On Friday, April 29, the O’Fallon Weekly will celebrate it’s first birthday. One year ago the first edition hit newsstands and, since then, its been available every Wednesday for residents of O’Fallon and Shiloh.
It’s interesting when I look back over the past year. Above all, I have to ask where the time went. Honestly, part of me can’t believe a whole year has passed, but, on the other hand, a part of me feels like I’ve been doing this work forever and can’t believe its only been one year.
I’ve had more than one person tell me lately that they were pleasantly surprised to see us last a year. Heck, two of my fellow publishers and friends have now both said to me they worried I wouldn’t make it past three months. Both said they are glad to have been proven wrong. But I get it. Newspaper people want to wait and see if you’ll keep going. The Illinois Press Association requires you to publish 52 issues before you can even apply to join. And I just recently was allowed to join the Southern Illinois Editorial Association when it was obvious that we were going to publish our fifty-second issue. We not only survived our first year, we thrived during it.
When we launched with our first edition we had only two pick up locations, Schnucks and Dierbergs. By the end of that first day, we had expanded our availability to six locations around town. At our height, we were delivering to nearly 45 different locations. Since then, after transitioning from a free to paid model, we’ve cut back, but we’re still available at a number of locations, with more to come.
The reaction to our little newspaper has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve often been told that we are providing information O’Fallon needs/wants and can’t get elsewhere. I firmly believe folks want to read about the good things happening in their community and that has proven to be true. That doesn’t mean we will shy away from controversy or harder news when it comes along, but I believe in highlighting the positive and not just dwelling on the negative.
The move to a paid subscription model has gone well. While there were some not so little hiccups with the post office as we started to mail copies to subscribers, we believe we’ve worked those issues out and have gotten things down to the occasional individual problem here and there. Obviously if anyone has a problem with their subscription, please call us at (618) 622-2525 and let us know.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to thank the businesses and individuals who have taken out advertisements in the O’Fallon Weekly over the past year. It goes without saying that we would not have survived to this point had you all not taken a chance on us and committed a portion of your advertising budget to our paper. We’ve worked hard to make sure we get our paper in as many hands as possible so that you can have the best investment possible through us. I’m deeply indebted to each and every one of you and cannot thank you enough.
And if you are a business, church, or organization and don’t advertise with the O’Fallon Weekly, please consider trying us out. Our rates are very affordable and we want to work with you to achieve the best possible results. Contact us at ads@OFallonWeekly.com for more information.
So, a year ago I wrote my first column and I told you all that we were starting the O’Fallon Weekly because its an exciting time in O’Fallon and Shiloh and we wanted to be a part of it. Since I wrote that column one of the two hospitals being built in the area has opened and the other is moving right along with construction. Countless new businesses and restaurants have opened their doors. New families have moved into the area and more houses are being built all the time for the families yet to come. The excitement and positive growth in our area continues.
And we’re looking ahead to the future here at the O’Fallon Weekly as well. We constantly discuss where the future of community news is going to go next. Obviously the Internet will play a big part in that future, but how? The nice thing about us though is that when we want to try something, we just do it. We don’t have to check with any corporate overlords and ask permission. So be on the lookout as we enter our second year to see what we try out.
Which leads me to my next point, DON’T BE SHY! Let us know what you think of the paper, good, bad, or ugly. Send letters and comments to news@OFallonWeekly.com. The only way we can provide you all with what you want to read is if we know what you want to read. You’ve got to tell us. And I enjoy reading feedback…
Since launching a year ago, we have met a lot of great people, told a lot of great stories, and had a lot of fun. Year two will bring a even more great experiences. Heck, on a personal note, I’m going to be a dad soon (boy, that’s still hard for me to wrap my head around). I can’t wait to see what else happens this year.
I would ask only one thing of all of you reading this: tell someone about us. Spread the word that the people of O’Fallon and Shiloh have somewhere else they can get their news and information. Let your friends and neighbors know about us and encourage them to subscribe. Our subscription prices are very affordable and each subscription helps us to provide you with the content you’ve come to enjoy. Do you have relatives that used to live here that have since moved away but may like to keep up on their old hometown? Subscriptions make great gifts. I guess my point is that we can spend all of the money in the world on marketing, but word of mouth is marketing money can’t buy. So if you have enjoyed the O’Fallon Weekly over the past year, tell as many people as you can about us. I’d really appreciate that.
Before I wrap this up I want to personally thank the following people, without whom the O’Fallon Weekly wouldn’t have gotten to this point: (in no particular order) Laura Miller, Jon McLean, John Galer, Jeff Egbert, David Porter, Jarad Jarmon, Nathan Poignee, Angela Simmons, Kathy Breger, Kim Bennett, Susan Meister, Dan Cassity, Kathy Keiser, Christine Lautner, Ed McLean, Jim Miller, and Joele Pinkerton. There are countless more as well, so if you’re not named here, please take no offense.
So as we enter year two, let’s continue telling some stories.