Richard Anderson, the owner of this site that covers two towns in Maine, said, “Research shows that 50 percent of the market contains non-readers, non-newspaper readers, and 75 percent of the market contains non-newspaper advertisers. So there’s a huge opportunity out there to solve the problems or the needs of those people who are not looking to the newspapers.” Anderson has invested more than $5 million in developing the site, which had about 9,300 unique daily visitors in June 2006 and 1.2 million page views. He said recently, “We’re not cash-flow positive yet, but we’re gaining dramatically, and the printed paper has done a tremendous amount to help us get there.”
Among the steps Village Soup has taken to build online revenue are:
The site has had its greatest success so far with a local database of real estate listings, which includes a link to town maps. Realtors are charged a fee to list in the local database. Anderson said, “The real long-range need is for businesses such as restaurateurs to decide it is worth the extra 15 minutes a day to put their daily special online, and to get more businesses to participate in the sharing of inventories in community databases.” The ultimate goal is to build a platform, which Anderson calls Village Soup Common, which can be adapted to communities of about 30,000 internationally.
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