It was 815 days ago, January 5, 2021, that I first published The Raincross Gazette. This whole thing has been both a dream and an experiment:
- What would it take to bring back to Riverside the reliable local news coverage I grew up with?
- How can I convince enough Riversiders to support this effort in a way that makes it financially sustainable?
My dad was a business professor at Riverside City College; he raised me to be an entrepreneur and I have deeply enjoyed the significant learning curve of this effort. I have learned to treat my failures as feedback and just keep learning. I have learned to hold my ideas loosely and just keep iterating. This year we have finally found something that works and in the last quarter our readership has more than doubled.
So, what's been the secret? More of my time and attention.
There's only been one problem with that: I have a full-time job.
The Raincross Gazette was launched by Black Roses, a brand strategy firm in downtown Riverside I co-founded in 2018 . For the past two years my business partners have graciously let me spend several hours (ok, sometimes days!) a week building this paper despite the fact that it hasn't been remotely profitable. Today, their graciousness extends even further – it is my last day as a Black Roses and my partners are sending me off with an incredible gift: The Raincross Gazette.
Next Monday publishing The Gazette will be my full-time job; I am as thrilled as I am terrified. And that's not the only thing changing.
A new website
When it launched in January 2021, The Gazette was an email only paid subscription. In February 2022 we launched a new website and spent most of the year struggling to service our subscribers well across two platforms. If I've done this properly, you're reading this on our brand new website (we just moved in here yesterday so there is still a lot of work to do before we're fully settled) with a new membership management system that will fully integrate our website and email delivery.
A new business-model
For most of its life, The Raincross Gazette has been for subscribers only. When we launched I said:
Our subscriber funded business model doesn’t depend on mass click throughs, but reporting news that’s helpful enough for our subscribers to keep paying for it.
I still think this is the right idea, unfortunately I haven't been able to get enough people to start paying for the news. So we're are opening up the doors and making it free to subscribe to The Raincross Gazette and previous paid subscribers will now be known as Supporters. (If this bothers you in any way please reach out to me and I will get you a refund.) We began integrating advertisements in the emails in February and have received only positive feedback, by allowing more people to subscribe to The Gazette we can slowly increase our rates and leverage the advertising revenue to make this a sustainable business.
How can you help?
- Tell your neighbors, friends, and coworkers. The Raincross Gazette is now free to subscribe to and in addition to quality local news we are building the most comprehensive calendar of events in the city.
- Share your thoughts. I love hearing from readers and I love writing stories that you suggest. Please send tips and ideas for story coverage my way.
- Advertise with us. We are rapidly approaching having the largest email audience in the city and our open rates have never been below 60%. I would love to promote your business or organization to our readers, reach out for more info.
- Partner with us. I am hoping to find a few strategic partners whose vision would be served well by being known in town as a Sponsor and Strategic Partner of The Gazette.
- Support us. As I shared before, The Raincross Gazette is not yet profitable. I honestly have no idea how I'm going to feed my family and pay my mortgage next month, but I believe in Riverside. If you believe in this mission, you can visit raincrossgazette.com/support and give any amount toward supporting this work.
I am so grateful for your subscription and support. I can't wait to keep you updated about our progress. Please email me anytime, I'd love to talk.
PS. If you're reading this today, I'd love to see you this afternoon at 4:00pm for The Raincross District's Grand Opening celebration.