Hot Gemini was born in 1996 as a reason to muck around on the web, from humble beginnings it's grown beyond anything I would have dreamed of, I've had a great time running it and learned a hell of a lot along the way
I started the site because I wanted to learn about the web and I loved my car. It began as just one page with a few scanned photos and some ramblings about my metallic green stock '77 TC sedan. I didn't expect anyone to visit the site and at the time didn't have any counters or stats to know how many people were looking at it. I put up my home and email address and invited people to send in pictures of their own Gemini's so that I could put them up also. Almost immediately I got some photos in the post (scanners were rare back then!) lucky my mates had given me a small photo scanner for my 21st not long before. Photos came in at a trickle for a while, soon there were enough to break it out into sections, stock, modified, race and show. The site now had several pages including a photos page, separate galleries page, ramblings about me and my car, links and a cool program to calculate the power output of your car based on how long it too you to reach 60 Kph. I started getting email from overseas Gemini enthusiasts in the Netherlands and Belgium where the car is known as the Opel Kadett C, I was even sent Kadett C club news letters and photos! The chugged along with regular gallery updates like this for a few years. Updating was time consuming as I was editing every page by hand, there had to be a way to automate this.
I was heavily into games at the time (still am:)) in late 1998 I scored a day of work experience in at the Hyper offices in Sydney working on their web site. It was a revelation for me to see an automated script driven web site in action, I worked with the code a bit and it didn't seem that hard! Little did I know...
Now I knew the direction HotGemini must take. I spent a lot of 1999 writing code and playing around with various ideas, I didn't know databases at the time so all the data storage was text files. It worked OK. I moved the site from my general uni hosting account to my computer science account. Now I had the beginnings of a site with an automated gallery that I could update much quicker than before!
At the end of 1999 I was looking for work, it was the middle of the dot com boom and I fully expected to be driving a Ferrari before the year was out :) I taught myself databases and brushed up on my skills while looking for work.
I got my first real job in Jan 2000 working for Axe Group as a web developer / programmer. This was the dream job, I was getting paid to do what I had been doing in my spare time anyway and getting exposure to lots of database driven dynamic web sites and the people who wrote them. It was a massive learning experience for me in terms of web development, hosting and the behind the scenes admin required to build and run a site. The people there were also nice enough to give me a free hosting account and encouraged me to buy a domain name. $66 later and I was the proud owner of "hotgemini.com"
The new site was cut across on the 1st of October 2001.
After 6 weeks of unemployment I got a job at a web marketing company in Sydney called Decide Interactive. This was the start of another large learning curve for me. Not much use having a web site if no one can find it. After only a few months I was getting double my previous maximum traffic!
I was starting to getting worried about how much the site was costing me, I'd tried contacting ad agencies hoping to get a banner deal, I was too small for them. I also tried self serve affiliate banner advertising. With all the effort I put in it didn't make a single cent. Around this time I started speaking with Rare Spares about a possible affiliate deal. It was a bit of a godsend, Rare Spares were great, they offered to pay a percentage of each sale I sent to them. Although it isn't a gold mine it does pay for the hosting and domain name charges and keeps the site live on the web.
HotGemini stayed pretty much as is until December 2003. Again the site was bursting at the seams, the forum had become too big for Adam and myself to manage, and was also badly showing it's age against some of the newer forums that were out there. With the normal site updates and life outside the web ( I did have one :)) I just didn't have the time to rewrite the forum again my self the way it needed to be done.
I opted for another major site rewrite with a brand new off the shelf forum as its core, I could integrate most of the other site functions into it saving me time and at also consolidating the 5 or so hodge podge scripts that were holding the site together.
What you see today is the end product.
I've had up's and downs with the site, I've put literally thousands of hours in to it over the years. There were even times that I considered giving it to someone else or trying to sell it. The thing that has kept me doing it is the steady interest of users. I get a real kick out of the cars that people send in and having a look at some of the discussions that go on in the forums. Thanks to all that have used the site, I hope to keep improving and growing it in the years to come!
Some Credits and Thank Yous
Chucky - for his encouragement and suggestions, even when the site was crap
Adam - for many hours and $ put into the site
Red Energy - for getting excited about it, it was contagious!
Axe - For support, knowledge and direction, and that free account.
All Gemini users - for using the site and sending valuabe feedback
The entire Net community - who wrote the programs and tools that hotgemini run on and provided them to everyone, FREE