2012 was a year of firsts for Noozhawk, so on the first day of the new year I thought I’d give you a recap — as well as a road map of where we’re headed in 2013.
Noozhawk experienced a dramatic growth in traffic in 2012. Overall, we were up 40 percent from 2011, but it was the second half of the year when we really hit the gas. In the last six months, our traffic was 60 percent higher than the same period the year before. We recorded a 65 percent jump in the last quarter — in spite of two lengthy holiday periods when readership historically dips.
Our gains are the result of a total team effort, but I attribute a lot of the growth to the direction of our executive editor, Tom Bolton, whose nose for news is the best there is on the Central Coast.
In April, I hired Tom and turned over our news operation to him. He’s sharpened our focus on hard news and breaking news, enabling us to capitalize on Noozhawk’s already loyal audience of readers drawn by our K-12 education reporting and our deep involvement in the nonprofit community.
Under Tom’s supervision, our four professional journalists — managing editor Michelle Nelson and reporters Lara Cooper, Giana Magnoli and Gina Potthoff — have become even more ubiquitous. There’s not a harder working and more prolific news team in Santa Barbara County. And they’re very fast.
Gina, who joined us in September, has quickly established Noozhawk’s presence in the North County, where we’ve seen impressive gains in traffic while receiving a very warm welcome, especially from the school communities.
Also in September, Noozhawk became a founding member of LION, the nation’s first — and only — association dedicated to Local Independent Online News publishing. There are more than 120 of us pioneering LION publishers, all sharing the same goal of creating successful and sustainable organizations delivering professional local news in our communities.
In November, we hired Kim Clark as our vice president of business development, and she’s now running our sales and marketing team while working on a number of new products and revenue streams. Her sales background and management experience have already elevated our game, and she’s putting into place the necessary professional processes that we never got around to implementing in our startup environment.
Our sales representatives, Chris Donahue and Angela Miller-Bevan, certainly have responded to Kim’s leadership, and we think we’re poised for another record-setting year with sales and revenue.
Both Tom and Kim are equity partners in the company, and I can tell you that it’s been exciting — as well as a relief — for me to share the load with them. It’s important for entrepreneurs to drink upstream from the herd, but that can be difficult to do when you’re part of it. Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve all worked together so we’re quite aware of each other’s strengths and capabilities. That’s just as important.
Having outgrown the Noozhawk Nest in Victoria Court, this past weekend we moved into a bigger office at 1327-A State St., above Opal Restaurant along the walkway in front of the Arlington Theatre. We’re still unpacking but it’s always nice to smell new carpet and paint.
We were quick about the move, and I would be remiss if I didn’t thank all those who helped get us relocated with such efficiency: Andros Floor Design, John Bennett of Bennett Construction, Clay Aleridge of Cutting Edge Painting, Impulse Advanced Communications, Movegreen, Pacific Networks, and especially Greg Bartholomew and Mike Martz of Hayes Commercial Group, along with Almond Holdings LLC.
Finally, to help us extend our 2012 growth and seize our opportunity in 2013, we’ve been seeking financial support from community-minded investors, raising working capital through a limited subscription offering. I’m very gratified, and humbled, by the response we’ve gotten.
There are a lot of people out there who think Noozhawk is an indispensable part of this community and want to see it flourish. We know you’re among them and, on behalf of all the Noozhawks, we thank you for your support, enthusiasm and participation.
Happy New Year!