In the America of old, people used to turn to their neighbors for support before turning to the government.
There was a large number of small independent businesses along with an active network of local charities and community organizations.
I believe that such a structure is more resilient than a hierarchical system that starts with the government and trickles down.
I believe that the first step to restoring the ideals of the America of old is for people to become aware of their local community and for people to look toward each other before looking to big government and big finance.
Believing that actions speak louder than words, I began developing local web sites. I started this project up North and gave away the first sites I created. The sites I created had a visual guide, directory, calendar, forum and other interactive features. I removed all of the all of the interactive features because they proved to be spam magnets.
My business model was to use affiliate ads to fund a site that provided free listings and internet resources for local businesses.
The first set of community portals had marginal success, but not enough to fund a business with employees.
I gave away all the sites but Missoula.WS (My partners didn't like the WS extension).. In 2002, I moved back to Salt Lake and created Community Color project which would create community directories for the Beehive State. I later decided to expand the project to include directories for my home state of Colorado. These are DenverColor.com, BoulderColor.com and gjct.com (Grand Junction).
The goal of this project is simply to promote awareness of the local community. The full list of sites is on CommunityColor.com.
The basic model of the project is that I give free listings to all of the sites I can find for a town. If a company has an affiliate program, I join the affiliate program and run their banners as ads on the site.
The project has 27,000 active listings. Through the years, I've pulled
some 12,000 broken links. About 5% of the links are affiliate links. The
rest go to local blogs, businesses, artists, churches and non-profit
groups. I mark the affiliate links with a *.
I put affiliate ads on a coupon site called aFountainOfBargains.com . aFoB is not a very good coupon site. Truthfully, I find coupons and internet commerce tedious. My disdain for the industry clearly shows. A good couponer gets excited about ten percent off UGG Boots, but my eyes curl back in my head and I just list the link while wishing I was doing something else.
Truthfully, what I would love to be doing right now is traveling from town to town holding meetings about free market health care reform and the advantages that free societies have over top-down engineered societies.
Anyway, Black Friday is coming up, so I've been infusing the sites with online coupons and holiday specials. What I do is add the coupons to aFountainOfBargains.com. I press a magic button and the coupons get loaded into pages for the affiliate merchants on the community sites.
In theory this is supposed to increase online conversions and result in some income.
I post the income from the Community Color project on this page. For the last six quarters, I've made just under $300 per quarter (a hundred dollars a month). The cost of the site was $400 a quarter. I sold several domains and my smartphone and got costs down to $300 a quarter. Several years ago, I was actually earning up to $2,000 a quarter. That is not enough to hire a minimum wage worker (my goal when I started was to hire a minimum wage work.
Anyway, I still have the dream of holding a meeting on free market health care reform sometime next year. By infusing the sites with coupons, I might make enough to attend or hold a meeting next year.