This year’s festive season marks bordercafe.com.au’s first birthday.
Yes, we were one of the small businesses that were part of the Christmas ‘rush’ to have everything signed off by the end of last year (why do we do this to ourselves?)
And so it was the week of Christmas 2016 that our news and lifestyle site (some call it a ‘blog’) went ‘live’ and our first collection of stories was published. It was a very proud moment.
As founding editor, I wanted to create a fresh digital platform, with interesting stories and beautiful photography, that showcases our cultural ‘vibe’, inviting locals (and visitors) to discover stories about new eateries, funky bars, clever creatives, farm gate producers, wine makers and brewers, inspiring people, places, businesses and events right on our doorstep.
There’s enough media outlets covering the ‘doom and gloom’ – I wanted to publish the purely positive stuff, and become an online destination where readers can ‘relax’ (like in a café) and browse our content. (Read more about our origins on The Story Behind Border Cafe – published last year)
Many readers that have only recently discovered us, will be surprised to learn that we’ve been ‘live’ for 12 months, but a slow and subtle approach was always part of the plan.
As much as I believed there was a desire for this type of regular, positive content, I needed to do some long term market research and ensure other locals agreed with my vision, before launching into a major advertising/marketing campaign.
I also wanted to ensure that the quality and consistency of stories was there, and not make a big ‘song and dance’ in creating a product, but not delivering after the ‘novelty’ wore off.
One year in and I’m pleased to say I remain as passionate as ever about unearthing great local stories, and I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response so far.
We’ve gained a loyal tribe of readers who regularly share our stories with their friends on Facebook (which has been a significant reason for our growth).
A talented photographer, TruPics shares our vision and has been part of the team from the start.
Several wonderful journalists and guest bloggers have contributed stories.
Our inbox is regularly filled with story ideas and compliments from readers.
“I had some friends visiting last month and we used one of those What’s On articles to guide our weekend foodie activities. It was great. Like a regional Broadsheet.” – Kim, Wodonga.
Businesses and event organisers have approached us for advertising and partnership opportunities – including the inaugural Great Australian Beer Festival, Albury (I must get a professional media kit developed soon!)
Our social media following on Instagram and Facebook is growing (I still get a buzz when someone chooses to follow us – it’s a great compliment)
While I’m feeling pretty proud about what we’ve developed in our first year, I enlisted the services of a respected local digital marketing consultant to crunch some numbers for me.
Her observations included:
“Nearly 50% of the readership is aged 25-44, making this an ideal platform to talk to the next generation of consumers and lifestyle leaders.”
“There is an average engagement rate of 8% on Facebook (compared to an acceptable engagement rate of 1-2% for most pages/businesses). This is a phenomenal result”
“The vast majority of visitors to the site access it via mobile (65%) (10% tablet, 25% desktop) – They are mobile savvy and consume media fast. Border Cafe is positioned to appeal to this audience and is already showing that it’s performing.”
It’s only early days, but the signs are really positive – so thank you for your support so far.
My vision is to continue to develop great content for our readers, offer employment opportunities to other creative locals (video, photography, writing, social media, sales & marketing) and develop enduring partnerships with clients/advertisers.
Hopefully when I review 2018, there will be more positive updates to share with you.
In the meantime, in case you missed them, here is a snapshot of some our favourite/most popular stories from 2017.
- A chef who declared – ‘Fine Dining in Wodonga? You must have rocks in your head!’
- A two part feature on former local turned stunt actor to the stars, Marlee Barber
- The small local wine bar that beat city favourites in winning an award.
- The restaurant with no menu in sight.
- Seventh generation brothers that returned to their winemaking heritage.
- The launch of an old school barber shop and whisky bar
- A tattoo artist who found a new outlet for his rebellious streak.
Thanks again for your support and best wishes for good health and happiness in 2018! Feel free to drop us a line at [email protected]