Experience is everything

I have neglected my blogging lately. Between the newspaper, work, and family, my spare moments are spent either reading or sleeping, neither of which have been getting much attention.

My newspaper is gaining popularity, though not as quickly as I would like. I keep reminding myself that it’s a work in progress and if I can just hold on a little longer…

Somehow I do, and I keep moving forward, learning as I go.

It’s a tough job, trying to make everybody happy, and I need to keep that in perspective. The truth is, I won’t, and don’t, and have to fight my battles as they come. Honestly, I have not had many issues with irate customers. Most complaints have come from not getting their newspapers.

I remember hearing someone say at a media workshop a few years ago, ‘Some people believe the popularity of newspapers is declining. But forget to deliver their newspapers just one day and you’ll have customers calling you, wondering where their papers are.’ Proof that people still read the newspapers.

It’s true that my readers are older folks and those who have time to read. But they are also the moms who slip the newspapers into their bags and read it while their kids are at dance lessons or playing T-ball, and dads who are waiting to get their cars worked on or waiting at the dentist office.

As often as I can, I’m out talking to my customers and potential customers, trying to find out what they like and don’t like about the paper.  Most people won’t tell me what they don’t like outright, so I have to pay attention to our conversations.

Those who are community-minded like the idea of the newspaper. They are quick to praise the variety of stories and the valuable information they find among the pages.

But I feel like a broken records sometimes, explaining over and over to those who don’t feel as strongly, why community newspapers are important and why Hiawatha needs a newspaper of its own. But if that’s what it takes to convince the community, I will keep doing it.

It’s hard to believe that I have come so far, but I still have so far to go.

People ask me if I knew it would take so much work, would I do it again?

Of course I would.

The experience I have gained is worth more than I ever imagined. Not only has it helped my writing and editing skills, but it has also raised my confidence and self-esteem. I have walked through many fears, and I continue to challenge them head-on.

There have been times when I have thought about going in a different direction. But as long as there are people who like my newspaper, who have come to depend on it week after week, I will keep going.

And there may come a day when I realize that I have done all I can, cut my loses and move on. But today, I will pick up my camera and notepad and travel to Hiawatha, where a Halloween Bash is going on. It’s what I do. And I love it.

How many people can say that?

Yes, I am a lucky woman. And wherever this takes me, I will always remember that.

A steady pace-Week 8

I decided in May to record my progress as I learn how to start my own community newspaper. I don’t think it was a conscious thought, but I’m glad I did. Looking back, I noticed that I write a lot about the emotional and mental aspects of the process, though what I have learned may give some insight as to how I am gaining the knowledge I need to succeed (I also noticed I included Week 6 twice, but oh well, some weeks are like that).

This is where I am, Week 8 (or 9 if you’re keeping track) of the Hiawatha Advocate: I have finished my business plan, and had it looked at by my business guy and my financial advisor.  I have edited it and have applied for the Targeted Small Business Certification that will help me secure a low-interest business loan.

I have set up a website on my own, but we are  in the process of building a better, more professional-looking site with the help of a “new employee” (though he’s not getting paid yet. CJ is doing it for the sheer joy of getting in on the ground floor of what could be a historical event).

I am keeping my goal of posting at least one new story a week, a goal I knew could be attainable without be overwhelming.

I am in the process of making a template for the newspaper, exploring what pages I am going to have; news, entertainment, community events, businesses, etc… I am also keeping notes about specific styles and fonts I want to use.

I am setting up my ad rate sheet, examples of ads to use in my “mock” paper and basically, getting it ready for feedback so that I can go back and change what I need to before I finalize my plans.

And all along I am keeping notes about the local businesses I want to visit to sell advertising and subscriptions, building my confidence, and adopting a more professional attitude.

Whew…

And throughout learning the ropes, I am living my life, spending time with my family, trying to be a good daughter, mother, grandmother, girlfriend, and friend.

I wrote last week about balance; how to balance all the aspects of my life. I know it will be a challenge when I start school, but even more so when I begin to work 14 hours a day on the newspaper.

The work doesn’t scare me. What does scare me is not being able to have the time for all the other parts of my life that I hold so dear. Is it possible to keep that, while realizing the dream I have worked so hard for?

I think it is possible. But, as I said last week,  it will take some dedication to time management, organization,  and balance.

Things are going as planned. I have never had a bad feeling about this venture. Not once have I ever thought that maybe it wasn’t feasible. It is becoming a reality, but at a steady pace I can handle. I think that, because I am by nature an impulsive person, it has given me time to contemplate all the ins and outs, all the pros and cons, all the positives and negatives about what I’m trying to accomplish.

Steady as she goes…it’s become my mantra; that, and Attitude is Everything. After all, a positive attitude is necessary to keep that balance I hold in such high regard.