I've had a crazy few weeks.
The big news is that the local newspaper, The Daily Pilot, asked if they could feature my work on their website and in print. This involved a weekly freelance fee.
I agreed, then went to the OC Register, which had been using my stuff for free. This seemed like a great deal for me when it first came up last fall. It gave me a print presence, and it lent some legitimacy. And back then, the former Pilot editor wouldn't give me the time of day.
When I revisited things with the Register, they agreed also to pay me a weekly freelance fee. So now I'm getting paid twice for my work already published on Corona del Mar Today.
It was a little tricky, negotiating so that both papers forgave any claim to having my work exclusively. I have to credit my sticking to my guns on this point to a pep talk that Bill Densmore gave me this spring on a visit in Newport Beach. He asked why papers could use, say, AP without worrying about exclusivity. I'm not sure there is a strong analogy with my work and the two papers in my area. But so far, so good.
A big reason why this income stream, as nominal it is in the scheme of things, is so crucial right now is that a new weekly print paper has launched. The Newport Beach Independent is going to be based in Corona del Mar but focus on the entire city, not just my village. But they have a better ad sales back office, and a print product to sell. I was feeling very squeezed. The launch of the Indy could be a whole blog post -- but for now I'll say that I welcome a new weekly paper. They ran two of my stories in their first edition. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
Some updates, now, on some recent blog posts.
I'm still working on police reports access. The city attorney is back from a leave of absence, and we spoke last week. He said that there were some identity theft concerns that stemmed from the information that had been released, including drivers license and social security numbers of victims. This is clearly a problem. However, he agreed that the police were keeping too much information from the public. I'm finding it interesting that I seem to be the solo media person in town who is griping and demanding changes, but it appears that is the case. The city attorney and I will talk this week to see what compromise can be made. I believe a new police chief is about to be named (we have had an interim chief for nearly a year) and that may be part of the equation. We'll see.
Also, after all my work to get Google to include me in their news index, I apparently hadn't done the proper back-office work on my site to be indexed. I thought I had done it, but a reader here pointed out that I had not. I had been dismayed when Tracy Record pointed out that I was very low on the search for "Corona del Mar," and I began adding that to my headlines -- bulky as it is. But I also spoke to my webmaster about it, and he worked over the past few days to make some changes in how we index stories. A quick Wordpress plug in more or less crashed my site -- but I think he did something today. Because for no apparent reason, my numbers went from 400 viewers a day, to 500 a day -- to 1,500 today.
I've had a newsy day -- police chase and crash and a little earthquake -- but still. The numbers are crazy. One of my bigger days, and for a change, it's not direct traffic. It's from Google.
Success breeds success. Today I had several p.r. people email me story ideas that have a Corona del Mar angle, plus more comments.
But of course, nothing is ever perfect. I have stress, too. I had to postpone an interview with a fire marshal because of childcare issues. And I'm eyeing the telephone, worried about my dad in the hospital back in St. Louis. I am making the choice that I'm running a business here, not engaging in a hobby or experiment. But being my own boss means that I will make time for my daughter's talent show, for baseball games, for swim meets and to help friends in crisis.
Oh! And also I'm supposed to be interviewed for a documentary about the California dream. If it happens, my hair will look good because I made time to see my hairdresser. I'm feeling more public than ever before, which means I drive more politely through town and I cover grey roots.
It's kind of strange, seeing how a year ago I was this nobody.