This series of 10 moneymaking tips for journalists began on Adam Westbrook’s blog, but continues exclusively on Journalism.co.uk from today. Adam’s e-book, Next Generation Journalist: 10 New Ways to Make Money in Journalism will be available to download in full on 20 May.
08. set up a hyperlocal website
OK, so setting up a hyperlocal blog is hardly a new way to do things in journalism. But making money from it is pretty new and, seemingly, still pretty rare.
In the UK for example, only a handful of hyperlocal blogs, such as Ventor Blog, SR2 and SE1 are getting the sorts of eyeballs and ad revenue to make a living.
Thing is, hyperlocal is an important and (if done correctly) profitable niche for the next generation journalist; we’re just not going about it right.
Setting up a blog, writing loads of local content and hoping to bring in local ad revenue alone is a tough gig. At first you’re unlikely to get the hits you need to bring in enough cash. Google Adwords is becoming something of a byword for false promises of cash among website owners.
If you want to maximise your advertising revenue, a product like Addiply is a really good bet, and is it seems to be bringing in better results for those who use it on a local level. Advertisers could expect to pay around £30 a month, although it varies from site to site.
But I really think for a hyperlocal website to work – in fact, for any web based content product to work – the ultimate aim must be to make ad revenue as small a slice of the pie as possible.
The less your business relies on ad revenue, the less vulnerable you are to the inevitable ups and downs of the market.
Other ways to make hyperlocal work
Have a look at yesterday’s post on my blog, where I talk about a local news success story – thebusinessdesk.com. Set up by David Parkin, it now has three regional business sites in Yorkshire, the North-West and Birmingham.
Parkin told last week’s Local Heroes Conference he expects to turnover £1 million this year.
Where does the money come from? Ad revenue yes, but that’s only a part of it. Firstly, thebusinessdesk.com has a niche (local financial news) and a wealthy target audience (business people).
It has a mailing list of 37,000 subscribers who get a daily email of business news, which is sponsored. They have an iPhone app and run events.
It’s a successful model – and one which needs to be employed by hyperlocal bloggers. Don’t just process listings, and re-write press releases; become a major part of your community. Become a leader in your community.
Be the voice for those whose voices don’t get heard. Run regular events so you can meet readers face-to-face. Run pub quizzes and pocket the profits. Sell products, take a slice of restaurant bookings through your website, charge for listings. Don’t just maintain a website – build a mailing list and send them news direct to their inbox. Get that mailing list sponsored by local businesses.
If you’ve got any good stories about how you’re making hyperlocal work, I’d love to hear them.
Interested in niche and hyperlocal? Looking for new ideas for specialist journalism? Attend Journalism.co.uk’s upcoming event: news:rewired – the nouveau niche. Follow the link to find out more.