News Leadership 3.0

Posts tagged with: Hyperlocal

September 06, 2011

Patch by the numbers 1: Content

By Anna Tarkov

Amid much hoopla and skepticism about Patch, AOL’s group of 800-plus hyperlocal news sites, little has been said about the sites themselves. How much news do they produce? How do their users interact with them? To find out, I took a closer look at four Patch sites around the country for a month.

First of two parts

Much has been written about Patch.com, AOL’s foray into hyperlocal news. At an expenditure of about $160 million to the company, it’s not hard to see why. Will such a huge investment in an untested platform and business model yield results? While some have already rendered a verdict, the jury is undoubtedly still out. 

At AOL at least, enthusiasm doesn’t seem dampened. Starting out with a mere three sites in February 2009, the network has grown to, as of this writing, 861 sites in 22 states and D.C. It continues to expand though that has slowed. The stated goal is now on improving existing sites.

Not surprising for a new company, the coverage thus far has focused sharply on whether Patch will be successful in the long term. But the best anyone has been able to do is make an educated guess, especially given Patch’s unwillingness to share concrete traffic and advertising numbers.

Rather than try to foretell the future, I decided it might be instructive to look at what’s happening on the ground right now, on a fairly granular basis. Thus I picked four Patch sites for a month-long scan over the course of August. Each site was checked once a week for things like number of new posts, comments, etc. (See methology at the end of this post.)

I chose the sites at random to represent diverse geographical areas of the U.S. -  A California site (Hermosa Beach; launched 3/8/2010), a New York site (Rye; launched 12/22/2009), Florida site (Brandon, launched 12/15/2010) and a Midwest site (Northbrook; launched 9/9/2010). (Note: I reside in Northbrook.)

Here’s a brief summary of the daily ranges I found per site:

* New stories posted: 1 to 15,
* Comments on new posts: 1 to 25,
* Blog posts by community members: 0 to 3
* Comments on blog posts: none found
* Announcements (sample page): 0-4
* Events (sample page): 1-11

The information gathered is of course just a snapshot and probably can’t be used to generalize about other Patch sites or about the network as a whole. But it provides some insight nonetheless.

What’s the right amount of content?

Every online publisher has probably tried to answer the question of how much new content is too little to keep readers coming back and how much is too much or superfluous. Patch has tried to answer this question too and so far they don’t have a definitive answer.

In the past, Patch site editors were required to produce a certain number of posts per day. However, when I spoke with Brian Farnham, Patch’s Editor in Chief, he stated that this was no longer the case.

Farnham said that while 4-5 posts per day was the requirement at one point, most editors were outstripping it anyway so the need for a hard target lessened.

Farnham did stress the fact that number of posts and traffic are correlated and that Patch definitely looks carefully at those metrics, among many others. But since corporate obviously can’t oversee every site (and claims not to want to control things that tightly), it’s up to the site editors and their regional editors to determine what works best for them.

Still, Patch must have some sort of traffic goals, right? If so, Patch officials generally loath to discuss them. No official numbers have been released save for this leaked report which Patch has neither confirmed nor denied. The numbers that are openly shared aren’t exactly illuminating.

Patch President Warren Webster said that when Patch launched, the goal was to have 50% of each community using the local Patch site. Meaning, if a town had 20,000 residents, 10,000 of them would be Patch readers. According to Webster, that goal was hit in 2009 and has since been exceeded. He added that some of the “older” sites, the ones that launched earlier, are now attracting 80-90% of the community. To measure this, Webster says that Patch looks mainly at unique visitors and also what they are doing on the site: are they subscribing to newsletters, commenting, coming back more frequently, etc. Again, none of this can be verified since Patch has been unwilling to release any traffic stats.

Comments

So, what about comments? Does Patch care if their stories get comments, does it track their number and are there any goals set here? As for the latter, Farnham joked that the goal is, “...to quote Carl Sagan, billions and billions; it’s never enough.” He said that number of comments is definitely tracked and considered to be a valuable measure of audience engagement.

He added that Patch hopes to continually grow that engagement by making the site more conversational with the addition of things like the Q&A section (here’s an example) which was launched in November of this year. Farnham says that features like this are being explored for their potential to be “productized” more and for somehow becoming more prominently used on Patch sites.

