EasternIowaNow.com has re-launched with a dual purpose: to make it easier for local businesses to connect customers online and help area residents who want to spend locally.
"After working so hard to build a business, it should be easier to get traffic online. It shouldn't be so difficult to compete with the big companies online – particularly when they aren't focused on serving Eastern Iowa," said the site's founder, Stefanie Chrisman. "My goal is for it to help the community as a whole, the businesses and the people,"
EasternIowaNow.com is an online advertising platform that caters to small or medium-sized businesses, from the service industry to retail to restaurants – even the small mom-and-pop stores, Chrisman said. There are advertising packages to fit every need and budget.
EasternIowaNow.com works like this: local small and medium-sized businesses create simple listings or entire pages with text, photos, and videos showcasing their products and services, then link to social media and their website.
Advertisers update their page any time to feature promotions, events, or job openings. The platform then shares those on the EasternIowaNow.com's Events and Jobs pages. Community organizations can post events, too.
Then, local residents searching for local companies find what they are looking for – and more.
"Because there is power in numbers, when we list together, we build up each other's search engine optimization," Chrisman said. "Advertisers get a boost in internet search results without paying for pricey Google ads."
It's a proven strategy successful in other communities throughout the United States. Chrisman has worked for a Florida website built on the same platform.
"After I moved to Iowa, I decided to give it a shot and launch my own website," Chrisman said. "We're hoping to help this community benefit in the same way."
Chrisman is a freelance writer and website editor who lives in Center Point. The New Jersey native who spent 25 years in Florida moved to Eastern Iowa in 2016.
She kept EasternIowaNow.com as a hobby after launching it two years ago. When the pandemic hit, Chrisman saw an opportunity. She tapped into a pool of independent contractors, including a couple furloughed since the pandemic.
"In these changing times, the business is becoming an income source for some dislocated workers," Chrisman said. "My son, Bear Skotarek, is doing digital marketing, sales, and data entry. He was a landscaper until he hurt his knee this summer."
Staff will initially target in Linn, Johnson, Benton, and Iowa counties, but Chrisman said all Eastern Iowa communities, businesses, and organizations are welcome now, too.
"My goal is to help small businesses and local communities thrive in Eastern Iowa," said the site founder, Stefanie Chrisman. "I really like that there are so many up and coming entrepreneurs in Eastern Iowa. There's a lot of opportunities."