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Publisher’s Note: Hello 2015

Monday, December 29, 2014 by Michael Kanin

This space has mostly been used for incremental updates on a few stats that we feel illustrate our progress. And I’ll get to that. But first, I’d like to offer you all a peek at a few planned content upgrades for 2015.

Shortly after the New Year, we’ll roll out a section we’re calling the Basics. It’ll hold our calendar of events, a glossary of city terms (so you say you don’t know what a PUD is?), our searchable Boards and Commissions database and links to useful city and county pages that better explain how you can interact with your local governments. Our plan is to keep the Basics outside of our pay meter system and free for everyone to use.

Meanwhile, Liz has OK’d a column from yours truly. It will not much to my chagrin — offer me an opportunity to take pot shots at local media. Instead, it will be a space for me to explain some of the more complicated issues — the Austin Energy generation plan, for example — that we report about.

And that brings me to another change. Aside from the column, I will no longer contribute to the Monitor. At my core, I am a reporter. And I will miss all of that. But it’s always been our plan for me to transition out of that role to allow me to do my real job — that of publisher — better.

Speaking of fundraising, January will also bring more sponsorship options for those who would like to get involved with the Monitor. These include sponsorships of both of our daily emails and, eventually, two or three sponsorship blocks on the right side of the Monitor’s Web home. To be clear: Our focus with these sponsorship blocks will remain on usability and site functionality; as I promised a gathering in mid-November, we will not overly clutter our page. If you have any questions or concerns, or if you’d like to inquire about a sponsorship, please email me at Michael [dot] Kanin [at] COTMF [dot] org.

Now, the stats: We’re currently up to over 650 subscribing members on the site. When we launched Aug. 18, there were 406. As for general use, that users number — remember, Google Analytics’ best guess at unique visitors — as I discussed in my last note, has fluctuated a bit more than we anticipated, and perhaps the holidays have something to do with that: The week of the general election, we saw more than 5,500 users stop by. That figure dipped back down to about 3,300 the next week, and then rose back to more than 4,000 the following.

Thanksgiving saw a predictable drop (given our two-day vacation) to about 2,600, and a rise back to more than 5,000 for the first two weeks of December. As the month moved along, we saw visitors drop again, to 3,800 the week of Dec. 14.

Lots of numbers, I know. Here’s my stab at a parse: A good week of readership gives us about 1,000 visitors a day. Given that our marketing budget for 2014 was measured in tens of dollars, we’ll cliché these 1,000 as our low-hanging fruit. Between the subscribing membership number and the Google stats, this all suggests that there are as many as 350 of you out there who are stopping by but are not yet subscribing members; you 350 are our theoretically easy gets.

Of course, 2015 will be about expanding the larger user group, too. For that, we’ll look to some old tricks — expanded partnerships, for example — and some new ones (Hey! a marketing budget!) all deployed judiciously to get us to where we need to be.

So. Thanks for a great 2014! We can’t wait to get to next year.


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