Anglotopia.net: “The website for people who love Britain”
“The website for people who love Britain” is how Jonathan Thomas, founder and curator of Angolotopia describes his site, which has developed from an idea in a closet in Chicago five years ago to what is now his full-time job.
In that time, Jonathan has worked 80 hour weeks, split between his salaried job to pay the bills and working on the site at evenings and weekends before it finally became his full-time occupation last year. Navigating the perils of web design without any prior skills and tackling the challenge of dealing with advertising agencies and major corporations have been some of the hurdles Jonathan has had to overcome to see his passion turn into a functioning, money-making online magazine.
The concept of Anglotopia was conceived by Jonathan back in 2007 when he was just out of college and working a low paying job. His intention was to just build a site that provided everything he wanted about Britain, but just couldn’t find. Initially he hoped the site would eventually make some money, perhaps even enough to fund a trip back to Britain for himself and his wife. Two years later and the site had managed exactly that.
Using Apple’s iWeb, Jonathan built Anglotopia 1.0 and launched into learning how to set up a website, register a domain and set up a hosting account, armed only with an English degree and a desire to see his business idea through to fruition. Yet Jonathan says the biggest problem they faced was how to convince big agencies and corporations to take them seriously.
Jonathan calls the first iteration of Anglotopia “embarrassing”, but later, with the advent of Wordpress and through trial and error – “lots of error,” Jonathan points out – Anglotopia emerged as the largest site on the web dedicated to Anglophiles and all things British.
The future of Anglotopia
Now, the site is a portal and meeting point for those with a passion for England to connect with like-minded Anglophiles. As Jonathan says, there became a community that “got each other”. On top of their regular features, Jonathan and his wife Jackie are now preparing to launch their own web video series on their travels around England and are publishing a British slang dictionary next month. They have also hired writing staff to assist in providing the content the site’s 200,000+ unique monthly visitors have come to look forward to.
For budding entrepreneurs Jonathan advises taking web classes in college if they are available. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” he adds, “and don’t be afraid to take online courses to learn what you don’t know. There will be many snake oil salesmen trying to sell you a formula from making money online, but there is no hard and fast formula.”
Jonathan also advises a long term plan, building your site based on something people want, and to have real passion for your website subject when investing so much of your time and yourself into it. “Anglotopia is the product of blood sweat and tears,” he says, “and it never would have gotten where it is without it.” Long hours, hard work and a willingness to persevere with corporate bureaucracy have been instrumental in the success of Anglotopia - all made possible, Jonathan notes, with a very understanding wife.
Visit Anglotopia at http://www.anglotopia.net/