Niche news publishing: “No one shoe fits all.”

February 29, 2012 in Blog, Craft, Experiments, Revenue

Journalism Accelerator

Little shoe big foot -- Journalism Accelerator Forum

Image credit: Lars Christensen - Fotolia

Go deep, not wide, in content and audience. That’s my quick overall takeaway from today, Day Two of our forum on sustainable journalism. Today’s conversation focused on particular opportunities for niche sites.

Let’s start with this question, and a thanks to the Oregonian News Network’s Cornelius Swart for posing it:

Who if any have done or understood the demographics of their audience before they launched their projects. Of those out there in the niche world, who has done a media audit since they launched? Are people just pricing products and seeing if they take off? Do people have a sense of audience/customer base in terms of income and consumer habits/values?”

That’s still open to answer on the forum threadBased on comments throughout the conversation, niche news sites have particular opportunities to build tight relationships with their audiences – and that is key to bringing in revenue. Rusty Coats put it this way: To monetize deep content, own the master narrative.

That is, become the voice of authority (through your coverage, of course) on a subject matter – and work diligently to hone that subject matter so that it isn’t too horizontal. Deep coverage is vertical. Readers and underwriters appreciate the focus – and that helps weed out who is NOT your audience or underwriter community.”

Whether in pursuit of ads, audience, or content, an approach that works for one niche site won’t necessarily for another, notes Street Fight’s David Hirschman. But there are plenty of tips in this thread to learn from and maybe mimic. For example:

The conversation makes it clear ads alone are not a revenue source to rely on. But if you want to get some advertising, be ready to work at it, says INN’s Kevin Davis.

… publishers need to be aware…a) that there are a number of well financed competitors that are fighting for local advertising dollars (both traditionally and non traditionally) and that b) that as a result local businesses are getting more sophisticated and c) its going to increasingly be a dogfight so be prepared to tackle this revenue stream wholeheartedly, with dedicated resources and a good plan of attack.”

Bottom line? Diane Lund of The Lund Report sayswe need to convince readers that news isn’t free.”

How? Andre Natta of Birmingham’s The Terminal says ask for supportLet readers know all the ways they can support you. And to sell content for cash instead of exposure, co-director of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting Joe Bergantino offers this: “The first step is truly believing your work is worth money.”

The entire thread is well worth a read, offering comparisons of ad platforms, discussions of premium content, and evaluations of training and social media consulting as sources of revenue. We’ll parse more from both today’s conversation and Tuesday’s forum on local news sites, noting themes that deserve more conversation and research.

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