Developing a new methodology for reader revenues in journalism

I am keen to help independent journalism outlets optimise their revenue diversification strategies. A focussed portfolio of revenue streams is a critical part of that. Knowing that for community-driven news organisations, reader revenue is an increasingly popular business strategy I have been developing a new methodology to better understand and explore ways to convert audience relationships into revenues. I have written here about the process of developing the Reader Revenue Toolkit.

Reader Revenue Toolkit during the editing and final layout process

The toolkit offers a springboard to explore the different stages of readiness that organisations need to be at as a relation with their community, content and business development to make the different reader revenues work. It is iterative and non-linear while still providing a logical framework.

The Relationship Diagnostic happens on the first side. Here users explore and evaluate your reader relationships around an ACTIVE framework that covers audience, content, trust, ideals, values and engagement. They deepen their understanding and stress-test assumptions about where their audience relationships are thriving or struggling. Working in pairs or alone they make notes and quickly score performance on a 0–3 scale from wobbly to winning.

The Revenue Design section then offers a new methodology to translate this focus on relationships into revenues. The user orientates reader revenues against relationship depth. There are model shapes corresponding to four main types of revenues — micropayments, subscriptions, membership models then cooperative or crowdfunded investments. Taking the scores from the relationship diagnostic section allows a visual comparison via a hexagonal heat map onto revenues that might work. The user identifies how to convert relationships into revenues and suggests revenue strategies to explore, expand and exploit. There is scope to expand and develop this section much further but the four groupings offer a perspective on those revenue streams which are transactional and passive compared to those which are engaged and require more investments.

The toolkit will be alpha tested in Budapest in November for the Engaged Journalism Accelerator then hopefully with other media executives in Europe.

Niche revenue models for independent media. Business. Resilience. Diversification. Innovation. @cecook www.mediainnovationstudio.org www.clarecookonline.com

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