Indeed, the sites obviously try to engender conversation and engagement at every turn. Many stories end with a question, a common tactic of bloggers, and an entreaty to answer it in the comments. Readers are encouraged to submit tips, photos and videos. Recent comments are featured in a sidebar on the homepage and new bloggers are solicited there as well. Links to social media sharing sites are rampant all throughout the site. Is it working?

In my tracking, all the sites added together got an average of five comments per day across all new stories and 0-1 comments on average per story. If we take into account estimates of Patch’s traffic from earlier this year, this number, while low, seems to be about right. If each post is being viewed 100 times, fewer than that may read the entire story and in the end perhaps one person will comment.

There are, of course, always outliers as this story from Rye about criticism of excessive police force by Muslim visitors to a local park illustrates. Though they didn’t all come on one day, to date the post has racked up 137 comments. Considering the controversial topic, it’s not difficult to see why and conversely, to understand why many Patch stories get zero comments. With a great deal of content being straightforward and informational, there isn’t necessarily a lot to say about it.

Comments of course are not the sole measure of engagement. To get a truer picture, one would also have to measure the number of likes and shares on Facebook, tweets on Twitter, emails of stories sent to family or friends, etc.

What topics are covered?

Patch editors are expected to cover certain beats consistently such as crime, local government, schools, local business and sports. Farnham admitted that each of these categories is potentially huge and editors aren’t asked to cover them exhaustively, just regularly.

As for what topics and types of stories get the most traffic or comments, Farnham said things that directly affect the community like crime, development projects and political scandals are typically the most popular.

I also posed the question to some of the editors of the sites I tracked.

Jennifer Fisher, editor of the Northbrook Patch, said stories on regional politics tend to be the most well-read though other categories like crime and schools are also popular. Fisher says she keeps a fairly close eye on what readers like the most (for instance, the top five click getters) and that it does inform her future coverage. Overall, she said she takes readers’ comments, suggestions and criticisms very seriously.

Jacqueline Howard oversees the Hermosa Beach Patch and she echoed Farnham’s comments in saying that the stories that get the most attention are those that impact residents’ lives the most. The topics she cited were parking, schools, environment and taxes and recalled this story about parking fee increases as an example of a good traffic getter.

As for whether traffic plays into her decisions on what to cover, Howard was even more emphatic. She wrote in an email: “I track our traffic daily and it absolutely affects coverage—if a story does not directly affect the community and doesn’t attract readers then there’s no reason to publish.”

The Huffington Post model comes to Patch

Speaking of having a lot to say (or rather hoping people have a lot to say), Patch ambitiously set out to recruit 8,000 bloggers earlier this year to blog on Patch sites. How have they fared? Farnham says the goal of recruiting 8,000 has been reached and in fact there is a new goal of 8,000 more that Patch hopes to hit by a date sometime in fall of this year.

How active and effective these bloggers are once brought on board is, of course, another matter entirely. Farnham fully acknowledges the difficulties and says that among those 8,000 bloggers there are those that wrote one post and were never heard from again and also those that consistently produce posts every week. As a result, he said the recruitment of bloggers is going to be a lifestyle for Patch site editors, an ongoing process.

Of course none of this will shock or surprise people who have tried to recruit and retain volunteer contributors to either report or blog on their sites. Having some experience with this myself, both professionally and on a volunteer basis, I can attest that it’s difficult and painstaking work. Writing consistently and reliably is difficult to expect from those who may have other jobs and responsibilities and it often requires a lot of hand-holding and by all accounts, Patch editors don’t have that kind of time. Farnham says that editors briefly review bloggers’ posts before they go live, but they do not closely edit them. That may well be the extent of their involvement.

Despite this, the two local editors I contacted seemed optimistic. Hermosa Beach’s Howard relayed that just this week she was meeting with a local middle school to discuss a possible partnership in which students in a journalism class there would use Patch’s blogging platform to publish some of their articles and reports.

Northbrook’s Fisher admits that finding bloggers has been a challenge mainly because she can’t seem to find many existing bloggers in her town. She has met her goals so far though and continues to press on. She adds that the people she has talked to about blogging do seem excited about writing on the site and she’s hopeful more will emerge.

Perhaps that will come in time, but right now the blogging numbers are decidedly un-Huffington Post-like, at least for the four sites I surveyed. Collectively, they saw an average of 0.67 posts per day which is to say less than one. That means there were days with no blog posts and in fact one of the sites I looked at never had a post on any of the four days on which I checked it. The highest number of posts seen on a given day was three which isn’t bad, but this was also not the norm for that site or for the others.

