Is digital the right trail?

This is the first of a series of guest blog posts by Don Baumgardt about taking his business from a mostly print-based business to a digital business.

I love mountain biking. I’d rather be out there in the wilderness, sweating and hoping not to fall into a cactus, than doing just about anything else. Six years ago I started using ever-simpler GPS technology to map El Paso area trails. It wasn’t long before I realized was compiling information that no one else had and that maybe I could make a little money from my hobby. Who wouldn’t like that?

Phidev built my first web site 5 years ago. Back then, it allowed me to share trail info with others and to see if I could get paid to ride.  I didn’t have much of a plan for the site.  I was really only worried about bringing in enough revenue to cover my costs (bike gear, camping gear and beer did become costs).  I made a few dollars off of the site with little in the way of a long term plan.  Plus, I had a lot of other work keeping me too busy to make this anymore than just a hobby.

Into a Journey

In 2015, I decided that I’d put enough years into my last career and it was time to spend more time doing what I wanted. I put my business casual clothes away and decided that hiking and mountain biking clothes were all I wanted to wear.  I’m going to turn this obsession into a paying gig!  This year, GeoBetty has gone through the steps necessary to obtain permits to lead guided hikes and/or mountain bike rides in Franklin Mountains State Park, Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.  We also have a map and (outdated) web site of El Paso trail info.

Now I need to decide who I’m trying to reach with this hope for a more grown-up venture.  Where I can provide value for which people will give me real money?

Whenever I talked with Ares at Phidev about what I wanted to do, one of the firsts things he would ask was, “what are your goals, Don?”. To tell you the truth, I didn’t have a very good answer at first.  He mentioned, that not having a clear goal is a reason why so many websites fail. So, I wrote a mission statement to help me visualize what I wanted GeoBetty to become:

GeoBetty Mission

To be the definitive source for outdoor adventure information, inspiration and experiences in far west Texas and southern New Mexico. Helping locals find and participate in seeing new sights and experiencing new challenges. Helping visitors make decisions to come to the region and maximizing the enjoyment of their trips.  And, helping businesses who can assist these adventurers – destinations, gear retailers, fitness and nutrition companies, etc, – reach them.

Now I have a better idea who my target audiences are and what some of the possible revenue streams might be.  To succeed we need to:

  • Attract people willing to pay us to take them on tours in the area.
  • Provide trail and related information to help locals and visitors explore on their own.
  • Tell a larger audience what is so great about the outdoors in the El Paso Southwest.
  • Build a community (on the trail and online) for outdoor enthusiasts.
  • And, we need to do these things well enough that businesses are willing to be paid to affiliate with us.

One of my next tasks is to build the the team that will help me create this business and to come up with the procedures and guidelines to build a scalable outdoor adventure business. Another is to help build demand for such a business in a town where the great outdoors are not highly valued

Lastly, I need to market this business.  This story will be about how we plan and implement that marketing effort.  Especially the digital portion that involves the services of Phidev.  I’m excepting a great adventure – outdoors and indoors in the coming years.

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