hands clappingIt’s official. Vancouver, WA-based internet hosting provider, Dotster, has announced the winners of their “Next Big Small Business” Contest and LikeTheDew.com swept third place.

Dotster’s contest sought to find businesses “using the Internet to turn their personal passion into successful small business ventures, and for standing out as some of Dotster’s most promising small business customers.” Contestants submitted essays to make it to the Top 20 finalists before being invited to submit videos that described how they have used their websites to grow their businesses.

Dotster’s selection of LikeTheDew as one of the “Next Big Small Businesses” is really good news. Here’s the not as good news: There’s no dough for the Dew for a third place finish — just some promotion that we expect will bring many new readers to the site. We still appreciate the applause and are clapping with our empty hands. Mostly we’re clapping for the wonderful writers and journalists whose stories, essays and reviews make it possible for LikeTheDew to be, well, like the dew: refreshing and pure, condensed and formed during long nights. The drops of moisture are pure sweat equity.

Turning dew into dollars:
Like most businesses in America today, LikeTheDew has designs on one day generating revenue that will be shared with the authors. Scale, defined in site visits, will eventually create value for sponsors. However, it is not a simple task to create methods that will be pleasant for the reader, unobtrusive and dignified, while still reaping benefit of valued and relevant relationships for future partners. We value our writers and our readers too much to forgo the quiet and inherent independence enjoyed by this platform and this community for good storytelling, news and opinion, and free speech. We have been very good at keeping expenses down (donated servers and volunteers keep our expenses at about $1.50 per month, give or take a few beers). We expect we will soon find the right formula (comment or send your ideas to: [email protected]). We will reach the dew point.

Congratulations to the first and second place winners, who are making money with their sites (we suspect some extra points in the contest scoring for this). Here’s our video submission followed by the full news release from Dotster via Reuters.


Dotster Announces Winners of the Next BIG Small Business Contest

VANCOUVER, WA, Aug 20 (MARKET WIRE) — Dotster, Inc., a leading provider of Internet business services, today announced the three winners of its Next BIG Small Business contest: Bike Tires Direct, The Ad Diner, and Like The Dew. Dotster recognizes each of these companies for using the Internet to turn their personal passion into successful small business ventures, and for standing out as some of Dotster’s most promising small business customers. Winners were chosen based upon videos they submitted that described how they have used their websites to grow their businesses.

“Many great small businesses participated in our contest and it was a tough choice to select only three winners from our finalist submissions,” said Clint Page, CEO of Dotster. “We are pleased to honor these exceptional customers. They each exemplify the idea that, in business, the combination of passion, necessity and the market reach provided by a well-run online presence can drive great success.”

First Place: Bike Tires Direct. Started in Lou Doctor’s garage in Portland, Ore., Bike Tires Direct is now a large, online cycling retailer with revenue exceeding $1 million. “The business, like so many great companies, started in my garage and is rooted in my passion for cycling,” said Lou Doctor, founder. “My sons started selling my extra cycling gear on eBay, and then, with the help of Dotster, we started a website that has driven business growth over the past seven years.”

Second Place: The Ad Diner. Founded based on the need for small business to have access to affordable, high-quality advertising, The Ad Diner enables businesses to buy pre-existing advertising that is customized for use in their local market. Meanwhile, advertising agencies and freelancers can earn royalty payments when they resell their work on The Ad Diner website.

Third Place: Like The Dew. Started as a passion project, LikeTheDew.com fills a coverage gap with a refreshing take on political news and Southern culture while helping to promote the work of displaced traditional print journalists and freelancers. It’s an all-volunteer journal that will be exploring non-traditional revenue sources to share with its regular authors.

To view all the finalist video submissions, please visit: http://www.dotster.com/nextbigsmb/.

About Dotster, Inc.
Dotster is a leading full-service provider of essential resources for businesses to get online and grow online. It has helped more than one million businesses and individuals establish their web presence, build their websites, and drive revenue. Dotster offers its customers a complete set of services including the ability to get online with a domain name and email address; build a major web presence with web hosting and custom website design; generate traffic with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), website promotion and social media platforms; and reduce IT costs with VPS hosting.

For more information, please visit www.dotster.com or call (360) 449-5900.

Embedded Video Available: http://www2.marketwire.com/mw/release_html_b1?release_id=529692

Media contact:
Alyson Angelo
Edelman
(503) 471-6859

Copyright 2009, Market Wire, All rights reserved.


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Terri Evans

Terri Evans

Terri Evans is 25+year marketing communications professional, a partner at LeslieEvansCreative and Bcauz marketing (cause-related). She has been a food columnist for Atlanta Intown and Atlanta Buckhead newspapers, and a contributing writer for Georgia Magazine, the Atlanta Business Chronicle and other publications. Evans was also a finalist in a Southern Living cooking competition. She is (and has long been) at work on a novel set in the South (of Georgia) and the South (of France). She's always cookin' up somethin'.

18 Comments
  1. Wow — Congratulations! I’ve enjoyed reading your site, and wish you luck with future advertising success. The media industry is changing so dramatically, it’s great that the goal of this project is to promote displaced journalists.

  2. I feel like the little girl in the Shake ‘n Bake commercial, “And I helped!”

  3. Melinda Ennis

    Lee, Keith and Teri deserve major kudos for this!!! Let’s all give them a rousing hand.
    Here are some ways dewsters can help today:
    -Send a link to the Dew with your endorsement to everyone in your address book. That’s called “viral marketing” (or a pyramid scheme, just kidding). Because, if you send to twenty, and each of those twenty sends to twenty more, etc.—you get the drift.
    -Join Facebook, if you haven’t already (it takes about 2 seconds, and if I can do it, you can). Post about Like the Dew on your page. You can also send your “friends” stories and ask them to become a “Like the Dew” fan.
    So just DEW IT, today.

