Latina Voices launched in November 2008.
In less than a year we have published more than 80 columns, essays and stories by or about Latina women.
Latina Voices has had 35 contributors – mostly Latinas. Many of them have been college students but we also have published teachers, freelance writers and journalists in both English and Spanish.
Also, there are a few contributors who are not Latina including African-American and white women and a Latino man.
The focus of the site is to tell stories about Latinas but they don’t all have to be written by Latina women.
Much of the content has been generated by writers in Chicago, where I am based. But I also have published writers in California, Florida, Missouri, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
On average we have had around 1,000 page views per month.
On the site I have featured columns and stories about prominent Latinas from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to noted authors Sandra Cisneros and Josefina Lopez.
Our freelance writers have covered issues like the H1N1 flu virus, teenage pregnancy and cervical cancer rates among Latinas.
The site also has given voice to stories about ordinary Latina women doing interesting things. This includes a story about the Cervantes sisters in Chicago who are in a blues band and a Latina who is a funeral home director.
Latina Voices also has a video archive featuring interviews with ordinary Latina women from a waitress at a Mexican restaurant to undocumented Latina students who could become legal if Congress passed the Dream Act.
These are just a few examples of the kind of work published on the site.
One of the biggest challenges is generating traffic. But we have just entered into a partnership with Latina Lounge, which is highlighting content from Latina Voices on their site. http://www.latinalounge.com/
This is an initiative of Latina magazine and they will also place ads on our site, which will lead to a revenue stream. I don’t know how much that will lead to but it is a start.
I also cross post some Latina Voices content on a blog I started called Chicanísima, which is on Chicago Now, part of the Chicago Tribune Co. This also helps increase traffic.
I also have cross-posted with Latina Voices on Exploring Race a forum by columnist Dawn Turner at the Chicago Tribune. And I have been interviewed by the Associated Press, which mentioned Latina Voices in their coverage, which was circulated nationally and internationally.
I would like to build up the mentoring aspect of the program and to reach even younger writers. I am making plans with a teacher to adopt some Latina student writers from a middle school in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood.
I also would like to empower more women who are not journalists or writers to tell their stories for the site. I have attended a conference organized by the National Hispana Leadership Institute, which held a one-day seminar in Chicago, to recruit women to write for the site. I want to expand the base of writers from the ground up.
I also am helping organize a multimedia training for Hispanic journalists in November in Chicago and hope to recruit some of the attendees to write or make videos for Latina Voices.
In my original proposal, I also outlined a business plan to sell T-shirts and other merchandise made by Latina women or artists on the site as a way to generate revenue. That is something I hope to launch in 2010.
Latina Voices definitely fills a niche. The nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court was a sign that wise Latina Voices need to be heard.
I hope that in the next year we can continue to grow the site, develop a business plan and expand the base of writers to include younger writers and women who aren’t writers but have something to say. I want to expand the Latina Voices community and build our traffic.
Thank you to J-Lab and the McCormick Foundation for awarding me the New Media Women Entrepreneurs grant. I hope Latina Voices will continue to grow and thrive and with your support we were able to get it off the ground.