Almost 2.5 years – and we’re still around!
Who would have thunk it? Not too many, as I seem to recall but that’s OK with this guy. All the naysayers somehow disappeared into the frivolous world of utter insignificance. Not because their opinion on our outlook didn’t matter – but really, because their lack of understanding for this endeavor had no consequence on anything, after all.
Travels to the past…
What a lesson I have learned throughout these last ~30 months. On April 16th of 2010, I stepped out of the (then sufficiently hot and embarrassing) spotlight of being the Seaplane Pilots Association’s Forum Administrator. I knew the circumstances under which I had decided to leave would be unlikely to ever afford me the slightest credit or acknowledgement from the association, nor would a public word of appreciation ever cross the lips of any of the groups representatives. I left, knowing that I had done everything I was able to do, to help SPA to get on the right path with their online forum, website and social media conduct. I also left, knowing that those challenged by my actions, letters and statements would look less than kindly upon me, from that point forward. I was burned out and very tired of wasting countless hours in battle with characters who had absolutely no understanding of what I did. I certainly felt as if I could no longer try to bridge the gap between a disconnected leadership team and a enthusiastic member body wishing to see a flourishing discussion forum.
Conception and Birth
At or around the end of March, I spent several days in Massachusetts visiting with friends. During a luxury McDonalds meal before our visit to Foxwood Casino in Connecticut I discussed stepping down from my volunteer role to start an independent discussion forum for seaplane pilots. A napkin served as the paper of choice to explain my idea, concept and plan. The receipt from McDonalds and the napkin went back home to Maine with me for further thinking. To this day, I remember my friend telling me:
Look, Jason – you can either continue to run your head in and complain, or set yourself free from all of it and start your own show! You have great passion for this cause, you understand the concept of what members want and you are an excellent communicator. If it fails, it fails, so what? At least you did something and didn’t waste your time trying to whisper to people who won’t ever hear you anyways…
The idea was firmly planted. I knew I had internally given up on SPA and that the only way to go for me was FORWARD. I didn’t know when and how, but I knew I would. The next few weeks were spend researching options and fielding interest with fellow enthusiasts, many of whom are still with us these days.
The Big Bang!
On April 13th I announced my stepping down, soliciting a new volunteer to step forward and wrote several emails to SPA operatives about my impending departure. Effective April 16th., I was done, without a single response from SPA. I purchased and registered a domain name (back then it was jasonjamesbaker.com/seaplaneforum) that very night and shortly after that, secured seaplaneforum.com as the permanent name of the site. It took me several days to decide on the best software, install and test certain features. Just a short seven days later (marathon nights!) on April 22nd., I launched the site. From this point forward, I spend several days inviting pilots and acquaintances made throughout the years to my site. And they came!!!
Here’s probably the point to thank my parents, Tim McCormack, Daryl Doherty, Glenn Guilfoile, Robert Kittine, Mike Ski, Ford Wilson and Steve Riggins as well as John Staber for being my bounce buddies, confidants and advisers – but also for being the forums recruiters. Be that in letting me ramble, worry, or predict the sky to fall, today I feel that these guys had more confidence in this forum and me than I had. One of today’s really helpful parts of the site is our new moderator/ co administrator known by the name of S Robichaud. From posting countless news articles, helping members, to help and tactical advisory to me, nothing is out of the question and the workload relief for me has been a refreshing thing. Thank you, S! Without each one of these people (two are missed from our group these days), I would have likely given up for the sheer frustration of having technical issues. Thank you also to all the active members and those who stuck it out, staying as patrons and supporters, posters and friends.
Today – Growth – Goals – Plans?
We have grown to 383 members with a bold goal of reaching 500 before 2012 is over. Ha! I admit, the goal seems unrealistic. We started 2012 with 282 members and have subsequently gained 101 new ones from all over the planet at the time of this writing. This excludes roughly 35 accounts that were deleted due to misuse, or lack of ever logging on to our site upon registration. Our active member ratio seems to hover (much like the supporting member ratio) at or around 10%. This means, we need to recruit and retain 10 members to gain one fairly active or supporting member. We have proven that more talking among ourselves causes others to join in and it certainly causes many more readers to follow us. 343 Twitter Followers! plus 87 Facebook Like’s. Compared to the early days, we are well visited. Do we really realize our reach?
To continue our success and reach more pilots and enthusiasts, the site will have to continue growing. Seaplaneforum.com depends on sound financial support from our industry partners, but also on the tremendous support from our membership body. This support is meaningful not only from a revenue aspect, recruiting and referring pilots to us is extremely important too. Think of this website as a networking & enthusiasts website – and while you’re at it, think of this site as a “Potential Advocacy Allie“. We successfully raised a lot of attention in support of C-SPA with its Waldo Lake Issue, when no-one else spoke a word about it, at least initially. Yet, the seaplane industry is hesitant to acknowledge discussion boards as viable for advertising and marketing. We experience extremely limited support from our industry, despite the fact that we are representing a lot of general aviation pilots. It will remain to be seen for how long expensive magazine advertising (to shrinking membership numbers) within the associations will suffice. I personally think that advertising in print magazines is on its way out the door, but I am young enough to be able to wait for others to realize it too. Sponsoring our site isn’t a click scheme as on other sites and it is more involved. This is a deliberate choice by me, because I believe our industry needs a new approach to communication and community involvement. In other words: “I don’t want your banner any more than I want you to be an actively involved part of our community“. If you are in this industry and think Seaplaneforum.com is “too small” for your worthy dollars, or doesn’t deserve your support for political correctness reasons – please think again.
The site isn’t about Jason Baker, the alleged “Anti Association Guy from Maine” and it isn’t competing with any association or other message board out there. Our sites role and job, but also our opportunity is as multifaceted as our international membership. I have personally verified 95% of my members, many of whom carry tremendous experiences, expertise and know how our industry and youngsters could use. Each one of them is worth talking to! True story…
The journey continues and it isn’t over until the fat lady sings! Join us today!