Last June was an exciting period of my life. I was closing one chapter and walking into a new one. My sweet daughter, Joey, started daycare at the beginning of the month, and I was gearing up to go back to work. Although I was not returning to my previous position from maternity leave; I was stepping in as the new Owner and Publisher of the Mid-South Horse Review.
June 15, 2022 was the exact date MSHR changed hands and I began my adventure as a business owner. I had very clear expectations, goals, and an overall vision. I had forecasted all of my financials and prospected every person and business I wanted and needed to build relationships with. I worked on an editorial calendar and researched best ways to engage audiences and readers in a traditional print format. I created a marketing strategy to help introduce the new look of the Horse Review to its existing audience and to a brand new one.
I planned a new website to offer advertising clients the most up to date digital advertising positions and ways digital readers could find timely content on a daily basis. I planned a social media strategy and launched the Horse Review on Instagram. I had to evaluate design and ways to entice new and existing readers and advertisers to a newsprint publication. I found the right financial mentors and advisers to help me with managing accounting and bookkeeping, something I did not have to do in the past as an employee. I planned as much as I could before it all landed in my lap.
This is my 12th issue to publish, and there are still so many things I need to do and goals I have. I believe in this publication, our region and our equine business owners and riders. I have so much to learn as a business owner. I make mistakes daily! And there are so many people I need to meet. There is a lot of trial and error taking place and I am still figuring out how to manage time efficiently and be able to grow this publication’s readership, reach and revenue.
Looking back over the last year I want to share where we have had success and growth take place. First, our readership growth has been exciting to watch as it grows. We have maintained our distribution footprint in the region, along with adding new distribution locations in Jonesboro and Little Rock, Ark., Jackson, Miss, and even in Ocala and Wellington, Fla. We have over 300 locations where our print publication is distributed and shipped every month. My goal, as publisher, is to saturate all of the major Southeastern cities with the Horse Review and it become a household name to equestrians in all southern cities.
The most exciting part about our readership is how our digital readership has increased by 40% over the last 12 months. The top ten cities our digital readers live in are 1. Memphis, Tenn., 2. Atlanta, Ga., 3. Chicago, Ill., 4. Nashville, Tenn., 5. Little Rock, Ark., 6. Dallas, Tx., 7. Ashburn, Va., 8. Jackson, Miss. 9. Hernando, Miss. and 10. Jonesboro, Ark.
Our loyal readers go directly to our website every month and read on average two articles per visit. New readers read on average 1.3 articles on their first visit to our website, and readers who come to our website through google search read 1.5 articles once they click to an article page. Our overall organic search has increased by 17% too. Thanks to Google Analytics we can analyze detailed reports on our digital readership at any time. This has helped us plan engaging content and give you, our readers, more articles like the ones you read the most.
Our reach is something I am always tracking. Reach is the number of eyeballs that see the Horse Review brand and content. It is a driving force for increasing our readership. By pulling social media analytic reports through Meta Business we see our social media pages have reached 383,202 eyeballs starting on June 15, 2022 to May 19, 2023, a month shy of a full year. The previous year we reached 57,562 eyeballs through social media. With our consistent social media plan we have reached a total of 325,640 additional eyeballs in the last 11 months than the previous 12 months. The amount of engagement we have had with new readership and reach on our website and through social media has been astounding and exciting. It has connected us with a new digital audience and that is hurrling us into the future with great momentum to build upon.
Revenue growth is always a business owner’s biggest focus and stressor. I knew walking into this role I had to put a large amount of energy into our editorial strategy to grow our readership and our reach. Direct sales are what makes a business operate, but content is king and the readership and reach for a publication is what drives the horse and carriage!
Over the last 12 months we focused on maintaining the Horse Review’s long standing relationships with loyal advertising clients. We had discussions with our loyal advertisers on the power of digital and social media and how it is the first thing readers see in today’s digitally focused world. We recommended new and different ways to help create a return on their advertising investments, and we listened to their feedback and why they love the Horse Review.
With that we have maintained 98% of our business with longtime advertisers, and I want to thank every single advertiser for sticking with us throughout the last 12 months! Without you we could not publish the Horse Review and write about our equestrians, horses, and our regional horse community.