Patch vs. the indies

How does this all stack up against what Patch’s competitors in the local news space are experiencing? To find out, I asked some independent local news site publishers what goals they had for number of stories per day, what sort of commenting activity they generally saw, if they used unpaid contributors, etc. While it’s not a direct apples to apples comparison, it’s still interesting to consider.

On the matter of how many posts they strive to have each day, the publishers I spoke with were pretty much in line with Patch’s aspirations. They all cited anywhere from 3-6 posts per day as their goal and while some said they don’t always hit it, they feel that the two or three stories they do post are longer and more impactful than the quick-hit pieces that are faster and easier to produce.

Commenting activity seems to also be similar, at least in the case of the publishers I contacted. Their responses ranged from one or two comments per typical story to up to six and in one case, double digits were not uncommon. Like Patch editors, independent publishers also track other measures of engagement like Facebook likes and these often outpace the rate of comments.

Not surprisingly, the topics and types of stories that gain the most clicks and/or comments from readers were almost exactly the same ones that Patch editors said perform the best. Again and again, local issues like crime, development and politics i.e. those that have the most bearing on a community resident’s life, were the ones mentioned.

Where there was perhaps the most divergence was on the matter of community contributors. While Patch has, by their own admission, had difficulty recruiting bloggers and keeping them active, indie news sites seem more committed to the task and more successful at it. Of course not all independent news sites utilize unpaid contributors, but those that do seem to put a great deal of emphasis and effort on getting a lot of content from them.

One publisher said their site has about 45 regular contributors from whom they see about four posts per day. What is impressive about that is of course not just the consistency of multiple posts per day, but that it comes from such a small group of contributors. Clearly these are people whose level of commitment and motivation is extremely high.

Another independent site reported having a cadre of over 150 citizen reporters and three interns, none of which are paid (there is a paid staff of four and freelancers receive payment as well). Many of them post on a regular basis and in fact the site is a platform for community voices. Going a step further, the nonprofit site seeks to help create a more media literate community and they facilitate and encourage the creation of a variety of different “news bureaus” where people can learn, share ideas and access tools and support.

Conclusion

Perhaps the only thing that’s a constant in today’s media landscape is rapid change and it is this characteristic that may typify Patch’s operation the most. New features are being rolled out all the time and many others are doubtless in the works. On September 1, for instance, a new top-level category appeared on Patch sites called House & Home. It seems to have been mysteriously yanked for the moment (it was briefly in place of the Volunteer tab), but will surely make a comeback soon (though not currently visible to users, the pages seem to work; here’s an example).

A statement from a Patch spokesperson described the new section thusly:

“The H&H guide is designed as a one-stop, consumer-friendly guide featuring helpful content ranging from how-to videos and articles about repairs, renovations and design, to gardening/landscaping advice, before/after renovation photos and other content to inspire home improvements and making the most of this key investment. We follow housing trends in each of our Patches, keep readers informed about interesting new developments, design inspirations, land deals, open houses and recently sold homes, and other local events.”

This of course is only the most recent example as Patch sites have already evolved in myriad ways since their initial launches. Whether they are small changes or big, sweeping reforms, the mindset seems to be to constantly iterate, tweak and try new things. Many of the improvements are naturally designed to augment the bottom line which is perhaps crucial for Patch to ensure its existence. Will this approach help or hinder Patch as they strive for profitability? Only time will tell.

Next week: Advertising and other business-related issues on Patch sites. Is Patch meeting its stated advertising goals? What different revenue streams do they have?


Methodology of the site review:

I reviewed each of the four sites for one day a week over the course of August, counting:
* Number of new articles/pieces of content on that day
* Number of comments those articles garnered,
* Number of blog posts,
* Number of comments blog posts garnered,
* Classified listings, announcements and events,
* Ads (to be discussed in more detail next week).
I also tried to take note of any new features, types of topics being covered and how active the sites seemed in general.

Questions or thoughts on my methods or my findings? Feel free to leave them in the comments.

Anna Tarkov is a blogger and journalist obsessed with media and politics and especially passionate about reforming the news business. Find Anna on her blog and on Twitter.

The News Leadership 3.0 blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

September 13, 2011

Patch by the numbers 2: Advertising

By Anna Tarkov
When it comes to advertising, the four Patch sites I reviewed in August all relied heavily on national advertising, while three were also attracting a significant amount of local ads. Patch local business directories also figure in the revenue mix.

