Saucon Source covers general local news in the Hellertown area of eastern Pennsylvania. Topics we cover include government, business, education, sports and crime. The site was launched in 2014 by Josh Popichak, a veteran local journalist. Revenue comes mainly from advertising, sponsorships and third-party social media management.
For better or worse my most effective means of engaging my audience continues to be posting on Facebook. It's effective for me because I use it heavily, both personally and professionally. I have reduced the amount of news I share via my personal page to help separate "Josh" from "Saucon Source," but it continues to be a tremendous source of story leads, feedback, traffic, and ultimately revenue for me. That said, I am trying to diversify my audience and rely less on Facebook as I sometimes question the company's commitments to both authenticity of information and local, independent news. I have been using a popup form to increase my email subscribership, which has grown from less than 1,500 subscribers at the beginning of this year to more than 2,100 now. I'm not sure it can ever rival Facebook for sheer handiness and accessibility but it is a movement in the right direction for me. I've also begun to roll out an optional membership program which will reward members in various ways.
My biggest challenge is not having a dedicated salesperson/team to help me sell advertising and sponsorships. I know I am leaving a lot of money on the table because I'm doing it all myself. There simply aren't enough hours in the day for me to do everything I need to get done editorially AND sell ads to the highest and best level possible. Where I know I really fall short is with prospecting for new advertisers. I get some prospects through social and in-person networking, but I'm sure I could be bringing in a lot more business if I had a sales ace on my team, i.e. an experienced, dedicated salesperson who knows this area, knows business owners and believes in what we're doing with local news coverage. I have had two salespeople work for me (on a commission basis) in the past 18 months and neither lasted more than a couple of months/produced any tangible results in terms of sales.
Revolutions at Saucon Valley closes, leaving 30K-square-foot vacancy at shopping center