In August 2007, Shannon “Shay” Johnson began shayboarder.com a blog that answered to the majority of snowboarders, male or female. With fresh daily content 365 days a year, shayboarder.com has pushed the passion of snowboarding across the world with interviews, articles, trip reports and consistent product reviews.
With over a million visitors since August 2007, Shannon has continued her passion for snowboarding by writing to the average snowboarder. She continues to be the photographer, writer, editor, reviewer and the snowboarder behind the blog, spending over 100 days each season on snow.
To pay the bills, Shannon works at Steamboat Ski Resort in Steamboat Springs, Colorado as web content specialist and is the voice behind the social media for the mountain. In her spare time she’s on the mountain scouting lines, thinking of ideas and spending time with her dog Capita.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently in the process of the busy time for shayboarder.com, it’s right before the SIA Tradeshow begins when I’m scheduling the last appointments and making lists for what my readers would like me to check out at the tradeshow. SIA is the snowsports industry tradeshow where all the next season’s gear is introduced, it’s the most popular subject on my blog and where I get the majority of my content. I always ask my readers what they are interested in, so I fulfill their requests since they are the ones behind my blog being popular.
As soon as SIA hits next week, I’ll be attending all 4 days of the tradeshow and going from appointment to appointment to see each companies 10-11 line of snowboard gear. After the tradeshow I spend 2 days at the on-snow portion to try out and test the upcoming 10-11 gear. I spend most of my season reviewing snowboard products so these two days are very important for the blog.
3 Trends that excite you?
Reverse Camber/Rocker: The snowboarding industry took a dive along with the economy and one of the biggest saviors is that companies had just introduced reverse camber/rocker to snowboards. We had lived with camber for so long that this new technology helped revive the industry and snowboarders were able to try something new. The end result is making snowboarding more fun, easier to learn on and a reason to buy new gear at a time when it’s difficult for everyone to spend money on gear.
Media Revival: Print media isn’t dead but they definitely needed a kick in the butt to recognize that blogs can overpower them when it comes to online content. I love magazines and really respect them for their hard and quality work. Unfortunately, by the time something makes it to print, it’s outdated and not realistic to all snowboarders out there. I think for the snowboard industry having online sites that can be current and up-to-date on events is very important. Finally, seeing that media overall should look at who is listening and make sure to bring content to those readers. Not everyone will be pro, but every snowboarder should know how to adjust bindings or wax their snowboard. It’s been great to watch snowboard media step up their game and work together to get online content for snowboarding in the right direction (whether it’s from blogs or mainstream media).
Sharing Passion: It’s such a simple idea that we all snowboard because we love it but it shouldn’t end at that. We should all share that passion for snowboarding to bring others in and help educate snowboarders on our way of life. I really commend pro-snowboarders who reach out to their fans and get them stoked on snowboarding. Snowboarding is about being part of something, sharing this passion and enjoying the ride. We should try our best to help others so they can too.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Anytime I have an idea whether it’s mine or a reader’s idea, I write it down and think about it when I’m driving. If I need help with it, I’ll ask around to get the right people involved and then make the connection, ask and follow through.
Last year I had someone mention there was no video on how to change a BOA lace on a snowboard boot. I immediately got in touch with BOA Technologies based out of Denver, CO and asked about coming to tour the company and video one of their employees changing the lace. They agreed and the visit was scheduled. I spent 2 hours at their office, meeting staff, taking photos and recording how to change a lace. The end result is a video on YouTube that shows people how to do this if it ever breaks on you.
How do you balance a full-time job with your blog?
I consider myself to have two full-time jobs, my day job that pays the bills and my blog job that I work in the early mornings/late evenings. I’m very careful at balancing them and keeping them separate so I don’t cross lines with either. I am careful not to blog at work so that it doesn’t interfere with my day job and I spend my late nights working on new articles or reviews for the next day. I try to be as organized as possible in blogging so that I’m always ahead on what I want to write about in the future. I am lucky to have a flexible job that allows for travel and time off, that I then use towards my blog job to make necessary trips to snowboard events/destinations or just fun!
Snowboarding is a male dominated industry, but you write to both men & women. Why did you not choose to focus on women’s snowboarding?
