I'm thinking about starting an events website for my town.
December 6, 2018 7:54 AM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about starting an events website for my town. Is it a good idea?

My town, in suburban NYC, has a lot of events, sports, auditions, galleries, etc. The local papers don't have events sections. The way people find out about events is by going to individual websites (hike at the preserve, crafts at the library, meetings at town fall), signs around town, ticketing websites, and Facebook.

I'm thinking, if I maintained a comprehensive events website, it would be to the greater good by helping these events be more successful, build community (maybe more than just parents would go to the elementary school holiday show; everyone would know about town meetings), and help people step away from Facebook for these needs.

I'm thinking mostly I would manually enter everything, but eventually some information such as the school sports calendars, could be directly linked/scraped from the source.

What kind of database situation would work best for this use? I don't anticipate needing photos, just text. Robust searching would be key. I'd love people to be able to find, for example, kids' events in the morning on Saturday, Dec 22, or which restaurants have live music on Thursdays.

And it would be nice if later I could add on features like sending out newsletters to people who signed up. Other future updates could allow people to bookmark or follow an event, or link it to their calendar.
posted by xo to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I have seen this done well, and it is very helpful. I say go for it. The one I used before I moved was this one, which is for a small town, but still a good model. It is also community news, which may or may not work with your idea.
posted by 4ster at 8:01 AM on December 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

I really love when a community or city has this! It’s great for new people who move there. When I moved to Baltimore, I heavily relied on this one super social lady’s blog who compiled all the things to do in the city. Here it is.
posted by buttonedup at 8:23 AM on December 6, 2018

I'd encourage you to go for it! Here's a site I like in my town, for your reference (though it doesn't have those snazzy features you mentioned in your post).
posted by too bad you're not me at 8:38 AM on December 6, 2018

I think this is a great idea. Depending on the number of events, it might be a LOT of work. Allowing folks to submit their own events through a web form will make it easier, but you will still spend a lot of time chasing down poorly advertised events.

One solution I'm aware of is Everwondr. The back-end is a little clunky, but it has a lot of features. No idea how their pricing works.

Does your town have a Chamber of Commerce or Tourism office? They might be interested in collaborating with you.
posted by toastedcheese at 9:30 AM on December 6, 2018 [3 favorites]

WordPress is great for this kind of thing. Host it at WP Engine and use a Studiopress theme. Use a plugin like The Events Calendar to get it off the ground quickly. (I can vouch for the fact that this is not a total garbage plugin. They even have an add-on called Community Events that will allow people to add their own event.

(I make about 80% of my money making WordPress sites. This advice will help you not be driven crazy by maintenance issues. When you consider installing more plugins to add whiz-bang functionality, stop yourself. :)

Good luck!
posted by nosila at 12:35 PM on December 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

My town has this and it's awesome! Do it!
posted by xammerboy at 9:50 PM on December 7, 2018

Great idea. But--if you're planning to make money from this, spend some time FIRST playing devil's advocate, running the idea by other entrepreneurs, and trying to kill your own idea. Do you have a sustainable revenue model?

There's a difference between loving and idea and thinking it's great vs. having a profitable project.

If you don't care about money, please disregard.
posted by 4midori at 11:15 AM on December 9, 2018

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