by Glenn C. Koenig, webmaster at Town Wide Mall
1. I've been sick. In late July I attended a retreat out of state. Everyone tested for COVID in advance, as usual, but when I returned home, I started to come down with something. An e-mail message from the organizers warned that someone at the retreat had strep throat. I confirmed that I had caught it, and have since taken a full course of penicillin, but I was left with a lingering case of bronchitis that is still with me as I write this. (Has anyone else had this cough that just won't seem to end?)
2. I've been working to improve my publicity methods. So far, I've posted links to stories here on the usual Facebook groups (Maynard Friends & Families, etc.) and also sent out links via e-mail to a few interested people. Clearly, many people learn about what's going on in Maynard by reading posts by other people on those same Facebook pages, but that leaves out anyone not using Facebook. So, now I'm working on getting an actual email system set up and running (using MailChimp, I think) so that anyone can subscribe and receive notifications when I post stories, Facebook not required (although I still plan to post links there).
3. I've been networking with others in town to supplement what I do here. I held a "citizen journalism open house" in the Library some weeks back. Only 3 people attended, but at least one expressed an interest in doing some stories. She has started working on a story that I will post here when it's ready. I'm also working with someone to start writing a regular guest column. I'm not trying to build a traditional "news room" hierarchy, but rather establish a small group of committed people who may either send me stories to post, or send links to stories they post on their own web sites.
4. I've been working on a list of community groups here in Maynard. There are at least 100 of them, and perhaps more. I hope to get this off the ground within a few weeks. It will appear on the "Community Guide" page on this web site when it's ready, and I'll post about it here when that happens. I've had an assistant help me with the data entry and web site verification, a friend whom I've been paying out of my own pocket, so far. This leads to ...
5. Fundraising. I've really done a poor job of asking for money to defray expenses. Mostly, I've just devoted my time to publishing stories. Anyone who followed links to specific stories in the past did not see the Home page or the About page on this web site, so they never saw my "ask" for donations. Now, I've begun to add "Donate" buttons to the bottom of each story.
So far, I've received two one-time contributions totaling just under $60. I want to express my deep appreciation to those two donors for their support of this effort to bring new sources of news to Maynard.
As I've invested much more than that amount in the process, so far, it seems only fair that I ask for enough financial support to at least break even. I really don't want to put anything behind a "paywall" and I don't want to carry ads. The Action Unlimited carries a lot of ads and I don't have the inclination to compete with them.
6. Financial mechanics: I am using PayPal for donations because I already had an account with them, and most people are familiar with their service. They take a flat 49¢ plus a percentage of the amount, for each donation, so that favors larger donations over smaller ones. (For example, if you give $1.00, I get less than half of that, about 47¢.) But for now, please just give what you can and don't worry about that too much. If you would like to have your name published as a donor, please let me know on the Contact Us page and I will start a list of donors and post it elsewhere on this web site.
PayPal also has a "subscription" or "recurring donation" option, but I haven't pushed for that because I reasoned that I should establish a track record of regular news posts before folks would be comfortable pledging a steady amount. And look what happened - I had trouble keeping up with a regular pace this Summer! Alas. That brings me to my last point:
7. Finding a balance. I was so excited to start doing this back in April, that I really dove in. Sometimes, I was publishing stories at 3 AM, after hours of work. I began to see that I was heading toward burn out, which is typical of me. I'm a very devoted person when I get going. So, now I'm trying to maintain quality but with slightly less quantity, so I can get more sleep (!) Expect still to see good reporting in the future, just not quite as many stories per month.
Thank you for your attention to all this, and for your support as we move forward together. This fall there will be a Town Meeting in October and an election in November, both with some significant issues to be decided that will impact the town for years to come. I hope to cover what I can to help citizens understand what's at stake.