THE LymeOnline website has gone from strength to strength during 2020, with the coronavirus pandemic bringing more readers than ever to the community site.
While publication of the fortnightly LymeOnline newspaper was temporarily suspended during lockdown – now set to return on Friday, August 7 – the website has continued to be updated daily with the latest local news.
A digital version of the newspaper has also been uploaded fortnightly, as well as weekly video news bulletins presented by LymeOnline editor Francesca Evans, and a special page for all coronavirus-related news has been launched.
The site was recently commended in the ‘Community Website of the Year’ category for the 2020 newsawards.
Half-year figures for the LymeOnline website have just been revealed, with 156,930 people visiting the site from January 2020 to the end of June – that’s an increase of more than 36,000 on the same period last year.
While figures have steadily increased since the website launched in January 2018, editor Francesca Evans believes this year’s increase is partially down to the coronavirus pandemic, with more people keen to find out how the outbreak is affecting the local area.
This has been particularly evident since shops, businesses and amenities started to reopen, with LymeOnline running a ‘Shop Local’ campaign offering free promotion to businesses as they got back on their feet.
As the town began to reopen, the LymeOnline website saw two of its most successful months since launching, with visitor figures for May and June 2020 both over 33,000.
These figures were topped only by March 2019 when the website’s numbers peaked as Kate Winslet visited Lyme Regis to film scenes for Mary Anning biopic ‘Ammonite’.
June 2020 also saw a number of major stories that were unrelated to coronavirus, including the arrest of three young people on Monmouth Beach, the temporarily closure of the beach for dredging and re-profiling, and Lyme’s Sir George Somers statue being targeted amid anti-racism protests.
The most-read story of 2020 was a report on the major fire at the Rousdon Village Bakery back in January, which had almost 5,000 hits.
Despite the positive figures, the LymeOnline website is run as a not-for-profit community venture and does not bring in enough money on its own to cover its costs.
Advertising spaces on the website are available for as little as £5 per fortnight, but most of LymeOnline’s advertising revenue came from its printed newspaper, which was put on hold at the end of March due to the effects of the pandemic.
In the meantime, the business has relied on grants from the Google News Initiative, Dorset Council and generous donations from readers, as well as editing contracts with other publications and websites. Donations can still be made via PayPal by clicking the yellow ‘Donate’ button on the website homepage.
The free, fortnightly LymeOnline newspaper – with a distribution of 4,000 – will be relaunched on Friday, August 7 with advertising opportunities starting from as little at £8 per issue. All those advertising in the printed newspaper will also receive a free advert on the website.