Journalism startups: it’s a business, not a job

Reflections of a Newsosaur: Journalists running start-ups face tall odds

After talking to one enterprising journalist after another, I have found almost uniformly that they are making the mistake that has proven to be the downfall of many an entrepreneur: Instead of trying to build a business, they are trying to give themselves the job they always wanted.

There’ a big difference between running a business and working a job that is the business.

One of the best ways to understand the difference is explained in Michael Gerber’s E-Myth, which is now E-Myth Reviseted: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. It’s the best book I’ve read on how successful business owners manage and grow their businesses compare with being very good at working in the business. You can read the first chapter of the E-Myth Revisited.

For journalism start-ups, Newsosaur’s Alan Mutter nails the argument with:

While journalists at news start-ups think nothing of routinely devoting more than a dozen hours a day to running down stories and tweaking their websites, the pace typically leaves them with neither the time nor the energy to think about such key success factors as building audience and developing a healthy financial basis for their endeavors.

It’s not enough to just have traffic. A entrepreneurial journalist needs to think revenue, controlling expenses and growth. A revenue detail many startups overlook is the revenue being earned on page views. It’s a standard of looking at revenue.

Earlier this year, Felix Salmon, writing in Blogonomics: Revenue per page, and Henry Blodgett debated the importance of revenue per page. Salmon’s best quote was:

This is one area where I think that Henry could take a leaf out of Nick Denton’s book, and refuse to run deeply-discounted ads. Doing that helps to improve the value of the brand among advertisers, and it also creates interesting opportunities for rewarding staff.

See the spat between Salmon and Blodgett, retold in the AtlanticWire.

Comments are closed.