Author Archives: Adam Westbrook

Next Generation Journalist: crowdfund your journalism

This series of 10 moneymaking tips for journalists began on Adam Westbrook’s blog, but continues exclusively on

Adam’s e-book, Next Generation Journalist: 10 New Ways to Make Money in Journalism is on sale now.

10. crowdfund your journalism

Crowdfunding has made it into my book even though, on the face of it, it is hardly entrepreneurial. It is however a method only possible thanks to the internet; and as you’ll read in the e-book, a method which actually requires some of the toughest entrepreneurial spirit.

The idea of crowdsourcing news stories, opinion and media isn’t that new. But the notion of crowdsourcing money is only beginning to come to fruition. The real pioneers on this have been in cinema: last year the producers of Age of Stupid funded the entire project with donations from the public.

The internet has made it easier too. In particular we’re seeing new platforms from which to launch your crowdfunding project. Spot.Us is one of the first, and currently helps to fund projects with networks in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. More recently another startup – Kickstarter – has emerged working along similar lines.

Crowdfunding your journalism…

  • has so far proved successful in print, online and cinematic projects
  • is not easy and requires strong marketing skills
  • is only possible because of the internet

But be under no illusions: crowdfunding is not an easy ride.

“You have to tell people what’s in it for them” says multimedia journalist Annabel Symington, “people want to know what their money is going to do, and saying it’s going to fund a piece of quality journalism isn’t enough.”

Along with two partners Annabel has spent the last few months using Kickstarter to raise enough money to report on the Guarani Aquifier. As with almost all of the ideas suggested in Next Generation Journalist: 10 New Ways to Make Money in 2010, crowdfunding it’s about being more than a journalist:

“Through this project I’ve become a brand designer, a social media guru, a public speaker and an event organiser. You name it, I think I’ve done it,” says Annabel.

You can find out more about the Guarani Project here, and more about the ins and outs of crowdfunding in the ebook.

And that wraps up the 10 new ways to make money in journalism in 2010. If you’ve been inspired by any of them you can find out how to make them happen inside the ebook – on a discount price until 27 May.

Next Generation Journalist: the portfolio career

This series of 10 moneymaking tips for journalists began on Adam Westbrook’s blog, but continues exclusively on from today.

Adam’s e-book, Next Generation Journalist: 10 New Ways to Make Money in Journalism is on sale now.

09. the portfolio career

Here’s a key thing about the Next Generation Journalist which separates them from the rest of the crowd: they have more than one stream of income.

This is a new way of adapting to freelancing life in the 21st century, where journalists need to be more than a sole traders pitching ideas to every editor in town. They should be their own business, with their own brand and a multitude of revenue streams.

The Portfolio Career, or as some call it in other fields the Renaissance Career, was much more difficult before the internet. The web makes it easier and cheaper both to set up a business and to maintain more than one. The web has also made it easier to develop a passive income: the right business ideas can bring in money without a proportional amount of work.

A portfolio career is a great option for journalists because it enables us to use our different skills in different ways. I know radio newsreaders who have a sideline doing voice over work, a reporter who designs websites in her spare time; there are journalists who teach, train, lecture and sell stuff online. You can play at Mr. Bet casino online at the link on your phone. To do this you will need to download and install the application on your phone. This format has all the same bonuses, promotions, offers and games as the regular version. Installing the Mr Bet casino app on your phone is completely free.

The portfolio career…

  • provides you with more than one revenue stream, protecting you from unemployment or a quiet month
  • allows you to pursue several passions at the same time
  • is now easier than ever thanks to the internet

To make this work you’ll need a good brand and a good portfolio presence on the web, two things covered in detail in Next Generation Journalist.

It’s something young people are already familiar with. A survey called Creative Graduates, Creative Futures published in January 2010 questioned 3,500 UK students on creative or media courses: 48% of them had already developed a portfolio career, while studying!

Those who do it say it’s very fulfilling. Nick Williams is a London based career coach who helps people develop their own portfolio careers. “We can design our portfolio life to give us space and time in which to reflect” he says “and in which to start developing new projects, products and services.”

To find out more about Next Generation Journalist: 10 New Ways to Make Money in Journalism – click here.

Next Generation Journalist: how to make hyperlocal work

This series of 10 moneymaking tips for journalists began on Adam Westbrook’s blog, but continues exclusively on 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 –  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, 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’s upcoming event: news:rewired – the nouveau niche. Follow the link to find out more.

Next generation journalist: make no new content!

This series of 10 moneymaking tips for journalists began on Adam Westbrook’s blog, but continues exclusively on 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.

07. aggregate the news

If you get a chance, watch this short documentary by Kate Ray about web 3.0 – what might eventually follow what we now call Web 2.0.

In it, journalism professor Clay Shirky says this:

“If I was going to set up a news business tomorrow, it would be a business designed to create not one bit of content.”

