Practical advice about how to build a stronger, more sustainable news business
Planning for revenue growth ft. Tom Lappas and Simon Owens
There are more revenue options than ever available to local independent publishers, from selling ads to launching a membership program to holding events to publishing sponsored content. Of course, having more options also means having to make more decisions — and creating more opportunities for a revenue stream to fail. In this episode, our host Candice Fortman talks with LION member Tom Lappas and news business expert Simon Owens about how publishers can determine the right revenue sources for their business and avoid learning the hard way that a monetization strategy wasn’t a good fit.
Tom Lappas is founder and publisher of the Henrico Citizen in central Virginia, and Simon Owens is a longtime journalist, marketer, and PR professional who hosts The Business of Content podcast and publishes Simon Owens’s Tech and Media Newsletter on Substack.
The Independent News Sustainability Summit in Austin this October will feature sessions on planning for growth, assessing revenue opportunities, launching advertising and sponsorships, growing advertising and sponsorships, optimizing your audience funnel and other revenue topics.
The News Entrepreneur Academy includes a lesson on Launching a New Revenue Stream, and later this month we plan to add a new Evaluating Growth Opportunities course that will provide frameworks for identifying different revenue opportunities and deciding whether an idea is worth pursuing.
The LION-GNI Sustainability Audits and Funding program offers personalized business advice and up to $6,000 of funding to help independent publishers build more sustainable businesses. The deadline to apply for the next round of audits is Oct. 10.
Sign up for the LION newsletter for more insights, tips and resources to help independent news publishers plan for revenue growth.
News Guest is a production of LION Publishers, the only professional association solely focused on helping publishers build and grow more sustainable independent news business in the U.S. and Canada. This episode is hosted produced and edited by Jenna Spinelle, with editorial support from Ben DeJarnette.
Know (and grow) your audience ft. Anita Li and Rebekah Monson
One of the hardest parts of running an independent news business is building an audience from scratch, especially if you’re trying to do it on a shoestring budget. In this episode of News Guest, host Candice Fortman of Outlier Media is joined by two guests who have worked deep in the weeds of audience strategy to talk about how researching and understanding the communities you want to serve can help you grow your audience – faster.
Check out LION's News Entrepreneur Academy for a members-only course on audience research and product design led by Rebekah Monson.
Apply for the LION-GNI Sustainability Audits and Funding program for the opportunity to receive a personalized roadmap and up to $6,000 of funding to help build a stronger, more sustainable business.
Trailer: News Guest Season 2
It's almost time for Season 2 of News Guest! Candice Fortman from Outlier Media is back to host a series of conversations about some of the most important topics for local news publishers and people who follow the industry. We'll be talking about audience development, revenue, demonstrating impact, preventing burnout and so much more. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts, and look out for a new episode on the first Tuesday of every month.
Part II: What news founders wish they’d known about launching a media business
In Part I of this conversation, we talked with Santa Cruz Local founder Kara Meyberg Guzman about finding a sustainable workload and with Gettysburg Connection founder Chuck Stangor about building and managing a tech stack.
In this month’s episode, we hear from three more independent news publishers about their advice for first-time founders:
Don’t wait to file your IRS paperwork. If you plan to operate your business as a nonprofit, Shasta Scout founder Annelise Pierce warns that it can take a long time to get official 501(c)3 status – and you might need to find a fiscal sponsor in the meantime.
Start thinking about revenue early. RevLab director Emily Dresslar says founders should build a revenue strategy right out of the gate and even consider trying to get sponsors or advertisers on board before launch.
Embrace learning on the job. To close out the episode (and Season 1 of News Guest!), we turned the tables on our host Candice Fortman and asked what she’s learned since becoming executive director of Outlier Media three years ago. Her biggest lesson: There’s no way to prepare for leading a news organization for the first time. You just have to learn on the job.
Nonprofit or For-Profit — Which Model is Right for your Newsroom? by Jo Ellen Green Kaiser
5 Tips for Choosing a Fiscal Sponsor for your Newsroom by Jo Ellen Green Kaiser
Village Media, Relying on Local Advertising, Seems to Have Found a Scalable (and Profitable) Local News Model by Christine Schmidt
This episode of News Guest is sponsored by Stacker, the newswire that independent publishers trust for data-driven stories, graphics, and analysis – all at no cost. Request a demo»
Part I: What news founders wish they'd known about launching a media business
Getting an independent local news business off the ground is no small feat, and figuring out how to keep it going can be even harder. So we asked publishers: What do you wish you'd known about launching a news business before you started?
In this episode of News Guest, we talk with two LION members about their perspectives on that question and the lessons they’ve learned the hard way:
To build a sustainable news business, set a sustainable workload: Santa Cruz Local founder Kara Meyberg Guzman explains how she found herself working 80 hours a week as a news founder – and how she and her team made a plan to fix that.
Beware the plug-ins: Gettysburg Connection founder Chuck Stangor talks about building a website on WordPress and learning how to manage all the plug-ins that have become part of his “tech stack.”
Sign up for the News Founder Challenge, a six-week newsletter course that will help you test and refine your news business idea.
Read the GNI Startups Playbook, a step-by-step guide to building and launching a news business.
RSVP for LION's News Founder Meetup (March 16, 2022) to meet other aspiring and early-stage news founders and ask Kara your questions about launching a business.
How to make "solutions journalism" part of your revenue strategy
Research shows that solutions journalism can combat news fatigue, build trust with readers, and deliver more impact than reporting focused on problems alone. But can solutions journalism move the needle on revenue?
In this episode of News Guest, you’ll hear two perspectives on that question – first, from Flint Beat founder Jiquanda Johnson in an interview with our host Candice Fortman, and then from Alec Saelens, who’s the Newsroom Revenue Manager at the Solutions Journalism Network.
Read the Solutions Journalism Network's Revenue Playbook.
If you're a LION member, sign up for a one-hour workshop with SJN’s Alec Saelens to learn about practical steps you can take to attract sponsorships, grants, reader revenue and other funding to support your solutions journalism and strengthen your business.
This show helps provides valuable insight into the world of small/medium local publishers who are trying extremely hard to build sustainable journalism businesses.
Rave for News Guest
Yes I play a small role in producing this podcast, but I can objectively say that Candice Fortman is an AMAZING host, and the guests have so much insight and intel to share about the hard work of launching and growing a digital news business.