On December 4, 2017, I officially launched The Southern Maryland Chronicle. I had started building it in early November 2017. Yes, the original site I built using a free WordPress theme, that I customized and the hosting package I had cost $75 for the year! So I started the Southern Maryland Chronicle for $75 and time!
I am proud to now say, The Chronicle operates on the LLC I formed, Higgins Media and Marketing Productions LLC, and operates with the DBA of The Southern Maryland Chronicle.
Over those three years, I have constantly upgraded and tweaked it going from a shared server on IPage to eventually paying for a dedicated server with InMotion. Four months ago I took a leap and signed up with NewsPack. A project between WordPress, Automattic, and the Google News Initiative, they made a template specifically for digital news sites.
For the first two years or so, the site didn’t make a single penny. I had no advertising. I am still tweaking what I use from a few different programmatic companies, Google AdSense, Facebook, AdX to name a few. I hope to have more ads from local companies soon, although COVID-related shutdowns it has really hurt advertising sales.
I have strived during these three years to provide Southern Maryland with timely, factual news. News that may not be from the area, but still is relevant. I stopped publishing basic crime briefs because frankly, it was wrong. Nine times out of ten, the charges were dropped or reduced and then I’d get dozens of emails asking for it to be removed. There is no need for me to publish ever fender bender, petty theft, or drug offense.
I’ve reported on major incidents, like the Great Mills High Shooting, the 2020 Leonardtown Tornado/Hurricane Isais, the Leonardtown murders, COVID in Southern Maryland, Sexual Offenses in Charles County Schools, and more. In all of these and more, I have strived to provide only the factual details, the details that are relevant, and not embellish or use things to turn it into “clickbait”.
In the time I have been publishing The Southern Maryland Chronicle, the site recorded 350,000 views in its first year. In 2020, we have recorded 60.5 million views. Overall, the site has had 100 million+ views in three years.
Although for the most part, I have published by myself through this time, in the past 8-9 months I have added three freelance writers who help me when I can afford it. I sometimes joke with them that they’ve made more money in the past year than I’ve personally made in the three years. For those that don’t know, I do not get a paycheck. I put 95% of what the site makes, back into the site.; hosting, techs, graphics, writers, etc. My wife(just married in October 2020!!) has been one of my biggest supporters. Always telling me I am doing great, always there for me to talk to about potential stories or to lift me up when I’m down. When I’m getting burnt out she steps in and helps get me back to work. She’s been my rock. I also take care of our two youngest children(8 & 6) so we don’t have to pay for childcare. And with virtual learning now, I am here to help them throughout the day.
Just in the past year, I’ve added many new features to the site. Like I spoke of earlier, the site is now working with NewsPack. I have added obituaries, and am working on a fully interactive event calendar and classifieds. I’ve partnered with the company Broadstreet to provide advertising clients with some truly amazing ad formats, all proprietary to The Chronicle. I am constantly looking for ways to better the site visually and add more value to the readers. Becuase let’s face it, without you this site doesn’t exist.
And with that, you have noticed social media posts for donations. We are not a non-profit, therefore they are not taxed deductible. BUT those donations help in allowing me to pay my freelance writers for articles. I thank each of you that have donated, it truly has helped!
I am not going anywhere. I built this site and continue to operate it daily to bring the people of Southern Maryland the news. I am more committed than ever to dig further, report more, and delve deeper into the lives of Southern Marylanders to bring you the news you want.
I thank you all for these three years and look forward to the coming year and MANY, MANY more!
David M. Higgins II