Problem with the internet these days is that it’s too big. There’s too much stuff, thanks to all those pesky bloggers, flickr users, tweeters and facebookers. How do we find what we want among all the noise?

Cue a potentially profitable window for the Next Generation Journalist – aggregating, filtering, sorting, editing content for a particular group of people within a particular niche.

Some of the most popular news websites on the net do this very well already: sites like Mashable and TechCrunch (and of course!) aggregate hundreds of articles every week, as well as adding their own, and make money in the process.

These three sites have something else in common, they all serve very particular niches, niches with new content flooding the internet everyday. There is a demand among the people within each niche for a collection of the best, the newest and the most interesting.

So here’s the business idea: you identify a profitable niche, with a well defined target audience, where the airwaves are constantly being filled with news, comment and analysis. You set up a site to aggregate this content, a process you can do yourself at first and eventually automate with software like Yahoo Pipes. You build a mailing list of subscribers, to whom you send a daily or weekly newsletter summing up the big stories, perhaps adding some editorial content too. Of course, your newsletter is sponsored, bringing in more cash.

From there, events, products, and a whole host of other tricks, all covered in Next Generation Journalist.

Aggregating the news….

  • solves a big problem within a defined target market – organising relevant information
  • if done well, can turn your website into the go-to place for news on a particular subject or issue
  • can eventually become a mostly automated service, freeing up time to pursue other projects, while still generating revenue

There’s just two days to go until the ebook goes in sale. If you’re signed up early, there’s a discount to be had…

Working in a niche or interested in doing so? Looking for new ideas for specialist journalism? Attend’s upcoming event: news:rewired – the nouveau niche. Follow the link to find out more.

Next Generation Journalist: leverage your expertise

This series of 10 moneymaking tips for journalists began on Adam Westbrook’s blog, but continues exclusively on 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.

06. become an ‘infopreneur’

The business model for journalism has always looked a little bit like this: 1) research and collect information about things the public want or need to know about 2) publish that information and sell it to them or 3) charge advertisers to promote their products along side that information.

In other words, journalism has always been about making money from information or expertise. In the new digital information age we should still be exploiting that model. But we’re not.

What is an infopreneur? Put simply, it’s someone who packages and sells information. You’d think that would come naturally to journalists. Instead journalists have struggled to profit from their information in the digital age.

The Next Generation Journalist sees opportunity in the affordability and ease of finding and publishing information online and exploits that.

The internet and the ‘information economy’ we find ourselves in means two things:

  • 1. finding things out is easier and cheaper than it ever has been.
  • 2. packaging and publishing that information is equally cheap and easy

The Next Generation Journalist uses both of these facts to develop exciting new entrepreneurial ventures.

Becoming an infopreneur…

  • is easier than it ever has been in history
  • allows you to build a brand and reputation as a leader in a field you are passionate about
  • enables you to package your expertise in different ways for money

But I’m not an expert!

That’s the natural first instinctive reply. Here’s the amazing thing: it is actually quite easy to become an expert in certain areas. Firstly, the word ‘expert’ is a relative term, it requires you to know more than most people in your field and to develop strategic contacts, but no longer requires a qualification or letters after your name (except, of course, for things like medicine and law).

Secondly, the process requires you to research key resources and share that with the world on a blog or website, build a community (that’s really important), and then start to produce products for that community. Those products can be ebooks, audio downloads, week long e-courses, or physical products like books or DVDs.

Nick Williams, who launched Inspired Entreprenuer, a website built on the same principal, says journalists are perfectly placed to enter this field.

“Many journalists are fantastic at being able to grasp large areas of information…and being able to distill them down to their essence” he says. “Those skills will really be in demand in the world to come.”

Click here to find out more.

Next Generation Journalist: Ignore the mobile app market at your peril

This series of 10 moneymaking tips for journalists began on Adam Westbrook’s blog, but continues exclusively on 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.

05. develop news apps for mobiles

By the end of last year more than 41 million smartphones had been sold worldwide. That’s 41 million potential customers if you can create the right product, which is why it’s one of the new career paths the Next Generation Journalist would be stupid to ignore.

The iPhone, iPad, Nexus, Blackberry and Android: there’s no doubt the mobile market is a massive one. And it’s one we’re already seeing many journalists step into. Larger organisations like CNN, the Guardian and NPR have all developed popular apps for users. We’re also seeing smaller startups move into this area too.

Apps don’t just have to deliver hard news, they can also provide useful public services such as crime data.

The business model might work like this: you take publicly available information like crime stats, authority information, traffic data etc., craft it into a useful and easy to use app and sell it. If it adds value to peoples’ lives, they’ll buy it, and that is the test your idea will have to pass.

Apps also benefit from a double sell: you can charge users a small amount for the app itself, and then if you’re providing fresh content within it, you can charge a subscription fee to use it too.

