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Make Money From a News Website

How to Make Money From a News Website — 5 Steps

When most entrepreneurs launch a news website, they focus on the hard work, dedication, and technical savvy that’s necessary to get a new project up and running. But what happens next is what really determines whether a news website flourishes or fails.

In order to make money from a news website, publishers need to know all the revenue streams that are out there, and which specific revenue streams are likely to work best for their publications. They should also understand that making money from a news website takes time. Even the founders of Berkeleyside, widely heralded as the gold-standard for local news publishing online, had to wait 18 months after launching to before they could start paying themselves a modest monthly salary.

Local news websites these days make the bulk of their revenue through display advertising, however newer strategies, like sponsorships, subscriptions, memberships, and live events, are all being used to help boost the bottom line.

Here are the first five steps online publishers should take if they want to make money from a news website.

5 steps to make money from a news website

Step 1: Focus on the content

Don’t jump into online advertising too quickly. Independent digital publishers, like Berkeleyside, typically wait at least six months after launch before they begin selling advertising packages to local businesses.

Before approaching any local businesses with advertising opportunities, we recommend digging into the most important aspect of any news website — the content. Work with your editors, reporters, photographers, and other content producers to create an editorial style that’s entirely unique. You may also want to write an editorial mission statement that clarifies the purpose of your publication.

Potential advertisers want to see what type of content their ads will be running alongside, and what sort of message the publication is putting out. With a few months worth of regular posts, your website will be much more attractive to potential advertisers.

Step 2: Approach local advertisers

Which businesses advertise in the daily newspaper or other local news websites in your area? These are the best businesses to start with as you begin exploring outside advertising opportunities and potential sponsorship deals, as these businesses have already demonstrated an affinity for the local press.

Hooking that first advertiser can take time, so don’t get frustrated if businesses say they want to hold off at first. Keep focusing on putting out solid reporting and building a core audience full of loyal (and local) readers, and businesses will eventually be persuaded to advertise.

Step 3: Consider pay-per-click advertising

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can be controversial in the local news industry. PPC advertising is typically run through Google’s AdSense, however a number of other vendors cater to independent local news publishers, as well.

PPC advertising is not a favorite of local news publishers because rates are typically much lower than what publishers could earn by selling to advertisers directly. Most publishers earn between $0.50 to $2 per click. Popular websites with mass appeal can easily bring in thousands of dollars per month through PPC advertising. However, most independent local news websites cater to much smaller audiences. Thus, PPC advertising may not be the right fit for these publishers.

If you are still in the early stages of learning how to make money from a news website, and especially if you are still supplementing your direct sales, then PPC advertising can be a useful tool for filling display advertising slots that would otherwise sit empty.

Step 4: Start selling subscriptions

For all the reasons outlined above, display advertising is not always a great fit for independent news publishers with niche audiences. Rather than earning a few cents per click, publishers who want to make money from a news website will often have better luck focusing on their readership and selling subscriptions to their content.

The longer a publication has been in business, and the more content that publication puts out, the more successful a subscription program is likely to be. However, even younger publishers with a year or less under their belts, can have success with this strategy. (Check out this article on how to design the best subscription sign-up page to convert more readers.)

Step 5: Host live events

Live events are quickly becoming a substantial source of revenue for publishers, which is one of the reasons why we couldn’t leave this step off the list of ways to make money from a news website.

Industry conferences are an excellent source of revenue for niche publishers. Local news websites might consider hosting community forums or meet up events. In addition to selling tickets to attendees, publishers can also sell sponsorship packages to businesses.

Are you having trouble generating revenue from your news website? Get in contact with one of our digital publishing experts for a free video consultation, and we can get started putting together a plan to get you back on track.

editorial mission statement

How to Create an Editorial Mission Statement

Here is what digital publishers should know about how—and why—to create an editorial mission statement.

The Washington Post has one. So does the Los Angeles Times, and virtually every other major newspaper in the country. But you don’t have to run a national media organization to create an editorial mission statement. Publishers of all sizes, both online and offline, stand to benefit when they memorialize what they stand for and believe in as a company.

Beyond just covering the news, publications have values that their employees subscribe to. When publishers can be open and forthcoming about those values, they improve their relationships both internally (with editors and reporters) and externally (with readers).

Editorial mission statements can help editors as they choose which stories to cover, and they can clarify any guidelines or policies that reporters should understand as they go about interviewing subjects for articles. They can also help to clarify what type of organization a reader is giving his or her money to when deciding whether to subscribe.

What Is an Editorial Mission Statement?

Before you can get to work creating an editorial mission statement, it helps if you know what one actually entails.

An editorial mission statement can be simple and straight to the point, or it can be deeper and more abstract. For a look at what that means, let’s use these two examples:

First, we have an example of an editorial mission statement that gets straight to the point. This is from the Florence News Journal.

“The News Journal is a weekly newspaper providing news, advertising and information to enrich the lives of the people in the Florence area. Committed to the community, we offer a voice for the people, promote events, recognize achievements and present information in a fair and accurate manner. We desire to be a trusted source of local information and advertising content that is useful and valuable to the readers we serve.”

