Future news site plans

So I started that neighborhood blog I mentioned and it as since taken over my life. In a good way, mostly. I’ve posted a story a day since Saturday, and I love the events I’ve been able to cover. I’ve been posting my stories on EveryBlock, which is basically Facebook for neighborhoods, and as a result I’ve had over 1,000 blog hits in just the first week.

I scooped the competition with this story on a national commercial being filmed in the neighborhood. This was their version. This was mine. I loved doing that story and I felt like I was finally in my element again.

I am putting together a Kickstarter campaign to keep this going. I wanted to post my tentative budget here in case you guys think of anything I might be missing, or if you know where I can find some things less expensively. My brother is designing me a sweet 60625 logo.

  • Basic, point-and-shoot camera: under $150
  • Advertising budget (targeted Facebook ad, fliers): $50
  • Stipend for graphic design work: $50
  • Buy http://www.60625.com domain name: $18
  • Business cards: $27 for 250 (per Vistaprint quote, rounded to the nearest dollar)
  • Printing stickers: $140 for 40 5×3 oval stickers ($3.50 each) (per Vistaprint quote)
  • Printing window decals: $50 for ten ($5 each) (per Vistaprint quote)
  • Coffee mugs: $115 for ten ($11.50 each) (per Vistaprint quote)
  • Shipping for Vistaprint items: ~$30
  • Cost of shipping Kickstarter rewards to backers: ~$45

Total: $675

The thing I am not crazy about with Kickstarter is that half of my budget is going to create items to mail to my financial backers. But, at the same time, I get it, because I want to give something back to them. Any ideas for less expensive, and maybe more creative, rewards to send donors? Here’s the list of rewards I have:

  • If you donate $10 or more, I will add your name to a thank-you list of supporters on my news site. Estimated delivery: Oct 2012
  • If you donate $20 or more, you get a photo of me holding a personal thank-you poster to you, posted on your facebook wall. You also get your choice of a 60625 sticker or window decal. Estimated delivery: Nov 2012
  • If you donate $40 or more, you get your choice of a 60625 coffee mug filled with candy, OR you get dinner at my house with some of your fellow donors (intended for local-area donors). I will make delicious food and thank you profusely. Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
  • If you donate $100 or more, I will have a T-shirt printed up saying whatever you choose and I will wear it all day long. You will also get a mug (or a seat at dinner), a sticker or window decal, and a photo of me thanking you posted to your Facebook wall. Estimated delivery: Jan 2013

Not sure how practical that T-shirt one is, but I also doubt anyone is about to shell out $100 for this campaign.

Meanwhile, I’m flushed with the success of my first handful of stories and, in true Meryl fashion, I am absolutely terrified of it all going away. I am in need of some story ideas and interesting features. My friend Sarah is drawing a guest comic for me to run alongside my first commentary later this week, and I am covering an arts walk in Ravenswood on Saturday. Next week I have a couple local organization meetings to cover, but no features planned. I kind of got lucky this week with all the stuff going on around here.

I got some bad news Tuesday night, though; Patch, the paper I worked for from the time I moved here two years ago up until last spring, finally expanded into some of the north side Chicago neighborhoods, as was their eventual plan. Lincoln Square’s Patch site launches this week. That was basically my dream job. But, maybe I will get to freelance for it, like I was doing for the Patch papers in the suburbs.

Thanks to those of you who suggested news site ideas on my last post, Rachel and Laura! I still need lots of help, so please keep brainstorming on my behalf. Thanks also goes out this week to Kevin, who has been unbelievably supportive of my sudden urge to go out after dark and interview strangers. He is also a great editor, it turns out. My big flaw as a writer has always been my hastiness to finish a thing, out of my excitement to share it as soon as possible, so I may not always be as careful with edits as I need to be. Together we make a pretty decent writing team.

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5 thoughts on “Future news site plans

  1. Also, you should set up a Twitter account for the site. I’m sure you’re aware WordPress can auto post any stories to Twitter when you publish them. You could also preview stories on there so people know you’ll have a post coming.

  2. Have you looked into indiegogo instead of kickstarter? I think they let you collect funding even if you don’t reach your goal. The site looks great so far! Keep us updated! 🙂

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