MyStarCollectorCar is entering its 15th year in 2024 and it’s been a learning curve of epic proportions, so I thought I’d play a mind game and ask this question.

What would it take to start up a 2023 version of MyStarCollectorCar?

I came up with a list of five things you’d need to start a website about old iron, so here’s the list.

Jerry Sutherland

The first thing you’ll need is an unconditional dedication to old cars and trucks. To put it bluntly, you can’t be partly committed to the hobby–just like you can’t be partly committed to learning how to be a cardiac surgeon or an astronaut.

You might get by on enthusiasm for a month or two, but if you’re not all-in on the car hobby, forget about starting an e-zine dedicated to classic cars. All-in includes this–you have to own an old car or at least a project because car guys always want to know what you own. It’s a rite of passage in Car Guy World.

You’re also going to spend thousands of hours, miles, and dollars going to car shows—then you pump out something every day with a car theme. You can’t fake that.  And yes—you do work every holiday because this is a 365-days-of-the-week gig.

The second thing you’ll need is a good webhost. It only took me fourteen years to figure that out, so I put up with chronically poor service for years. It only took a few hours to find out how good the new server was– after years of subpar performance from the old one.

You’ll find out how important that is after you take a few calls from hostile advertisers who found out the site was down over the busiest traffic weekend of the year. You’re going to be a meat shield for the guys you paid to provide service. Trust me—it’s a lot less fun than Christmas Eve was when you were ten years old.

The third thing you’ll need is a good web guy. The first MyStar web guy wasn’t a fan of free enterprise—he was a local kid who never understood how commerce works so every time I asked for ad space on the website he asked why. That’s not a good question to ask, but it still took me five years to cut him loose.

I’ll take the easy way out and just say I was still new to the e-zine game, so I didn’t know a good web guy from an incompetent, socialist-leaning web guy.  The new web guy set the standard I needed for talent and service—that’s incredibly important because you’ll learn some seriously painful lessons if you pick the wrong web guy.

The fourth thing you’ll need is a learning curve. I didn’t enter the murky online world until the late 90s. I didn’t enter the murky e-zine world until 2009 and I made every mistake possible in the first two years. I was so worried about content that I skipped the tech side, consequently I left MyStar exposed every month.

All it took was facing the same problem over and over again—that’s when I started to learn how the website platform worked. I could get the first web guy to change the format and then pay him a bill—or I could learn how to do it myself to save time and money. But there are limitations to DIY because MyStar is a massive website, and it grows every year–that’s where your web guy gets involved.

Regular updates show up over the course of year with every website and MyStar is like a super ocean liner now because it gets bigger and more complex every year. Fortunately, I can still do some basic codes to change ads, plus my experience with the last web host turned me into a fair diagnostic guy when something goes off the rails—I couldn’t fix the problem, but I could narrow it down for a solution. 

The fifth and final thing is this—write well. You don’t have to write at a post-doctoral English degree level—you just have to write at a competent level.

This means if you use “their” when you mean “they’re”, or “it’s” when you mean “its”, or “too” when you mean “to”, forget about starting a website that requires written communication. You don’t need the pain.

I hope this helps in your quest to start MyStarCollectorCar 2.0—any advice past this point will come with a steep consulting fee.

Jerry Sutherland

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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