The Trouble with Local Media Businesses

I have been quietly working on YourBoulder.com for almost two years. By implementing the right strategy, the traffic on this website has absolutely exploded. It’s a great brand.

YourBoulder.com is a local media site that creates content, writes stories, curates events, and gives insight to the residents of Boulder, CO. Since I bought equity into the site, it has almost 10X’d its traffic.

Although I fully advocate local media and the business model behind it, there are some real challenges that go along with running a site like this.

Let’s quickly look at some pros and cons.

Why You Should Build a Local Media Site

  • There is always a demand for content that informs people about what’s happening in their community.

  • Traditional local media sites are awful, because they are still stuck in the “news” model. It can be very easy to get noticed by positioning your content to be more intrinsically valuable than the typical BREAKING NEWS local sites.

  • It can be a lot of fun and these websites allow you to build great relationships in the community.

Why You Shouldn’t Build a Local Media Site

  • So far, there’s one big glaring reason not to. - Local media is still dependent on advertising.

For the record, I have nothing against advertising. Ads have supported creators for decades. I haven’t put ads on YourBoulder because I simply don’t want to do the work.

  1. I don’t want to cold call people.

  2. I don’t want to listen to advertisers complain to me about how “they’re not getting enough clicks” (it’s never good enough btw).

  3. I don’t want to be constantly sending out pitch decks just so 90% of them can get ignored.

  4. I think there are better ways to make money.

As of right now, I haven’t cracked that code. I’ve experimented with a lot of things.

For instance, I’ve tried implementing a paid local business directory, and I’ve experimented with selling promotions to events. Most recently, I am thinking about turning YourBoulder into a lead generation tool for real estate.

Nothing has worked yet, at least not to the extent that I feel like I have a genuine path to profitability.

In short, local media sites are great. Running a local media site is fun work with huge opportunity that provides value to lots of people. As long as you’re comfortable selling ads, then you can make make a great living. As of right now, I haven’t found a better way. But I will keep working on it and reporting back.