If you’ve been toying with the idea of starting a digital publication, now is the time to do it. The resources and opportunities for local news entrepreneurs have never been greater, despite lingering concerns about the stability of many legacy media companies.
Innovation in the digital publishing industry is coming from both nonprofit and for-profit publishers. It’s coming from publishers that generate revenue through display advertising and it’s coming from publishers that generate revenue through subscriptions. It’s coming in all directions. As private equity and hedge funds gobble up legacy media groups, digital startups have continued to expand.
Need proof? Look no further than the digital-first media companies buying up other online publications. Axios, for example, recently purchased The Charlotte Agenda. Local news websites are also showing great ambition buying up print newspapers. In Colorado, The Colorado Sun recently purchased a chain of 24 suburban newspapers in partnership with a new foundation focused on local journalism.
Despite the successes that so many local news entrepreneurs are having in 2021, acquiring an existing publication is still a step beyond what most digital publications are ready for. Some of the biggest opportunities for local news entrepreneurs right now center around the growth in paid newsletters.
A growing number of publishers are launching VIP newsletter projects, available exclusively to paying subscribers. Other publishers are finding success running display advertising in their weekly newsletters, which are available for free.
Not all local news entrepreneurs have strong financial backing. Many are shouldering the costs on their own as they work to build their media empires from the ground up. Thousands of independent journalists and writers have launched subscription newsletters in the past year with minimal startup costs. While it remains to be seen what direction these projects will take, the ultimate goal for most local news entrepreneurs is to build businesses that can scale.
Facebook, Substack, Letterhead, and 6am City are just a few examples of the publishing platforms that local news entrepreneurs are using to develop and grow their newsletter products. The Letterhead platform was actually launched by a group of local news entrepreneurs.
Nonprofit publications are having a moment in 2021, as well. The Google News Initiative Startups Playbook is influencing the way local news entrepreneurs think about business development. That playbook, which was developed in partnership with LION Publishers, describes the key steps to launching a local news website. It includes actionable tips and highlights some of the biggest opportunities for local news entrepreneurs in 2021.
The American Journalism Project is another example of an organization serving the needs of local news entrepreneurs. That group, which is actually a venture philanthropy organization, is frequently on the lookout for local news entrepreneurs to work with.
Of course, some of the biggest opportunities for local news entrepreneurs have to do with building businesses from the ground up, without relying on outside philanthropy groups for assistance. Using platforms like WordPress and Mailchimp, budding local news entrepreneurs can launch their own websites and generate revenue through advertising and subscription sales.
For publishers interested in outside investments, now is a great time to be launching a local media site. Investors are putting significant resources into local news products because they understand the opportunity that exists, given the decrease in competition in many smaller markets and the increase in opportunities for revenue generation.
To learn even more about the steps involved in launching your own publication and becoming a local news entrepreneur, reach out to our team at Web Publisher PRO.