The former North-East Journalist of the Year has funded the site solely by selling advertising space to local businesses.
It covers only local news from the Richmondshire area of Yorkshire, which is also part of the Darlington-based Echo’s circulation area.
Said Joe: “After several years of feeling down about the state of local newspapers and watching as the numbers all fell, it’s good to see something grow and feel like you’re at the forefront of something new and exciting.
“Social media very much levels the playing field when it comes to getting people to read on-line content and gives small operations like us a fighting chance,”
He added: “The numbers we are getting and the cheap rates we can offer on advertising mean it’s proving quite an attractive proposition for advertisers.
“Local business owners are also our readers – they see what we are doing and are interested in getting involved.”
Joe says he is “confident” websites such as Richmondshire Today can be sustainable.
He added: “There are plenty of challenges but the skills every reporter develops persuading people to appear in stories and newsdesks to print them really help with selling advertising. And our site doesn’t look as beautiful as it could and our bounce rate is too high – but at least we now know what a bounce rate is and how we might reduce it.
“Tools such as Google Analytics give us fantastic information on what, how and when people like to read.
“Thankfully, all the stats tell us that people want to read exactly the kind of community-focussed stories that good local papers have been producing for centuries.”