What happened to the Beacon Hill Blog?

Photo by Darius Norvilas via Creative Commons/Flickr
Photo by Darius Norvilas via Creative Commons/Flickr
This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a long time now. The blog went on hiatus in 2014, and I’ve gotten a lot of emails since then from people asking “What happened to the blog? Why don’t you post something?” When you get right down to it, the blog has been on hiatus for a variety of reasons, both practical and personal, and this story is not terribly unique.

There are a few things I should probably clarify to get started.

  1. The blog is not run by the city. I started it with Jason Simpson in 2008 because I personally felt the community needed it. But we never got any support from the city, or the North Beacon Hill Council, or anything like that. The “seattle.wa.us” domain name doesn’t indicate government ownership, though I can see why some people have been confused about that.
  2. The blog never brought in any income to speak of. We did have some ads, but most were just Google ads that didn’t really pay anything. Occasionally we had more ads, but never to the point where anyone involved could be paid any sort of reliable income. I did pay one contributor for a few articles, but it was unsustainable.
  3. We could do this because we had other means of support at the time. When the blog started, Jason and I were married, and both of us were employed. I had a job and he had a great job. There was no real reason for the blog to earn a ton of money. I wanted it to become self-supporting someday because I wanted it to become my full-time job, and I believed that Beacon Hill could support a blog, but I knew that would take a while.

I don’t have that support any more. Suffice it to say that the marriage ended. A while later, my employment situation got drastically worse. And yet, I continued keeping the blog running, as much as I could, while trying to earn money, attend school, and more. I won’t go into all the details, but the stress of doing that took a major toll on my health. At the end of 2013 I decided I needed a break from the BHB over New Year’s. And as 2014 began, I realized I needed to take a break from the blog entirely. I never intended it to be permanent, but it absolutely did need to happen.

So, here we are now. It’s been a bit over a year, and I’ve been thinking recently more and more about how to resurrect the blog. (As have others on Facebook and elsewhere.) People have offered to help over the last year, and I have followed through with some but not always with others. Most people get excited about it but then never get back to me. Without the funding to allow me to devote enough time for this, I can’t do what I used to do here by myself.

I still am not in a financial situation (not even close) that would allow me to work full-time on this. But I want to make it clear that the blog is still here, still alive, and I am absolutely willing to print submissions. They have to meet editorial guidelines, most of which are probably common sense. But if you want to write something up about an Artwalk or the Beacon Hill Festival or new public art, that’s great! I’d love that. I’m also open to talking to people who want to take on regular “beats,” and who aren’t just interested in beating the drum for a particular pet cause.

I am going to try to post a bit more when I can. I have pretty high standards, which makes it a bit more difficult, sometimes. Do I take the time to meet my own journalistic standards, or just get something online and get back to the business of making a living doing something else?

Beacon Hill community members, business owners, and so on: a blog like this cannot exist without actual support. Whether that support comes from other employment to pay the bills (as it once did for the BHB), local businesses buying ads (in enough volume), paid subscriptions through something like Patreon, forming a non-profit and applying for grants, or a critical mass of community members volunteering — the support part is vital. This is why so many local blogs and printed publications have gone under. When a blog relies on one or two people to keep them going, they are one major life change away from ceasing to publish, unless there is other support to keep them going.

There is not a lot of support for journalism these days, despite the large audience. Are you willing and able to change this? Let’s talk about it here in the comments.

15 thoughts on “What happened to the Beacon Hill Blog?”

  1. I would love to volunteer to help write blog posts from time to time. New restaurant reviews, opportunities to get involved, or anything really. I value having a neighborhood blog and would love to do what I can to help.

  2. Well said, Wendy. Most people have no idea how much time, effort and money it takes to run a quality community site. You’ve done a great job and don’t owe anybody anything. Except yourself, of course. 🙂

  3. I’m a freelance photojournalist and contributor to several local news sites. I’d be happy to offer my services as an occasional photographer. I live on Beacon Hill so I’m often wandering the neighborhood. Happy to discuss further.

  4. I’m starting to do more grant research/writing. I’ll keep the blog in mind as I poke around. When everyone with a twitter account considers herself a journalist (guilty) it’s hard to create a budget for online media.

    I wonder (spitballing here) if we could get a grant to pay for the costs of writing articles? Thinking about buying gift certificates for people who review restaurants, bus fare & a stipend for people who attend events, etc? Seems like something Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs and/or Office of Economic Development might be interested in.

    Maybe you could have an “Only in Seattle/Only in Beacon Hill” section and content published there would be made possible by help from a City grant?

    What you really need is an eager intern/minion. Could you manage someone if I helped connect you? Maybe a journo or communications student?

    Wonder if RVP and BHB could share a minion? Hmmm…

  5. hi wendi! Can I say first that you are Awesome.
    I would love to review cafe bengodi! I have been wanting to take the family up there and check it out ! Let me know , cheers! Lisa

  6. Completely understandable! I would be happy to help with content, and gratis. This is a valuable community resource and many hands make light work! Maybe we could meet up for coffee?

  7. Thanks Wendi and others for reviving the blog. Like others, i’ll bring content when i can. Seems like both the Merchants Assoc and the NBH Council should have a vested (money? advertising? interns?) support of the blog. But it’s still a lot of work with an unclear business model…my unsolicited advice is delegate what you can and make sure to ask for help when and where needed. We will support you!

  8. I just stumbled across the site again tonight and am so glad the blog and you are back. You’ve done an outstanding job so far and I can totally appreciate the time and energy it must take. So thanks first and I hope to provide some help along the way.
    And good for you for taking the time off that you needed.

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