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A news website brings current events to its audience that can be told from a variety of angles. For example, some websites tell the news with a financial spin, or they offer a clear right- or left-leaning tone. Offering a unique point of view is one of the best ways to draw attention to your website over your competitors.
Who is this business right for?
Owners should not only keep up with the news, but also want to influence and entertain an audience as to what’s going on in the world. Owners should also have some expertise. For example, a climate change scientist who wants to cover stories about political change in different countries. Starting a news website doesn't have to involve flying to different places in the nation or the world, but owners should have some mobility and connections when it comes to getting a fresh take on a story.
What happens during a typical day at a news website?
A news website owner may have the following tasks in their day:
- Finding/writing stories
Maintaining social media channels
What is the target market?
Online target markets can vary, but can include liberals, conservatives, investors, or intellectuals. Many busy professionals today are looking for easily digestible news that can be easily accessed and consumed.
How does a news website make money?
News websites usually make money based from those who advertise on the pages. Advertisers can post their products or services on the side of news stories, and then pay a fee every time a reader clicks on their ad or buys their product. The more interest the advertisers get from your audience, the more you can charge for each click.
Owners may want to consider putting up a paywall instead of doing advertisements. A paywall essentially asks your readers to contribute their own money for the stories. Paywalls can be dangerous because the news can be easily found online for free. However, there is a growing demographic of people who are tired of slow-loading sites because of all the advertisements on a page. If your content is addictive enough, using a paywall may be a smart way to make money.
What is the growth potential for a news website?
Growth potential in a news website can be slow, especially when first getting started. Some people caution that no one should create a news website with the hopes of making money. Most people already have a trusted source for their news, which can make it difficult for them to switch brands. However, there are plenty of passion projects that have skyrocketed to success by building up a loyal online audience over time.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful news website?
Strong writing skills are imperative for getting started. Even if you hire a team of writers, you need to be able to spot talent and a strong voice before even putting up a Help Wanted ad. Websites are extremely competitive, and it takes a lot of drive and talent to make one stand out.
What are the costs involved in opening a news website?
The cost to get started are extremely low. Services like SquareSpace offer newcomers the chance to design, host, and maintain their website for pennies a day. You may also want to advertise your news website on related blogs or sites as well. Advertising costs vary from site to site, but usually average around $.15 paid to the proprietor of the site for every click.
What are the steps to start a news website?
Once you're ready to start your news website, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:
- Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
- Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your news website is sued.
- Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
- Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your news website keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
- Set up business accounting. Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
- Obtain necessary permits and licenses. Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
- Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
- Define your brand. Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
- Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Where can I find a business mentor?
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Recommended: Fizzle.co offers video courses and a supportive online community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Try one month membership for free.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a news website?
Look for niches that currently are not being filled that also happen to fit your own ideals. For example, you may want to start a news site devoted completely to covering virtual currency. Writing for a very specific audience can be one of the best possible ways to distinguish yourself from other websites. Use social media and other free resources to try to build your audience, and advertise where you know your audience will be. For example, if you’re writing solely for investors, partner with an blog that gives advice about the best ways to optimize a portfolio.
How to promote & market a news website
Besides advertising on related websites, one of the best ways to promote your website is to create content that’s worth sharing. The more people share your content, the more likely it is that your website will show up in the top slots on search engines. You can also use social media sites like Twitter to post articles to interested parties under relevant trending hashtags.
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How to keep customers coming back
Keep customers coming back with up-to-date, accurate coverage that gives the reader the right context. Many people today are looking for insight as well as information today, so offer them your expertise for a greater chance at making an impression.
How and when to build a team
Unless you’re able to get investors on your side before you open, you should probably not hire anyone until you have enough revenue to justify anyone on the payroll. However, you may be able to hire fledgling writers to help you get started without having to dip into your budget. Some writers who are looking to get started may be willing to trade compensation for a byline. The more exposure and samples your writers get, the more they can use that experience in their future endeavors. You can either pay them when the site begins to make money, or offer them a share in the company.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a reviews business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, check out our informative guide, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Trademark & Copyright Protection
If you are developing a unique product, concept, brand, or design, it is prudent to protect your rights by registering for the appropriate trademarks and copyrights.
The nature of legal requirements in distance education is ever changing, especially in regards to copyright laws. Here is a frequently updated resource, which can help keep you aware of the legal requirements.
How much can you charge customers?
How much you charge will be heavily dependent on your audience. The Wall Street Journal famously has a paywall, and they charge more than $400 for a yearly subscription. If you choose to use advertisers rather than charge your customers, you may be able to charge closer to $.50 a click or more if you can grow your audience.
What are the ongoing expenses for a news website?
Website owners may have to pay for the following:
- Advertising costs
Writer salaries and fees
Cost of travel/expert opinions
How much profit can a news website make?
Runaway successes can be extremely profitable. The Drudge Report has extremely low operating costs, and may generate up to $15 million of profit a year according to some estimates. TheSkimm is another success that delivers news to their audience’s emails, as well as having a rich website filled with informative facts. Due to their subscriber list, they can charge up to $100 for every thousand impressions. With 1.5 million subscribers, their profits can be substantial. However, it should be noted that these are anomalies in this industry.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Increase your profits by selling your own related merchandise (e.g., T-shirts, hats, etc.) or by holding events for your audience. You may want to start your own convention where people can get together to discuss and review recent current events. News websites can start movements on either a local or a national level that can ultimately take a business to the next level.