I’m a very lucky man. I’ll grant you that. But it took a lot of planning, sacrifices and perspiration to be this lucky.
I don’t work for The Man (or The Woman for that matter.) Actually, I do very little for pay.
Five years ago my wife and I decided to change our lives. We cut down, cut back, and cut away. We moved to Lakeland, Florida so she could continue her career and I could end mine.
Yes, I became a “stay-at-home Dad.” That lasted a few months. Lovely weeks of going to Disney with my four-year-old. Until Mickey started calling us by name.
Then my daughter school. In response, I turned my “look what I found in my new home” site into Lakeland Local, a hyperlocal news site. (Basically, an old-fashioned weekly newspaper, but without the ink on your fingers.)
The same as a weekly, except for the ads. I didn’t want to sell ads…or find sponsors. I wrote all the content myself..and took the photos…and designed the layout. Again, not much different than the old-fashioned weekly.
Again, except the lack of advertising.
When I’d talk to Lakelanders, they’d ask how I supported the site. More importantly, how did I make money? I’d answer I didn’t and didn’t intend to. They’d shake their heads and wander off.
Really, it doesn’t cost a lot to maintain a small hyperlocal website. I can afford it because my family lives very small. More expensive was the time I took to make the site. That’s expensive. It’s limited. But I didn’t have to use any of it to sell ads.
I’m sure most people thought I’d eventually find a job and give up Lakeland Local. I fooled them. I didn’t look for a job. However, I did find other ways to give away my time. More importantly, I found others who wanted to volunteer their time to write and shoot photos or video.
Other people who had the passion for news without needing the cash for news.
Now, some volunteers came on hard and heavy and burned out. Some were steady and oh…so…slow you’re not sure if they’re still writing, but they would pop up with an article every Blue Moon. But most shoot photos or write regularly. To the point Lakeland Local survives and is now in Year Five.
Why all the background and talk of advertising?
I was recently lucky enough to be invited to a summit of hyperlocal publishers. In one room were about a hundred others crazy enough to believe hyperlocal news is one important piece of the future media. We spend a lot of time talking about what we did and how we did it; time talking about what worked and what didn’t.
Guess what I learned there?
It takes money to make hyperlocal work.
Well, at least that was the comment on the lips of most. Whether it was finding grants or sponsors or subscribers or advertisers…it was about finding money.
So, I came back and made a decision. Lakeland Local is going to start accepting advertising.
But, I have to do it my way.
We’ll only accept advertising from small, locally owned businesses. And each business has to make the ads in house. Oh, and it has to be one minute video or 30 second audio…no text.
And it’s free.
The only way I want to sell advertising for Lakeland Local is to give it away.
Are you a small Lakeland-based business? Do you need to find a way to let other Lakelanders know you’re out there?
Grab your Flip. Get your hair cut. Sweep up your front desk. Shoot a video.
Send it to me. I’ll promote your business. I want you to succeed and I’ll do it for free.
It’s about my passion for Lakeland. Not the cash.