Hey there! After a very active spring I bet most of you were glad for a relatively quiet July and August.  While our page may have been a lot quieter over the past two months, we’ve been busy behind the scenes tending to website maintenance, tackling projects that we typically reserve for lazy summer days, and also looking ahead. The relatively quiet patch of weather this summer has also allowed all of us to recuperate from the very active spring we had.  As you can imagine, Jenny, Paige and I all put quite a few miles on our vehicles this spring chasing and also spent countless hours covering each storm system extensively on our website. As we approach the end of August and begin looking forward to fall, it’s time to jump back into the saddle and get ready for what could potentially be a very active fall and winter season with a potentially historic El Nino looming on the horizon. That said, I’m reaching out to provide an overall update on where we stand now with Texas Storm Chasers and an exciting new opportunity!

By far the biggest request we get from y’all is the desire for a mobile application…a TSC App. Until recently, we’ve tried resisting the urge due to the large amount of financial and technological investment required. Believe it or not, most smartphone app developers charge four figures for development – so it’s a big investment for us (personally) to take. It’s no secret Facebook has been reducing our organic reach for over two years now. We have over 430,000 followers on Facebook but we normally average around a 15,000 “reach” for our posts. We gave Facebook about $40 when we first started off in 2009 to get off the ground. To reach our full audience today, we would have to pay Facebook around $3,000 to ‘sponsor’ a TSC post onto each individual’s newsfeed. That fee is per post – one status or photo. Obviously that’s not going to happen – although I understand their need to please shareholders.

So earlier this month we began looking at developing a mobile application for Texas Storm Chasers, which we feel would substantially increase our reach each day.  There are a few solutions out there ranging from a professional development team heading the project, to some sort of self-guided attempt on my part. Depending on which path we take will determine how long it is before our TSC App is released. I’m not even going to guess how long that will take right now because I simply don’t know yet. I would hope it would be by the winter season but time, and most importantly finances, will tell. We plan on our TSC App being free with in-app advertising. A couple features we’re looking at include our weather radar fully integrated into the app, optional push-notifications, easy weather blog viewing, and much more!

That leads us to the next topic of discussion…how to generate the revenue needed to hire a professional app developer.  After much discussion, we’ve decided to open up the opportunity for businesses to purchase advertising space on our website. With the exception of a few brief episodes of sponsorship in the past, we’ve always used ads from a third-party agency on our website to generate income.  Compared to 2013 and 2014 levels, we’ve seen a noticeable increase in website traffic this year. We’ve had over 4.19 million page views so far this year with 1.66 million users. Right now, we are in the process of putting the finishing touches on our new TSC Advertising Program. Our program will be available to quality organizations/brands wanting to get their name/product out to those 1.66+ million users visiting our website.  Our plan is to begin rolling our new TSC Advertising Program the last half of September 2015. Be on the lookout for an ‘Advertise With Us!’ link on our website later in September which will include contact information and information for prospective advertisers.  This upcoming program will allow us to improve the user’s experience by allowing quality advertising only.

Last but not least, we are working to enhance our daily email system. These daily emails are automatically generated each morning and contain articles published on our blog over the preceding day…but sometimes, that timing just doesn’t work with real-time weather reporting.  So, we’re considering changing this service over to a daily manual email – meaning we would send out the email manually with content to better control content and timing of delivery. One advantage to the manual method is that all content will be fresh. A disadvantage is I can’t guarantee the email will be sent out every day without interruption as it will depend on how busy we are covering whatever severe weather is happening at that time.  Let us know what you think and what changes you recommend for our daily newsletter.  Either way we will be sprucing it up over the next week or two.

With the fall season not too far away we’re excited about our upcoming changes and additions! It could be a wild ride this winter, and I hope you’ll join us for that ride.  As always we appreciate each one of you for following us. Whether it be for our storm photography or Texas weather information – maybe both – we continue to be astonished at how much we’ve grown since our founding in 2009. From all of us here at TSC – Jenny, Paige, and myself – have a great day and thanks for making us a part of your day!

– David Reimer