Tuesday, June 2, 2015

8 practices of successful entrepreneurial journalists

Editor's note: This post was updated 3 June with an eighth best practice.

For the last seven years I have been interviewing and profiling successful entrepreneurial journalists in various countries of various  socieconomic classes. I've talked to publishers and editors with staffs of as many as a hundred as well as some one-man/one-woman bands.

The ones that survive and thrive after several years share some common practices:

1. They develop multiple sources of revenue. They embrace sponsorships rather than advertising, memberships rather than subscription paywalls. They recognize that they can't make money on standard cost-per-thousand or cost-per-click advertising rates. They seek sponsors who embrace their mission and core values. They monetize their audience by creating clubs or groups of members who support their journalism mission. They can actually charge much more than a subscriber would ever pay.

Among other revenue sources: direct sale of products such as books, music, clothing; creation and management of websites and social media channels for third parties; creation of content for blogs and websites; consulting on digital media; sale of data; foundations; events; crowdfunding; and more (12 revenue sources for digital media organizations).

2. They build communities around high-quality contents. They satisfy a need of their users or help them solve a problem. Eldiario.es of Spain has created a type of club of 10,800 partners who pay 60 euros a year and receive certain benefits, such as access to articles a few hours before non-partners. However, access to the site is free, so what they are really paying for, says founder Ignacio Escolar, is to support high-quality watchdog  journalism that is free of political influence. Although these users represent only 2 tenths of 1 percent of the 6 million monthly users, they are enough to provide 570,000 euros and a third of the annual revenues (his financial report to readers, in Spanish). The site has a staff of 40, and growing.
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