Looking back at the year just gone & looking forward to 2014
It’s easy to sit here and think that I didn’t do much in 2013! This is why taking time to look back and reflect on the year just past is so important.
I’ve always said that 4Manchester Women is a joint effort. I might sit in the middle of it all, but I couldn’t do it without my advertisers, regular guest writers and of course you wonderful readers.
How far we’ve come
Reader numbers: By the end of December 2012 our readership had grown from zero to 6,500 unique visitors per month. By the end of December 2013 I’m delighted to say that we’ve reached 9,000 with 70% of you coming from Manchester and the North West.
Social media reach: Both Facebook and Twitter have grown very organically over the last 12 months with an increase of 148% and 123% to 1,150 (Facebook) and 3,080 (Twitter) users respectively.
Working with businesses: We worked with 130 businesses in 2013 (compared with 40 in 2012), most of whom were small, local independents. One of the things I always wanted to do with 4Manchester Women was to give a shop window to our unique, local small businesses. I’m enormously proud of the range and talent we’ve been able to work with. And their support in turn has funded 4Manchester Women.
Growing the team: We’ve been lucky to work with 17 regular guest writers who have covered a myriad of topics and introduced some great regular features.
Guest bloggers Charlie and Keeley made their TV debuts on Ruth Watson Means Business, with an undercover boob cam, and we were thrilled when our #MCRCocktailGirl Keeley was also invited to be a judge at Cocktails in the City.
2013 also saw us really begin to improve the quality of our images by working with some super talented professional photographers. I’d like to give a particular shout out to Jenny McAvoy (McAvoy Photography) who has provided us with some stunning shots for restaurant and cocktail reviews and events throughout the year.
Three particularly important ladies
This year we also started working with the lovely Rachael Adams (The Social Butterfly) on our events programme.
We were joined in the autumn by Cat Dodsworth to help develop our What’s On Calendar.
And Victoria Hepworth (a journalism student from UCLAN) became our roving reporter when she joined us at the end of the year as an intern. She was sent off to interview people, review exhibitions and events, research useful ‘top 10′s’ and even went up the Manchester Town Hall clock tower! She took it all in her stride and has been a real pleasure to work with. She’s kept me on my toes, that’s for sure.
The Year Started
2013 started in Zambia of all places! Although we are 4Manchester Women, it doesn’t mean that we don’t like to travel! We beat Comic Relief’s trip down the Zambezi by about two weeks.
The Zambia Diaries – Episode 1
The Zambia Diaries – Episode 2
The Zambia Diaries – Episode 3
The Zambia Diaries – Episode 4
The year ended
Finding myself stuck in the middle of a French farce with oysters and tongue! As an oyster virgin I’m not sure I’m convinced – but I am convinced that life should be filled with new experiences, so that’s another one to tick off the list!
The bit in between
It’s been such a joy to look back at all the events we’ve covered, the difficult topics we’ve highlighted, the charities we’ve supported and fun and silliness we’ve had.
4Manchester Women was conceived because we felt it was really hard for busy Manchester women to keep up to date with what was happening both in our city and wider lifestyle issues. And that what was missing was a simple daily online three minute hit, pushed out through social media which would either entertain, give readers something practical and useful or inform them about what was happening locally.
Put simply, that we’d be by real Manchester women, for real Manchester women.
Some of our favourite moments in 2013
There were many, many amazing moments in 2013 – too many to mention really, and we met and interviewed some inspiring and fantastic people.
Here are a few of my favourites to give you a flavour.
Tackling difficult subjects
We aimed to tackle some of the difficult subjects we thought you might be facing.
In 2013 we added some fantastic articles to our growing archive from knowledgeable Manchester experts and real life experiences, including:
Developing our events programme
2013 saw us push ahead with our events programme, working with a whole host of super talented Manchester independents. Our aim was to provide beautiful quality events in great venues – and where possible we provided a kids club so parents could have time to browse at their leisure without being pestered!
You can read all about our events here – An Oasis in the City (Spring and Summer) and Crackers About Christmas (A British Christmas Market).
Supporting Charities and good causes
We’ve always been very keen to support charities and causes which we felt to be important, wherever possible. In the last year in one way or another we’ve supported:
- Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital (supported through our events)
- Quarry Bank Mill
- International Women’s Day
- Royal Northern College of Music
- Real Nappy Week
- London Road Fire Station
- Chorlton Arts Festival
- Live Below the Line
- Breast cancer awareness
- Race for Life
However, I think the most humbling moment of 2013 was when we were the first to get an on-line petition live – supporting The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) when it came under threat of closure.
Within minutes our petition went viral across social media, reaching nearly 5,000 signatures and 12,000 page views in just a couple of days.
I’m sure that we played a vital role in convincing The Manchester Evening News to pick up the baton and launch their own campaign, resulting in MOSI being protected for future generations.
Generally we’re quite a happy, fun loving, cup-half-full bunch here at 4Manchester Women. However, the response to our petition sent out a fantastic message – mess with Manchester women at your peril!
Looking forward to 2014
In short I’m looking forward to more of the same – but bigger and better.
There are exciting plans afoot for more events, partnerships and regular features. But mainly we’ll be trying our best to preempt what we think you’ll need before you need it!
I’ve loved reflecting on the last 12 months. Seems like we did quite a lot after all. Manchester Women – you rock! And when you rock, you inspire us to rock too!
Happy New Year – I wish you wonderful things for 2014.
Alison x (your 4Manchester Women Editor)
Photographs: Alison Staples, McAvoy Photography, Tim Simpson Photography, Cat Dodsworth, Victoria Hepworth, picture-it-big, credits can be found for images in the slide show in the links to the appropriate blogs below.