With the rise of digital media, the way we look at revenue has changed. It diversified the channels of gathering revenue. With micropayments and secure payment gateways, we see more users trust online transactions. Consumers want access to quick news. While there’s definite opportunity for digital-first journalism outfits to attract new readers, digital publishing still comes with its challenges. Monetisation is one of them.
In order to make money from your news website, there are a few things to know, primarily about all the revenue streams that are out there, and which specific revenue streams would work for your brand and content strategy. Making sufficient revenue will take time, however with persistent efforts and risk management, revenue strategies can be mastered. Remember how even the founders of Berkeleyside, the gold-standard for local news publishing online, had to wait 18 months before they could start making decent numbers.
Local news websites today make the larger 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.
Start with the basics. Ensure your content is right. This is key for subscriptions, memberships and overall brand. Focus on the content that is of interest to your users
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 take your time with it. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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