Bulletin starts 23rd year of publishing

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

In the early 1990s, Sharon, my wife, and I started to discuss owning our own business. We were both writers and also had a background in marketing. What should that business be?

“Why don’t we start a weekly paper,” she suggested.

That was one of several plans. I was a reporter covering Brazoria County for the Houston Chronicle. She was a free-lancer for several major market papers in Texas, a shipping industry weekly, and whatever else came along.

We also had two boys and were about to have a baby girl, so our timing was off a little.

But, we kept talking about it.

My first thought was that a weekly startup paper is about as risky of a business as you can have. Several had failed in the county. It’s a lot of work, and there is a very good chance that the investment is going to fly out the window.

I liked the Chronicle job and really had no reason to change course. But why not? Who needs all that security and health insurance, anyway? Sharon gave birth to our daughter while we had the Chronicle insurance, and we started to plan out the new weekly paper.

The startup cost wasn’t all that bad. I just bought some less than top-of-the-line computers and a printer, and Sharon started the marketing part. I kept my job at the Chronicle for six months as we began publishing The Bulletin every two weeks. That’s the best we could do at the time, but plans were to switch to weekly publishing as fast as possible.

That’s how The Bulletin came into existence – with the first issue dated July, 4, 1994. A few months later, we turned it into a weekly. We were on-board for the ride, no matter which way it was heading.
This issue marks the beginning of our 23rd year, and the ride continues. We have gone through various phases of the business, but I like the current phase the best. We are having a lot of fun publishing the paper each week.

It has always been hard work, but at the beginning it was harder. But like my mother always said, hard work produces results. Nothing in, nothing out.

Weekly publishing was and is risky. But not all businesses in this category fail.

I saw that a 100-plus-year-old paper in Vermont is being sold off in a unique way. They are running an essay contest and charging a $150 entry fee. If thousands of entries are received, the owners will pick the winning essay and award ownership of the paper to the author.

We are still infants compared to that paper and are not planning an essay contest.

I do know one thing. The traditional way of operating a weekly is dicey. We have never done it traditionally, and both Sharon and I have been wearing several hats since starting The Bulletin. They look better on her, though.

One of my Facebook friends recently posted that she and her husband owned a weekly, and she would not do it again. It was the hardest work they ever did.

There are ways to handle it and not let it take over your life. I’m not going to give away all our secrets, but let’s just say that I would not trade these years for anything else.

The Bulletin has been our main business since we started it, and we plan to continue publishing it for many more years.

Thank you loyal Bulletin readers and advertisers. We hope that we served you well for 22 years. Now, let’s embark together on year 23.