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The Burlington Buzz

Enacting tactics to grow revenue and subscriber base

Armed with new confidence, the Burlington Buzz sets new revenue and audience goals

The challenge

Nicci Kadilak is new to the business of journalism, but as a published novelist, she knew all about tackling difficult things. She launched the Burlington Buzz in 2022 with a goal of creating more voter participation and civic understanding in her town of Burlington, MA. Less than a year into her journey as a startup publisher, Nicci applied to the Managing Money and Risk Lab to learn how to establish her publication as a business and save herself from headaches down the road.

Nicci had a proof of concept and a base of subscribers, but didn’t know exactly how to think about growth or how she could best apply her efforts to grow revenue. Nicci had started the Burlington Buzz as a passion project, but was spending more and more time creating content and thinking about ways to convert her readers to paid subscribers. “I'm at a point now where it's so much work that I would not do it for free and I need to be compensated in some way for all of the work that I'm doing,” Nicci said. ”And yes, it's a public service, but also like, you know, I'm also a professional and this isn't work that anybody should be doing for free.”

“When I Started My News Organization, A Plan Was The Furthest Thing From My Mind. The Lab Helped Me Legitimize What Has Become A Full-Fledged News Business. My Work With My Coach And The Gni/Lion Team Forced Me To Set Aside Time To Look At The Most Important Aspects Of My News Organization — Time I Wouldn'T Have Spent Otherwise. Now, I Have A Revenue And Risk Management Plan, And I Feel Confident Going Into The Next Year And Beyond.”

Nicci Kadilak
Founder, Burlington Buzz

The results

Nicci says that her time in the Startups Lab yielded two major accomplishments. One was simply gaining the confidence to move forward with her revenue-generating efforts. Nicci had many conversations with coach John Davidow about how to attract advertisers given her small audience, and how to find ones that align with her values. Armed with a new media kit and a renewed belief in the power of her audience, Nicci booked $4,800 on her first day of doing sales. She says advertisers have been willing to pay her rates because they value her niche audience.

Nicci also learned to set achievable revenue goals and manage her budget to ensure she was spending money effectively. When Nicci talked about potentially launching a website, John assigned her a viability exercise where she compared the cost and effort of building and managing a website vs. staying on Substack. This exercise gave Nicci a framework for making financial decisions in the future.

With her newfound knowledge, Nicci set both revenue and audience growth targets for 2023, with a secondary goal of maintaining her 10%+ conversion rate and adding to her base of subscribed readers. So far, Nicci has exceeded her first goal of attracting 1,000 subscribed readers while exceeding her 10% conversion rate to paid membership.


Created a media kit for future sponsors and made her first advertising sale

Assessed the viability of launching a website vs. staying on Substack

Set financial targets for 2023

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