Blog: It’s not a numbers game

I woke up this morning to the most overnight page views ever. I remember the same kind of thrill when I was at the Calgary Sun. Mega pressure before deadline, agonizing over what you printed, and then the next day, you grab a Herald and a Sun, walk into the newsroom, and see how you fared. I did the same when I ran Calgary 24Hours (grrr Metro Calgary), and as one of my oldest friends recalls when we worked at opposing papers in Cochrane Alberta, I can be pretty competitive. He knows I still feel bad about what I said in that scrum, but he remembers my feistiness fondly. It’s kind of a known thing in the Sun family.

I loved working at the View. Some days, I didn’t get any work done because people were walking into that little house off Beach Avenue, to talk about what was in the paper, tell me what was going on, or just to say hi. THAT is the value of community news. It’s connecting with people, and walking Beach Ave and approaching strangers and making phone calls and staying up late to write about council news. That’s what I did yesterday, my numbers went up, and you can say I got my Gold Star – but numbers aren’t everything.

Mainstream news is a numbers game. Snappy headlines lead to page clicks which lead to you viewing an ad, which makes money for the outlet. They’re having a hard time right now. More and more, businesses are becoming more savvy, and they can handle their own marketing. As I’ve said before, I’d rather be accountable to my subscribers. And believe me, when my email pings and I get a new signup, it means a lot. So do your emails of encouragement. And your Facebook posts telling others that you like what you’re reading. You all know word of mouth is a thing in this town, so when you like what you see – and you tell others, it means my business may just be the beginning of something that’s going to contribute to this town.

I’m writing for the smallest audience I’ve ever had in my career. But you know what? It’s the most engaged, supportive audience I’ve ever written for. This is such a slow climb – I mean, I’m making $4 a month per person. I have to strike that balance between accessibility (because I feel I’m providing a service), and actually making a living I can help raise my kids with.

So, it’s not just numbers and page views and being at the top of local Facebook groups. It’s the people who decide to sign up, have constructive feedback, and offer story ideas and photos from their walks. It’s also the people who are happy to talk to a stranger in the middle of a pandemic, and they’re willing to be quoted by a media outlet they haven’t heard of. I’m here for the long haul. Seriously, thank you for reading!

Now off to organizing the kids, and watching my email – hope to have something for you later today….

Written by Kristen Friesen

May 13, 2020

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