News Leadership 3.0

August 03, 2009

Entrepreneurship 101: Use the free stuff

In a guest post, entrepreneurial journalist Julia Scott of, lists nine steps - free or low cost - to starting a Web site and a business that helps people save money

Julia Scott is an entrepreneurial journalist, professional speaker, and blogger at, which helps people save money on everyday expenses. She just launched a second site,, which helps Angelenos save money using Google maps. Scott was a fellow in Knight Digital Media Center’s News Entrepreneur Boot Camp in May and I’ve asked her to write an occasional guest post about her adventures in creating

By Julia Scott

People often ask me how I got my website up and running for nothing. My answer is simple. I had no money so I found ways to do it for (almost) free.

1. I chose a site name and slogan - free!

2. I established a Wordpress blog - free!

3. I purchased a domain name ~ $8/year at if someone doesn’t already own the url (it’s usually $10 but there are often coupons). That’s dirt cheap real estate.

4. I arranged hosting for my site ~ $10/month.

5. I relied on the talents of my wonderful friends, including a graphic designer who developed my banner and a glamorous, cartoony version of me that you can peek at on my About page. A professional photographer-friend snapped the picture that is on my homepage and my techie husband and cousin did hours of back end work on the site to make it look professional and unique - free!

6. I churned out a ton of blog posts, created a blogroll, and set up a free email newsletter for readers to receive my blog posts through Feedblitz. I’ve had mixed results with Feedblitz but on the whole things have been excellent for the price - free!

7. I wrote press releases and contacted local media to get publicity for my site - free!

8. I emailed and Twittered (@bargainbabe) with other personal finance writers to join my niche’s conversation online. Linking to others and asking them to link to me did great things for my SEO - free!

9. I continue to provide useful, practical tips on saving money written in my distinct voice. I constantly poll readers and ask them for feedback on what they want to read about, what they think of an issue, or ask them to share their two cents. Building a community around my site increases loyalty and stickiness - free!

Creating my online website and business set me back just a few dollars. The real cost is my time. I do the vast majority of the work myself (I have a fantastic intern and Bargain Hubby regularly does tech maintenance) so the most pressing dilemma is how to invest my time. Everyday I have 100 things I absolutely must do. But I can only do about seven of them. Spending money is off the table, but how I spend my time will make or break my business. If you are bootstrapping your website, it is likely you will face the same time management challenges.

Later this week: Julia Scott on the challenges and opportunities of making money off a niche website.

April 20, 2009

Social media class: Into the networks

KDMC/NewsU classmates dive into Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for this week’s assignments

Here are instructor Paul Gillin’s assignments for the online class “Using Social Media to Build Audience,” for those who want to follow along:

While different social networks abound, we are going to focus this week on three that are popular and distinct: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

We’d like you to spend some time on each of these networks during the course so you understand how they work as you develop your organization’s online strategy and social media project.

We’re less interested in your becoming expert users (although that would be nice) than in giving you an opportunity to understand the appeal of these networks to their members. Among the advantages are:

- Ability to communicate with a large number of casual connections;
- Ability to find people they know or people they want to know among the network’s membership
- Ability to communicate in multiple media, including visual and audio
- Shared applications enable members to share personal information and engage in friendly competition;
- Ability to grow personal and business networks with the addition of network “friends”
- A culture that embraces self-promotion and recognition of individual expertise

This week:

  * Join the social networks Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Find at least three people you don’t know personally and want to meet on each service and establish a connection to them. Update your status on Facebook at least once this week. Post at least two “tweets” or “retweets” daily on Twitter this week. Create a professional profile on LinkedIn. (If you’ve been on any of these networks for a while, you may not need to complete that part of the assignment.)

  * On Facebook, look at three successful groups and identify features and tactics each is using to be successful. Describe these features and tactics on the Assignment Desk. Here are examples of successful groups:

Victoria’s Secret
Chris Moyles Show
Pink Floyd
Harley Davidson
Newspaper Escape Plan

August 26, 2008

SEO and keywords

Find their keywords,
and they will come
What’s your search strategy?

Powerful as “search” has become on the Internet (think Google), “search engine optimization” still remains mysterious territory to managers of some news sites. The Bivings Report has a fairly simple explanation of SEO and the importance of keywords in “SEO Basics.”

Here’s a summary:

Search optimization techniques to improve content visibility center on use of keywords that users are likely to employ in their searches. The key to key words is figuring out and using (in headlines, tags, text, etc.) words or phrases that someone searching for content that you have on your site will use in her search. Simple example: “Restaurant” is probably more widely used than “café” or “eatery”. But there are a lot of restaurants, so “French restaurant” or “Thai restaurant” or “‘Name of neighborhood’ restaurant” might fare better in a search. Or “pizzeria” might do better than “pizza restaurant.” Or… that’s the mystery.

This chart shows how the spelling of “barbeque” might affect search:


Your Web site’s traffic analytics program is one place to look for keywords people are using to find your site.

“SEO Basics” offers a handy list of free services to help you figure out the best keywords:

Google: Suggest and Adwords’ Keyword Traffic Estimator Tool and Trends

Microsoft: AdCenter Keyword Forecast Tool

WordTracker: Basic Keyword Suggestion Tool

KeywordDiscovery: Basic Search Term Suggestion Tool

For more, check out the full report.

What’s your formula for keyword success? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

August 04, 2008

Link: Using Twitter

Ryan Sholin offers ways to use
Twitter to gather, report news

Ryan Sholin makes it easy for newsrooms to get started with Twitter with “Five Ways to Gather and Report News with Twitter.”

Mindy McAdams offers some perspective with “Twitter is Growing on Me.”

Think you don’t have time? Try this: Open a Twitter account and sign up to follow Sholin and McAdams (five minutes). Check the account a couple of times a day (five minutes). See where it leads (one potential window into the future of news gathering and delivery)

Are you using Twitter? Please share experiences in the comments..

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Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

Get in touch with Michele at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

USC Annenberg School for Communication

McCormick Foundation

Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute


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