Thanks for being with us. This is a rather informal reflection on our history and our future here at Storyteller.net.
Storyteller.net (SN) was founded in 1997 by Mike Abrams and me. Originally, our goal was to provide a quality site that was really “everyone’s” site. It was never our intention that the SN site would be “Sean’s” site or “Mike’s” site. We wanted a place for all tellers and listeners everywhere.
In that five-year period, we did some good things. We were one of the very few places that a teller could get a free web page and be as available to the community as the more well-known tellers, without the cost of a web designer. We offered these free pages for many years and to this day, tellers can have a page with at no out-of-pocket expense. And, our most basic listing is completely free or any charge or obligation. Tellers have never needed to pay a fee to belong to the Storyteller.net organization.
We knew we were on to something. We had some interesting discussions to merge with other sites and organizations, but none of these ever felt right for us. SN was unique.
Our use of RealAudio was also at the time on the cutting edge. Ordinary tellers who might not otherwise have the opportunity could have a story of their choice available on the Internet, a kind of “audio brochure” for less than the price of a postage stamp per day.
We were at first the only specialized Internet location where tellers of any level or exposure could sell their CD’s, tapes, Tshirts, walking sticks, bumper stickers and more without setting up a high priced store. This was a great service for many tellers and a few made a tidy profit. However, we here at SN were losing money very quickly and had to, sadly, close down the store. It was a great experiment and one we now see emulated by others.
In the past few years, we have seen many other sites “come of age” and develop some excellent features. We’ve had some personnel changes- but are eternally thankful to people like Mike, Laurie-Ann, Michelle, Katrina, Warren, Erin, Mark, Bill, Charlene, Patty and more that helped us get to where we were. I am sure that I am missing some folks in this list. Sometimes there were great people behind the scenes that only Mike knew about.
Our Audio Amphitheater was a complete success and something that no one had done before. Outside of the site’s playground, lots of folks visited the Amphitheater first and heard known and unknown tellers share wisdom, stories, humor and challenge. By the way, the Amphitheater is coming back.
I don’t recall anyone having a self-serve events calendar when we first began, although my memory may be fuzzy on that one. I am not sure if to this day anyone else offers this besides us. There are some static calendars out there.
During all this time, however, many tellers with us continued to get excellent traffic to their sites and we know that many were getting regular bookings because of their listings on SN. As a matter of fact, many tellers on our site get far more traffic and bookings than I have...from a site I helped to build. That has always proven to me that this truly is not “my” site, but “ours.” It has been and will continue to be our pleasure and honor to help so many enjoy the Art of Telling.
In the last few years we did fall into long periods of silence between updates. Frankly, the work of the entire site fell to me. It became difficult and expensive to maintain. We had gone from being one of the best to one of the ‘Oh, I remember that site.” I am grateful to the many of you, who stuck with us while we worked on all this. Interesting enough, we never really lost traffic counts to the site.
I was faced with a choice. Either cease operations of SN or once again restore us to the forefront of Storytelling websites. Again, not to build “my” site, but “our” site. To close down would be a great disservice to many tellers who have become friends over the years.
I chose to keep with you. With us. With the community.
I recently met a young webmaster who could program websites with his eyes closed and still produce some fine looking and operational sites. Although he knew nothing about Storytelling, he knew that we had some potential with the SN site and agreed to work with us. With the new webmaster assuring me that we could automate many parts of a rather labor intensive site, we began to plan the new SN site. We consolidated some of the background hardware and services, wrote new programming and spent many hours building this new site.
On June 1st, with a renewed commitment from our staff, we launched the new Storyteller.net. And, I submit to you humbly, you will find it to be once again a “cutting edge” site for us all. Look what you have today!
*Self serve web pages for tellers with three new levels including Basic, Premium to Super Premium. And yes, you can get a really good Premium listing and not pay cash for it.
*Daily updates to Storytelling news around the world. Send us your press releases!
*Random stories, Amphitheater, books and more that appear every time you click on a new page.
* Links to both RealAudio(tm) and WindowsMedia(tm) stories.
*An events calendar that allows folks to add their own events 24/7.
*A consistent archive of audio and text stories.
*A brand new, consistent and up-to-date searchable archive of all articles and the ability to invite your friends to read a specific article.
*We have also added a good looking weekly newsletter that goes out to hundreds and soon to be thousands of opt-in subscribers.
What’s Coming In the Future??
*Regional Representatives who will help shape the direction of this site and be direct contributors of interviews and content. Maybe you would like to join us?
*Some unique opportunities for tellers to establish there own solid web presence using us as their foundation.
*Even more Amphitheater interviews
*Based on support and income, we plan to be present at several festivals every year. You can still hear stories and interviews from our presence in Orem, Utah in 1999.
* Storyteller.net On the Road! We will be offering several workshops a year with Storyteller.net staff and guest tellers to help you learn to tell and use stories. From beginners to experienced, we want to help you learn this fine art. Watch for our workshops starting in the early part of the last quarter of 2002.
So, this is our Anniversary present to you! Our five years have brought us this far, what might we do together in the future?
This is your site. Let’s build it together.
K. Sean Buvala