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Sizing the Hyperlocal Market

September 14, 2009

Digital media pioneer—and GrowthSpur senior advisor—Jeff Jarvis has an interesting post in his Guardian column describing some of the findings of a study by his New Business Models for News Project at CUNY. Upshot:

Some hyperlocal bloggers, serving markets of about 50,000 people, are bringing in up to $200,000 a year in advertising. These are sustainable businesses and we believe they are critical elements of the future of local news.

Moreover, the CUNY research shows that these early success stories probably won’t be outliers:

After three years, we project that a blogger could hire editorial staff and advertising help – citizen salespeople who help support the citizen journalists – and net $148,000 out of $332,000 revenue. That’s a conservative estimate when you consider that a community weekly paper in such a town probably earns between $2m-$5m.

GrowthSpur’s assumptions are similar. We believe that a combination of local ad networks, smart tools and good sales training can make local community sites into good revenue generators, at $100,000 or more per year. CUNY’s projections are higher, but we erred on the conservative side. That said, we don’t have any quibble with the CUNY estimates.

For the thousands of hyperlocal sites and local blogs already in existence—and the thousands more to come—we believe that there’s a viable business. You just have to know where to find it. GrowthSpur is here to help.

  1. October 17, 2009 11:37 pm

    I live out of the box. I don’t consider myself a writer/journalist.

    I do however come up with some interesting ideas.

    Let’s take “out of work” editors and journalists.
    Oh sure they can blog, but getting noticed on the web and having their work actually found and read is another issue.

    And what about revenue?

    I’ll offer one solution.
    This will directly relate to the way I operate.

    Problem: Writing, Readers and Promotion

    1. Journalists are never going to stop writing. It may have been their job for years. But lay-offs only cut the income, they don’t stop the passion.

    Inevitably the writer/journalist will turn to blogging to keep their head from exploding.

    The information being provided by independent journalists throughout the internet is staggering in numbers and invaluable to the readers seeking it.

    So where’s the niche? What do you do?

    Solution: Getting your work read

    1. I can only give you my personal solution and only hope that more may pick up or expand on this.

    High traffic and niche News and Information sites that are well ranked have the ability to offer the out of work journalists a featured area on their site specifically for them where they can write and publish.

    This can easily be accomplished by taking an existing blog and integrating it directly through to the site or creating a new area for the writer to submit the work. I won’t get into technicalities here but there are a few ways to achieve this.

    This also would be a free exchange by both parties.

    The media outlet would gain relevant information for their readers and the writer would gain a larger readership base.

    This can also be expanded through other media outlets creating a syndicated network where the writer/journalist work can be found.

    So Where’s the Money?

    Some news and media services out there will probably want to shoot me for what I’m about to say – but the ways of old are swiftly becoming extinct.
    And like the dinosaur will probably disappear into the history books.

    The income, in this scenario, would go to the writer/journalist.
    What? you say.
    What about the news site?

    If the news/media outlet has not figured out a way to create their own online income by this time, they’ve already been overrun. Maybe they need to downsize a tad.
    They need to figure this out or pick up their toys and go home.

    I digress, sorry.


    The writer/journalist would create his/her own income from their own advertisements/book sales or other items he/she has to offer that are available from their module/pages on the host site.

    It’s simple, workable, generates income for writers/journalists, offers relevant content to the host site, increases greater viability for both parties and allows writers/journalists to do what they do best.

    Jan France
    Fernley NV

  2. October 18, 2009 1:55 pm

    What you’re describing is pretty much exactly what we’ve set up GrowthSpur to do: To provide business support that monetizes local sites. We’re looking forward to working with journalists-turned-entrepreneurs to enable them to sell ads and do other things that will bring in revenue to support their local journalism. That’s what GrowthSpur is here for!

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