Last week we took a look at Patch’s content and audience engagement. Now it’s time to talk turkey, as the old expression goes. In other words, show us the money. After all, content and everything else will be for naught if Patch can’t financially sustain itself. Since Patch content is online only and is free to read for all visitors, revenue comes solely from advertising. Though, as we’ll see, that can take different forms.

image

As with content, my approach was to take note of the ads that appeared on portions of four different Patch sites. A California site (Hermosa Beach; launched 3/8/2010), a New York site (Rye; launched 12/22/2009), Florida site (Brandon, launched 12/15/2010) and a Midwest site (Northbrook; launched 9/9/2010).  (Note: I reside in Northbrook.)

I defined “Local” as an advertiser actually in the town that the Patch site covers; “Metro” as an advertiser a nearby town or in the general metropolitan area. National advertisers are national companies. Patch includes house ads promoting advertising on Patch or Patch daily deals. (More on methodology at the end of this post.)

It’s important to note that this was a scan of only four Patch sites out of a network of 861. So draw your conclusions if you must, but do it carefully.

What does Patch offer advertisers?

At first glance, when looking at a Patch site page like this one, it might seem like display ads are the only thing on the menu for advertisers. After talking to Patch President Warren Webster, I discovered that Patch offers more.

Most of the other products have to do with the directory of local businesses, schools and other neighborhood spots that each Patch site has. With its obvious importance to the bottom line, the directory is prominently featured as one of the top level categories on each site (here’s an example).

Webster billed these directories as a vital resource for the community as well as to area businesses. He also stressed that they aren’t purchased from a third party, but hand-built. Webster said that every business or place listed has been visited in person by a Patch staffer and all information such as hours, parking, etc. has been verified. Photos of the business are also taken and in the end, it looks something like this.

Patch hopes to make money on these directories by having businesses claim the listings Patch has created for them. Claiming one’s listing doesn’t technically cost anything. But once a business claims its listing, Patch will pitch the idea of producing a video commercial to appear in the listing like this one, putting the listing on different areas of the site, adding a message from the owner, being added to the Patch directories of neighboring towns and very likely buying display advertising. For many of these local businesses, it will be their first foray into having a web presence and that’s just what Patch is banking on.

How is the sales operation faring?

As with traffic stats, Patch will not release numbers on how it is faring in selling their various ad products or how much they are charging for them. A leaked ad rate card appeared in July, but a Patch spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny its accuracy.

Webster predictably dismissed the disgruntled Patch salesperson who is quoted in the link above. “It’s easy to dig up the people who aren’t happy or they weren’t the right fit,” he said. He went on to add that he considers the person an outlier within the Patch sales organization and not representative of other employees. In other communications with Patch spokespeople, it was hinted to me that the person had already been slated to be fired. Again, there is no way to confirm or deny this claim.

I tried to get a sense of the general satisfaction of Patch sales staff by asking Webster what the degree of turnover is among sales reps. He asserted that it is on par with every other sales organization he has seen and that as it naturally happens, some people are a good fit while others are not. Nevertheless, he seemed to acknowledge possible challenges by citing Patch’s fast pace of growth over the course of the last year. While Webster didn’t link this directly to any specific problems, it’s not difficult to imagine that it may be difficult to effectively oversee an ever growing sales staff.

So how many people are we talking about?  The ad sales arm of Patch employs nearly 300 people. Each individual sales rep is responsible for covering a cluster of sites based on things like population and number of businesses in the area. That means the number of sites per sales rep can somewhat vary, but Webster said it ends up being 3-4 sites on average.

Are advertisers happy?

Answering this question is almost as difficult as trying to determine whether Patch is making money on its ad sales.

Advertisers haven’t been extensively sought out for comment so there are few independent accounts to go on. Business Insider cited one Patch advertiser who hadn’t yet seen big gains in his business, but was optimistic.

Meanwhile, optimism is available in abundance on Patch Sales’ YouTube channel, which features video after video of blissfully happy advertisers. All of them state that their business is up as a result of advertising on Patch.  It’s a convenient echoing of what Webster said when we spoke. “Our goal is to get customers in the door,” he stated and according to these video testimonials at least, it’s happening. How many current or former Patch advertisers might not share this view? There’s obviously no YouTube channel for that.

