A Q&A with LION member Doug Rainey, publisher of Delaware Business Daily.
1. When did your site launch, what geography does it cover and why was it founded?
DelawareBusinessDaily.com and the weekly Business Bulletin newsletter went into commercial operation in January 2014, after a non-compete agreement expired with my former employer. I opted to cover Delaware, due to its small size and rapid growth in the lower two-thirds of the state. I had long felt that online coverage was the best option in covering a busy business community.
2. What was your background before becoming an independent local news publisher?
I was the editor of the monthly Delaware Business Ledger, which folded in 2010 after 16 years. I believe the Ledger operated the first content-driven news website in Delaware in the late 1990s.
3. How would you describe your operation and business model?
I believe we have three audiences. One reads the weekly newsletter. The other focuses on the breaking news reports. The third goes online or accesses our stories via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. The combination of the Bulletin weekly newsletter and website is attractive to advertisers and allows us to grow with minimal investment.
4. What do you consider your competition as a local news or information source?
The Gannett daily, the News Journal, has undergone a number of downsizings, with the size of the business reporting staff falling from six to two. A corporate decision basically eliminated the post of business editor at most of its properties. This creates plenty of opportunities.
In 2014, I opted against joining the Delaware Business Times, perhaps the first print-based business journal to go into operation in the past 10 years. I was offered a position on the print side, but believed that online is the future. The Business Times has a digital operation, but focuses heavily on its every-other-week print schedule and to some extent special events.
5. What makes your site unique?
Our emphasis on business news delivered quickly and accurately and the option of a newsletter for those who don’t want to continue to visit the site.
6. What is something you wish you had known when you were starting out or would do differently now that could perhaps serve as advice for others?
I would have stayed focused on local business news. I spent too much time covering less relevant news while building up traffic on the website. At the first LION conference, I learned the need to stay focused on your core mission.
7. What about your operation is your biggest source of pride right now?
It has taken two and one-half, but we are considered by a growing number of readers to be the go-to source for business news in the state of Delaware. I am also able to operate at a profit.
8. What do you struggle with the most?
I struggle with having enough time to focus on the revenue side. I have a part-time salesperson who faces the same time constraints. Much of our business now comes from readers who grasp the potential of reaching readers focused on business and ask about advertising rates.
Secondly, online revenues are hampered by a lack of real estate, an issue I need to address. The newsletter, like print, has plenty of space and we need to continue to push that option. We do have a paid sponsor for the newsletter and we have numerous other revenue opportunities.
9. What are some of your future goals for the site?
We want to do more enterprise reporting. We spend a small amount of money on correspondents and need to increase that budget. We have held back waiting for a big competitive threat that has not materialized.
10. Why are you a member of LION Publishers?
This is the easiest question to answer. If you are serious about hyperlocal coverage, you need to be a member of LION. You will get support when you need it.
The most recent conference in Philadelphia paid off immediately when one of the presenters suggested Buffer as a way to consistently link content via social media.
Web traffic has risen by 15 to 20 percent in the summer months. I am also using Pipedrive as a sales management tool. It ensures that promising leads do not fall through the cracks.
I look forward to attending the Chicago summit. While the presentations on technology, revenue and news will contain valuable information, the biggest draw will be the opportunity to network with LION members representing sites of all sizes.
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