Nonstop turns the big 1

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This morning — on Nonstop Honolulu’s first anniversary — I rise to edit another day’s edition of our local entertainment site. But unlike most mornings, where I take for granted that there’s always something new in our story queue, I reflect on the fact that we have 69 pages of content in our WordPress content management system.

This amounts to 1,363 posts, which have generated 14.3 million page views. All of these stories, reviews, photo galleries and videos were created by a team of contributors that includes some of Honolulu’s most socially networked and plugged-in bloggers, writers, photographers and videographers. In scanning back at our year’s worth of content, I see we truly hustled to stay on top of events, eating, nightlife, technology and entertainment in this city. And although I wouldn’t say Nonstop Honolulu is yet ubiquitous, it’s evolved into a solid local media brand with a savvy, loyal readership.

All this happened with just $4,000 in startup capital.

So on this morning, I pause to acknowledge what’s been accomplished during the past 365 days. And the word that best describes my feelings is grateful.

I’m grateful first to the people who are the heart and muscle of the site — the Nonstop team of contributors. Our original crew remains intact, a gang of seven that includes my co-founder and partner John Garcia, Tracy Chan, Melissa Chang, Ed Morita, Mari Taketa are Catherine Toth. But we’ve added many new regular contributors, including Myong Choi, Jermel-Lynn Quillopo, Doc Rock, Ryan Ozawa, Burt Lum, Dallas Nagata, Ed White and our newest nightlife photographer Jonas Maon.

Because of the drive and verve of this talented group, Nonstop has flourished as a grassroots consortium of digital journalists offering a shared platform of their work. Nonstop is a true media experiment in an era where digital media is evolving at a dizzying pace. Sometimes, what we’re attempting seems daunting, but the fact that we’ve survived even a year in the crowded Internet sphere suggests that manpower, teamwork and technological wherewithal can fuel even the most ambitious ideas.

But we wouldn’t be anywhere without our friends, supporters and partners.

Nonstop has become a viable media contender because our large network of friends and supporters have posted our content on Facebook, retweeted our links and helped promote the site to their friends. A decade ago, people would’ve laughed if you said you were going to start a media company with a few thousand dollars, no marketing or advertising budget and no widespread platform to showcase your work. The thought of relying on friends and their friends would have seemed naive and ludicrous. But that’s what we did with Nonstop. We’ve worked Facebook, Twitter and every other social networking platform, and we got our content out to broader audience.

We’ve also been fortunate to have some great partners who’ve helped us build our brand and got us involved in all kinds of great community events, including KITV, Streetgrindz.com, InsideOut Hawaii, Kamehameha Schools and our newest partner, The Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation. We’ll be working on an exciting project with the foundation this fall. (I’ll be blogging about this soon.)

Thank you, thank you, thank you

But of course, we wouldn’t have lasted without our readers, so my most sincere gratitude extends to all the people out there who’ve been reading our content and coming regularly to visit the site.

From analyzing our traffic data and comments, I know we have respectful, discerning readers who expect to be informed, engaged and entertained. They’ll reward better content with more clicks. As for the duds, they’ll pass on those, and by doing so, we’ve had to work harder and expand our skills.

Our audience is different that who we initially thought it would be. Instead of mostly drawing younger folks, which you might expect from a digital entertainment site, we span all ages, and we’re thrilled about it. Nonstop feels more organic than Metromix did (where many of us came from). We can present ourselves as we are, without apology, and we feel true kinship with our audience when we discuss new places to eat or share snaps and video from events we’ve covered. You’ve helped us create a community, and you’ve pushed us to innovate, expand and improve.

What we have to do now

Today may be a day to celebrate what’s been accomplished, but I know that there’s a lot to be done and improved. We have to expand our coverage, delving more into the entertainment sphere, but also sharpen our focus so we’re not dabbling in a little bit of everything and confusing readers about what Nonstop is about.

We also have to grow our audience. Social networking gave us a start, but now it’s time to reach people who aren’t plugged into those channels, but still are interested in topics we cover.

