It’s been a long run in from October 2009 when I first set up Down News and has been a very busy time indeed.
Looking back, my first major setback was running face first into the recession in late 2009 which made my business plan redundant from the word go. But I quickly regrouped and had unfortunately to let my three staff go, but I worked hard from there on in climbing up a very steep learning curve.
I have had an office at Down Business Centre for 8x years and have found the staff there very helpful and supportive. I received a grant from Belfast City Council last year for £3000 and installed a super-fast broadband into my office which is useful for uploading large files of photos which I often have to send away to clients.
In 2011, an early high point was reached when I hit 517,000 page views on Facebook (one year after being on Facebook) and the following year won Best Use of Social Media in the Down District Council Business Awards.
The summer of 2017 saw in one week the Down News Facebook page receiving over 66,000 page views. This has been my highest spike to date but I look forward to reaching a 100,000 figure for a week one day soon and would also like to reach 1x million page views on Facebook in a year, but that will be a real serious challenge and well worth the investment in a good bottle of champagne!! But that would require a carefully planned strategy and to be honest, I’m not ready for my first heart attack yet!
Over the next couple of weeks I will be doing some housework and tidying up things on the website and on social media (Facebook and Twitter) getting ready for 2018, a new year ahead.
But Down News has had an impressive performance with producing around 18,500 articles across a wide range of categories and subjects over its 8+ years.
So THANK YOUAnd to all my contributors and and everyone who has helped me and supported Down News ( a limited company, Down News Ltd.)
This year I will be extending my photographic business further. To date, I have supplied photography services to the Council, PR companies, the press and media, a wide range of agencies, organisations and businesses including schools. I have also covered a number of weddings through this period. I do cover a number of social events throughout the year and I am happy to supply prints to anyone who wants to purchase them.
So my photography is an integral part of Down News and I will be moving ahead with this into the future. And I will be writing and editing hopefully even more exciting news for my many readers across County Down and far beyond.
And Down News will continue its quest for the Holy Grail… not a la Monty Python but for financial sustainability. This will be achieved by more focus of profitable activities and less time spend back-peddling in cul-de-sacs.
As a member of the NUJ, I abide with their rules and have their professional support. I am also a member of the Federation of Small Businesses which is a great organisation and provides a whole breadth of services, and I’d recommend all small businesses to consider joining it. No man (or woman is an island!)
I am a member Down Business Connect, a business referral group which meets in Denvir’s Hotel in Downpatrick every second Tuesday morning. This group is really exciting – they are a great bunch of business people with a huge breadth of business experience. Recently, two business collaborated and a deal of many thousands of pounds was done.
Also, I am the company secretary of Ardglass Harbour Developments, a limited company by guarantee set up to encourage much needed infrastructural improvements to Ardglass fishing port. I’ve recently produced a draft marketing plan almost 9500 words long for the group addressing the issues and problems at the harbour and taking a preliminary look at some strategic solutions.
Currently I am studying at the Ulster University for an Advanced Diploma in Social Enterprise which I hope will bring benefits to Ardglass through my increased expertise and will graduate next summer. I am proud to be a silver surfer!
I was nominated on to the NMDDC District Electoral Area forum and have attended most of the meetings since I was a member. The work of community planning is very important and there is much to be done going forward for the Downpatrick area in general and Ardglass in particular.
One of my ambitions is to add much needed social value to the community that I live in… Ardglass. The community is now settling down after a few bumpy years and is moving towards some constructive, collaborative achievements thanks to the good work by a few dedicated people in the community and business world.
And… for those who have become curious and want an answer to a very critical question… yes, I do sleep… occasionally.
Office 2 Knowledge House
46 Belfast Road
Down Business Centre
tel: 028 44 615690 / 07855545873