Locable, a growing network of 45-plus local community news-oriented websites, is hoping to succeed where other hyperlocal operations have faltered.
The company, started five years ago as an MBA research project out of the University of Washington, differentiates itself from similar hyperlocal operations, such as Patch, by providing a turnkey program for both established and new, owner-operated media entrepreneurs.
Brian Ostrovsky, co-founder and CEO of Locable says that the company has developed software solutions and 3rd party partnerships to help drive revenue in addition to “enabling a publisher to monetize nearly every aspect of their business including turning Facebook into a profit center.” He added that all of Locable’s activities have multiple benefits from revenue and increased SEO to social sharing from featured local events.
Ostrovsky likens Locable to the structure of network television’s network/affiliate setup, however; he says that most affiliates are local community publications (a combination of community magazines, community newspapers, and online-only hyperlocal sites) which possess incredible relevance, relationships and audience.
“Our tagline is ‘Main Street for the 21st Century’ and having grown up in the small town of Placerville, Calif., I can tell you that while Main Street was a place to shop it was also a place to attend events, to network and meet friends, the get the latest local news and that’s what we endeavor to create online,” explains Ostrovsky.
He says that this approach also maximizes their publishers’ ability to drive revenue and engagement whether from SEO, social or other means. Ostrovsky also says “it’s a place most local sites completely fall short for technical and practical reasons.”
The key benefits to working with Locable, according to the company are:
- Be up and running with a new website in a matter of days
- Ongoing coaching, training and support (Media Accelerator)
- Never worry about software updates, plugins or new features (Community Content Engine)
- Assistance in administering and promoting campaigns
- Gain access to larger advertisers, content syndication and additional revenue opportunities (Locable Business Services) that are impossible for local independents
- It’s more fun (and less risky) when you’re not alone
- One low monthly cost
Part of Locable’s recent marketing strategy has been to reach out, mostly via LinkedIn ads, to former Patch local site editors. AOL laid off hundreds of local site editors late last year as part of a companywide downsizing.
“We’re pursuing ex-Patchers because many have acquired incredibly valuable and relevant skills with a demonstrated passion for their community and purpose – and of course their local network,” Ostrovsky says.
He says that some Patchers are already continuing their work, noting that Locable’s first online-only site www.mpkpress.com, located in Midland Park, N.J., was an ex-Patcher.
Rebecca Abma says she started Midland Park Press in Dec. 2012 to provide a hyperlocal online news service for her home town of Midland Park, N.J. Abma was previously a local editor for Franklin Lakes, N.J. Patch from Dec. 2010 to Aug. 2011.
Abma relates that while she initially started with another CMS provider, working with Locable has definite advantages. Specifically, she says “the ease of asset management (I can drag and drop photos on the site and can resize them on the page) and the ability to embed content and videos directly into the article (previously I could only embed You Tube videos), and Facebook/Twitter integration, in addition to all of the usual stuff a local site should do (business directory, event calendar listing).”
In addition, she says that Locable offers lots of training and support, especially for monetizing the site. “When you sign up, they help you determine ad rates based on a proven formula that can easily be explained to potential advertisers and allows me to be confident that I am setting the rates along the industry standards,” Abma says.
Overall, Abma says her transition to entrepreneurial journalism has gone smoothly.
“Working for Patch was very much like working alone in many respects,” she recalls. “The big difference is I no longer have a boss giving me directions. As a local editor at Patch, I was expected to post seven times a day. Working for myself, I set my goals at 2 articles a day Monday through Friday.”
As part of Locable’s outreach to former Patch editors, it’s offering 50 percent off the first three months.
Pricing starts at $125 per month and goes up from there based on population. Specific pricing can be found at locable.com/pricing.
So, for those of you ready to take the plunge into entrepreneurial journalism, partnering up with Locable might be worth a look. Or, you can tweet CEO Brian Ostrovsky @brianmba.