Before I start my day and check out the latest #CincodeFallo examples, I need to take a moment and pause: four years ago today, LatinoRebels.com launched with the following opening lines: We are here.
Close to 6 million visits later (with about 1.8 million visits already in 2015), the state of LatinoRebels.com has never been stronger (I have always wanted to write a phrase like that). Some random thoughts:
- In May of 2011, we got about 2,300 visitors in our first month. In February of this year, we got over 650,000.
- In addition, I must thank the amazing core group of Latino Rebels who make the magic every day for this site. Here is the list. Just follow them all. Like right now.
- We now have 130 contributors to this site. 130 people who have pitched us and written some fantastic pieces. In the U.S. Latino digital space, we have given a megaphone to new voices who would have never had the opportunity to get published elsewhere. Those new voices have forged authentic, raw and real conversations about issues that matter to the community. As the one who has edited over 4,000 stories from these amazing contributors, they are that 130 reasons as to why I keep deciding to never shut down this page, even with my limited hours right now.
- In the past year, we have moved on to live radio. I must thank this guy for lighting the spark to make that happen last spring. Two years ago, there were plans to do a radio show, but it got bogged down due to scheduling issues, so we walked away from it. I was disappointed that it didn’t pan out and very skeptical that a radio show would even happen. Enter Christian Henríquez, who believed in LR and told me that he would take on the role of producer and booker and show runner. Work with one smart original co-host and then another smart new co-host, and now we have something. We might not be up on all the latest podcast audio tricks, but I will say that Latino Rebels Radio is doing some fantastic work: live, unedited and unfiltered 60-minute conversations. With one really cool theme song.
- We have also moved into executive producing REBEL REPORT with our friends at Flama. That experience has led to 20 episodes and a very loyal audience that has been positive about the initial efforts. I have always tried to mix comedy with news, ever since my improv days in Boston before the Internet even existed. REBEL REPORT has made that happen. The team is incredibly creative (and oh yeah, diverse, too).
- It seems like the rest of the U.S. Latino digital space has caught up with the type of stories just a handful of pages (including us) were publishing in 2011. That might make it feel a bit crowded now, but I don’t see it that way. It just confirms that when I decided to create this site and invite the original Latino Rebels to the mix (you know who you are), we were on to something, even though we didn’t even know what that something was. We are proud to be part of this digital space, and thrilled that it continues to grow. That has also allowed us to publish different types of pieces (yes, we have been publishing more commentary and opinion). The latest response to this new direction has been phenomenal. We plan to keep at it. Why not?
- As a result, many love LatinoRebels.com for what it has become, and our social communities can attest to that love. For example, check out our Facebook, our Twitter or our Tumblr. These social sites are what keep us going. Yes, even the haters who waste such negative energy trying to bring us down. By the way, bringing us down will never happen. To a very small group of amateurs, we are the Floyd Mayweather of the Latino Internet, although to the many, we are the Manny Pacquiao, the people’s champion. The fact that we can elicit such an array of responses is a testament to the work our group does: they keep it real and they have always kept it real. (Just yesterday, for instance, someone tweeted that we are most divisive group ever in the history of the online world. Hilarious.) Love us, hate us, you can’t ignore us.
So where will this go next? I honestly don’t know, but I do know that as long as people keep contributing their voices to this site or our social communities, we will be around. This has been too much fun, even though the pay is awful.
Julio (Julito) Ricardo Varela (@julito77) founded LatinoRebels.com in May, 2011 and proceeded to open it up to about 20 like-minded Rebeldes. A 1990 Harvard graduate in the History and Literature of Latin America, he pens columns on LR regularly. Julito has represented the Rebeldes on several outlets, including MSNBC, CBS, NPR, Univision and The New York Times. Recently, he was a digital producer for Al Jazeera America’s The Stream and is currently the Digital Media Director for Futuro Media Group.