Independent News Website Wins Micro Business of the Year

By Matt Abbott | 23rd Oct 2019

Independent Community News Network member Island Echo has been named Micro Business of the Year at the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce Business Awards for Excellence 2019. 

Darren Toogood with Matthew Muhlenkamp from Gurit UK, sponsors of the award.
Photo credit: Robin Crossley Photographer

Over 400 people gathered at a glittering awards ceremony in Cowes, Isle of Wight last Friday (18th October) to celebrate success within the local business community.

Island Echo, which has been a member of ICNN since May 2019, clinched the title of Micro Business of the Year after demonstrating enterprise and sustainable growth. International and local judges looked to recognise outstanding micro-businesses in any sector, taking into consideration future strategy and potential for further growth.

Businesses with up to 9 staff were eligible for the award, but Island Echo has just 1 full-time member of staff and 2 freelancers in design and sales. Despite this, over 350 articles a month are being published by the news website at www.islandecho.co.uk.

Founded in 2012, Island Echo has grown to become the Island’s number one source for Isle of Wight news with over 215,000 visitors and 1.6million page views in June 2019 alone. Island Echo has seen a 103.6% increase in page views and a 96.4% increase in social traffic (June 18 vs June 19) and has benefitted from the takeover of a local newspaper by Newsquest.

In the past 24 months, turnover has increased by 232% with forecast growth of a further 27% this financial year, demonstrating that independent news websites can not only be profitable but provide an award-winning service within local communities. Revenue is generated through display advertising, advertorials and feature placements with 86% of clients based on the Isle of Wight. Local advertising is accompanied by Google Adsense.

Darren Toogood, Publisher and Editor of Island Echo, says:

“It is a real honour to be named Micro Business of the Year and this is something I am incredibly proud of, especially as we are a truly independent and local news website served the local community from within.

“I was certainly the youngest person to be collecting an award on Friday at the age of 26, as well as being the smallest business in terms of staffing, but that hasn’t prevented Island Echo from growing at a rapid rate since 2012. There are no signs of that growth halting anytime soon!

“We have battled against well-established, multi-million-pound media companies to establish our place within the local news sector – proving that independent micro-businesses can truly compete with media giants and overcome significant competitive barriers. Over the coming months, we look to expand the team and increase the output of our now award-winning news service to 400 articles a month”.

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