Per usual we were asleep at the switch and didn’t realize that November 17 marked the 6th birthday of the Nation Network. We can only imagine that this is foreshadowing to days where we will forget our wife’s birthday and most of our children’s names and birthdays as well. Sorry whomever you may be, we have a lot going on in this brain of ours* and sometimes things slip through the cracks.
Back in the day we had this dream to make an Oilers related website. "Sports reporting is soooo boring" we would tell anyone who would listen. "Where is the humour? Where is the snarkiness? Why is TSN/Sportsnet so stodgy?" In short we wanted a place to read legit information about the only team that matters in sports then cause a level 12 ruckus with our fellow fans.
Now remember kids – this was a long time ago. Now we have the instagram, the twitter and a variety of places to piss and moan with other hockey fans but back in 2006 most hockey talk was limited to water cooler blib blab or telling off your buddies over a game of poker. "Yeah but what are you going to do about it?" people would reply. "You aren’t in the media, don’t know how to develop code, sell ads or anything. This is just idle chit chat – screw you."
As is the case with most companies, we decided to build OilersNation.com despite any track record of success, appropriate skill sets or brains for one reason and one reason alone: to shut up critics and score babes in the process. So we tricked our business partner into splitting the cost and took it upon ourselves to hire a local developer and build what was the first iteration of OilersNation.
We joined forces with the now departed @bingofuel – note: he isn’t dead or anything he just sold out and ran away rich – and contacted all of the Oilers bloggers at the time to see if they were interested in writing for our fledgling site. Despite offers of pittance for pay and wild speculation "the site will kick ass one day" not a single online scribe took the time to email us back a refusal. It was just silence.
"Now what in the hell are we going to do?" we lamented with our business partner @thesquireyeg over beers, "we don’t have any writers at all." After several more thinking beers, then a couple rage beers, some shots to quell our fears and doubts we then downed a final rye and coke and had the final bit of clarity needed to concoct a plan.
"Fine I got us into this mess. I’ll write for the first year." "You? But what do you know you are barely literate" came @thesquireyeg’s reply. "Nothing at all really" we agreed. "But what the hell nobody loves the Oilers more than me, I’ll figure something out." And write we did – garbage articles that only a guy who barely got through English 30 and was barred entry into junior high sex education classes "due to immaturity" could.
And the site got off the ground. Then in year two we convinced @thesquireyeg to double down on the thing and throw all the remaining money we had at the site and we were able to convince Robin Brownlee and Jason Gregor to join the squad giving us some much needed exposure and waaaaaaay better content. Then came the incomperable Jonathan Willis and everyone’s favourite back-on-the-radio-host Lowetide.
And away we went.
6 years, one lockout and one incorrect prediction of the 14th Oilers Captain later the Nation Network is a real thing. Just look at our screenshotted excel spreadsheet above. Holy crap. Not bad for a company whose dress code is "optional" and who has literally made every mistake possible in the first six years of operation.
Update: Look at this graph the boys just made showing our traffic since inception after laughing at my tables above. Classic graphing fellas.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY NATION
A big big thank you to everyone who is involved in the Nation Network. From our iron fisted overlord Kent Wilson, to all of our writers that crank out sweet articles 365 days a year to our intrepid developer @citizenalpha and our sales team in Edmonton and now Toronto.
But most of all a big birthday kiss goes out to everyone who reads these sites on a day to day basis. You could be watching cats fight on YouTube, playing Clash of Clans on your iPhone or (God forbid) doing actual work, talking to loved ones or learning to play the viola.
Thank you for forgoing all of that in favour of reading the Nations, playing our games, buying our gear and not doing denial of service attacks. Six years in the game we are more determined now than ever to kick ass. Our future plans include more site acquisitions, launching new Nation sites in MTL and our first US market and more podcasts than ever before. Oh and we are working on making NationTV and now have all this video equipment no one can figure out how to use**
Big plans for a six year old who wasn’t expected to live past month one.
The lesson to learn from all of this? Follow your dreams and do whatever the hell you want despite whatever people say or the problems you face along the way. Unless your dreams are to kidnap and murder most of the Harlem Globetrotters. That ain’t cricket – you totally shouldn’t do that. All other dreams though – do it.
Love and kisses,
Wanye von Gretz IV, DDB DDS MD.
*Eberle, Jordan for the most part.
**And a world class mega babe contracted to be our host