I have joined a cooperative of enterprising ladies, including my daughter, who are organising a gothic bellydance event in Leicester in June 2007. We've found that we've been able to do most of our PR and marketing via the web so far, using niche groups at Tribe.net and LiveJournal.
The website was created with one page initially to which the MySpace diverted enquiries. Our aim was to collect email addresses of people who were interested in attending the event. I use List Messenger Pro to manage the database and to send out email newsletters.
List Messenger also allows people to confirm their subscription and to opt out. I haven't used the facility to design forms to collect preferences yet.
Paying for the software meant that I did get a personal reply from the creator, and I can use the ticket system to get priority support but otherwise, I have to use the forum just like everybody else. A free version of the software can support 100-200 subscribers.
The Gothla website is designed for a specific event, and thus is likely to have a limited lifetime – unless the weekend proves so successful that the organisers decide to do it again.
Thus we have focused on just the information likely to be required by attendees. We've used PayPal for bookings, but also allow people to download a booking form to send with a cheque if they prefer. We've used a Google map to highlight the whereabouts of the different venues, bus and rail stations and hotels.
Each member of the cooperative has her own email address. One of the benefits of doing the website is that it seems to have focused the organiser's attention on their specific roles – a great aid to management of the project.
I commend Compila, the webhost, which was in turn recommended to me, for the facilities it provides for just £20 a year, with second year free. 250Mb web space, unlimited POP3 email addresses, 2 MySQL databases and unmetered bandwidth.
We have also used MySpace and YouTube to garner interest. And I have learnt how to convert a video in DVD format to something that you can see and hear on the web. Every web project pushes the boundaries that much further.
First published 15th February 2007.