At the opposite end of the spectrum we have an example from the Los Angeles Times. The Times’ mission statement is 10 paragraphs long, but this small section is reflective of the larger theme, which reflects the basic principles of journalism.

“Freedom is our core value. We feel a special obligation to defend civil liberties and human rights. Because newspapers and other news media, uniquely among businesses, enjoy and rely on a provision of the Bill of Rights that protects freedom of the press, we assume an obligation to defend the rights of all citizens.”

Digital publishers can be as straightforward as they want. There is no right or wrong way to create a mission statement, just as long as it reflects the values of the organization.

Reasons to Create an Editorial Mission Statement

We know that news publications cover important events, but how do publishers, editors, and reporters decide which events are worthy of coverage? An editorial mission statement can offer the answer.

While larger publishers, including the Los Angeles Times, have editorial mission statements that broadly describe the principles of journalism, local publishers are often much more direct. Their mission statements are more likely to include details about the topics they cover.

Having a mission statement that’s published openly on the web gives readers a way to understand which news stories receive coverage and which do not. The more specific a publisher can be, the better. We’ve seen publishers use their mission statements as a place to define the geographic areas they cover and the specific topics will write about. (For example, a digital publisher might exclusively cover high school football news in Austin, Texas.) When readers can see the criteria for inclusion, they are less likely to be upset when topics or events they care about don’t make the cut.

6 Topics to Include in an Editorial Mission Statement

Now that we’ve covered what an editorial mission statement is, and why publications should have them, let’s get into the details about what to include if you’re creating one from scratch.

  1. What geographic areas does your publication cover?
  2. Which topics do you write about?
  3. Which values does your publication hold dear?
  4. What are the principles that guide your publication’s editorial decisions?
  5. Does your publication see the world through a particular lens?
  6. Do you have any reporting guidelines regarding victim or reader sensitivities?

An editorial mission statement can be one sentence, one paragraph, or one page long. Keep in mind that the longer the statement is, the less impact each sentence will have and the less likely people will read the statement in its entirety.

A growing number of digital publishers are creating separate diversity mission statements, as well, which are designed to sit alongside their editorial mission statements. Diversity mission statements highlight the ways the publisher is working toward getting different voices into the publication.

Does your publication have an editorial mission statement? If so, what does it include?

Automatic Transcription Tools for Digital Newsrooms

5 Automatic Transcription Tools for Digital Newsrooms

Every minute counts in the fast-paced world of digital news publishing. Every dollar counts, too. For publishers running lean operations, automatic transcription tools are a game changer.

The best automatic transcription tools are just as accurate as manual transcribers, and they cost a lot less money. They also require less time to complete than manual transcription, which means reporters and editors can get their stores online faster and move on to the next breaking news events.

Here are our picks for five of the top automatic transcription tools for digital newsrooms.

1. Trint
Trint is often cited as one of the best automatic transcription tools for journalists, and that’s for good reason. Trint offers automated transcription of audio and video files, powered by artificial intelligence. Reporters upload files into Trint, and the service converts those files into searchable, editable interactive transcripts. These transcripts are “glued” to the audio, which makes it easy to verify the accuracy of any part of the transcript without leaving the online editor. A vocabulary builder tool provides a way for reporters to upload custom lists of words—like brand names, uncommon names, or technical terms—for Trint to learn. The service can also be setup to account for multiple accents in audio files. Trint offers a pay-as-you-go service for $15 per hour or a Basic subscription that costs $40 per month for up to three hours of uploaded content.

2. Otter
Otter bills itself as a “smart note-taking and collaboration app,” but it’s the 600 minutes of free transcription each month that digital publishers really appreciate. Otter’s transcriptions are very accurate, and for reporters with fewer than 10 hours of recorded interviews per month, the service is totally free. Interviews can be recorded on a phone or computer, or they can be imported from another service into Otter. Some things to remember: Otter transcribes captions of audio recordings within a minute, but you’ll have to wait a bit for an even more accurate version of the transcript. Heavy users of the service can “train” the app to recognize voices and learn special terminology, which improves the overall accuracy of transcripts over time. Otter’s service is available via an app and through a website.

3. Happy Scribe
While Happy Scribe’s online transcription software isn’t perfect—and the company warns users to avoid uploading files with heavy background noise or heavy accents—it’s still one of the most useful automatic transcription tools on the market today. Happy Scribe converts audio and video files into text, which can then be exported into Word, PDF, TXT, and a number of other formats. Happy Scribe doesn’t limit the size of the files that users can upload, and completed transcriptions are usually ready within minutes. Once those files are ready, text documents can be edited and collaborated on from within Happy Scribe’s Interactive Editor. One of the more unique features is “heatmap mode,” which shows where the algorithm struggled and where users might want to compare the audio recording to the finished transcript. Pay-as-you-go pricing starts at $12 per hour, and monthly subscriptions start at $30 per month for up to three hours.

