Earlier, I had been accepted into Startup Texas, which helps me focus on the business. They’ve got great online seminars and discounts on all kinds of programs like Google Adwords – which I plan to take advantage of this year. I don’t know much about Google Adwords, but the goal is to employ more advertising to spread the word about Silicon Hills News.
Silicon Hills News continues to grow organically through word-of-mouth advertising. The site has landed its first corporate sponsor: Rackspace Hosting.
Silicon Hills News is the only regional tech website run by a woman.
The goal is to land five more major sponsors this year for a total in $100,000 in funding to expand operations. I would like to sell another $50,000 worth of ads this year too.
December was the best month ever for traffic to the site. The traffic continues to nearly double every month. And social media efforts through Twitter and Facebook definitely help drive the hits. Today, Silicon Hills News has 200 Twitter followers and 142 Facebook fans.
Currently, I’m working with a half dozen freelancers. Susan Lahey, a freelancer and owner of Fishpond Content in Austin, is one of the site’s most regular contributors. The goal for 2012 is to expand the pool of freelancers in Austin and San Antonio contributing regularly to the site.
In addition to finding more sponsors, I’m seeking $100,000 in angel investment on Angellist.com and through Central Texas community sources. That money would allow Silicon Hills News to hire a couple of full-time employees and expand the features on the site as well as beef up technology and add more freelancers.
I would also like to add another co-founder to Silicon Hills News and I’m actively looking for someone to partner with on this venture. I would like someone with business, sales and marketing experience.
The content on the site continues to expand. I signed on with CalendarWiz, which allows the site to have a customizable events calendar. It also allows people to post their own events. This has happened twice and it’s quite nice to get some “user-generated content.” I would like to explore how I could encourage more user-generated content to the site whether it’s guest columns, photos or comics. I also want to hire an artist to create a weekly comic for Silicon Hills News.
I also would like to expand video and audio offerings by adding a weekly podcast and video broadcast to Silicon Hills News. And I would like to explore more storytelling options with graphics, timelines and maps.
In addition to Startup Texas, I have been taking classes at Tech Ranch Austin that have helped focus on the business.
I’m in their Venture Forth class, I learned how to do a three-year financial forecast from Graham McFarland, an Austin entrepreneur. And last week, Kevin Koym, co-founder of Tech Ranch, taught us about the importance of sales.
When I became a journalist, I never thought I would do sales. But I know realize that we’re all in sales. And sale is an important part of Silicon Hills News. This week, I have to pitch my company to the group. So I’m completing a “pitch deck” which is a series of slides on the company.
One of the goals for 2012 is to a hold an annual event for Silicon Hills News. I’m looking to create a Texas Hill Country tech summit in October. Also, I’m going to do some consulting and offer a few classes on new media to select participants in sessions held throughout the year.
Also in late January, Silicon Hills News is going to kick off its first Kickstarter program to raise $15,000. I’ll provide more details on that funding venture in a future post.
Silicon Hills News is in the sweet spot of a national trend of regional “TechCrunch-like” tech sites covering a specific community. Similar ventures include GeekWire in Seattle, SiliconFlorist in Portland, Silicon Prairie News in Omaha and Technically Philly in Philadelphia.
What sets Silicon Hills News apart from these other ventures? It’s the only regional tech site run by a woman.