February may have only been 28 days long, but it was our strongest month yet.
ChicagoNow received a record 13 million pageviews and 1.3 million
unique visitors in February. That continues our track record of
month-over-month growth since our site launched last summer.
We also set a new record for revenue in February. While ChicagoNow is not yet profitable, we get closer to it every month.
Our continued success is possible because of the hard work of our
bloggers and our staff. However, such success does not come without
Mike Doyle, whose contract with ChicagoNow expired yesterday, has many
complaints about our site. So he did what any good blogger does–he
blogged about them on his own site. Mike also got a heated discussion
going on Windy Citizen, a social network for Chicagoans, and on
Twitter. By the day’s end, Mike got the attention of media watchers
from the Chicago Reader, Poynter Online’s Romenesko and NYU.
To his credit, Mike raises strong points.
Overall site navigation. We understand that ChicagoNow’s
navigation needs to be fixed. The question is how? How do we create a
site design that showcases the breadth and depth of our content in
real-time? This is the question that we’re putting before several
vendors and one that we plan to solve asap.
Navbars and sidebars, i.e. the navigational bars on the top and
right side of each individual blog. We’ve already been working on a
redesign of our bloggers’ right rail and, after discussing it with our
bloggers, plan to roll the new design out this month.
Pay scale. Would we like to pay our bloggers more? Of
course we would. But right now our focus is on making ChicagoNow
profitable so that there will continue to be a ChicagoNow. That means
building a local audience.
Yet I strongly disagree with several of Mike’s other points, specifically:
- At ChicagoNow, our staff literally works around the clock to
respond to our bloggers’ problems and requests. We also make it a point
to hold monthly ChicagoNow tweetups so that our bloggers and followers
can tell us what needs fixing.
Our development is slow and steady. It takes a lot of time and a
lot of people to build, tweak and grow a network as big as ChicagoNow.
- The Chicago Tribune newsroom as a whole is very supportive of
ChicagoNow. Yes, we did have a few teaching moments in the past year as
we learned to co-exist. Today we couldn’t ask for better colleagues.
To the best of our knowledge, there is no site that even comes close to
ours. One year ago, ChicagoNow did not even exist. Today we are a
network that is home to more than 225 blogs and thousands of users–all
of them passionate about Chicago.
Until today, we’ve let our numbers speak for themselves. But we knew
the day would come when the topic of ChicagoNow itself became “open for
If we have learned anything from our bloggers, we should welcome that discussion. And we do.
Filed under: Site Development