Use advertising to your advantage

One of the major questions about news startups is where to get money. Entrepreneurial journalists worry about where to get the initial startup costs, how to pay for web development, hiring new employees and the conflict of interest they might have in writing about their advertisers.

This week, we read chapter two of Mark Briggs’ book, Entrepreneurial Journalism. This chapter, entitled, “Get inspired by success,” features many prominent and successful people who have created sustainable news startups. Some are based on certain topics like art or the environment, and some cover hyperlocal areas, but they all started with an idea, then faced financial challenges that the creators had to figure out.

The chapter outlined three options for this type of journalist to consider when it comes to advertising.

1. People will pay for quality content, but it is not a direct connection. The website operator can claim an audience once one is established from consistent quality, which appeals to advertisers.

2. Be truthful and upfront, and the money will come to you. Advertisers will come to terms with the fact that you may cover them in your news stories, but as long as you remain transparent about who is funding the site, your readers will trust you and remain loyal.

3. Experiment. Try a new business model. If the first one doesn’t work, try a different one. The money doesn’t all have to come from one place. Maybe a mixture of advertising and subscriptions would be best for your site.

I like the ideas that these three theories present. It seems that if they are used in conjunction with one another, they could prove to be profitable.

The chapter also addressed the idea that ads should pertain to the reader and the content. They products and services should be helpful to the readers, not something that they aim to avoid. Ads should be incorporated into the stories and should refer readers to some goods that they are interested in or are relevant to the information.

Check out TreeHugger, which Briggs mentions in the chapter and which aims to serve readers with appropriate ads.

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5 thoughts on “Use advertising to your advantage

  1. Christi,
    There was one specific point you made in your post that I really wanted to point out. You said that the tips, when used in conjunction with one another, could definitely prove helpful in the long run. I think that’s such an important point to make– that although you could argue the effectiveness of the individual tips on their own, when used together as a system, they could be very helpful. I think that applies to a lot of different situations in web analytics as well. One number might show you a small piece of the puzzle, but understanding the big picture is infinitely more helpful in figuring out what is helpful and what isn’t. Obviously, as you pointed out, the same applies to advertising models, as well as with other aspects of the journalism industry. Good post with some good insight!

  2. I’m glad you did a post on this topic because I was inspired by the chapter as well, and I thought it had great advice for starting an online news site. I think the three things that you point out in your post are the most important aspects when it comes to securing advertising, which will hopefully mean financial sustainability. I also agree that they should be used together to be effective.

    I think one of the interesting things in your post is that the advertising should match the overall theme or content on the site. TreeHugger is a great example, and I see a lot of blogs that I follow have this same method of advertising. For example, most of the fashion blogs have fashion or beauty ads. So, I think many are catching on to this trend that Briggs discusses. Since advertising is the main source blogs have to continue to provide content, the advertising should draw readers in and make them want to invest or learn more. I wouldn’t want to go to TreeHugger and see ads from Zappos or something random. Good job with pointing that out!

    • Thanks for giving another example with fashion blogs and their ads. Although, they might want to be careful, because I am easily distracted by shoes, and I just might leave the blog to go shopping!

  3. Pingback: Near and dear to my heart | Read, Write, Edit

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