The good news is I’ve sold a few thousand dollars worth of ads for SiliconHillsNews.com, primarily from people approaching me by e-mail. That’s encouraging because soon I plan a big ad campaign to meet the site’s goal of $50,000 in advertising for 2012.
Bootstrapping is a slow process, but it does work. Bootstrapping makes a business look so much better to potential angel investors who can see that SiliconHillsNews.com already has customers, revenue and a highly targeted high-tech regional readership. Also, I’m actively working on landing more big-name sponsors, particularly a telecommunications company and a computer company. I’ll have more on that in coming months.
Traffic continues to grow every month on the site. February will be our best month ever.
A few weeks ago I covered an entrepreneurship panel at the University of Texas’s Venture Labs titled “Been there, done that.” The panel discussion made me feel so much better about my struggling news startup. Because with a startup, you experience “extreme highs and extreme lows.” Some days, I’m on top of the world and then I’ll get a bit of bad news that will send me to the ditch. That has happened this past month.
Kickstarter declined my project. That was disappointing. I haven’t pursued any other crowd-sourced funding sites yet. I’m just going to focus on ad sales for now.
Also, the City of Austin and Tech Ranch Austin invited SiliconHillsNews.com to demo its site at the city’s booth at South by Southwest in March. Then, out of the blue, the City of Austin cut us from the lineup saying they had overcommitted the space.
I try to look at the bright side of things, but I spent close to $700 ordering 100 SiliconHillsNews.com T-shirts to give away at SXSW and another $100 on SiliconHillsNews.com stickers. The T-shirts and stickers will not go to waste and everything happens for a reason, so maybe it’s a good thing SiliconHillsNews.com isn’t in the city’s booth.
Lastly, two freelancers that I assigned multiple stories to didn’t come through with any stories leaving me with a huge content gap. Another freelancer also failed to complete an assignment. That’s why I’d love to secure some venture capital so I could hire two full- or part-time reporters and pay them a weekly wage to guarantee content on a regular basis for the site. It’s really tough relying on freelancers. Even though I pay well, they still seem to have trouble getting assignments done.
To end on a positive note, next month is South by Southwest in Austin and that’s going to generate a lot of content for the site.