  4. Chris Wohlwend

    Fantastic!!! (And I don’t allow my students to use even one exclamation point!).

  5. Jack Wilkinson

    Hey! somewhere, Manfred Mann’s smilin’…and Keith, Lee and Terri, you should be, too. congratulations! and many thanks. now, the first checks will go out, what, monday? tuesday?
    Dew on,
    Jack

  6. Congratulations. I am thrilled for you. Now all you have to do is figure out how to monetize it.

  7. Doug Cumming

    Dewsters:

    What if you set up a password protection firewall, and charged a mere $1 a month, or $10 a year, to every reader?

    My guess is that most if not all of us Dew readers would pay that. How much would that raise, and how would you invest that – to maintain and improve the quality and distinctiveness of the site?

    I hold to the theory, famously suggested by Walter Isaacson’s argument for micropayments, that people who don’t pay anything for what they read on the Web don’t really care much for it, don’t remember it much, and don’t have a relationship with it. That nihilism rubs off on the ads, which is why the Internet turns out to be a lousy vehicle for advertising. The worst of this hits any newspaper that re-makes itself to be like, to look like and to act like the Web. (The AJC, anyone?)

    “Like the Dew,” on the other hand, has a distinctive personality, and is about good writing. Sure, paying readers might e-mail good articles to friends for free, but so what? That just spreads the word and gets more paying subscribers. And I bet you could attract better paying advertisers with a paying subscriber base. The key is that you can’t get the brand, or these essays and reports, from anywhere else on the Web (the way Web surfers can easily get their news, whether international or hyperlocal, from alternatives to the AJC’s hysterical, chaotic website).

    Maybe tiny subscription payments won’t work. It’s just an idea, and we need experiments and data these days. There will be no future business model as good as the old newspaper-ad dynamo. But this is a good time to experiment with a variety of models. Let a thousand flowers bloom.

  8. Lee Leslie

    Jack – If he’s smiling, Mannfred Mann (aka: Manfred Sepse Lubowitz) is touring with Earth Band and are appearing tonight in Gottingen (Germany).

    Mike – Thank you for the suggestion via email – would you care to post it as a comment here?

    Doug – Micropayments are on the list, but it is a long list – most on hold while we continue to work on improving the site/reader experience, building this community of writers (and their followers) and increasing unique regular visitors. While promotion dollars would could help, once that happens, we have to involve accountants and lawyers, etc. and the scale just doesn’t yet warrant that. We expect to use non-paid viral and social marketing techniques, at least in the short-term – and need everyone to talk up the Dew by emailing stories, posting comments to Facebook, inviting their friends, twittering, Diggin’ the Dew, etc.

    In the next week or so, we will be sending out email questionnaires to authors, Dewsletter subscribers and non-registered site visitors in an attempt to see what we are dewing right and what we should be dewing to make it better. The results will be published and we expect they will shape what decisions are eventually made.

    We are also considering some experiments during the next few months using reader participation promotions tied to specific editorial (we have some companies which will donate prizes to help attract new visitors); some sponsored editorial focus (while, of course, maintaining separation of church and state – likely to be cause related, and/or tourism/food related); implementing author-controlled story pages (basically, offering, but not requiring, control to the author of his or her story page for ads or some donation mechanism for which they would receive total benefit); appropriate ways to integrate advertising or sponsorship in the Dewsletter and appropriate places on the site; even some retail strategies.

    One important note to keep in mind – this is supposed to be fun. I hope it is and it has to stay that way. There’s no current pressure to “monitize” the Dew. We continue the talk of the possibility of making it a non-profit (as opposed to its current form of almost no expenses or revenues) or a coop. Just be assured, whatever we dew, the readers and writers of the Dew will be involved in the discussion and the decision – and share in the rewards.

    Keep the ideas and comments coming.

  9. Myra Blackmon

    And I was already proud to be a Like the Dew writer! That’s great!
    To get most anything going requires capital and there aren’t many ways to get that:
    a) Inherit it or already have it (and be willing to risk it)
    b) Borrow it, preferably at no or low interest (like from your future inheritance)
    c) Raise it. The big boys do that from investors. Other people do it by selling stuff, like t-shirts and coffee mugs, of which everyone knows there is a serious world-wide shortage.
    d) Save it. I think most of us are too old to count on that option, especially after the bath our retirement funds took last year!
    e) Steal it. Even riskier than investing your own money.
    Since none of those seems to be a viable option right now, looks like we’ll have to earn it as we go. The idea of a modest subscription charge looks good to me, and the timing is right. If Rupert Murdoch can do it, so can we.

    My old friend Sparky Newsome of the Washington, Ga. News-Reporter charges an annual subscription, equivalent to the in-town price of the weekly, for a Web-based subscription. If you don’t want to pay for it, you can wait two weeks and read it for free.
    The bonus for me is that I get the Internet one on Wednesday, but traditional subscribers get it on Thursday. So now, I can call my Daddy and tell him what’s going to be in the paper the next day. He thinks I’m amazing!

    I’d be willing to work on the subscription option a bit.

  10. My congratulations to all the journalist who contribute. I would be willing to pay for this Dew News. I pay for a paper from the AJC each day and it is not nearly as entertaining as Like the Dew! I could change my subscription!

  11. I’m just pleased as punch, as we say in the South.

  12. Terri Evans

    Thanks, Kay. We should have some “punch” to celebrate the good dewing of our wonderful contributors! Wish you’d join us???

  13. Of course I’ll be there to celebrate my extraordinary colleagues and very readable writers.

  14. Keith, Terri and Lee,

    Wow! Love me, love me dew.

  15. Terri Evans

    Jennifer, you could write for Manfred Mann, or better yet, the Beatles.

Comments are closed.