UK independents and hyperlocals: expect to earn £14-£19k a year

Who is making any money from news as an independent publisher?

Since benchmark data was gathered by academics in 2014 on annual income for independent and hyperlocal media in the UK, I’ve been keeping a close eye on what are realistic returns. Most are one-man bands or small teams, operating on self-service platforms such as Wordpress complemented with social media. With average monthly unique users of 30,000, they are an increasingly vibrant and concrete part of the UK media ecosystem. But what are realistic earnings?

The benchmarking data in 2014 was produced by Williams, A., Barnett, S., Harte, D., & Townend, J. The state of hyperlocal community news in the uk: Findings from a survey of practitioners. Birmingham City University, University of Westminster, Cardiff University, Arts and Humanities research council, Creative Citizens. The same data has been used in many book chapters and journal articles since. Out of a sample of 62, the authors found 23 sites generated less than £100 and 14 generated £1000+ per month. That puts a possible annual income at £12,000: but for a minority

In 2016, I did a study on hyperlocal revenues with Kathryn Geels and Piet Bakker as part of the Destination Local programme looking at revenue models in the UK and Europe. 10 earned less than £25,000 and three more than £100,000.

As part of a project on innovating revenue models for hyperlocals in the UK I’ve since been squirrelling away on data. In December 2018, of 23 independent and hyperlocals the average annual income was £24,741: although six did not earn anything. A true average of all 29 puts annual income at £19,622.

My latest data is a sample of 41 independent and hyperlocal UK media from January this year. Then, the median was £14, 603 (there were too many outliers to create an average).

What does this tell me? If you are in a position to take a major hit for a couple of years while you build up a site, there’s every chance you could take a decent yet moderate wage running an independent or hyperlocal site if you keep operations lean.

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

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