A Q&A with LION member Kevin Lynch, publisher of SouthBMore.com in Baltimore.
1. When did your site launch, what geography does it cover and why was it founded?
I launched SouthBMore.com in February 2012. The core of our coverage area is the South Baltimore Peninsula (“SoBo”), which includes Federal Hill, Locust Point, Inner Harbor, and Port Covington. We also cover the “SoWeBo” neighborhoods of Pigtown, Union Square, and Hollins Market, as well as some stories in other parts of South Baltimore.
I started SouthBMore.com because I craved information about news going on in my own neighborhood that wasn’t available anywhere online or in print. People were always talking about so many South Baltimore topics, but there was never a go-to place to get the real story. I have a background in media, saw hyper-local sites popping up, and thought I’d give covering South Baltimore a shot.
2. What was your background before becoming an independent local news publisher?
I’m a big fan of the media industry and have worked in many areas of it. I own a video production company, Incept Multimedia, and have done freelance television and video work for numerous local and national media companies. I independently produced a Maryland high school sports television and radio show that both lasted a couple of seasons.
I also launched two different local high school sports websites with a focus on video highlights. For various reasons, neither project survived. I couldn’t kick the itch of launching my own media venture, and decided to give it another shot and start SouthBMore.com. I knew it was an area with a lot of small businesses and news to cover, and that I wouldn’t be putting a lot of miles on my car. Starting the site has been a great decision.
3. How would you describe your operation and business model?
SouthBMore.com is a hyper-local news site for South Baltimore. The site mostly covers business news, from happenings at main street retail stores to large corporations; real estate development; the local real estate market; neighborhood events; and crime. The site also covers some human interest stories and local elections.
Our business model is to capture the South Baltimore audience and sell advertising to local businesses. We sell banner ads; have a “Specials Page” for South Baltimore restaurants; and offer sponsored posts, which include “expert in an industry” topics, real estate property features, and events.
We also host SouthBMore’s Best Bash, a party celebrating our best of South Baltimore voting competition. We sell tickets and sponsorships to the event, and also raise money for local causes.
4. What do you consider your competition as a local news or information source?
We don’t have any direct competition, which is a big reason I started SouthBMore.com. However, we do cover the same stories at times as The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Business Journal, and other local media outlets. There are a lot of untold stories in Baltimore, and we’d love to cover more in the future.
5. What makes your site unique?
Our laser focus on South Baltimore makes us unique. I also take pride in our style of coverage. I have a lot of pride in Baltimore and want to highlight those who are working hard to boost this city like entrepreneurs, real estate developers, event planners, and notable members of the community. There’s no doubt there’s a lot Baltimore can improve upon as a city, but I want to put in the extra effort to highlight what’s great about it.
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?
In this growing and constantly evolving industry of online news, I think we are all always figuring out what exactly we are doing and how we can bring in more revenue. We have tried out a lot of things – some have worked and been popular, and some have not.
As someone who has been involved in multiple media projects and is just now having some stability, I recommend figuring out your target audience and which advertisers that audience will appeal to before launching any project. I also recommend not trying to do too much at once. Figure out what you are good at and what your niche is, and grow from there.
7. What about your operation is your biggest source of pride right now?
My biggest source of pride is the appreciation many South Baltimoreans have expressed for SouthBMore.com. So many people come up to me around town to tell me how much they love the site. I’ve also received countless number of emails from readers thanking us for our coverage.
I believe that we have also earned a lot of trust with the subjects covered in our stories and with our readers. We’ve covered some tricky and controversial topics, but never take a side and try to lay out all the appropriate information for the community. People have thanked us for that.
8. What do you struggle with the most?
Income can be a struggle. We are profitable, but want to get to a point financially where we can add to our team and continue to grow. We’ll keep working hard until we get there.
9. What are some of your future goals for the site?
I eventually want to cover more areas of Baltimore, whether through an expansion of SouthBMore.com or through the creation of a sister site. There are so many neighborhoods that I think could benefit from our in-depth coverage and many people have asked us about expanding to their part of town.
10. Why are you a member of LION Publishers?
Scott Brodbeck told me there was a Facebook group! Kidding aside, I do love Facebook groups and LIONs Den has been a great resource since I joined a few months ago.
I’m excited to be linked to so many others working in this niche industry and to learn from them and share my own experiences. In my first few years of SouthBMore.com, I used to ask everyone I met from out of town about their favorite sites and blogs in their area, so I could check them out. It’s great that LION has linked so many of us together.
I find it so fascinating to see the different types of stories that readers gravitate to in our different geographical coverage areas which range from rural towns, suburbs, and cities.
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