Start a media company and actually make money: 10 recommendations

by Kathy McCloud

Let’s do this in a concise list. This is my list. You can critique it for me in the comments below.

I feel that the areas we’ve covered so far in the article give us an insight into strategies we can use for building a media startup. Not every company could replicate these – native advertising will likely lose a left wing audience pretty quickly.

There are countless points which could have been made but here are my top 10 takeaways for someone wanting to start their own media company.

  1. Define your audience. Who are you targeting and why? What does this audience like and what do they not like? What do they feel strongly about and what splits the crowd? What stuff do they buy? What kinds of products are they passionate about?
  2. Understand your value. Figure out what makes you and your service different. Work out how to convey that message to your audience. Devise a way to communicate your value clearly through your services and core message.
  3. Don’t bother with print if you’re not already established. This one’s pretty simple. You can keep your operating costs low and not worry about overheads for the time being. Simply set up a WordPress and get to work.
  4. Be ambitious and tell people about it. Big projects get attention. The New European started after the Brexit vote with the goal of stopping Brexit before it was able to happen. It’s been one year now and the BBC show the front page of the New European on their newspaper headlines segment. Alex Jones wants to save the world from interdimensional reptilian pedophiles – don’t tell me that’s not ambitious.
  5. Offer a membership model. As we saw with The Canary, an audience which feels you speak for them is audience which wants to engage with you. Maybe members can influence editorial policy or get involved in equity crowdfunding for key moments of expansion? A US lefty mag, Jacobin, offers different subscription models depending on how much you earn – reinforcing their core socialist message to their readers in the process.
  6. Create some locked membership-only content. This gives your members added value while giving you the opportunity to join in partner programs with larger publications’ subscription models or joining Netflix-for-magazines services like Texture. These avenues can drive more people to your content while also picking up money from the partnerships.
  7. Use third party services to deliver high value adverts to your base. You know what products your audience like and want to buy. Tell a third party native advertising company like Hexagram and have them create content for you while you get paid for hosting that content. If it suits your audience, they won’t mind – just find a creative way to frame it.
  8. Use that affiliate marketing. Reddit have attempted to move in the affiliate marketing game and you can too. When you’re linking to a product, be direct and tell your audience to buy it through the link so they can help keep your important content alive.
  9. Start a YouTube channel. Pretty much every article you write could somehow be repurposed into a video with a little effort. Utilize your content across multiple platforms and grow those views. You won’t make much money from YouTube in the short term, but it could start to bring in more money as you grow and it will help more people discover your quality content. More media, more channels, including ones which won’t generate revenue – podcasts, live streams, snaps and tweets, etc. Face to face interaction builds connections and trust.
  10. Make sure your content is good. People won’t keep visiting if you aren’t producing quality. Yes, use appealing headlines but don’t use clickbait outside of the occasional ironic article. Deliver on your promises and give the reader a reason to want to click on the next article of yours that they see. Don’t break the trust.

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