Yahoooooo” (and my “aha” moment was yet to come – more about that in a minute).
Around that time I also began work on “Give An Aussie A Go” – a very unique way at showcasing Aussie businesses, products, towns and regions to the world. It was interesting… We got a lot of good Press, got invited to several places around the country, and even got onto the television a couple of times!
Again – unfortunately – it was far too innovative for the time! And it is definitely not easy being a trailblazer on the frontiers of technology, especially when you’re just a sole trader without huge corporate backing!
But the seeds were sown, and the “Aussie” ideas were beginning to flow!
My “Aha” Moment!
One of the things that leads to the success of many companies on the Internet is their choice of name/brand. Think “Yahoo” and the success it obtained as a search engine in the late 1990s. Nowadays “Google” is the brand universally recognisable as meaning “search” and the word has even made its way into everyday language for when you will “google something” to find out the meaning.
My “aha” moment was when in late 2001 I realised no-one had registered the domain name “Come On Aussie”.
Now remember, the “Aussie” theme is what I was working on building, and nothing says “Australian” more than that expression – mainly because of the catchy jingle “Come On Aussie Come On” was the anthem of World Series Cricket back in the late 1970’s… and which still gets a fair bit of play in various reincarnations every summer even today! (see video at bottom)
And wasn’t I a happy chappy when I realised no-one had THAT domain name!
Why not? What could be the problem? Was it trademarked? Could you be sued? Oh bugger it – just do it! Go and get it registered and deal with the consequences (if any) later!
And so “Come On Aussie” was born.
First cab off the rank was a revamp of my original Australian website directory, under that new name.
A name which meant something – well… at least to Australians and cricket lovers around the world.
A name which, one day, just maybe might have the same “impact” on the general public as Yahoo or Google.
Well, fast forward to 2010 – and while it might not be that “big” on the scene,
- it does have industry recognition with many big web design and SEO firms regularly add their clients sites to the directory
- it’s nearing the 20,000th user-submitted listing milestone, which is a remarkable achievement for a site with no big corporate backing
- it’s got an Alexa ranking floating around 100k (which is pretty cool)
- it’s Google Page Rank fluctuates from 5 to 6 (also good to have), and
- it is able to support an advertising income in its own right (which is way cool!)
I have pondered for some time about doing a nice “crisp” new site design to this site… to make it “look” a little more professional – to be honest, it sometimes still LOOKS like it is out of the turn of the century…
But I have resisted all attempts to do just that, after testing on a few sections to see what happened… with results that were NOT good for the earnings from those new pages. Was even thinking of a more “standard” colour change – back to good old white pages, normal blue and purple links etc… and decided against that – even though it does look a lot nicer and is great for usability.
Why? Well, green and gold are THE Aussie colours… so why go for something else, even if the web usability experts say it’s better? It’s not really broke… so I shouldn’t be trying to “fix” too much at the moment. You never know what you might stuff up!
But Meanwhile… Back in 2002…
Income from the Internet was still VERY scarce. Something had better start to happen real soon, or this little black duck might need to get a real job!
And after many years away from the teaching game, enjoying the self-employed “lifestyle” – especially on this gorgeous part of the NSW Mid-North Coast at Laurieton – that wasn’t necessarily a good thought.
Thankfully, in mid 2003, Google started “giving” money away (literally) when they introduced their Adsense program… More on that in the next article.