Our first advertiser was Tiretrends.com, out of Vancouver. That was back in maybe 2002? After much deliberation regarding the amount, we charged Tiretrends $300 per month to advertise on our site and were thrilled to be getting it. In eight years of increasing traffic, profile and revenue, we never charged Tiretrends more.
In 2003 I did a cross-country drive in the then futuristic Honda Civic Hybrid. On occasion, I sent editorial using an acoustic coupler from a payphone.
We published Murray Jackson’s car crosswords every week. They didn’t get big traffic, but people liked them, we liked Murray and we had room. Advertising pretty much covered the cost, so why not?
Likewise, we published Bill Vance’s vintage car columns. Bill was a vintage car authority; he knew just about everything about them. Again, not a lot of traffic, but Bill was a prolific and reliable contributor and we were happy to have his work on our site.
We had a terrific annual Canadian Buyer’s Guide. Every car with images, specifications and a price guide, too. You could go back over the years and check pricing and new model introductions. It was useful and fun.
An archive of home pages was created and a link to it placed in the menu. It went way back. You could pick a date, click and there would be CanadianDriver’s front page just as it was years ago, or last week. All the links worked; Grant’s son combed the site for broken links.
Every Christmas, Grant would put a wreath on the front page with Happy Holidays under it. On Remembrance Day, we’d put a poppy on the front page with Lest We Forget.
When we first started making money, we’d send a cheque for $25 to each of our contributors at Christmas time. When we were making more, we sent $50. When we were doing better, we sent everyone $100. They were always surprised and appreciative.
I always wondered (still do) why the US-based automotive sites Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds.com never set up in Canada. I expected them to. It wouldn’t have been hard.
At one point our site was completely duplicated by some outfit with servers based in China. I think they changed the name a bit: Canada Drives, or something like that. As I say, it was the entire site, but the links didn’t work. They stuck little pay-per-click ad’s on the pages. Eventually the site disappeared.
CanadianDriver.com didn’t bombard you with ad’s. We tried to make it so that nothing popped up, obscured the page, diverted you elsewhere or otherwise annoyed visitors. I think we were kind of the PBS of automotive sites. Yes, our revenue came from advertising, but we didn’t hit you over the head with it.
We didn’t divide articles into small sections so you’d have to click at the end of every paragraph to continue. Visitors got a choice: click to read an article on one page, or read it over two or three pages.
CanadianDriver.com offered trustworthy automobile journalism written by people you could count on. Targetted to consumers, our articles were designed to provide useful information that would help people make an informed decision when purchasing a vehicle.
However, we never tried to sell you a car!