And finally, and most importantly, we have to turn Nonstop Honolulu into a profitable business. We need a strong, successful business plan to keep us thriving. We recently brought in Cory Mitsui, a rising go-getter with a strong business background, to help us sell advertising and market the site. And we’re brainstorming other ways to monetize the site and our efforts. As John and I said in recent texts to each other, it’s time to focus and get it done.

We’ll be celebrating soon

Although we’ve hit our first anniversary with seemingly little fanfare, we have big plans in the work that we’ll soon be announcing. They’ll be a big public event later this fall that we hope you all will attend, and we’ll be also be launching some things on the site to commemorate the year at Nonstop.

So again, with my deepest gratitude, thank you to everyone who’s contributed to Nonstop, supported Nonstop and read Nonstop. It was a thrilling year for us, and I’m grateful you’re all joining us for this fun, but unchartered, ride.

43 comments
JasonTomHNL
JasonTomHNL

I'm a little late on this too, but congratulations on turning the BIG ONE Nonstop Honolulu! You guys and gals ROCK!!!!! Hope to celebrate with you all. -Jason Tom

jennalanger
jennalanger moderator

I know I'm late to the party, but I hope you all are still celebrating! This site has connected me back with what I love about Hawaii and community, and I always love stopping by this site. You guys actually helped me learn on the job, and it's great to see how far @nonstophonolulu has come! Livefyre has kept us super busy, but I'll make sure to come check out the delicious food @Melissa808 is always sharing!

M
M

Conrgrats to you and the rest of Nonstop!

harrycovair
harrycovair

Congratulations on your 1 YEAR Anniversary. You're definitely one of the consistent online periodicals that I do read (even though I don't comment as much any more). I do enjoy the layout and the articles that you and your staff present, especially about fuud!

Mahalo and looking forward to your 2nd year accomplishments!

808marv
808marv

Happy 1st birthday to Nonstop! Thanks for all the great content and showing me that social networking isn't all that bad. Can't wait to see what you've got in store for the future. Party at Eat The Street!

FernandoPizarro
FernandoPizarro

Congratulations, Diane, John and the entire Nonstop team! I was honored to work with many of you at the old Advertiser and I consider your success one of the shining beacons of hope that talented people who do good work can thrive in this new media landscape. Thanks for giving all of us something to celebrate!

tmtiwamoto
tmtiwamoto

You guys are great! Keep on doing what you're doing. Congratulations, aloha!

hikino
hikino

Happy Birthday and Big Congrats!

Nonstop Honolulu and I are now linked forever--for it was my commenting here that led me (with the encouragement of the Twitter Goddess Melissa) to venture out into Twitter. It's been a wild ride for the both of us, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

In fact, this calls for a birthday haiku:

From vast nothingness,
It came, a new child born,
Beauty and wonder.

nonstopmari
nonstopmari moderator

we started out as an independent upstart w/ no backing except our own money and thousands of hours of reporting, legwork, writing, photographing, videotaping, editing, managing and building the site that we put in bc we want to, we love our beats, love the team, love what nonstop stands for and what it's become ... and we're still here! i love that ppl feel free to talk to us on the site and off, come up and say hi and shoot the breeze, come out to our events. and of course i love not having to do the whole spiel explaining what nonstop is, remember that? only a year. this is absolutely the most fun job i've ever had.

BixbyHo
BixbyHo

Congratulations to the mighty staff and crew of the USS Nonstop Honolulu, it is my hope and expectation that you will continue bringing us the most awesome stories about life in Hawai`i through pictures, videos, tweets, status updates, instagrams, e-mails, comment updates, and much much more!

Mahalo for the awesome job you guys are doing and keep it up,

From a grateful Chairman.

annedreshfield
annedreshfield

Congratulations, everyone! Looking forward to more of your great content. :)

christa.cw
christa.cw

IT'S ONLY BEEN A YEAR?!??!!

woah. happy birthday baybeeee. :)

ben
ben moderator

I love you, Nonstop!

chant808
chant808

Got a little bit misty-eyed when I read this. We couldn't have done it without you, Diane. Thank you for being a good leader and inspiring us so much to grow and hone our talents. Three years ago, I would have raised an eyebrow at the term "digital journalist," and not taken it seriously; now it's a title that I'm proud to claim.

