SXSW – Successful Journalism Startups: Global Lessons

Takeaways from Pekka Pekkala’s sustainable journalism business models talk:

Visit http://www.submojour.net/ for more info. This is a database of for-profit news sites that make money.

Top findings from case studies of profitable journalism startups:

1. This is not a new thing: The average age of money-making web sites is 6+ years (worldwide).

2. Advertising rules: 75%of people interviewed said they make more than 75% of their revenues from advertising. Most journalists sell the ads themselves. They sell weekly or monthly ads rather than CPM-based ads. Avoid Google AdSense.

3. Make money as a consultant. You can earn 3x as much money as you do as a journalist. But make sure you are an expert.

4. Host events.

5. Syndication.

6. Be frugal. WordPress is by far the most popular publishing platform — but learn basic tech skills.

7. Be entrepreneurial: Think about the money from day one.

8. People don’t pay for content…but they are happy to support a cause: This is true in the US, but perhaps not in other countries.

9. Find your niche. Based on geography, taste, interest, or point of view…

10. Pay your contributors: Free citizen journalism is the exception, not the norm. 1 out of 10 contributors stay more than a couple of months, and those people hardly ever write again. You invest so much time and money in training people.

11. It’s about community: It’s not about you. The people who create content have to be a part of the community. (The Patch.com turnover rate was so high that new editors were not able to form relationships with the people they covered.)

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