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Donation… wait what?

You might have noticed I’ve added a donation button to the header of the site.  Here’s why in a nutshell.

The Niagara Local endeavours to become a Niagara-wide, comprehensive guide for wine, food, and craft breweries.  If a place is good I would love for it to be listed on the site and the app.  No questions, no fees.  I would like to have the ability through independent, free press to share with readers every good little find that makes Niagara great.  From the little holes in the walls, and the hidden gems, to the big names that you’ll find in every travel guide to the area. That is essentially the reason that The Niagara Local hasn’t gone into a membership model for its listings.

A membership model is when restaurants and wineries, etc, get onto a site, or print guide, by paying money for the space.  There are various methods of doing this; standard and premium listings, where you can pay a flat fee for being listed, or pay separately for each item in your listing.  Sometimes, establishments are written about, but they will be required to purchase advertising in exchange for the editorial content.  And that’s how the proverbial world goes round in travel writing.

The thing is, where that is a very tempting option to make money, and thus be able to maintain operating the site and apps more easily, it just doesn’t feel right to me, for the reasons that TNL’s founder, Kyla, and I had sat around and discussed at length when we started this venture.  From farm-stand to fine dining, as the motto goes, this site is aiming at being all-inclusive, welcoming, creating community and culture through Niagara’s amazing culinary scene.  The Niagara Local is aiming to support and promote these independent, local entrepreneurs who work their butts off and have major expenses and overhead to maintain, in a traditionally risky business sector.

I would like to keep The Niagara Local free from the membership model forever.  That way readers know that if a review is on the site, it is because myself or a contributing writer thought it ought to be.  Plus, all those cute-as-a-button side of the road fruit stands, I just can’t imagine having to go and ask them to put up money to be on an app.  Some of the 70-year-old farmers will ask me what an app is.  Plus, wouldn’t it be great to use the app to find out where is the closest house to find farm-fresh eggs?  One day, I hope it is a reality.

My bottom line though is this, I have to be able to afford to maintain the site; the fees, the app fees, the bug fixes, equipment, etc, etc.  So, I added a donation button, a google ADSense campaign is coming, as well as, the ability to purchase low-cost advertising to promote your local business.  Please see the media kit for more info on that.  Should an establishment, or an individual, feel it in their heart to send a few dollars this way to help the cause, it would be most welcome and appreciated.

I would like to personally thank all the hundreds of readers who are using the site every day, and the tens of thousands of new readers who come to the view the site for the first time every year.  Thank you for your interest and support in the work I’m doing.  I hope that it will continue to grow and be a part of what I love best about living in Niagara; the food and drink and the landscape!

Cheers!

~Vanessa

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