When Endless Mile began ten years ago today, I never envisioned the business taking so many twists & turns. Then again, who really knows how a company’s future will unfold? EM has survived desertion, a few changes in focus & two international relocations. But the business is still here & not going away any time soon. A brief recap of each year follows to show how Endless Mile has grown over the past decade. Join me looking back…
Having quit my Rick Steves job in 2010, Endless Mile launched with an iPhone app for Recoleta Cemetery after nine months of off-&-on development. While graphics could have been better, seeing an idea come true that I’d dreamed about for so long was exhilarating. EM began as a team of three, each person with different responsibilities: content, programming & design. Seemed like a great idea at the time. But…
Initial sales were slow yet promising, just as I expected. After all, our app was not a game & only of interest to a niche market. I was confident EM would grow as we added more walks & more cities. However, my vision & patience turned out to be broader than that of my colleagues. When the designer stepped away just before our first release, I should have ended things right away. Less than two months later, the programmer bowed out as well. As a couple, the designer & the programmer had their own motives for joining the project in the first place… definitely not the same as mine. Time for some tough decisions.
With so much content already prepared for upcoming releases, I couldn’t let all that info go to waste. I’d invested time learning design for a PDF guide published one year earlier, so I decided to go that route. Guides would be PDFs instead of apps. This gave me an advantage of getting more walks under the EM brand as well as time to decide if I wanted to learn programming & continue with apps. In the meantime, e-books began to take off so I made all initial guides available for the Kindle Fire. Groundbreaking in 2011!
This year saw the release of a guide to Calle Paso & Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires + two Lisbon guides: azulejos & the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. While sales grew, I needed to make more income to continue investing in the business. The question came up again: should I pause content production to learn programming or forge ahead? I also began guiding in Buenos Aires for Butler University & NYU as EM branched out.
The Art Nouveau guide to Buenos Aires was finished in February, then I jumped back into working for Rick Steves to make some investment capital. They were happy to have me return, & I promised myself to make Endless Mile work while having another job. Publicity ramped up with big names noticing EM at last as well as an assignment for Time Out.
Researching & writing new content while on the road for Rick Steves proved more difficult than I imagined. Then why not take that time to learn a new skill? I’d been so impressed with the Nexus 7 tablet that I had no trouble envisioning EM guides as Android apps. With a total of five PDF guides complete for Buenos Aires & two for Lisbon, I dove into app design & development. Unfortunately, the end of a relationship & a difficult international move meant that my emotional state took priority over Endless Mile for well over a year. But before everything ground to a halt, I developed a rough Android app that I was keen on completing… when I could focus again.
As the fog lifted, I eased back into EM by researching a new guide about the Catholic heritage of Lisbon. A bit more than I could chew, no doubt! But I began to view Endless Mile as an extension of my interests rather than a company that would provide my main income. Also, I merged all previous blog content to EM & brought my personal identity into that of the business. In the end, I’d write & develop what interested me most… being true to myself. I moved to Spain this year as well as got married, so EM took a back seat once again.
Even though I knew the app would not sell much —times had changed & apps no longer drew much attention— I hate to leave projects unfinished. I dusted off those programming skills & finished the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos app. The sense of self-satisfaction was worth more than any check from Google. Still looks fantastic to this day!
Guiding tours & very necessary blog redesign took up most of the year, but I finished a mini-version of the Catholic heritage guide… just a teaser. All electronic versions of guides were removed from sale permanently. Investing extra time to tech & programming updates didn’t fit with the new vision of Endless Mile.
Consistent posting on both this blog & the Recoleta Cemetery blog showed big results with increased traffic & increased sales. Something was going right. The full final version of Catholic heritage saw the light of day… with a huge number of pages. Oh well, I was going to make the guide that I would want to buy 😉 With another major project complete, I could switch gears & tackle new things…
A new Mosteiro de Alcobaça guide came together in a matter of months. Rhythm of production resembled that of Endless Mile when I first started… then the pandemic hit. What to do when no one travels & needs your guidebooks? For a long time, the format used for PDFs seemed a bit outdated. I wanted to redesign all guides, give them an updated look & make them more mobile accessible. Thanks to lockdown I completed an overhaul of each & every guide —whew!— as well as started research & writing for a Sevilla architecture guide. If I can average one new guide per year, EM will be in a great place.
Over the course of ten years, Endless Mile has changed & grown along with me. A collaborative effort suddenly forced to go solo, I’ve spent a lot of time over the past decade working on EM. And no small amount of worry. But I make no apologies… life sometimes gets in the way of business growth. On a positive note this project has fuelled my interests, kept me motivated to learn & given me something to be very proud of. While actual income varies wildly from year to year, I’m happy to say that Endless Mile has guided many thousands of people around the world. We hope to do so for another ten years!