We’ve got it – and have been corralling writers like crazy since launching on Feb. 21. The most gratifying aspect of NolaVie is that so many people are jumping on board.
Contributors’ meetings these days range from 10 to 25 people, all excited about story ideas that capture the unique and lively culture and arts scene in New Orleans.
But let’s back up. Here’s the news in a more “legacy journalism” format.
In February, NolaVie went live, both at www.nolavie.com and at www.nola.com/nolavie, the latter as a part of partner Nola.com’s major New Orleans website. Banner home-page billing in week one, coupled with a story in the feature section of The Times-Picayune, drew first-time readers in the thousands. We were off to a grand start.
In the past month, we:
- Have posted from two to five original stories daily, ranging from a dawn session at the race track to profiles of local entrepreneurs to restaurant snapshots and a play monologue.
- Among our most popular stories to date: A regular column on senior living by the former Living Section editor of The Times-Picayune (a spry 75), a short story and photo gallery on Barkus, the Mardi Gras parade for dogs; a piece about a Rouse’s grocery store commercial that featured the St. Augustine Marching 100 high-school band; an interview with a sociologist about why Mardi Gras forms the social and economic base of the culture.
- Held our first event, a parade party at the Bridge Lounge, with Nola Brewing (free) beer and a sign-up sheet for our soon-to-come newsletter. (Pix of the event ran in the Times-Picayune Big Easy page)
- Held our second event, a film screening of a Les Blank movie about New Orleans, at a local art center called Fair Folks and a Goat.
- Covered New Orleans Entrepreneur Week in depth, an event that is attracting national attention in just its third year.
- Signed up two new founding partners, the New Orleans Opera Association and New Orleans Museum of Art (bringing the total to eight so far)
- Launched a Creative Writing Contest, soliciting fiction, short non-fiction and poetry about New Orleans; winners get cash prizes and their works will be read at an event in April at Octavia Books, a well-known local bookstore.
We have a dozen regular contributors, and many others who send in the occasional story. One gratifying bit of news on the content front: We invited people to submit stories, not knowing if they would or what we would get. We have received some very high-quality articles “out of the blue,” such as a recent recap of The Tennessee Williams Festival by a well-known local author. The experiment seems to be working.
Our major launch party, for partners, cultural leaders, politicians and the like, is scheduled for April 7. Jazz musicians from our jazz content partner, Nola Art House Music, will perform.
We have three (very talented) paid part-time employees: a director of content, an associate director of content and a liaison with the New Orleans entrepreneur community. Our two interns from Dartmouth returned to school for spring session (after setting up all our social networks, tweeting, taking video and pictures, reading and answering email and writing stories). Three new interns from Tulane University start with NolaVie today.
We hold weekly editorial meetings, and have continued to schedule breakfast and lunch meetings, coffees and executive meetings with all and sundry, such as the film and music departments at University of New Orleans, potential contributors, etc.
In short, things are hectic, busy, occasionally overwhelming, but definitely off to a good start.
The major challenge for us: Although we have a permanent link on the Nola.com home page, people have trouble finding us if we are not promoted more prominently there. So we are working to get more headline coverage on Nola.com.
We are also hoping to launch our first newsletter this week.
Our first goal is to establish our website with solid, literary content, and draw users. Next we will brainstorm monetizing and longterm goals.
Wish us luck and keep reading at nola.com/nolavie. Thanks!