At least not starting out when your competition is big media, which still has money to burn. It struck me this summer (somewhere during year four of my adventures in journalism) that I needed to rethink how I was approaching things. I was still running around trying to do everything all on my own. I even pulled off a few issues of a print product last year. While I almost broke even with that, it really struck me that you DO need money to make money.
Having been turned down for grants (which may not have been the best thing for me as a lot of those who have gotten lots of money have either stopped or sold-out to big media) and tired of chasing investors, I had an epiphany. I needed to concentrate on making money so that I could make journalism (locally) instead of trying to make money with journalism while having no staff other than myself.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved those early years chasing stories, meeting people all over, and making a difference in small ways. Perhaps it was because sales has always been my weakness, but it was really difficult to ramp up enough to get good money from national ad networks and too time consuming to chase local money. Then I started thinking about increasing my audience in other ways – by going micro and concentrating on niches instead of geographic areas. This idea has been around forever, and I really wish I would’ve done this in the beginning, but here we are.
It also does take some money to start up websites – servers, software, etc. Luckily, I know how to do most things online myself. Maybe not great at them, but I can wrangle code and words alike, which puts me in a good spot. I’m running a Single Moms Blog, a Toys Blog, a military photos blog, and some others as well. They’re not making tons of money separately, but together they’re helping me catch up from the last four years of being broke chasing journalism. Hopefully, they’ll bring enough so that I have capital without a grant or an investor. I’ll also have a revenue stream already, so I’ll be in a really good spot soon, I believe.
There’s still a long way to go, of course, but I’ve not given up hope. I still keep my eye on big media, but they seemed to have stopped at their national Mommy Sites. At least I haven’t heard anything big out of big media except for Murdoch trading quips with Google. (rolls eyes…) And they say I say dumb things in public. Heh.
Seriously, though, things are looking up. As 2009 comes to a close and I revamp Journalism Hope (along with the rest of my online “empire”), I see even bigger things happening next year. And as soon as I have either a stream of money or a windfall (i.e. flipping a website for $$$), I’ll have reporters and salespeople. And from there the battle really begins.
Gannett, CNHI, and the rest of big media – this has been me on my own. And I’m still on my own, but things will be changing soon. This is a friendly heads-up. The people don’t like you. They don’t trust you. They don’t have an option. Soon they’ll have an option. And not a flimsy whimsy citizen journalism feel good site either, but a brand new breed of publishers starting with nothing and building something online.
Anderson Free Press continues to be my flagship, and will probably be where I drop my first reporters on the ground. We’ll see when I get there. Until then, expect some occasional thoughts about the struggle here at Journalism Hope as well as whatever else I can come up with to keep you entertained. It’s been over four years since I started. It took Benjamin Franklin 10 years to build his publishing empire. I’m no Ben Franklin, so I’m very happy with how far I’ve been able to come – starting with nothing.
If you’re out there struggling to make journalism to make money, I’m willing to help. With only ideas for now, but possibly more soon. Get in touch with me and let me know what you’ve been doing online and what you’d like help with. I really wish sometimes Placeblogger or some other site would’ve really brought the independent publishers together. But maybe that’s not meant to be yet as we all struggle to find out what works and what doesn’t.
Okay, that’s it for now. Hello – again – from the front lines of the media revolution.