Yesterday, July 25th, was my birthday, always an interesting day. I took the day half-off, getting to a few small organizational chores around my workshop. As some readers may know I’m a sucker for milestone days and events, and birthdays definitely qualify. Not wanting to let a good milestone go to waste, I decided to take the first small steps towards some changes here at Ztrains that I’ve been thinking about for a while now.
Ztrains.com is also coming up on a birthday in August and over the years; this website has gone through several iterations. We’re now at a point where we again need to make changes in order to continue to move forward. Sounds pretty milestoney (ok, not a real word) to me. None of these changes are written in stone just yet, but here are some of the ideas I have kicking around in my head.
One of the projects I want to dive in to is to re-write much of the material from the previous incarnation(s) of Ztrains.com. Lots of great material there that I still get requests for, I’d very much like to rework this material, updated to include new ideas and techniques.
Another idea I’ve previously written about some sort of paid membership or paywall for Ztrains.com, with paid members having access to discounts at our AZL retail store, US | ZSCALE (www.us-zscale.com). This is a concept much larger online sites struggle with too, not just your friendly neighborhood Z scale site.
Paid niche and hobby websites do elicit strong reactions and I’m not sure if we want to kick this hornet’s nest right now. On one hand I totally get it, stuff on the web is free, right? On the other hand of course is the time and effort needed to get quality material on the web in the first place.
We’d like to present more and more content but it’s tough to do it for free on a regular basis. An alternative we’ve considered is to offer newly penned how-to articles and article series as paid downloads, both here and possibly on Amazon.com as eBooks. Working with beginners in the hobby is something I’ve always enjoyed; this could be a good step for us. We’ll be looking at this in the very near future.
We’ll also be working with other companies, developing new products for our JCubbin (www.jcubbin.com) store. There’s no shortage of ideas but time has been an issue, this is already changing. Another new avenue, we’ll be bringing new products to the larger scales soon. In the past, we’ve had requests to create cast pieces in N scale as well as HO, again time has been an issue but the prospect of producing new pieces for these scales is just too exciting to ignore.
Our other aforementioned website, US | ZSCALE, is now officially an authorized Rokuhan dealer and we look to continue to grow this store and attract new customers.
As different as these three websites are, they’ve all grown from this site, Ztrains.com, and from our love of the trains and of the hobby. Model railroading is simply an amazing hobby and we look to make our contribution to it for years to come.