Interview with Kelly Gilfillan - Chief Executive Officer & Executive Editor of Home Page Media Group

Kelly Gilfillan

Home Page Media Group was launched in the fall of 2009. It provides the information on happenings in Franklin, the news, business events, information on real estate, sports and other topics and products interesting for the community. It reaches Middle Tennessee’s affluent and highly educated residents and workers of Williamson Country.

- Could you please briefly tell when did you create your community media? Did you do it alone? What is your team now?
We launched our first site in September, 2009.  I had a partner for five years and she exited the business last year and so now I am a sole owner.  Right now, I have a Managing Editor, Asst. Managing Editor, Sports Editor, Style Editor, four reporters, three sales team members, an office manager.

Home Page Media Group

- Did you have any funding at the start of creation? What was the amount of it?
No we bootstrapped but we did have a line of credit.  And we had a company credit card.  We rarely used the line of credit until this last year when we did a large expansion.

- What is the amount of funding now? Who are the donors?
I do not have any investors.  I have a loan from the bank. $60,000

- Do you have salaries? Is that your only work or it is more like your hobby? 
I do not take a salary.  I an a Limited Liability Corporation so I take a draw when there is a profit.

- What is the approximate amount you spent for your media in a month?
Monthly budget is $40000

- What are you goals for development of your media?
We have expanded to five sites.  We are trying to nail down a for-profit model that can be replicated by other journalists in other cities.

- Does your media earn some money from advertisement or smth else?
Advertisement is our main source of revenue.  We also provide marketing services including social media posting, website updates, and email marketing.  We outsource SEO, SEM, geotargeting and website design.

- Can you call yourself an independent media?
Yes we are independent.

- What are the difficulties you encounter in your work?
Keeping steady revenue and a steady staff are the biggest challenges.  Turnover in personnel is very expensive with re-training and loss of production in the editorial staff.  Sales team turnover causes an approximate 90-day slow down in revenue because it takes that long to ramp up a sales representative.  But when we started, I was the only sales person.

- And maybe you could give some advice for those Ukrainians who are going to create their own community media and don’t know what to start from and where to get funding from. 
I believe part of our success was we had a partnership of a business-educated partner and a journalism-educated partner.  It helped us move both sides of the business forward more quickly.  When it is one person trying to do it all, it can slow progress.  We always pre-sell advertising before we enter a market and get community businesses on board.  If you can offer marketing services in addition to the advertising it is a safer revenue model because not all your revenue is advertising based.

Interviews were conducted under the Project "Fostering Civic Journalism in Ukrainian's Regions", supported by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The views of the authors do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. government.