Hello, I'm David,
I started the England's North East website englandsnortheast.co.uk some years ago originally as a hobby and it's continued to grow in popularity. It covers Northumberland, Durham, Newcastle, Tyneside, Sunderland, the Tees Valley and North Yorkshire.
Absolutely love doing this, although now, with hundreds of pages and thousands of images covering a travel area of more than 6,000 square miles, with so many wonderful towns, villages and other places to explore it's becoming a challenge to maintain and research.
It's a cherished resource. Love the fantastic feedback it's had from all over the world that personally keeps me going. Love that so many visitors to the site share an interest and admiration for our region.
However, although it creates much interest, it generates only limited revenue that if it were not for my personal passion, would barely justify the time invested. Looking to find ways of dedicating more time to the site's development and to do so, source funds that keep it going and growing and ultimately make it a self-sustaining project.
Supporting the site with a themed North East, online shop selling maps etc. has helped but only a little. It's a one man show, so with a site of this size, before we can even start with the photography, writing and research; just keeping up with and adjusting to web structure changes along with security and software updates to ensure it continues working efficiently, is just one challenge that takes time and money that all divert from the long-term vision. Not to mention responding to all the visitor enquiries.
There are still slight localised gaps in the geographical coverage of the site; still many more stories to tell and still many themes and places to explore along the way with new and ever-improving 'better weather' photographs being added to enhance the site.
The well-loved and over-tired camera that I use has recently developed a focus fault, that all adds to the fun of the challenge. Funding could help there too.
The ongoing aim is to explore everywhere in the region, right down to the little nooks and crannies of both city and countryside.
Unlike, 'big budget' visitor sites that are much more tourist focused and often ignore places 'off the beaten track', England's North East isn't backed by a local authority. It also differs from history-themed sites in focusing on images of the places as they are now - which are often beautiful and interesting places to explore.
I love old maps, archives and black and white photographs of times past but that's not what this site is about. We show places as they are now because we are very proud of the present that played host to the past.
The England's North East site has the freedom to combine history with some of the less-expected places to visit. It does encourage people to explore the great heritage sites and our super museums like the excellent Woodhorn pictured here but also encourages people to learn about and go out and explore their own localities and wider region to enrich their understanding. It all helps towards the region's growth in my view.
On the cultural front I want to build on some of the earlier developments of the site that promote and showcase the work of regionally-based artists, photographers, film makers, musicians and other creatives that are particularly inspired by North East culture, history and landscapes.
As said, I'd love to keep this going and growing and have a number of exciting developments that I'd love to add to the site with additional funding beyond the funds I hope to raise here.
If you love the region, its heritage, history and landscapes or simply feel some connection to the North East, any contributions to the continuing development of this vision would be greatly appreciated.
Find a summary of some of the ways in which the funds may be used beneath the Bamburgh sands at the foot of this page.
Owner, the England's North East site
How funds would be used:
- Travelling expenses, for on site photographic and research purposes, including appropriate costs for site access, visitor attraction fees, National Trust and English Heritage membership etc.
- Improved equipment - fully working camera with video capabilities.
- Time invested.
- Investing in marketing, advertising and promotional opportunities with a view to making the site self-sustaining. If feasible this might include seeking specialist individuals to source and create revenue.
- Above might include special offers and link ups with visitor attractions and places to stay.
- Sourcing specialist bloggers for the site.
- Professional branding and header design.
- Consultation / professional advice on design and site structure, efficiency and problem solving issues to keep the site running effectively.
- The above may also include advice and efficiency improvements to the php database interface for inputting details into special areas of the site - notably the 'days out' searching feature.
- Resurrection and updating of an extensive 'eating out' database on the site that currently lies dormant (not accessible) if this can be feasibly sustained through advertising.
- Professional photographic contributions if appropriate for special featured pages and posts.
- Structural improvements to website design for an engaging and sleek visitor experience.
- Breaking down some of the longer pages to cover more localised areas to improve reader experience and SEO performance - a major job due to the number of pages and interconnectivity of links within the site.