Well, I’ve made it official. I’ve decided to close YegNews.com. As I stated on the site and in an email to YegNews contributors, it’s rather obvious, considering we hadn’t published in nearly a month.
I had been considering reviving it in a new form, but after a lot of soul searching I decided the best course would be to close it. I plan to keep the site up. You never know. Someone may be interested in buying it and turn it into the Edmonton news site it really should be.
So, why close YegNews?
There are many reasons, but really it boils down to dollars and cents. It wasn’t turning a profit and I just couldn’t keep it going without any cash flowing from it.
The way the project started, I truly believed it would have been making money in a reasonable amount of time. And really, it would have. Enough to vacation in the Caribbean? Not right away, but I think it could have provided a modest income as it grew.
When my project partner decided to bail that threw a serious wrench into the works, and dramatically changed the nature of the project and my role in it. It’s a shame too, because we got a great start out of the gate and a huge amount of traffic to the site in the first weeks.
A few weeks after that I almost closed YegNews and really I probably should have. It’s not easy, because I don’t give up that easily. In fact, it’s been a major step for me to take, and certainly quite a public one.
I’m sure there will be some analysis (thanks Karen!) and second-guessing about what we did wrong, the mistakes we made, etc, but I’m not worried about that.
As for mistakes, well, there were definitely many made! I am hoping I’ve learned my lessons, but at least I gave it a shot. As the old saying goes, better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all.
Fundamentally though, it virtually wasn’t making any money at all. Believe me, Google Adsense did not pay well, though that wasn’t the revenue model we had planned to rely entirely on.
How can online media work?
If I had it to do over again, I would look at the original online media model I proposed. I just think that would work much better.
I’ve worked as a journalist and even volunteered my time (quite willingly) but I do believe journalists should be paid. That is something we were working towards at YegNews. While I wasn’t ever really happy with not being able to pay our contributors, people are willing to write for free and do so for their own reasons.
It’s obvious I have an entrepreneurial spirit, because ever since I made the decision to close YegNews, I’ve been thinking of how I could correct mistakes and what I could do better. It’s not going to happen any time soon, at least not unless the conditions might be right to do it.
There is a place in the Edmonton media landscape for a daily online newspaper that only publishes online. In the shrinking media landscape we could use more, independent voices and diversity of opinion. Competition in the media is a positive thing and having a range of story angles and voices is sorely needed. I’m not a pack journalism kind of person and would actively discourage that.
Like any startup, funding is crucial and YegNews was underfunded. We did it on a shoestring but I thought we could work around that. I realize now what a mistake that was. If I had the $3 million budget I discussed, that would be more than enough to have a really serious newsroom. By really sharpening the pencil and tightening things up, you could still have a solid operation on a lot less money. And, to make website visitors happy, no ads! I think a subscriber-only model can work.
I’m still considering approaching investors who might be interested in funding a venture like this. Know anyone who might be?
I’ve certainly made a huge sacrifice for this project and right now am in recovery mode. I am looking for a day job and/or contract work and a chance to replenish my neglected bank account. My SEO consulting business has suffered as I have devoted to YegNews a good portion of my time since March.
I feel much better having made the decision and feel as if a weight has been lifted off me. In fact, I’ve had several personal situations resolved this fall too, so I feel really positive going forward!