2018 can best be described as an "experimental" year for The Durand Now Network of local news websites.
Since 2012, we've been curating local news and sharing it with you. First, on a single site serving Durand
. Then, on a new site for Corunna
. Then, for the county at large, but with a unique, uplifting angle
. Next, it was Perry
, and at that point, we weren't sure why we had been decidedly avoiding tapping into Owosso
. Why stop there? Let's go after Lansing
All these local news websites were built on a very simple, rather outdated, but functional platform. However, after much research and contemplation, just before summer 2018, we made the very scary move to a new site builder. Not just new to us, but pretty new to existence, and unfamiliar to most people. "Broadcasting live from Mobirise!"
The transition was mostly painless, though there have been some learning of quirks and nuances. Through the change, we had to evaluate what and how we had done things in the past and how we might have to change the way we do them in the future.
We've learned some things.
But while we went through this process, we still had to be aware of and seize other opportunities when they arose. So, in addition to redesigning the six local news websites, we also launched a new locally-focused podcast
and seventh website that is essentially "one stop shopping
" for everything we offer. And, we kept pushing out local news stories and publishing galleries loaded with pictures from community events.
CHECK OUT OUR TOP 12 STORIES & SECTIONS OF 2018
We anticipated a drop in website traffic as a result of all the changes and divided attention. And we got it. In some places, that is.
Durand Now, the flagship site, took a hit. Corunna Now also took a hit. Perry Pulse and Lansing Integrity (oh yeah, in 2018 we changed the name of our Lansing website, too) stayed the course for the most part. We were very surprised and happy to discover that Owosso Now saw a significant increase in traffic, up 25% over 2017. Uplift Shiawassee traffic skyrocketed thanks to the second annual A-LIST contest in first quarter; an increase of more than 200%.
Our total 2018 traffic across all sites climbed 5.1% over 2017 figures, from 628,756 page views to 661,983.
Our new podcast closed out 2018 with nearly 300 downloads and we now have 750 subscribers to the free, subscription-based, direct-to-inbox newspaper, The Email Express.
We're excited to really push ahead after all that we learned in 2018, and we're developing another idea -- yet another way we'll try to connect our local communities. "Stay tuned."