What metrics matter most?

Photographer Clinton Hussey and his assistant setting up lighting for photo session for BC Business Magazine July article: The Politics of Vancouver Blogs. 

Calling the Vancouver Observer "reminiscent of Salon," Kevin Chong compares and contrasts VO, City Caucus, and Frances Bula's blog in his article, "The Politics of Vancouver blogs"  in the July issue of  BC Business Magazine. About me, Chong writes:

When not selling ads, Solomon the accidental business person is devising strategies to boost readership, which include search engine optimization techniques to push her site up Google’s search rankings. “What would really have an impact is if we got over a 100,000 monthly readers,” she says. Solomon cites the Huffington Post, a left-leaning U.S. news site recently sold to AOL for $315 million, as an example that advertising revenue is shifting online. “It’s just a matter of time before 90 per cent of ad dollars are online.”

The statistics and quotes in Chong's story come from interviews last February.  Last month, interestingly, VO got pretty close to reaching that goal.  With 95,000 unique visitors, we broke all our past months, except for during the Olympics.  Exactly what I meant to say was that what would really have an impact would be getting over 100,000 monthly readers every month and then climbing to 200,000.  And continuing to climb from there.

The metrics reflect the momentum of a business model that is beginning to sustain the Vancouver Observer.  At year end, we realized that revenue has more than tripled this year, and next year promises to be even better. Last March, I finally completed a business plan I'd been working on for months. Subsequently,  I announced  an upcoming stock offering at a party for potential investors, as well as the formation of our new parent company, Observer Media Group (OMG).  

For those of you who don't know this already, Jenny Uechi joined the Vancouver Observer this spring as our Managing Editor and Catarina Bellon became Business Manager.  The three of us have been researching grants and writing proposals. Anja Konjicanin is our social media director and this summer Dave Vass, an SFU communications student, is assisting her.  Parisa Azida became our photography editor. Vivian Deng, also from SFU, has been here for the summer writing about fashion.  I'm also happy to announce that we are now  publishing stories from The Canadian Press national news feed, so you can get all of your news on the Vancouver Observer.

And I've been reaching out to some new and interesting people for business support and advice.  We just completed an application for a grant from Canadian Heritage to hire a strategist to oversee a subscription campaign, starting next October.  And we're applying for other grants as well. 

As I've begun exploring new ideas and new people,  I've discovered some interesting blogs, packed with original thinking. How I learn, by Steven Forth, took me through poetry and small existential dilemmas and some unusually good writing extolling the pleasures of work, home, family, Vancouver,  Cambridge, Ma. and poetry. 

Stewart Brand's site, The Long Now, introduced me to a gamer who predicts that in the future we will speak to the characters in games and interact with them on a deep emotional level.  And to a blogger discusses a visionary who "thinks the unthinkable" and calculates that China will be faced with a shortage of people to populate their workforce due to the one child policy, and will resort to opening its doors to immigration. 

The Scenario Thinking came up in conversation. I found that the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) had done a Scenario Thinking Project and it was interesting to think of research libraries and media companies both facing into turbulent times. 

I gleaned that the Scenario Thinking Project helps organizations imagine themselves far into the future, "decades out" and anticipate the situations that will confront them. In reading further,  I found that Scenario Thinking looks at both the  opportunities and the disasters the future holds and how a company or organization will be strengthened or destroyed by these.  Take off the rose coloured glasses, peer into the years ahead and what do you see? What do you want of these years? 

Of the  questions that have been posed to me, as I've sought advice, this one stands out as the most helpful: what metrics matter the most? I've been turning it over in my mind like a koan.

I welcome your questions, suggestions and advice, as well.  If you want to see the business plan or are interested in investing or subscribing, please contact me at [email protected]




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