This week's featured franchisee owns not one, not two, but three TAPinto franchises! Find out what she loves about owning and operating her own business, how she got started, and how she manages, TAPinto Berkeley Heights, TAPinto New Providence, and TAPinto Mountainside full-time.
Q: When did you join TAPinto.net?
Bobbie Peer: I started as a sales person in May 2013, working to expand The Alternative Press into new communities across New Jersey. I bought the license to Berkeley Heights in August 2013 from founder Michael Shapiro, and subsequently expanded to New Providence and Mountainside.
Q: You’re in a unique position compared to other franchisees at TAPinto. Can you tell us a bit about that?
BP: I own two of the original sites that were started by founder Michael Shapiro in 2008. Mike is an active business leader in the community, and I was able to build onto the reputation he built -- and we continue to grow in readership and revenue each year.
Since taking over the sites, TAPinto has become the only daily hyperlocal news source in the communities I cover. The Patch model had collapsed and The Independent Press, a NJ Advance Media paper, stopped printing their paper in 2015. With this, we now are the only news source reporting on government, education, sports, and daily news in the community.
Q: How has your life changed from the time you just had one franchise to now owning three?
BP: When I first bought the Berkeley Heights franchise, I have to admit, I didn’t realize that the business would consume me. I was doing 100 percent of the writing, growing community relationships and ad sales.
When I expanded to Mountainside and then New Providence, I was able to substantially grow my revenues because I was able to offer attractive multiple site advertising packages to my existing book of advertisers, as well as sell the multiple site packages to new advertisers. With this revenue growth, I was financially prepared to hire a site administrator and a staff of freelance writers. This business model has allowed me to focus more on the growth of revenue.
Q: Why did you want to franchise with TAPinto?
BP: I was a volunteer in my community and was ready to re-enter the workforce. Raising four kids, it was my time to contribute financially. What enticed me was the flexibility to work around my family’s schedule. While I can’t turn off the business, I can step away to drive my son to school and attend his games.
I chose Berkeley Heights as my first site because I care about the community I live in. I had built many strong relationships in the community with both business and civic groups through the various leadership roles I had served in organizations within the town and surrounding community. I was confident that I could successfully run the news site.
Q: What do you enjoy covering the most between all three sites?
BP: I enjoy covering human interest stories about citizens making the world a better place. I have huge respect for people that selflessly give. I also enjoy covering the large events that bring the community together.
Q. Is TAPinto full time for you or do you still work outside of the journalism world?
BP: TAPinto is a full time career choice for me.
Q: TAPinto allows businesses and users to post content on our sites, either for free or for a small fee. How do you think they can best utilize your TAPinto sites? What sort of advantages do you have that other advertising platforms lack?
BP: It is important for organizations and businesses to realize how easy it is to submit content onto our site. When they submit press releases and event listings, not only will they be seen on our site, their content will be seen in the eNewsletter delivered to our subscribers email and we can post the content on our social media sites.
Content on TAPinto is a great marketing tool for businesses and organizations. Advertisers can submit content in the form of a column that is educational, promotional, or news. The articles can include video, links to websites (which ultimately benefit their SEO) and Facebook pages. With this, we help drive people to their business.
I would recommend businesses and organizations to contact us to learn about our platform and the marketing tools available through our site. We offer much more than a clickable ad. So many small businesses are absorbed in running their daily business and do not have time for a marketing plan. Through our marketing experience, we have the ability to work with them to come up with a marketing plan on how to best utilize TAPinto. Between content, event listings, advertising, feature stories and dedicated eBlasts -- we have the platform to engage an audience.
Q: What are some of your business strengths? What’s something you would like to work on?
BP: One of my business strengths is my connection to people and the desire to help improve their business marketing plan. When I meet with clients, they can learn that I sincerely am passionate about our platform as the go to news source in our community and our ability to help our clients achieve their marketing goals.
I would like to have more public seminars with organizations and business leaders to educate them on how to utilize TAPinto as a marketing tool and a source for their communication.
Q: Describe the TAPinto culture as a franchisee.
BP: The word I would use to describe the TAPinto culture is a passionate one. With passion, you have people that work extremely hard and are proud of their community and the platform TAPinto offers for providing quality news coverage. We all strive to make TAPinto the best source for professional news. In doing this, we also have a support team behind us with seasoned editors that are available to us. While we run our own sites as a business, I never feel alone in my decisions -- there are professionals within TAPinto that have my back -- especially when it comes to politics or controversial topics.
Not only do we have the support with content, we also have the support with site development, bookkeeping, graphic design and we have the support of our CEO and founder Mike Shapiro, who also is a practicing attorney. Lastly, we have the support of 80 plus franchisees we can reach out to and share content with.
Q: What are your goals at TAPinto? Any future plans for your TAPinto sites? Possibly franchising a fourth?
BP: My goal for 2019 is to hire a managing editor that can run the daily operation of the content. This would free my time to work solely on business development and community relationships. I would like more time to focus on the growth of my book of advertisers and work with them to make sure they are maximizing the use of our marketing platform.
I do have my sights on franchising a fourth site -- but that is on hold until I have a managing editor in place.