Sunday Morning Meditation – Hitting the wall
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It’s been an interesting six months. I relaunched this site in February with the hopes of becoming a successful digital media product that isn’t just a bunch of aggregated links and rehashed press releases. I want to provide a product with depth, one that keeps readers in the loop with timely information but also provides them with a deeper understanding of the issues affecting their community.
That’s ridiculously hard to do as a one man show. Even the biggest media companies have struggled with it. I was never under any delusions that it would be easy.
But you know what the funny part is? We’re actually succeeding in some ways and it still isn’t enough. I had this conversation with my ad salesman yesterday. We are hitting a wall, a point where the output of quality content can only support so much available ad space sold at a reasonable rate.
That’s why I’m asking my longtime readers to consider supporting us via a recurring subscription of $12.99 per month. To sign up for a subscription, click here. There’s also a subscription link at the bottom of the page. You don’t need a PayPal account to sign up, and all major credit cards are accepted.
To be clear, this isn’t a pay wall. All of our stories will remain free. I’ve already had two readers sign up and one of them compared it to “underwriting” our content, which I thought was a pretty apt description of it.
There are some readers who won’t be able to afford that kind of commitment. Some just don’t want to pay for news they can get for free. But I’d ask my potential subscribers to consider their monthly contributions as an investment in a more informed community. You aren’t just keeping the news free for yourself. You’re keeping it free for your neighbors, too. Revenues generated will cover our overhead and help us produce more quality journalism about your community. It will also hopefully help us to expand our coverage.
I’m thinking of various ways to reward subscribers for their ongoing support. They’ll all get first dibs on branded Decaturish merchandise. I’d like to work out exclusive deals with some of our advertisers for our subscribers, too. I’ll also put these transparency reports in emails sent directly to our underwriters. In short, you wouldn’t be doing this without getting something cool in return. But at this point, it’s more of a chicken and egg situation. I don’t have time to think about growing the company without some additional support.
I think Decaturish is a good investment. Let’s review some numbers from last month:
– Our page views held steady from June to July, which is pretty good if you consider that the summer is a pretty slow period for news. We actually increased the number of readers we had this summer. In July we had 181,691 page views and 65,378 unique visitors. In June, we had 182,086 page views and 71,260 unique visitors. That’s phenomenal for a website of our size. We’ve also come a long way. In February we had 138,993 page views and 65,591 unique visitors.
– In July we received $35 in donations. I haven’t been actively soliciting donations because they aren’t a consistent source of revenue and I would rather people spend that money supporting our advertisers. That’s the best way to help sustain our business long term. The short term is another matter, hence the subscription idea.
As of Aug. 10, we’ve already had 50,000 page views. People are reading us and we are growing. But I have to admit that I’m only human, and there’s a limit to the amount of quality stories I can produce without burning out. I’m also editing content, managing social media and handling the administrative side of the business.
I get calls constantly about creating more sections for the website. People want news about Tucker and East Lake, among other communities. We will need more content to generate more space to sell more ads. I’d love to do it. I simply can’t and I’m not, under any circumstances, going to ask people to produce content for free.
I’m not going to put all of my eggs in the paid subscription basket. There’s no easy way to creating a stable revenue stream for local news. If there were, someone would’ve figured it out by now. I am going to give it my best shot, and I think our community has all the right ingredients to make it possible. It has to be a combination of things, including reader support, local ads, outbound links and third-party advertising.
Once again, please consider signing up to become one of our subscribers. Quality local journalism matters and it will need consistent community support to survive. Of course I still want you to support our advertisers, and many of you have done so, which I appreciate. Consider this another way to support us, if you’ve got the means and interest. To subscribe, click here.
I thank all of you for reading us and being patient as we work through our growing pains. We aren’t perfect, but we try to get it right and do business the right way.
You’ve helped us get this far. I’m interested to see how much further we can go.
Editor’s note: A few readers have asked for the link to make one-time donations. We still accept those. If you want to make one, click here.