For more than eight months, NEast Philly, the online hub for Northeast Philadelphia news I introduced back in May, grew to a small, but targeted, 6,000 monthly page views, housed on a free template from WordPress.com.
Finally we have broken free. Yesterday we launched the brand new redesign of our neighborhood news site for the future.
No longer just a forwarding domain, NEastPhilly.com now aims to be the Web portal for content creation, aggregation and dissemination of news, views, information and events happening in Northeast Philadelphia, a middle-class, still print-reliant community. We hope to recapture our traffic numbers from the old site quickly and move far beyond them.
If you’re interested in the geography or another online news startup find a voice, audience and value, grab the RSS feed here.
What’s more, it’ll also be another experiment in establishing a small, self-supporting local news product. Unlike the Technically Philly product I co-founded that is a swing at a high-end, double niche, NEast is a decidedly more modest proposal.
Aggregate all the news on the Web, build on it with perspective and original reporting to create a one-of-a-kind audience based around a geographic locale, just like the small-town newspapers are that are faring a bit better than their big metro counterparts. The work is spearheaded by Shannon McDonald, while I (try to) handle its Web faculties and write occasionally, like other weekly contributors. We are a fine beginning to a product built for the coming years, I think.
This new incarnation of NEast carries the same content and the neighborhood-centric organization of the old, with the greater versatility of a self-hosted product, in addition to, yes, the very purposefuly chosen advertising space of this altered-Wordpress theme.
We hope to keep overhead low, rely on user generated content, automation and occasional contributors to abut our professional reporting, and slowly build out from advertising beginnings to other revenue models.
But first, we need to build traffic and further brand recognition in the Northeast, bootstrapping all the way. It’s a long build, but I look forward to being a part of it. This is fine part-time work for now.
I am quite young, as are almost all of the others with whom I conspire in projects like this. But we’re in a period of great change in the news and information business. So, while I pay the bills by freelancing, I see no better obsession than trying to create additional work opportunities with small, niche media organizations for the future. Get the business plans out.
We can at least admit that the new version of NEast is a big step from the old one depicted below, right?
Any advice? Any likes or dislikes?