We did bring on new advertising clients and I am grateful for the new relationships we have built with Kentucky Equine Research, our From the Experts Sponsor, Gateway Tire, our Gold Sponsor, Cornerstone Equine Veterinary Services, our Horse Health section sponsor, and Meadowthorpe Farm, our Young Riders sponsor. We have great, new campaign advertising clients such as Taylor Select Bedding, Solectrac, Tennessee Horse Cremation, Kindred Spirit Photography, Boondocks Western Store, Sterling Elite Sporthorses, Life Signs, and more!
We have become affiliate partners of EQL by Kerrits, Tractor Supply Company, Rocky Boots Company, and Innovet. Because of the existing advertising clients who continue to support the Horse Review and the new advertisers, sponsors and affiliate partners, we have managed to grow our revenue by 15.9% over the previous 12 months. That is a number I want to always see go up as a business owner, but I am incredibly grateful for the trust our advertisers had in our suggestions, recommendations and most of all our readership and reach.
Who are the real champions over the last 12 months? That would be Andrea Winfrey, the Horse Review’s Office and Accounts Manager. She talks with every single client we have, every single month. She manages advertising clients and sells advertising campaigns. She has made sure the company’s account receivables are in good standing and she has done that for the last 15 years. She is my sounding board and who I always rely on to give candid and honest feedback during brainstorming sessions. She is my right hand woman and I’d be lost without her!
Alicia Johnson, the Horse Review’s Editorial Coordinator and Writer, is such a positive spirit in my day-to-day life. She is always eager to try new things, connect with sources, write anything I suggest and even organize content that needs to be uploaded to the website. No matter what, she is always asking how she can help, and I am grateful for her positive and easy going nature. I constantly receive positive reader feedback on her articles, which reinforces how engaged our readers are with the Horse Review and with her informative and educational articles.
Mandy Bradshaw-Tate, the Horse Review’s Shipping and Distribution Coordinator, came on board to help us with distribution. She has given me so much time back and is happy to help pack and ship over 125 boxes to our out to town distribution locations each month. She then drives all over the mid-south to deliver papers to our local distribution spots. She has been a wonderful teammate, and I am so grateful for her help!
The entire 3090 Marketing team, and specifically, Rachel Ledet. She is my business coach, best friend and fellow woman- owned business owner. She and her team launched our new website, work on monthly designs, production, website and social media management. Rachel and her team have helped us find areas we can improve to better serve and deliver our content to our print and digital readers.
The Horse Review’s Contributing Writers and Photographers from over the last twelve months: Gary Cox, Paul Nolte, Grace Netter, Juliana Chapman, Melanie Sutton and Michele Harn have all contributed beautiful photography and outstanding content and articles. They have all been instrumental throughout the last year, and I cannot thank them enough.
Of course, I would be remiss not to thank Tom and Nancy Brannon. Your devotion and countless hours put into this publication from the time you took it over in 2009 to last June has directly set me up for success. The Mid-South Horse Review name and brand has such a meaningful impact in our equine community, and you instilled that credibility and positivity over your 14 years of leadership and ownership. Thank you for trusting me to take it over and carry the torch. My goal is to only expand on the great works you both accomplished. I hope to always see the readership, reach and revenue grow and to build on the foundation and legacy of you both.
Last (whew this is getting long, especially for me) Chad, my husband, thank you for letting me live this dream career. I stole you away from your charming, midtown Memphis home and relocated you to Mississippi. You went from having one amazing dog to four dogs, a cat, three horses and eight acres that requires an insane amount of upkeep and maintenance. You gave me our daughter, which somehow came out looking identical to you. That’s ok, I love looking at her bright, beautiful and happy face and seeing you as she grows. You never questioned my desire to take over this business, you said, “DO IT!” And you have faith that I will do it well. Thank you for being the best partner and husband. There is no doubt you are the main reason I keep taking steps forward. I love you.
Thank you to the Mid-South Horse Review Readers! Please always give me your constructive criticism because I am here for you, to bring you the stories, resources, and knowledge you need to become the best horseman and horsewoman you possibly can be.
Here is to the next 12 months!