Exactly the reason above, snowboarding is a male dominated industry and ignoring the majority of snowboarders didn’t make sense to me. I ride both men’s and women’s products, sometimes I prefer men’s boards and sometimes I prefer women’s gear. Since my own focus is across the board, I wanted to write about that on the blog. The end result is I can reach out to both audiences without ignoring one over the other. To be respected as a woman in the snowboard industry is something of value to me as well and more women should be in the industry.
Snowboarding is a winter sport but your blog has content 365 days a year. Why did you decide to write year round about snowboarding and what do you write about in the summer?
My mind is always focused on snowboarding since it’s such a passion of mine. I wish I could live winter-to-winter but until that happens I just pretend to. In the summer I focus on interviews and make the switch to my Industry Profile Series which is posted twice a week for the entire summer, June to September. I interview over thirty people who have their hand in the snowboard industry and find out how they got their start, their jobs, experience, stories and dive deeper into that. I’m really interested in the people behind the scenes so when it came time to figure out something to fill content for the summer months, the interviews were something I wanted to do. I also continue to write about snowboard products and I do snowboard in the summer at the 10,000 peaks in Colorado and a trip to Mt. Hood.
How do you feel about the FTC ruling on bloggers review disclosures?
I think it’s a great idea and that all bloggers should have no problem doing it. I have reviewed over 100 products this year and I have no problem with a sentence that says where I got the product, whether it was given to me, I bought it or I borrowed it at a demo day. It’s important for people to know so they can use that information with your review. I ride the majority of products at demo days but I also get a handful sent me to me to review and I want to be as fair as possible that just because it’s sent to me doesn’t mean it gets a good review. It’s important because people look online for reviews and when I want a review of a product, it’s information I want to know.
What are your thoughts on the battle between brick and mortar stores vs. online retailers?
It’s a tough time in snowboarding to see local shops closing their doors and online retailers having no problems with keeping their doors open. I’ve purchased from both in the last year, supporting both but I also am not made of money so sometimes I have to buy my product from an online shop but it’s always one of three that I support. Most of the online stores I support have a brick and mortar store but realistically there are snowboarders who want the best deal and don’t care where they get it. It’s a tough time for both and I think having your hands in both is the safest way to get through it.
Are you seeing a change in companies attitude toward the sport especially due to the commercialization (x-treme factor), all the money that is in it and the rift seemingly starting between the commercial vs. traditional (lifestyle driven) snowboard cultures?
Last month I was at the Dew Tour/Totino’s Open in Breckenridge which is very much commercialized. All the major companies supporting the contest were there with booths but you know what, it made people come out to the snow and watch, hopefully they tried to ski or snowboard that day. Snowboarders are well educated and choose what companies to support, we all have loyal brands that we follow and it’ll continue to be that way. If commercial companies are willing to help pay for our contests and athletes to keep doing what they love, I think it helps us in the long run.
Is it good to have all this commercial attention put on the sport? (i.e.- inclusion in the Olympics?)
It can be good and bad, people that don’t understand or snowboard are now becoming involved in snowboarding that might not have snowboarders best interest in their minds.
The recent injury of Kevin Pearce is an example of commercial attention, Kevin is an amazing athlete and was seriously injured doing something he loves. When mainstream media got into it, one media outlet called snowboarding dangerous and attention-seeking which totally isn’t what snowboarding is and shines bad light on something we all live for. Snowboarding has been continuously progressing in tricks, a trick you did 10 years ago wouldn’t even put you in the competition and athletes are stepping up their game for competitions. Injuries are a part of our sport, of any sport out there and those negative comments could turn people away from something they might fall in love with. It’s unfortunate to see the negativity come our way and not the passion that we are all supporting Kevin in his recovery.
What do you do outside of snowboarding?
In my downtime that doesn’t involve snowboarding, I spend most of that time with family, friends or my dog. I enjoy hiking in the summer and most of my summer-off time is just relaxing, concerts and hanging out.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I’m trying to figure this out myself, what next? Where does a snowboard blogger go, do they continue to blog or do they move onto other ventures? I’m currently at the point where I’m amazed at the journey this blog has taken me on and that my hard work will hopefully pay off so I can work in a job that allows me to snowboard and be part of the industry. For right now I’m happy sharing my snowboarding passion with various snowboarders around the world.