News Leadership 3.0

June 23, 2009

A news entrepreneur lives her obsession and makes it pay

In a guest post, Julia Scott of BargainBabe.com offers tips for news entrepreneurs. BargainBabe.com helps people save money on everyday expenses.

Knight Digital Media Center recently hosted a bootcamp for news entrepreneurs. Most were start ups in the making, but Julia Scott’s BargainBabe.com is up and running. I asked Julia to share a few lessons and tips from her experience so far.
Scott says she is “a cheapskate by nature and a journalist by training.” She makes a living off her savvy-spending BargainBabe.com.

By Julia Scott

I left my job as a reporter/blogger/columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News in January 2009. Now I work for myself as a blogger at BargainBabe.com, which helps people save money on everyday expenses. In almost six months of working for myself I’ve learned a few things.

- The customer is no longer the reader. My site is free to visitors but I make money by syndicating my content and selling advertising. As a print reporter, my primary goal was to serve readers. In business, you answer to the people who pay you - your customers. As an entrepreneurial journalist, I combine both priorities: meeting reader needs and serving customers. Without both, I won’t survive.

- Social media is as important as everyone says it is, but also because it’s free. I’m bootstrapping BargainBabe.com not just because I’m frugal, but because I have little money to invest in my business. If you are an entrepreneurial journalist, you will find yourself in the same moneyless boat. You need to be on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook to gain new readers and develop your brand in the Internet age, but also because it costs nothing. No publicity is bad publicity, but free publicity is even better.

- Learn from failures. Working independently means forcing yourself to find successes in each misstep, because otherwise it really is too depressing. You’ve got no one to gripe and vent and commiserate with. Plus, self-doubt can kill your tolerance for risk. And without taking chances and pursuing many, many opportunities, you probably won’t be successful. Instead of carrying out failures, create successes from them by taking away a lesson or remembering what you did well.

- Do what you do best. The internet will run you over unless you are hyper-efficient. Not only are 100 people or more doing something just like you, many of them are probably doing it better. You could spend all day running after a story a rival beat you on, or you could link to it and move on. Figure out what can you alone offer and crank that out. Do what you do best, and link to the rest.

- Forget loving what you do, you’ve got to be obsessed with your job. That means telling every person you meet about your site, constantly forging business relationships, and living your brand. When people ask what I do I take it as an opportunity to recruit a new reader by telling them about BargainBabe.com and passing out one of my hot pink fliers. I write my own press releases partly because PR firms are so expensive, but also because I can’t pay anyone to be as passionate about my business as I am.Harness your passion for your business and share it with the world.

Comments

Starting a Website up like bargainbabe.com is hard work. It’s kind of like pushing a truck up a hill when you first get started, you push and push to get an active audience. Everyday you need to work hard on writing fresh interesting content,when that is all done, you need to promote through free media like Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and Youtube. It can literaly take hours daily to maintain, and promote a new website, but once you get it rolling the rewards can be plentiful. The key to success is build up momentum and keep on trucking.


“Do what you do best, and link to the rest.”  Love it!  Should be the theme song refrain for future community efforts.


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

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