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JA Interview: Fresh ideas for publishers from beyond the usual suspects. The promise of real-time storytelling to up community donation and profitability

July 25, 2012 in Blog, Community, Revenue

AJ LeonAJ Leon, co-founder of the creative marketing company Misfit, Inc., opens up to the possibilities in Kaniche, Malawi.
Courtesy Misfit, Inc.

Journalism Accelerator

Last week, Robert Burns Nixon, CFO of the San Francisco Fashion and Merchants Alliance, highlighted here several fashion industry best practices that might work well in publishing too. For example, getting direct feedback on concepts before going into full production, and holding trademarked events.

For more business insights from beyond the usual suspects, we invited AJ Leon, co-founder of Misfit, Inc. to, as Robert did, read the JA forums on local and niche news held earlier this year and respond. AJ offers insights where he sees promise for publishers to gain greater revenue, deepen connections and capitalize on the power of immediacy. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Misfit, Inc., started because it fulfilled a dream. AJ and Melissa Leon wanted to travel. They also wanted to do creative work for causes they support. So AJ left banking and Melissa left teaching. Slowly but steadily, they built a business that develops creative media campaigns all over the world. They are dipping into publishing now too, with a planned e-guide to renting out your home using Air BNB and a new multimedia arts journal. Before offering thoughts on business approaches he’s taken that might be useful to publishers, AJ found plenty to learn in the JA conversations on sustaining local and niche news. Read the rest of this entry →

Easy to use index: Find emerging practices, publisher techniques and revenue forum how-to tips

March 21, 2012 in Blog, Community, Distribution, Revenue

Journalism Accelerator

Publishers taking part in the recent JA forums on increasing revenue to news sites created a dynamic conversation. And since it was on JA’s forum platform designed with a shelf life, all that shared knowledge is still available for you. Both threads – on local and on niche news sites – generated around 300 comments, with nearly 50 participants over the couple day run. The threads are well worth a read. Here we have organized and indexed much of the conversation to surface the richness of these ideas, insights and hard earned experience so it’s easy for you to peruse by topic.

Read what you need now; come back when you are looking for something else. And remember, one of the greatest resources here is the people who were involved. Just click on anyone’s name to find out more about that person, including how to connect.

The aim of our double-header forum was to create a record of some of the knowledge that news publishers have built up, many working several years in a disrupted market. The focus: how to make money in the new world of news. We divided the two-day conversation into two streams, local news and niche news sites. If any consensus emerged, it is this: Know your audience first. Then figure out which of the many possible sources of revenue works to engage them. Read the rest of this entry →

Part 1: Emerging practices from revenue forum bundle local and niche publisher secrets for success

March 21, 2012 in Blog, Community, Distribution, Revenue

Emerging practices across revenue streams

Sustainable Journalism Forum -- Visit Page for Day 2

Check out some of the participants who joined in to share their take. The sum of the parts offered in this emerging practices module surfacing over two days of top notch conversation.

Click on a headline to see the comment in context of the full conversation. Want to see more comments from a particular participant, see a person’s website, or follow them on Twitter? Each name links you to that person’s JA profile, with background info, expertise and ways to connect.

Also check out How-tos of Business Basics, culled from the same two-day forum, Philosophical Discussions in the thread and Quoteable Moments for a chuckle or a moment of inspiration.

Revenue streams topic index

Advertising: Beyond the basics

Mix ads with other
We pursue (1) Advertising – it’s the gateway for small business (2) Sponsorships – medium companies and organizations can sponsor entire content channels such as Environment; (3) Ancillary business services, principally photography and websites (two things we’re already doing to publish the news site). Key insight: one revenue stream alone will not support your hyperlocal. – Hal Goodtree, Cary Citizen Read the rest of this entry →

Part 2: How-tos from revenue forum bundle local and niche publisher tactics for sustainability

March 21, 2012 in Blog, Community, Distribution, Revenue

Sustainable Journalism Forum -- Visit page for day 1

Check out some of the participants who joined in to share their take. The sum of the parts offered in this how-to module surfacing over two days of top notch conversation.

How-tos of basic business practices

Does managing a sales staff stretch your comfort zone? What are all the different products you offer? How much do you pay for paper clips? The content here distilled from the recent JA forum on increasing revenue, where publishers running local and niche news sites shared what they’ve learned about being small business owners.

Click on a headline to see the comment in context of the full conversation. Want to see more comments from a particular participant, see a person’s website, or follow them on Twitter? Each name links you to that person’s JA profile, with background info, expertise and ways to connect.

You might also enjoy Emerging Practices around a range of revenue options from advertising to underwriting. Philosophical Discussions surfaces deep thinking in the thread and Quoteable Moments offers smart one liners capturing some of the sentiments of publishing in this disruptive time.

How-tos topic index

Business models | Tracking demographics | Finding good freelancers | Doing or managing sales | Staying sane | Saving money | Selling new ideas

Part 3: Memorable quotes from revenue forum reveal perspective and promise

March 21, 2012 in Blog, Community, Distribution, Revenue

Quotable Moments

Quick takes, capturing earned insight from publishers day-to-day discoveries shared in the JA’s two-day forum on increasing revenue. Wise quotes from these experienced folks, to inspire a conversation or words worthy of taping on your office wall. Want to respond? Click on the first few words to read the full comment in context, patiently allowing the page to render and deliver you in line, on point.

To free the conversation up to evolve over time, the forums remain open, so you can add your thoughts to the comment thread as the topics tackled continue to unfold. Or if you would rather go direct to a dialogue. Find background and ways to connect with any of these publishers. Just click on a name and jump to that person’s JA profile. You might also want to check out Emerging Practices around a range of revenue-accekerating options from advertising to underwriting, How-Tos of Basic Business Practices, or Philosophical Discussions, all distilled out of the two-day JA revenue forum. Read the rest of this entry →

JA sustainability forum deconstructed: Publishers dish revenue models, tactics and cautions

March 15, 2012 in Blog, Community, Revenue

Journalism AcceleratorYou’re starting a news site to fill a community need. Or you’ve been running one for years; now you want to stabilize income, maybe expand. The recent double-header JA forum on increasing revenue to news sites aimed to capture and share the invaluable running-a-business know-how that news publishers create through their work every day.

The two-day conversation discussed first the needs of local, then of niche news sites. Here we distill both rich comment threads to showcase publisher experiences and emerging best business practices in three key areas: partnerships, advertising, and other sources of revenue.

A hat tip to Cary Citizen publisher Hal Goodtree for this pointed forum takeaway: “One revenue stream alone will not support your hyperlocal.” Seems obvious, maybe. But how do you get to seven different revenue streams, like Oakland Local? Or develop a reputation for training that pays your investigative reporting bills? Or use social media consulting to bring in ad revenue?

A recent survey of Investigative News Network and Block by Block members found that publishers put sixty percent of their budgets toward journalism and less than twenty percent to generating revenue. “That mix does not bode well for creating financial stability,” writes Janet Coats, manager of The Patterson Foundation’s New Media Journalism Initiative. (Full disclosure: The JA receives TPF support.) So what does?

The ideas and experiences shared over two days of intense conversation in the recent JA forum on increasing revenue offer many insights into building financial stability. The takeaways fit into three overarching themes, each central to business success: partnerships, advertising and non-ad sources of revenue. Dig into what interests you now, come back later for more. The conversation threads also remain open discover more insights and add your experience. Read the rest of this entry →

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.” Read the rest of this entry →