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Shepherd - Our 1 year anniversary!!! Woohoo!

Today is the 1 year anniversary of Shepherd!!! 🥳 🥳 🥳

One year ago I was...
…working very hard to finish editing and setting up 409 book lists for our April 19th launch. That meant setting up 2,305 books and 2,452 author profiles. It was a LOT of data entry and a lot of late nights. 
The website was officially launched on April 19th with 409 book lists and a very basic front page. Today we have 3,916 published book lists, 70,000+ visitors a month, a new front page, search, bookshelves, and more!
It has been a blast to work on :)
A huge thank you to...
All the authors who have taken part! I really appreciate it and I look forward to making it even better and bigger over the coming years.
An extra thank you to authors I emailed in the early days when there wasn’t a website and all I had was a picture of a mockup. Thank you for your trust that I could build it before you could use it 😀.
And, a huge thank you to the Shepherd team, Shepherd wouldn’t be possible without the team that makes it all work!
Márton for his amazing work even when my spec docs can be a bit wild. Strahinja for making the UI/UX look so good and being patient with all my revisions and crazy ideas.
Joy and Jessy for being the first on board and taking a lot of emails and data entry off my hands so I could focus on everything else. Serita for handling all the editing (which is an incredible blessing for authors as I am a terrible editor). And, Cathy and Genesis for helping with emails and data entry as we have grown.
My friends and family for giving feedback on the UX as the site has grown. It is really helpful to get instant feedback from them (especially Claire who I hit up most often).
My wife and son for letting me work a lot of the late nights when things get crazy! Especially around launch last year when it was just me. ❤️
The longer story of Shepherd is...
I started playing with the idea of Shepherd over the summer of 2020.
On September 3rd, 2020 I emailed my designer friend, Strahinja, to see if he could make some mockups so I could play with the idea visually. His work was fantastic and by early November I found something I liked (a lot of revisions over that period).
My family was in the midst of moving to Portugal and once we were settled in early December I started working on Shepherd full time. I started emailing authors on December 8th to test the idea with them (I had already tested it with readers). The response was incredibly positive and I didn’t have to tweak much. I am not sure when I got my first submission back, but at some point in early January.
I also spent the first week of December vetting freelance developers. I picked Márton on December 10th and he is an absolute pleasure to work with (and I am looking forward to working with him for a long time).
By February 5th I was playing with the backend that Márton had built. And, he was starting work on the front end. By February 21st we had a basic version of the front page and we were on track to launch in April.
By March 5th the book list feature was 95% done. By March 19th I was working like a mad man on setting up all the data for the lists. That meant countless hours setting up each book, setting up each list, setting up the author profile, and formatting everything on the backend. Then I would email the author to review the pages, make changes, and so on. It was an intense process with many late nights (thank you Joy and Genesis for taking the data entry piece off my plate).
We launched on Monday, April 19th!
What comes next? Lots!
I am aiming to leave beta toward Fall/Winter 2022.
To leave beta I want to get genre data integrated into the site as I feel that is the last big feature that we need before I pull off the “beta” label.
I am looking forward to 2022 and beyond :)
Thanks, Ben
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Ben Fox

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