4. Descript
Combining both automatic and human-powered transcription, Descript boasts incredible levels of speed and accuracy, at a much lower price point than comparable services. Reporters drop their audio files into the Descript platform, and those files are uploaded to the server and immediately transcribed. Descript grades its accuracy with each file. While most transcriptions are nearly perfect, newsrooms can pay extra for White Glove service, which promises 99% accuracy in an average of 24 hours. Once files are transcribed, reporters and editors can comment and collaborate on the documents from within Descript’s cloud-based system. Basic plans are free, with 30 minutes of transcription and pay-as-you-go transcription that costs 15¢ per minute.

5. Sonix
Powered by AI, Sonix’s automatic transcription software offers reporters a straightforward way to transcribe, organize, and search through their audio files. The web-based system works very quickly. A 30-minute audio file can be transcribed within three to four minutes. Because it’s difficult to achieve 100% accuracy with automatic transcription tools, Sonix has developed its own editing studio where users can polish their transcripts and compare them to the audio recordings. Every word that’s transcribed through Sonix is automatically indexed, so editors can refer back to specific interviews at any point in the future. Pricing for single users starts at $10 per month. Newsrooms with multiple users can sign up for subscription plans that start at $15 per user, per month.

Digital Publishing Industry

These 5 Strategies Are Revitalizing the Digital Publishing Industry

Bring together the leaders of news organizations, platforms, and foundations, and you’re bound to get some honest opinions on the state of digital journalism. Rather than focus on dire predictions for the future, the dozens of industry executives brought together earlier this year by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard and the Lenfest Institute expressed an optimistic view of the future of digital publishing.

Publishing executives at the Shorenstein Center’s event agreed that reader revenue should be at the heart of sustainable business models for digital journalism, but they also acknowledged that newer strategies need to be explored in order for the industry to flourish. Revitalizing the digital publishing industry will require more than just the tried and true tactics for generating revenue online.

Advertising and reader subscriptions are still important, of course, but the industry group put together by the Shorenstein Center and the Lenfest Institute also came up with five new opportunities for publishers looking to grow sustainable businesses.

Let’s take a closer look at the areas of opportunity identified by this group of 63 industry leaders.

1. “Diversifying and strengthening revenue streams for journalism”

Despite the group’s instance that reader revenue should remain at the center of all sustainable business models, there was a lot of optimism around the idea that publishers can successfully drive support for their publications in different ways. There was also some acceptance among industry leaders that traditional revenue streams, including display advertising and reader subscriptions, are no longer enough to support digital publishing businesses on their own.

Diversification is something we’ve discussed quite a bit here at Web Publisher PRO. Our interest in diversifying digital publishers’ revenue streams is one of the reasons why we encourage our publishing clients to explore new opportunities, such as launching business directories, membership programs, and producing sponsored content for selected advertisers. Participants in the Shorenstein Center’s roundtable highlighted these strategies, as well as live events and direct public offerings, as potential solutions for digital publishing companies looking for long-term profitability.

2. “Field-building to grow a culture of philanthropy”

Interest in non-profit news organizations is growing, and philanthropic individuals are primed to support digital publishers’ efforts towards creating high-quality journalism. As display advertising dwindles, industry leaders are recommending that digital publishers begin exploring outside sources of philanthropic support. Accepting contributions from individuals and charitable organizations can create some challenges, and news organizations should keep a close eye on any strings that may be attached to donations from individuals that might have specific agendas.

3. “Finding and seeding growth capital for mission-driven journalism enterprises”

One of the hottest topics among attendees was about providing digital journalism startups with the resources they need to succeed.

Industry leaders say they have seen digital publishing startups struggle when they accept funding from firms with vastly different strategies for growth. One of the most substantial opportunities to come out of the Shorenstein Center’s roundtable involved the idea of an industry group creating a “Crunchbase for investors.” This website would connect investors and charitable groups with digital publishing organizations that have similar missions or goals.

4. “Growing the next generation of publishers in business acumen and leadership abilities”

Industry leaders agreed that it’s time for journalism schools to reimagine their curriculum, with a greater emphasis on business courses and financial education. One way to encourage this would be with the creation of more business-focused journalism fellowships, similar to Columbia Graduate School of Journalism’s Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism and UNC School of Media and Journalism’s business journalism program. Obtaining an MBA for journalism would give future digital publishers greater insights into how to turn around struggling companies and ultimately create the types of media organizations that could revitalize the digital publishing industry as a whole.

5. “Building products to increase revenue and engagement”

The final opportunity for revitalizing the digital publishing industry happens to be the one we’re most interested in here at Web Publisher PRO. That’s because we believe strongly that the key to growing this industry is introducing new products designed to increase revenue and engagement. Online directories, “best of” lists, community calendars, and jobs boards are just a few examples of the types of low-cost publishing tools that make sense for digital publishers interested in new streams of ancillary revenue.

If you’d like more information about the latest products we’re recommending for digital publishers of all sizes, we’d love to connect and offer some of our insights.