Readers and Supporters Made 2016 a Success for iLoveKent
Dear readers, advertisers, sponsors and supporters,
2016 was a challenging year for me both personally and professionally. Personally, I’ve been sick for the last few months. My health issues aren’t life-threatening, but they are life-changing, and I’m trying to navigate that. I’m on the mend, but it will be months before my life will return to a new normal.
Professionally, I wasn’t sure iLoveKent would see 2017, and that was hard to accept. I started iLoveKent in 2007 to fill a widening media gap in Kent. The Seattle Times, for whom I wrote at the time, discontinued its SE Living supplement. The King County Journal closed, and the Kent Reporter went from two days a week to one.
I saw this growing need for information, and I gradually tried to fill it. Fast forward to 2016 when we redesigned the site, and I watched traffic drop every month for the first time since we started. Our social media channels were strong, but people weren’t going to the website as often. After we lost a big, long-time advertiser, I wasn’t sure I could keep iLoveKent going. The prospect of shutting down the site felt like a huge failure.
So I did what I often do when I’m tackling a big story or a research project. I started by gathering information. I had my web traffic and social media stats, but I needed to hear from our readers. What are we doing right? What are we doing wrong? What do we provide that you can’t get anywhere else? Where would you get information if we went away?
We got some great feedback from loyal readers as well as folks new to town, and I asked my personal advisors for suggestions. I also met with Scott Schaefer who runs the B-Town blog and several other local media sites, and he gave me some great ideas and advice. We shifted our editorial strategy, covering more news and crime and publishing more stories each week.
We also added Michelle Gehlman-Teeter to our writing team. Michelle has brought a fun new writing style to iLoveKent, giving us the ability to do more feature stories and to cover events that I can’t do alone. Reader Lynn Cheng volunteered to help with our calendar, which is a job all by itself. Her work – and great ideas – have freed me up to focus on other iLoveKent tasks.
We were also very fortunate to secure some new advertisers this fall, Airways Brewing Company, Kent Downtown Partnership and AAA Pest Control, and we added the Tacoma Stars as a marketing partner. In addition, John L. Scott Realtor Marti Reeder and Party Rents and Tents continued to support us throughout the year. This helped us cover our costs and invest a little back into the site.
And when we asked our readers for help, you generously gave it. Six readers – Ed Cole, Satwinder Kaur, Dee Klem, Lacey Seaton, Heather Curtin and Karin Liesy – made donations to help us continue our work. Many of you also liked and shared our site, our Facebook posts, tweets and Instagram photos with your family and friends.
As a result of all of these changes and support, iLoveKent is ending 2016 on a high note. Our social media channels – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – continue to attract new fans and followers daily; our readers and supporters continue to share our content; and our website traffic is higher than it’s been all year. You are responding positively to the changes we’ve made, which motivates us to work even harder.
We are excited to announce that we will, indeed, make it to 2017 to celebrate our 10th year in business. We’ve got big plans for the New Year, which we’ll announce at our first-ever reader meetup on Saturday, January 7 (10 AM to Noon) at Down Home Catering (211 First Ave. S., Kent, WA 98032). If you want to attend, please RSVP here.
We couldn’t have gotten through this year without your unwavering support. Thanks to each and every one of you for reading, for sharing and, most of all, for believing.
Happy Holidays to all of you. We look forward to sharing another great year with you in 2017!
~ Dana Neuts, Publisher