community calendar for local publishers

Local Publishing 101: How to Build a Community Calendar

Hyperlocal publishers sit at the center of their communities, offering a central place for people to go for the latest information on news and events around town. As publishers work to give readers more of what they want, they’re discovering that having a community calendar is one of the most requested features.

Community calendars serve multiple purposes on hyperlocal news websites. First and foremost, they let readers know what’s going on around town. When is the high school musical? When is the next city council meeting? These are the types of events that readers enjoy seeing on community calendars. But the usefulness of a community calendar goes beyond that.

A community calendar can also serve as an extra source of substantial revenue for local publishers. In addition to selling advertising against their calendars, publishers can charge local businesses to list their upcoming promotional events. This presents a win-win for the hyperlocal publisher, who is both satisfying reader demand and generating additional revenue at the same time.

Where to begin

The easiest way for most local publishers to add a community calendar to their websites is by using a WordPress plugin.

The Events Calendar by Modern Tribe is one example of a WordPress plugin that independent publishers can use to add community events calendars to their websites. These calendars are fully responsive, so in addition to a professional look, they can also be customized to fit in with any existing website themes. Calendars created with this plugin can also be organized by category, and events can be bulk imported to save time.

CT News Junkie, a local online news site that covers the Connecticut state legislature, uses The Events Calendar by Modern Tribe to power its own community calendar. Readers can search for events by date, keyword, or location, and they can export detailed event information to Google Calendar and iCal.

EventOn is another WordPress event calendar plugin that publishers can use. EventOn’s minimal and sleek looking calendars can be setup to include location maps to events, event images, and expandable details. For publishers who plan to monetize their calendars, a featured events option can make certain events stand out on the page.

Up until this point, we’ve focused on how events calendars serve the needs of local communities. But a community calendar can be an effective revenue generator for local publishers, as well.

Monetizing a community calendar

Community events calendars make money in a few different ways. The most common way is by selling advertising against the calendar itself. Events calendars tend to be popular pages on any publisher’s website. By selling display advertising that runs alongside or on top of the calendar, publishers can generate revenue from the traffic coming to their websites.

Savvy publishers will charge advertisers more to run display advertising alongside their community calendars, since readers who visit are already demonstrating an interest in coming to local events. That provides a type of demographic targeting that’s worth a premium to advertisers.

In addition to selling display advertising alongside their community calendars, local publishers can charge businesses to include their events as featured listings.

The low-tech way to handle this is to set a price for each individual event, and then ask advertisers to email event information to the publisher or the advertising manager directly. The more streamlined approach, which a growing number of local publishers are adopting, is to create a self-serve advertising portal, so advertisers can pay for and place featured event listings on their own.

Publishers can charge a premium for businesses to include their listings, while still opening up their calendars to readers for free. The most straightforward way to manage this is to let readers add standard listings to a community calendar for free, but charge a fee for “featured” or “premium” listings, which might be highlighted, bolded, or designed to include one or more images.

That’s the approach being used by the local news parent-startup Whereby.Us. The company’s publications, including The New Tropic, prominently feature upcoming events calendars, with instructions for how readers can submit their own events. Dedicated placements are available to advertisers who pay $210 for an event promotion package.

If you would like more information about how to setup a community calendar on your own website, feel free to reach out to our team of experts at Web Publisher PRO.