The need to diversify revenues

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In this the second part of the 6 part series looking at (editorial) contributor payment models we outline the need for publishers to diversify revenues and not become overly reliant upon advertising as a source of revenue.

Publishers should think of it as part of the long-term battle for economic viability. As members, or frequent visitors to this portal will tell you, this is a strategy that we keep returning to.

As the acclaimed novelist Bill Bryson once said,

“In order to have quality journalism you need to have a good income stream and no internet model has produced a way of generating income that would pay for good-quality investigative journalism.”

Historically, Bryson is correct. However, profit through quality journalism is achievable even in a broad interest area such as politics, sport and the arts. Businesses simply need to be targeted; be focused; add enough value; and be able to monetise content effectively.

This means (1) immersing themselves in the space they wish to occupy; (2) positioning themselves as the authority in the space; (3) garner usage; and (4) sell effectively.

A publisher in the digital media space will be successful if they do these things effectively.

Looking at the business of content from the publishers’ perspective. Diversifying revenue streams is one of the key factors in the long-term success or failure of a venture once all capital raising opportunities have been exhausted.

Having worked through boom and bust cycles in the UK, US and Australian digital economies over the past 15-20 years I quickly learnt that diversifying revenue away from purely display advertising is vital to the long-term health of a publisher. The companies that are able to diversify successfully, whilst remembering to keep things simple will increase their odds of success.

“Keep it simple, execute well” is one of the most important mantra’s to remember… and indeed used a number of times throughout this book.

Diversifying revenues away from purely advertising could mean anything from audience-based individual memberships; marketing-based corporate subscriptions; holding a regular networking event, or conference.

Alternatively, in attractive B2B verticals it could mean R&A activities, expert panels, or data-based sales.

By doing this, publishers will also be able to better invest in their lifeblood and primary IP, content.

Continue reading other articles in this series:

  • The problem with existing models
  • The need to diversify revenues
  • Better visualisations and immersive content
  • Investigating industry average numbers
  • Introducing a new contributor payment model
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