Developing apps for mobiles…

  • gives you experience in an area hardly any journalists are familiar with
  • can be satisfying to work on as a journalist if you create the right product
  • can potentially make a lot of money (it’s a huge market don’t forget)
  • once the product is created and on sale, it brings in money with zero effort (allowing you to pursue other work)

The key point I get across in the ebook is that you don’t need to know code to make an app. If you have the killer idea you can outsource the design and the coding parts to either specialist companies or talented individuals.

Click here to find out more.

Why the Third Sector offers a new way for journalists

Why did you go into journalism?

For lots of us, it probably had something to do with the chance to tell stories that matter, uncover unreported tragedies, make a difference to society – and make some money too.

It doesn’t take long at any news desk for this fantasy to be beaten out of most of us; and as for the money part, well it would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.

But what if you could make money and travel the world reporting social and humanitarian issues? What about a chance to scratch that Pulitzer itch?

Well, meet the journalists who are actually making that happen: the photojournalists, print reporters and multimedia producers who’ve found a new market in NGOs and other businesses – and are producing run-away content for it.

The NGO market is a perfect example of what entrepreneurial journalism evangelists mean when they talk about ‘thinking laterally’ and ‘finding new business models’. For a start it’s a large sector, with a huge variety of possible customers – from massive charities like the RNIB, Oxfam and Medecins Sans Frontiers, to the smallest non-profits looking for multimedia storytelling. It’s a sector with access to amazing stories, stories which benefit both the journalist (hello awesome portfolio!) and the charity itself.

And this market has emerged at the time when non-profits are desperately looking for new ways to connect to possible sponsors and fundraisers, not to mention getting their cause open to a wider public.

So, who are the big players? Businesses are already established in the UK and Europe, but it won’t surprise you to learn the US is where it’s really taken off.


Founded in New York by Multimedia Producer Brian Storm, MediaStorm is actually 15 years old, created as part of a university project in 1996. It was brought back to life in 2005, “with a focus on creating cinematic narratives for distribution across a variety of platforms.”

And its cinematic approach is certainly what makes it stand out from the crowd. MediaStorm’s team of photojournalists, audio editors and visual producers are known for producing slick multimedia projects for newspapers and non-profit organisations, and packing a punch.

And for their efforts, they have no fewer than three Emmys on their shelves and even more nominations; reckon you could win an Emmy in your job in the mainstream media?

MediaStorm’s success owes in part to a business model which doesn’t rely solely on journalistic or third sector commissions. As well as selling DVDs, and even T-Shirts on their website, they own a slice of the lucrative ‘multimedia training workshop‘ pie.


Following closely behind are smaller but equally impressive outfits, including Story4 and Weyo.

The latter, formed by Christoper Tyree and Stephen M Katz, has a twelve-strong team, the majority of which work on projects for domestic American charities.

Their pitch is based on an ability to convey stories “through compelling visual and narrative journalism” and they work under the agreeable slogan: “for people to act, they must truly believe”.

A secret to Weyo’s business model is Katz and Tyree’s bootstrapping approach to starting the company. Tyree told PDN Online last year that they invested $15,000 in the business, mostly on equipment.

Bombay Flying Club

Running away with the award for best name for a multimedia company is Danish/Canadian collective, Bombay Flying Club.

They describe themselves as an ‘audio visual production house’ with a speciality not just in photojournalism and multimedia but in flash design and post production. A mixed bag of clients includes the New York Times, Globe and Mail newspapers and small charities, including Dan Church Aid.

In the last year, the small team of three core photojournalists have produced stories in Ethiopia, India and Afghanistan, and on a business level they likely benefit from being an international collective with potential clients in Europe and North America.

Their business model is bolstered by sponsorship from Canon, and they’re often seen training others around the world, including a Photojournalism Workshop in Istanbul in June.


Flying the British flag is the small but ambitious outfit Duckrabbit. Founded by former BBC radio producer Ben Chesterton and photojournalist David White, their clients include charity Medicins Sans Frontiers.

Chesterton and White also sell their experience and knowledge in the form of training workshops for photographers and even for the non-profits themselves.

Passionate about both the third sector and letting those involved tell their own stories, Duckrabbit’s work has taken them to Sri Lanka, Kenya and most recently Bangladesh to report on Climate Change. A recent high-profile commission for Medecins Sans Frontiers gained much praise.

The growing numbers of laid-off journalists (and those thinking more as entrepreneurs) indicates that this is a sector which is only going to grow. With charities’ tight budgets, its money making potential is limited to a certain extent – but right now it’s paying more than papers, and it allows the right journalists to pursue both a financially and creatively rewarding new career path.

Inspired? LiveBooks produced a practical guide to entering this arena in summer 2009 – click here for more.

(Disclaimer: I am an occasional blogger for Duckrabbit)