I didn’t want to do an Audience Survey. My preference was to jump right into a marketing campaign to boost circulation.
What do I know? I’m an old-school journalist. And am currently following advice to add “authenticity” to my news stories by incorporating more first-person. (FYI: That’s the opposite of what they taught us back in the Newspaper Age.)
The decision to first see who’s already a San Diego Sun reader was pushed by my back-end support team at Indiegraf.
Who and what?
The 3-month-old, downtown-centric San Diego Sun is a news website owned, founded by and published by me, Ron Donoho. The expert tech engine behind my independent journalism efforts is Canada-based Indiegraf.
They’re an up-and-coming company helping more than 80 journalist-entrepreneurs in North America find legs in a world where media is ever-shrinking.
Indiegraf was right, of course, about doing a reader poll. The findings in our survey, some of which are revealed below, will be crucial in mounting upcoming campaigns to build a subscription base.
Note: Subscriptions to The Sun are free. There is no paywall for any stories. The business model is advertising/sponsorship-based. Laying that foundation is next up on our to-do list.
The Audience Survey was done during the first week of February 2023. It was emailed to my 4,500-plus subscription base.
Reader Survey Results
Did you see the Audience Survey in your email box? Perhaps not. It got less than a 1% response rate.
Despite that disappointing return, some useful data was extracted about who’s reading the San Diego Sun and what kind of information readers are looking for:
- Readership skews older: 55.9% are between the ages of 25 and 64, while 42.4% are 65+. The goal is to add younger readers.
- Nearly two-thirds of readers have lived downtown for 10+ years. That’s great, and I’d still like to get more newbies onboard.
- Three-fourths of readers are White/Caucasian. Yikes, I aim to reach a much more diversified audience.
- Employment status: Full-time (45.8%), Retired (23.7%), (Self-employed (18.6%).
- How did people hear about the San Diego Sun? Many people knew me as an editor for a dozen years at San Diego Magazine. A significant number also subscribed to my recent Facebook/Meta-backed news site that sunset into the current iteration of The Sun.
Why do people read The Sun?
- “I like hearing about new places opening up downtown, and following updates on homelessness in our area.”
- “I work downtown and am a San Diego native.”
- “It provides a very different, more localized and personalized perspective than other publications–and also often better analysis and context.”
- “It’s well-written and informative!”
- “I prefer real news, not clickbait. I don’t watch any news on TV and don’t read much either except local updates.”
- “I live in Phoenix and San Diego and when I’m in town it’s a good source to find out what’s happening locally.”
What are readers getting that isn’t offered in other news outlets?
More respondents wrote:
- “More ‘street-level’ content–items that don’t usually make other news outlets.”
- “Real stories about real people living the downtown SD experience.”
- “Stories told by someone who actually lives downtown.”
- “A refreshing take on downtown.”
- “Honest commentary.”
There was plenty of other input to glean from in the survey. I’ll put it to good use. Thanks to each and every reader who took the time to respond!
I also was pleased to get volunteers interested in being part of The Sun’s “Living In The City” feature profile section. Here’s a link to that section, which already includes 25 profiles of downtown San Diego residents.
I’ll be reaching out to some of those respondents in the weeks ahead.
Meanwhile, please keep reading. Stay in touch. And tell a friend about The Sun. SDSun