This interview was more than two months in the making! But I’m glad that Christopher “Topher” De Leon (no, not that Christopher De Leon!) found time to answer my questions about his site, TristanCafe. TristanCafe is an extremely popular (Alexa Rank: 11,281) forum-based community that serves as second home for many Filipino teenagers and students where they can talk just about anything under the sun. As Topher puts it, his site is the “tambayan ng mga walang magawa sa buhay” (rough translation: hangout for people bumming around).
Alleba Blog: How and when did TristanCafe begin?
TristanCafe: The TristanCafe.com domain started on September 22, 2002. But we actually started the website even before that, as a simple homepage in Geocities. It was initially just a personal site, sort of like an online venue where we can share our ideas and just try out things and have fun. A creative outlet.
Alleba Blog: What inspired you to make a site such as TristanCafe?
TristanCafe: Some people actually liked the things that we did in our Geocities homepage, like our “Dear Manay Letty” column, original articles, and of course the streaming music concept with lyrics. We got some positive feedback, as well as a few regular visitors. So we were inspired to put up a “real” website with our own domain name.
Alleba Blog: Your name is Christopher. Who is Tristan? And does he have a cafe?
TristanCafe: Tristan (Salgado) is a co-webmaster, although lately he’s been very busy with his 9-to-5 job. I’ve taken over most of the administrative work, although Tristan still does help out with some of the creative stuff.
Alleba Blog: Who are the people behind it?
TristanCafe: Just me and Tristan. But we also get some help from a few friends, some of whom we met through Tristancafe and became our real-life friends.
Alleba Blog: What do you think is the major factor that draws people to your site?
TristanCafe: I’d say the streaming music with lyrics and our unique forum are the most popular sections of the site.
Alleba Blog: Your site looks young and hip. Is it the youth that accounts for most of your traffic?
TristanCafe: Actually we’re just bad web designers, that’s why the site looks kinda juvenile, hehehe. But yes, I’d say the site attracts mostly young people, between 13 to 30 years old.
Alleba Blog: Can you clue us in on how much traffic you get per day in terms of unique visitors and pageviews?
TristanCafe: Around 150,000 pageviews, and a little over 20,000 unique visitors per day. I think it constantly fluctuates.
Alleba Blog: Everyone has a blog. Why don’t you have one yet?
TristanCafe: No time to create and maintain one, hehe.
Alleba Blog: Do you maintain other sites besides TristanCafe?
TristanCafe: Not really. I help out a few friends with their sites, but nothing major.
Alleba Blog: Building and maintaining an online community is tough. Any tips or advice you can give to others?
TristanCafe: Just keep working at it. Try to offer something new, something different. And, content is king. Keep developing good content.
Alleba Blog: Are you a member of SEO Philippines yet? We’d love to have you as a member.
TristanCafe: No, unfortunately I’m not a member yet. I’d been hearing about it though, especially the isulong thingie. Be glad to join and be more in touch with other Pinoy webmasters.
Thanks for your time, Topher! More power to TristanCafe and your future projects!