What there seems to be no doubt about is Patch’s dedication to advertisers and local businesses in general. Sure, readers need to be happy too, but it’s clear no one is forgetting who foots the bill. “We want to make the community stronger and we see businesses as a crucial part of that,” Webster explained. He then took it a step further when discussing whether Patch is developing long-term relationships with advertisers and spelled out the commitment to businesses in no uncertain terms: “We see the advertisers’ info as being just as important as the news.”

Truly local?

Some of the criticism laid at Patch’s feet has been that its sites aren’t truly local; that they are “local lite” if you will. For instance, a group of independent online local news publishers call themselves Authentically Local; the implication of course is that companies like Patch are neither one nor the other.

Where ads are concerned, independent publishers like Howard Owens (whose site is listed on Authentically Local as one of the founders) have stressed that they must be local and local only:

“Do you accept only locally owned businesses as advertisers? If you don’t, you should. You should make it part of your publicly known mission that your goal is to help locally owned businesses grow….  If your site currently has ad network ads, including Google AdWords, you need to remove that code from you site right now.  If you’re going to be beat Patch, you need to be all about local and only local.  And beat that drum as loudly and as often as you can.”

With that in mind, I asked Webster whether Patch was striving for a certain amount of local versus national ads on its sites. The answer seemed to be yes and no. “We don’t have a specific mix in mind, but we ideally want half or the majority of our advertising to come from the local community,” he said.

Looking at the four sites I surveyed, we can see that this goal is somewhat being met. If we only look at the local ad percentages (again, they are 0%, 20%, 34% and 43%) then the 50% mark certainly looks distant. However, if we consider both local and metro ads to be “local,” then the picture improves a bit and we would now see percentages of 41%, 56% and 49% on the three sites that have local ads (Note: I am uncertain why I saw no local ads on the Hermosa Beach site as its launch date is not the earliest of the four. There could of course be any number of explanations.)

By the way, I did ask Webster if he was aware of Authentically Local and how he felt about independent news sites in general.

Taking a conciliatory tone, Webster said that Patch didn’t begrudge any of their companions in the local news space. “We want them to succeed,” he went as far as to say, though it’s unclear whether Patch’s definition of success would match that of the indie site operators’.  “We look at everyone trying to solve this [local] problem as a partner. We may just be taking a different approach. We believe that we can serve our markets better by having a large organization behind it while still having the site run by an editor who lives and works in the town. I think there’s room for all of us to help figure out what the model will eventually be that works for local news.”

Independent publishers weigh in

To get an idea of how the ad numbers I collected looked to people who had experience selling such ads, I turned to some independent publishers.
Mike Fourcher of the Center Square Journal and other community sites in Chicago neighborhoods remarked that the Patch rate card seemed incredibly expensive in comparison with his. He wasn’t sure how Patch’s financial picture would work if the numbers I collected were in line with other Patch sites. For example, Fourcher charges $500 (corrected from $400) per month for his best ad placement, a left sidebar on the front page. The most closely comparable Patch placement runs $1,200 per month, a huge difference indeed.

The aforementioned Howard Owens, publisher of The Batavian, was unsure if the numbers showed any strategic vision on Patch’s part far as ad sales were concerned. “To build an advertising business you need to know what you want to accomplish, which is more than ‘sell a lot of ads’ or ‘become profitable’—those are by-products of solid strategic business goals, not the goals themselves,” Owens said.  He also sharply questioned the selling of national ads alongside local ones and asserted that one is not compatible with the other. “They’re trying to serve two masters—one that is entirely metric driven and another that is much more about relationships and the contextual environment.”

Methodology

As with my earlier post on Patch’s content, I studied ads on the four sites I tracked on four weekdays each in August. I counted ads on the homepage, the other top-level categories that have ads on their main pages (News, Events, Places, Marketplace, Q&A) and also the Local Voices and Announcements sections under the News heading.
Since each viewing of a given page doesn’t necessarily display the same ads each time, I refreshed each page I looked at five times. If an ad appeared on more than one refresh, it was only counted once. However, ads for the same advertiser appearing on more than one category page were counted separately each time.

If you have a question about the methodology or anything else is unclear, please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll be happy to address it.

Previously: Patch by the numbers 1: Content

Anna Tarkov is a blogger and journalist obsessed with media and politics and especially passionate about reforming the news business. Find Anna on her blog and on Twitter.

The News Leadership 3.0 blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

August 15, 2012

Ad rates, events, and crowdfunding: Community news sites get innovative about revenue

By Amy Gahran

Community news is a challenging business; which is why making money is a key theme at next month’s Block by Block Community New Summit. And there’s growing room for optimism: as Groupon’s business model crumbles, more local advertisers may now be smarter and more willing to work with community news venues.