NeilYamamoto
NeilYamamoto

Many congratulations to the Nonstop team! I remember when it first started, there was quite some buzz around it, but I never thought it'd be something like this, 14.3 MILLION views, WOWZERS!!! Good job guys! I think it has a lot to do with the level of engagement you have with your readers and followers, you're all not that "untouchable media types" huddled in some press tent or something like that, you guys are truly beat reporters, out there, doing what you do, and that level of transparency gives nonstop an endearing quality... Good job guys, congratulations again, and we'll see you all on Friday for Spicy: Eat The Street!

CAPSUN
CAPSUN

Congratulations and mahalo for all that you do to keep us informed of what's going on. And, like any 1-year-old, my how much you've grown.

johngarcia
johngarcia moderator

@JasonTomHNL Never too late, Jason! Thanks for the comment. It's been a great year, but looking forward to 2012 and an even better year!

Hope you can join us for our big Kaka‘ako shindig on October 22nd! We're celebrating one year of Nonstop and rounding out with our Best of Nonstop awards ceremony. Would love to see you there!

Hope you're well! — JG

DianeSeo
DianeSeo

@FernandoPizarro Thanks Fernando. I enjoyed working with you as well at The Advertiser and very much appreciate the support.

harrycovair
harrycovair

@nonstopmari It's your fault that peeps stop me and ask "Eh, you was eating with da nonstop da kine..." or "Eh, that was you in Nonstop?" LOL!

So much for being in the background.

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

@nonstopmari I still have to explain it! But less often than before, for sure. It cracks me up that I have a new persona(?). This weekend, wherever I went, people asked, "Are you the Melissa Chang?" I'm not Melissa Chang or even a very fashionable "THE Melissa Chang." Hahahahahaha

I do like that people find us approachable, which is part of the charm of being on a startup team.

DianeSeo
DianeSeo

@BixbyHo thank you. You're the kind of supporter I was talking about in the article. Great meeting you IRL last week too.

DianeSeo
DianeSeo

@christa.cw thank you for all the support and invitations. We love your parties.

DianeSeo
DianeSeo

@LFJeremy yes! Today is a day when I myself will use lots of !!!s And thanks for the kind comments. We love kind comments!

DianeSeo
DianeSeo

@chant808 hey, now you've got me teary-eyed. You and I go way back now, and have seen a whole lot of party pics. Haha. Thanks Tracy for the comments. You are an incredible asset on this team and someone who knows how to hustle, learn and get continuously better.

johngarcia
johngarcia moderator

@CAPSUN Mahalo, @capsun and thank you for your support! Hoping you continue to spread the word and read us daily!

nonstopmari
nonstopmari moderator

@Melissa808 at least ur 'the' comes w/ ur own name. try being 'the one who eats w/ melissa chang' X \

BixbyHo
BixbyHo

@DianeSeo I am flattered but I am just a small pawn in the trillions of hits Nonstop Honolulu receives.

jkretch
jkretch moderator

@johngarcia@LFJeremy@livefyre It's been one hell of a year! Thanks so much John for all your support over the year, we can't thank you enough for letting us be a part of your amazing community. Here's to an even better year 2!

johngarcia
johngarcia moderator

@MyongChoi This is great, Myong! This means that there are lot's more eyeballs out there to expose! Thanks so much for your contributions!

MyongChoi
MyongChoi

A lot of my friends and co-workers aren't heavily involved in social media and I'd say about 90% of the people I approached in my social world did not know what Nonstop was, which I found very surprising.

So my goal is to keep plugging our name and site to those who aren't in tune with social media (like Diane says in her article) so that we can expand our fan base.

But I think you guys have done an awesome job in this first year and I'm so excited to be on board for what's to come!