Crowdfunding a hyperlocal

By Jon Cook | 12th Sep 2014

Generating income and reaching the hallowed ground of real sustainability is an issue that hyperlocal sites have been grappling with for years now.

StoneMy hyperlocal site – A Little Bit of Stone – has decided to raise funds through a crowdfunding campaign.

I’ve run A Little Bit of Stone with my site partner Jon Cook since August 2010.

We’ve grown hugely over the last few years, driven by regular, professional content and social media engagement. There’ve been over 2,500 stories on the site in four years, written mainly by me and Jon, but also by a number of contributors and volunteers.

Our site is now visited by around 12,000 people every month and we have over 10,000 people following our Twitter and Facebook.

Like many hyperlocals, everything that’s done on A Little Bit of Stone is fitted around the day job, in evenings and weekends.

Jamie Summerfield, A Little Bit of Stone Editor

Jamie Summerfield, A Little Bit of Stone Editor

The trouble is, we’ve reached a point where – if we want to continue to grow the site and deliver more for the community (which we really want to do) – we need to be able to devote more time to it.

So we’ve turned to crowdfunding to try and raise £15,000 to help us to do this. The funds will allow me to reduce my day job and spend more time on A Little Bit of Stone and will also enable us to deliver a brand new website. Our current one is four years’ old and just doesn’t do what we need it to do any more.

We’re using the Crowdfunder platform, which is UK-based and heavily focused on community-based projects. We looked at lots of other crowdfunding platforms – including the biggies like Kickstarter and Indiegogo – but for us, Crowdfunder is a really good fit. Crowdfunder homepage

We launched our campaign on Monday 8th September and it will run for six weeks.

Our campaign is looking for support from individuals (in Stone but also people who support community journalism like ours) and also from businesses, and we have a range of advertising packages available as rewards.

The campaign has got off to a flying start, with 75% of our £15,000 target met by the Friday of week one. At time of writing, we’d got the support of 65 backers, 25 being local businesses.

It’s been an incredible start for us, that’s for sure, and the culmination of weeks of promotion behind the scenes before the big launch.

However, there’s a long way to go if we’re going to be successful and hit our target. We need the support of lots more individuals and businesses in Stone and the challenge for the rest of our campaign is to connect our campaign with them and to explain why we need their support.

We want to continue what we’ve been doing for the last four years, but we also want to grow the site and do even more.

Is crowdfunding the way for other hyperlocal sites to generate income and become more sustainable?

I don’t think it’s something to be entered into lightly. Crowdfunding requires a huge amount of effort, as we’re discovering! I hadn’t anticipated the amount of work required just to get your campaign to the start line.

But if you get it right, and you can get the support of your audience (as I hope we’ll be able to do) then a successful campaign is a wonderful platform to galvanise support and move towards sustainability.

You can see our campaign page at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/alittlebitofstone

NEWSFLASH – A Little Bit of Stone have now reached their £15K target – well done all!

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