Web site creator launches betsiebay.net

BENZIE COUNTY – Andy McFarlane believes that online is where he is best on target. His results prove it.

McFarlane spends "about 10 hours a day" online, producing information for his web sites Absolute Michigan and Leelanau.com.

His next venture-betsiebay.net-was launched in late July.

"I have been working with Ken Lake, a Frankfort resident and college roommate of mine, on the site," said McFarlane, who is married with two children. "This winter, Ken and I were walking around Frankfort and talking about all the new energy and development in the Benzie County area. Ken's hopes were that as people moved into the area, they'd know something about where they were moving to."

With that in mind, McFarlane said they decided to create betsiebay.net.

"We decided to create a web site that tells positive stories about Frankfort and the surrounding areas," said McFarlane. "We'll focus on Benzie, but we'll range south to Manistee, north into Leelanau and east to Traverse City-in a way that encourages people to enjoy what's there and to become a part of the local economy.

"We want it to be informative, fun and the kind of site that helps you enjoy your life more fully."

Actually, McFarlane already has a solid track record when it comes to that.

A web designer by trade, he started Leelanau.com in March of 1998, is the managing editor of Absolute Michigan and published the web-only magazine Northern Michigan Journal for six years.

Absolute Michigan is a collection of links to Michigan web sites, along with articles and features about the Great Lakes State.

"There's over 4,000 Michigan links now," said McFarlane, "and 2,000 news and feature items."

Every day, McFarlane's job is to compile five news stories, events or interesting sites about Michigan for the site (absolutemichigan.com).

That's the kind of energy and information he vows to bring to the betsiebay.net web site.

"We'll have history, business profiles and all kinds of interesting little stories about people and places," he said. "Ken's a landscape artist and photographer and we really want to showcase that. We're also hoping to roll out a couple of features that are unique to betsiebay.net."

The site will also stick with web material that has been popular in the past for McFarlane-things like computer wallpaper, trail maps and an events calendar that organizations can add to for free.

McFarlane got into the web as a writer for the old Lake Country Gazette.

"Although my main business is developing web sites and marketing for businesses and non-profits, I've always been drawn to trying to tell the stories of the people I meet and the places I love," he said.

What does he like best about his job of linking people through the internet? "I love the fact that pretty much every day, I learn something new about the 'real' world through the Internet," he said. "While the Internet can distance you from reality, I think it can also be a powerful force for connecting people." BN