Industry Vet Launches Personal Watercraft Content Site, E-Commerce Storefront

The Watercraft Journal, launched by Kevin Shaw, offers news, reviews and interviews. The site will also serve as the blog to online storefront Watercraft Outfitters.

Industry print and online veteran Kevin Shaw has launched a personal watercraft website dubbed The Watercraft Journal. The site will offer news, reviews and interviews, but in a unique twist, will also serve as the blog to online storefront Watercraft Outfitters.

Shaw has traveled an interesting road to this latest offering. A former editor of PWC consumer title Personal Watercraft Illustrated, he left the industry after that title’s demise in 2009, but returned earlier this year to found WatercraftPerformance.com, a website with daily news focused on racing and performance. Though that site still exists, Shaw was let go this past September.

“I had proven that there was a vibrant and enthusiastic audience within the personal watercraft industry receptive to a daily online magazine,” Shaw says of the project. “The problem with WatercraftPerformance.com was that, while it was 100 percent my idea, it wasn’t mine.” When the current owners elected to make a change, Shaw offered to buy the business, but was let go instead. That decision, and an outpouring of industry support, led Shaw, along with wife Heather, to launch their current project, The Watercraft Journal.

Though he admits to following the same model established with WatercraftPerformance, Shaw notes The Journal is very different in tone. “The Journal is really about family: sharing our hobbies and interests with those who matter most in our lives. There’s a wellspring of passion in our industry and it goes a lot further past the rock ‘n’ roll/party lifestyle that many would like to represent it with. The look and feel of The Journal is a strong indicator that it’s something unique to what’s come before.”

The fresh start allowed him to right what he considers several previous missteps. Primary among them was his former venture’s near laser-like focus on racing. He notes that while racing is exciting and helps to promote competition between the brands, it’s only a small portion of a much bigger picture. “The vast majority of PWC enthusiasts will go their entire lives enjoying watercraft without once donning a helmet,” he explains. “For the most part, we had totally ignored these people.”

The Journal will provide daily news and product releases, along with weekly interviews, vehicle and product reviews, but the focus will shift to the community as a whole.

“We’re all part of this PWC family, so to speak, and I really want to emphasize that.”

An instrumental figure in the development of The Journal was GreenHulk.net founder Jerry Gaddis. The relationship has led to a partnership between the two entities. “Every article published on The Watercraft Journal is teased in the news thread of the GreenHulk forum,” Shaw reveals. “It’s a huge boost for us. Although it’s a very intimate industry, there are still plenty of people who still don’t know that The Watercraft Journal exists. Getting the word out is key. That is also why we use social media so aggressively. Using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our weekly newsletter like we do is akin to print titles paying for advertising and placing on the news rack. You’ve got to get your name out there if you want to survive.”

Shaw notes that The Journal will soon delve into video production as well, but perhaps the most interesting piece of the puzzle will be the upcoming launch of an e-commerce storefront, www.watercraftoutfitters.com. “It’s an online e-commerce store where readers can purchase the very items we review, as well as some of the best riding gear, apparel, equipment and performance products available in the watercraft industry.

“Ultimately, it’s all about helping grow the industry — be it through exciting and inspiring stories and photography, or connecting people to the companies and products that will help them enjoy their PWC to the fullest.”  

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