RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – If you are reading this then I’ll assume you have some interest in The Rio Times as a publishing business, and so will share some of the progress, realities and decisions we face. After six months of publishing a Print Edition, we decided not to produce the August issue. The unfortunate fact is we did not have enough advertising revenue to justify it, which was discouraging of course, but it does not change our outlook and plans for the future.
We are actually one of the few news publications I’m aware of that has gone from Online to Print, the overwhelming trend is the opposite. We believe it is important though, to reach travelers who may not be aware of us from the Internet, and to provide a physical version people can carry with them. It is also a medium some Advertisers feel more comfortable with, which is of course the main revenue source in our business model.
The demand for the Print Edition is strong, we can easily go from 5,000 to 10,000 printed copies to distribute among hotels and businesses in Rio. And soon we will publish twice a month, as we have plenty of weekly news content to fill up 20 pages. We will only grow as fast as our revenue though, and so we will wait for the Advertiser support.
Another possibility being explored in a new business plan is to start charging a small fee for the Printed Edition. This is not the trend for community “weeklies” but it may help us boost revenue and circulation, and being a foreign language newspaper puts us in a different position in the local market. The Herald Tribune, a purely international news source in English here, charges R$10 for their daily newspaper… we would be much much less.
The long-term future is still digital, and it will remain our core business focus. Our Readership continues to grow by an average of 10 percent each month, and the Advertising revenue growth is healthy (although not growing as fast as the cost of living in Rio!).
We are also having great success with our Email Service, the subscriber base is growing by 15 percent a month and we have a 23.6 percent Open rate. This means that of the roughly 8,000 emails sent each month, almost 2,000 are “opened” and read. To put that in perspective, industry average Open Rates are about 17 percent.
The message this week is, no, we are not publishing an August Print Edition issue, but it will return in September, or by November at the latest. Our future growth plan is unaltered, the Brazilian economy is being fueled by the Oil business (which includes English speakers), and we will be the primary local English language News source for Rio and Brazil for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.
I’ll also take a moment to thank all our Reporters and Interns who help us put out a great issue each week Online, as well as our Advertisers that help us pay the bills and invest in the future growth, and of course – our Readers. Please keep the feedback coming, let us know your thoughts on how we can improve.