SiliconHillsNews.com launched on Sept. 1 and I’ve posted to the site by covering various conferences in Austin, including Startup Week Austin, The Capital Factor’s Demo Day and, most recently, the Clean Energy Venture Summit. I’ve also covered events like BlogathonATX and Dell World.
My coverage plan is to do profiles of individual entrepreneurs in the Silicon Hills area, and I would like to start doing a weekly profile soon.
Meanwhile, I’ve struggled to find a WordPress template that works easily and effectively. I bought two: the Editorial Theme from Woo Themes and the Deadline theme for Theme Forest. But I soon discovered that I needed additional training in WordPress to understand how to use these themes as content management systems. After struggling for hours to try to make the various themes work, I eventually just gave up and I’m currently using “Themify” a free WordPress theme. I’ve decided the technology can take a back end to the content right now.
Although there are so many features I would love to add to the site as plug-ins, I don’t want to fix it up too much to have to do it all over again when I find a theme that works. To get further training, I found a WordPress meet-up group in Austin, and I’m going to find a tutor there. Hopefully by the end of November, I’ll have the site’s theme solidified.
I did have a lot of trouble finding freelancers. The first one I hired in San Antonio bailed out on me at the last minute after receiving two assignments. I finally found a reliable freelancer in Austin. I would like to hire another freelancer in San Antonio soon.
With additional people working for the site, it gives me a chance to focus on fundraising, ad sales, sponsorships and putting the site’s business plan into action. After attending J-Lab’s journalism entrepreneurship workshop at the Online News Association conference in Boston recently I’m thinking a for-profit model is the best way to go for this technology site. I’ve listed the site on Angellist.com to try to find angel funding through a non-traditional method. But so far, I’ve just had some people asking a bunch of questions. I know a few deep-pocketed funders in the Austin-San Antonio area that I’m going to seek out.
I’ve also plugged into the technology incubation scene locally, including a site called TechRanch that I think might be really helpful in providing business guidance.
I’m going to send out press releases and hold a meet-up for the site by the end of the year. I just want to build up the content, find a great theme and make it look as polished as possible before launching a full-fledged marketing campaign.
I did create a Twitter profile for the site – @SiliconHillsNew – it only allows for 15 characters. That has attracted some followers to the site. I’ve had 1,000 page views since launching, which is encouraging since it is only word of mouth marketing right now. I also used 99Designs.com to crowdsource the creation of a logo for the site. I picked my logo from more than 40 design submissions. I may use that site again in the future to create T-shirts for SiliconHillsNews.com. I’ve also created a Facebook page, but I haven’t done a lot with it yet. My plans are to build out that page in the coming weeks.