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Meet Stacey Sao of BostonCentral

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stacey Sao.

Stacey, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
We started BostonCentral started back in 2001, when my husband & I relocated to Boston from Austin, TX. We had been living in Austin for a couple of years during the tech boom – but once we were expecting our first child, we knew we wanted to get back to New England to be closer to home & family again.

The idea for the site was originally a relocation site. I had started collecting information in a spreadsheet for our own move, (places to live, things to do, local utilities, school systems, etc..). Everything was so scattered back then so I thought – “hey, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a site that had all of this information is one central place”?

Boom. So we acquired the domain, found a house, had our daughter, and in our copious spare time, started building the site… The switch in focus to family-friendly things to do was a natural one – because now I had a new baby and didn’t know a soul, let alone how to find cool & interesting things to do. So my personal spreadsheets quickly became the blueprint for the site’s content.

It was indeed a labor of love for the first 4 years or so. The site was designed so people (like me) could find information about fun things to see do around Boston – you know, the kind of stuff you’d be excited to share with a friend. Our very first newsletter went out to the 7 women in my local playgroup, and my mom – who doesn’t even live in Boston – she lives in CT.

Our subscriber list grew by word of mouth. Some days I’d get 1-2 new subscribers. One day we got 14, and it was like a huge deal. Over time, those subscribers told two friends, and they told two friends – and our readership grew by leaps and bounds.

Our weekly newsletter now goes out to over 120,000 opt-in parents and families in the Greater Boston area – which is still a bit staggering to me.

I really love what I do. Sharing information and being in the know about Boston area happenings is a lot of fun. I’m able to help families find fun things to do in Boston, and to help organizations get the word out to families about their events. The entire BostonCentral Community really is a pleasure to serve.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
As I mentioned, BostonCentral was a labor of love for many years. My husband designed and built the site’s entire infrastructure. I now had two small children and was working hard to, manage content, expand readership, manage ad sales, accounting, SEO, editorial quality control, and produce a weekly newsletter.

I was able to run the business from a home office – which can be great, until it is not. It wasn’t glamorous.

A home office with two young children is generally chaotic, and completely interrupt-driven – as, of course, it must be. Sometimes it felt like I was shoveling the ocean.

But there was a synergy that just worked. The content of the site was exactly what I was looking for as a young parent. It was like building my own online resource about things to do with kids. As they grew, the content grew. We discovered new places, and attended all sorts of fairs & festivals. After 16 years – BostonCentral still provides plenty of opportunity to discover new & exciting things to do in Boston.

BostonCentral – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Since 2001, BostonCentral has been an online resource for parents & families in the Greater Boston Area. Our website features lots of things to see & do in Boston – museums, parks, historic landmarks, zoos, farms, orchards, etc. Our events calendar allows readers to stay on top of what’s happening each day.

And the popular weekly newsletter has highlighted family-friendly events in and around Boston for over 15 years.

BostonCentral is a true mom & pop small business. It works because it’s run by a handful local people who really care about the content. We respect our subscribers and value our clients. We work hard to deliver relevant content.

The BostonCentral business motto is: “To be as valuable to our readers and advertisers as they are to us”. Once you crack that code, the rest really takes care of itself.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success, for me, has always been in providing quality of life for my family, for those who work for me, and to my community. BostonCentral has enabled me to achieve some of that. I don’t seek accolades – I’m much more of an under-the-radar kind of gal.

Success is not about having to describe or tout what’s been accomplished…. if it’s real, others will know it. And that’s more than enough.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Paige Gilbert (Photos by Paige)
Stacey Sao

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