I was listening to the radio yesterday as my favorite radio personalities
interviewed Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune. They were talking about
online publishing (ie blogging) and how the printed newspapers were drying up
and dying. Clarence Page said, "You know our business model hasn't changed much
since Gutenberg invented the printing press."
Chicago Tribune and Other Newspapers are Going Online
Even the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers are going online. But, they all
are finding they can't make the same amount of money online as they do printing
newspapers. It is very clear that they are continually losing market share for
the printed paper. People are finding the information they want and need on the
Now this is both good and bad for you. As an online publisher you stand to
benefit from the trend for people to go online to read their news. To profit
from this trend you have to do a few things.
News that is Interesting
You must have news that is interesting and useful for people. This can be the
latest news about celebrities. You can find a niche market in the investing
community and keep visitors informed of the latest market trends. If you are in
a local community maybe you can provide individuals with an obituary column.
The web site, Craig's List, has really become an online classifieds. There are
many online car advertisements. Do you want to report on national news, local
news, medical news or sports news?
You can make your blog anything you want it to be. I recommend you choose a
niche such as sports, entertainment or investing rather than trying to be a
complete online source of news and information. If you try to be all things to
all people you will have a hard time competing with the CNN's, Time Magazines
and New York Times. They have complete staffs working on just a sports section.
Compete in One Niche
But, you can compete quite successfully in one little niche like basketball or
baseball. You still have to report or share information on relevant interesting
You have to choose if you are going to be a reporter of the news or a
commentator of the news. There is a place on the web for reporters and
commentators, but you shouldn't try to be both. If you find yourself drifting
into commentating on issues instead of just reporting about an event; you will
lose your credibility with your readers. When you watch 60 minutes you know
that Andy Rooney is just commenting he is not actually reporting the news.
Low Barrier to Entry
How about the bad news you mentioned up above? If you haven't already noticed
it is very easy to set up a blog. Most people can have a blog up and 5 articles
written and ready to go in about 3 hours. So, the barrier to entry for creating
an information site is very minor. If you compare that same barrier to entry
with a bricks and mortar publishing empire you see why the competition was
historically so low as a print publisher.
A printed newspaper requires huge printing presses. They need a delivery team
to make newspaper deliveries in multiple neighborhoods. They need a
subscription team to sell the newspaper to new subscribers. You and I would
have a hard time raising the kind of capital needed to create a publishing
Chicago Tribune is Losing Money
Plus, I also mentioned that the Chicago Tribune was losing money. They are not
able to bring in the revenues online as they are with a print newspaper. A
printed newspaper delivers normally to a local market. So, the companies that
advertise in these papers are companies that can be reached locally. You have
local bakeries, local car dealers, local travel agencies and even local
mortuaries selling their wares in their local neighborhood newspaper.
As soon as you get on the web you become a global news provider. On the one
hand that means you should be able to get global advertisers. But,
realistically you are still competing with larger more established online
publishers. You also begin to lose your local advertisers because local people
don't necessarily still get their news from their local online publisher. They
begin to go to more national or even world news publishers.
How You Can Compete
How can you compete? You need to provide new, interesting and relevant content
to your audience. Pick a specific niche, such as Bradley GT cars, and then
serve that niche. Tell them what is going on within the industry. Tell them
about the movers and shakers. Interview people in the industry and get photos
and images of products, people and news worthy items.
Pretty soon you will develop a following and you can sell advertising on your
web site, make it an auction tool, or even sell your blog to someone else for a
large and tidy profit.