Here’s a roundup of some ways that community news publishers have diversified their revenue streams beyond display ads and grants…

Recently on the Block by Block resource network website, Sally Duros discussed how hyperlocal sites are rethinking their approach to local online advertising.

According to Duros, some hyperlocal sites are changing how they price and position online ads.

For instance, David Boraks, founder and editor of two hyperlocal sites in North Carolina, discussed how his sites simplified their ad value proposition and pricing by selling all ads across the entire site. Previously they’d offered separate rates for section-specific runs such as ads on the front page, the inside page, the health and fitness page, etc.

“We had four dozen ad slots across the site and about as many prices. It just got so complicated,” Boraks told Duros. “Most advertisers wanted to be on the front page.”

Now Davidson.net and its sister site Cornelius.net sell ads by size and page position, not by section. According to their media kit, “Ads run on every page of the site and will rotate within like ad slots. A minimum of 30,000 impressions guaranteed per month.”

Boraks said their ad are prices are determined by working backward from how much revenue the site needs to earn each month, in order to meet operational expenses. “If we sell 60% of ads on the site then we are at break even. Everything above that is profit and below that we are in the red a little bit,” he told Duros.

Duros also discussed how the Connecticut-based site CTNewsJunkie is taking a different approach, by offering advertisers more premium options—including site takeover, a “big block” 300600 banner slot, geotargeted ads, and exclusive advertising in their e-mail blasts. But like Davidson.net, they also sell ads on a run-of-site basis.

Meanwhile, Nieman Journalism Lab recently covered how Technically Philly (a news startup covering the Philadelphia tech and startup scene) is earning substantial revenue from events and other elements in a diverse revenue strategy:

Technically Philly’s flagship event is Philly Tech Week, an eight-day conference that’s free for tech companies to participate, and for attendees. According to Nieman Journalism Lab, all revenue comes from event sponsors. In April 2012, the second Philly Tech Week drew more than 10,000 attendees—more than double the inaugural 2011 conference.

Technically Philly cofounder Brian Kirk told Nieman that he estimates this year about 40% of their revenue pie will come from events. Consulting will supply a further 40%. And advertising and grants will supply only about 10% each. In contrast, in 2011 events delivered only about 12% of Technically Philly’s revenue.

Technically Philly also partners with local institutions and organizations for this conference, such as Temple University’s new Center for Public Interest Journalism, the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Science Center (which provides lab and office space for local businesses). Several partners provided venues for conference events and other services, in addition to funding.

Technically Philly is a niche site with a geographic slant, which may position it better than more typical hyperlocal community news sites in terms of running events. However, community news publishers might consider partnering with local niche news sites on events. In most cases there’s probably enough common interests and potential mutual benefits to make it worth trying.

Crowdfunding for specific hyperlocal coverage has received mixed results, but it can be a revenue stream worth pursuing. For example, Charlottesville Tomorrow recently ran a successful Kickstarter campaign which slightly exceeded its goal to raise $7000 to fund development of 3D online models to help local residents understand the implications and impact of a planned major highway project.

But crowdfunding isn’t easy. Homicide Watch DC is a community news site that decided to turn to Kickstarter to fund a one-year student reporting lab. Editor Laura Amico recently explained on the Block-by-Block Facebook page what this sort of effort requires:

“It took us about six weeks to get from ‘let’s pitch on Kickstarter’ to having a pitch up. I think it’s a much longer, more involved process than many people realize,” she said. “It took us several rounds of edits (on rewards and the video) to get approval. We tried a Kickstarter campaign to fund our year-in-review package but couldn’t get approval for it, so I went ahead and did the package without funding.

“In short, my advice is this: plan early, plan often, submit early and be prepared to revise. We launched our new campaign at 6:30 p.m. last night and so far have raised $7,581, which is 18% of our goal.”

Mobile: the next revenue frontier. So far few community news sites have experimented with revenue from mobile ads or services, beyond running ads on their mobile sites or apps supplied by networks such as AdMob. There’s ample potential for community publishers to capitalize on the mobile market, and I am currently researching that topic to for my session on mobile monetization in at Block by Block 2012 next month. If you have ideas or examples of mobile revenue options for community publishers, please e-mail me.

The News Leadership 3.0 blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The Knight Digital Media Center at USC is a partnership with the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. The Center is funded by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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