Happy 500th Post: Susan Apel’s not-so-secret-secrets to writing about arts and culture around Vermont and New Hampshire

Lucky’s Cafe in Lebanon, NH | Photo: Susan Apel

Lucky’s Cafe in Lebanon, NH | Photo: Susan Apel

By: Jennifer Sensenich

For almost 4 years, Susan Apel has been writing about the arts and culture in and around Vermont and New Hampshire on her page ArtfulEdge. From performances to art exhibits, local eats and new businesses, Susan always seems to have her finger on the pulse of what locals want to know. Recently, one of her most read posts was about how she discovered a local donut shop. (And yes, what we do need more of in this world is great donut shops. I dare you to disagree.) 

Just last week Susan shared her 500th post on HereCast thanking her readers by expressing, “A profound and heartfelt thank you to each and every reader and subscriber. It’s been quite the ride.” As a local content creator, this is a big milestone. It’s one thing to write, but to write consistently & authentically while building your audience is a gift. 

So how does she do it? 

Love what you do, do what you love

First of all, she loves what she is writing about. It’s a whole lot easier to write about something that is already a big part of your life. If you’re looking to write more, immerse yourself in what you love to do. Get out in your community and start talking to people, attending events… discovering. 

And most importantly...

Walk

Yes, really. Walk. Susan explains how she has discovered so much about her community on accident. “There is a raft of other stories that fall right into my metaphorical lap as I simply walk, run, or dance through what would otherwise be just an ordinary day.” Whether it’s discovering a new restaurant she never noticed, or coming upon an archeological dig, there is so much going on around us that we might not notice otherwise. I give you permission, put that computer down and get outside. 

Bookmark your resources

Have a Facebook page? Be sure to follow pages and groups that relate to what you want to write about. Many businesses, organizations or people post regular updates on their Facebook pages that can lead to inspiration for posts. (Pro tip: When you go to follow a page be sure to click “See first” in your newsfeed so you don’t have to wade through cat videos to get there. Well, unless of course you want to.) 

Sign up for local newsletters. Become an expert on what’s going on around you by getting relevant info delivered straight to your inbox. Whether it’s a local business, organization or new source, if they’ve got a newsletter, click subscribe. 

Write authentically 

As content contributors for our communities, sometimes we might feel like we are waiting for the perfect post idea that will get ‘enough reads’. Boy is that a lot of pressure! There is a reason why Instagram has started hiding likes from users’ posts. Our world has become so obsessed with getting more likes, more views, more comments that we’ve left our authentic voices behind to simply get “more” whatever that might be. So, I’m just here to remind you that whatever you write about matters. It matters because you care about it. Be authentic and you will find your audience. You might even find yourself like Susan, 500 posts in with so many more stories to share. 

Happy 500th post, Susan!  All of us at HereCast would like to thank Susan for her contributions. All thanks to her, local readers are 500 posts richer in knowing things they might not have known before. You can read Susan’s 500th post here.

HereCast & local news

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As we continue to grow HereCast into an information resource for local communities, we’d like to offer some of our thoughts about how HereCast fits into the overall online content ecosystem.

First of all, we’re not a news organization. We have no editorial staff or reporters and we don’t assign or approve stories before they are published. 

Second, we designed our platform to allow existing local news organizations, freelancers and and any other locals who care about their community to share their updates and perspectives. We are complementary to other sources of information, and ownership of the content remains with the contributors. If local news organizations want to distribute any or all of their stories on our platform, they can get paid for their content and build awareness and readership.

Finally, the HereCast experience will be defined by you and the people around you. We rely on the individuals and organizations in each community to help define what is interesting and important to them based on how they use the site. Much like walking up to a public bulletin board in the middle of town, we hope to see a diverse collection of content made readily available to browse for any location. Some posts are going to be professionally written, highly relevant and extremely interesting, while others may seem incomplete or unnecessary. Your participation will influence how it is used.

We have a lot of work ahead of us to continue our expansion, and we hope that you will join us and give us your feedback so we can best serve the needs of locals.

Using HereCast for your local community

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Our mission at HereCast is to help keep people informed and aware of the things that are important to their local community. We encourage people working to strengthen their communities to add HereCast to their toolset for reaching their fellow locals. 

Here are a couple of ways community builders can use HereCast:

Drive awareness and get people involved

HereCast is an open, easy to use and free platform. Municipal officials and nonprofit leaders can quickly create a page on HereCast and start posting to your local community. It’s like a free digital bulletin board to post your announcements, updates, news and more. 

By posting on HereCast, organizations can reach their people to share information about upcoming efforts and decisions, and to drive awareness of all that they do with the broader community. 

Share the hidden stories that make your town special

So much about a local community is locked in the memories and conversations of the people who experience the place. Much of it fades away, not documented for the others who love the town to experience and cherish for years to come.

By finding and sharing these stories online, you can help give new power to these hidden tales, helping others discover the richness of interesting people and places that surround you. Increase pride in your community by making your town’s stories accessible and discoverable.

How could HereCast help strengthen your community? We’re just getting started and would love to know how we can help you achieve your goals. Please join us and give us your feedback to help us be the best place to share and discover local information.

Introducing HereCast

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We’re launching HereCast today to be the best place for people in Vermont and New Hampshire to find and share local content.

We built HereCast because we felt a real need in our own region to create a better option for local information. Traditional news media is having difficulty serving customers, and attention is now aggregated in a handful of digital giants that aren’t providing a local focus. We offer an easy way for people to find and share information about what’s happening in their physical communities. 

Over the past 5 years, we have served thousands of readers in the Upper Valley region with our site DailyUV.com. Learning from numerous experiments, surveys, and user testing sessions, we have been constantly improving the platform and now we’re proud to open it up to all towns across both states under this new brand. 

Our prototype has proven that we can bring together advertisers, content creators and readers to create a truly rewarding local experience. In the past year alone, we’ve shared over $71k in advertising revenue with content creators and we’re just getting started. 

HereCast is your place for sharing what’s happening up the street and down the road: 

  • Discussions of municipal developments and concerns

  • Information about local current events

  • Updates about the organizations and businesses in your area

  • Stories about the hidden history and interesting people in your town

  • And so much more! No thought or idea is too small when it’s about the places we love

We still have a lot of work to fully enable our vision of what HereCast can be for more local communities, but we look forward to advancing our mission across the twin states. We hope you’ll join us at our new home, and keep helping us learn and improve!