This guide outlines proven ways to build a profitable business that DOESN'T rely solely on traffic but focuses on delivering value through cultivating a highly targeted and engaged audience.
In order to accomplish this, and frankly remain competitive, publishers must explore new and complementary ways of generating revenue that doesn't rely on the outdated and un-sustainable practices of traditional media companies or that tries to complete with the modern media giants like Google on a CPM (Cost per 1,000 impressions) basis.
To that end, this guide focuses on ways that local-focused, community-centric publishers can make money online, even before they have any meaningful traffic. as well as recommendations that allow you to grow revenue as you grow your audience. In other words, how to grow your online presence in the most profitable way possible.
While our Community Content Engine makes delivering value to advertisers and readers easier than ever, we recommend this approach to everyone and encourage people to begin adopting the strategies laid out here right away.
The key to any successful online program is the ability to build a solid foundation of revenue which allows you to reinvest in your product as you continue to build your business. The easiest way to do this is with Community Sponsors.
Community Sponsorships are a package designed specifically for early movers and those that want to be known for giving back to/supporting their community. It intentionally provides an incredible amount of value at a very reasonable price which makes it harder for advertisers to say no. It also allows you to generate a solid stream of recurring revenue that you can leverage to continue to build your digital presence.
Our recommended package includes:
Our recommended starting point for this package is $200 per month with a 6-12 month contract.
The price is justified simply by including the page in-print recognizing them as a sponsor, but when combined with the directory listing ($25 value), a snapshot banner ad ($50+ value), recognition in your email newsletter ($100+ value), the logo in the footer of your site ($100+ value) and the online promotion/sponsored content ($100+ value), then it becomes an absolute no brainer for anyone who wishes to reach your audience.
Now for those publishers that don't have a lot of traffic (and even for those that do), this sale is what we call and ego/vision type of sale. Meaning it should go something like this:
We’re starting to do some interesting things with our advertisers to help them reach more of their goals and connect with more locals online and right now we’re offering a plan that’s designed to recognize you as a local leader and help you reach an engaged audience. We’re looking for just 10 sponsors that want to support the community in a unique way and be associated with being a local leader. Is that you?
Now, if you were starting a new publication, you wouldn't spend the time and money to produce the magazine until you had pre-sold some advertising. Your digital presence should be no different and Community Sponsors should be viewed as equivalent to your first handful of advertisers.
Your goal should be to do whatever you need to do until you've "sold out" using the limited supply (8-12 spots) as a way of creating scarcity and getting potential advertisers to say "yes" quickly.
When sold out, you should now have $1,600 to $2,400 in monthly recurring revenue that can be used to invest in the next phase of your digital growth. This will empower you to create more community resources and deliver even more value to your initial customers (this is the vision referenced above).
What is an email address worth to a sposnor?
If every time the sponsor sends an email, 1% of recipients spend $50, then every 100 emails is worth $50 to them. If they send an email once per month for a year, then 100 emails is worth $600 to them ($50 x 12). Is that worth an investment of $100 to $200?
As a local publisher, banner ads are probably the least interesting thing you can sell but they are still an integral part of the digital landscape.
Have you ever had an advertiser say they wish they'd reach more people on Facebook?
Well, with the Emcee Social Feed ad you can help them reach more people from what they are already doing on social media! With 10-20 advertisers participating at $240 for the year, you can make a quick $2,400-$4,800. Not bad for the couple days it would take to sell it!
Guides and Listings are closely related functions that provide a great opportunity to help local businesses get more recognition and rank better in Google.
Unlike directories like Yelp, as a publisher, you are uniquely able to provide more context through articles and assuming you cross-link articles to directories many of your directory listings will end up ranking quite well in Google.
When you put it all together, the resources here give you a blueprint to go from $0 to a solid digital foundation of $2,000 a month (Community Sponsorships) and from there to $40,000 in annual digital revenue by only selling out the items outlined above.