Revenue models can change over time and new models are emerging, which means a company must always be open to new approaches.
We are in a period of exciting experimentation with new approaches to monetizing digital journalism. (Here are 52 ideas for revenue strategies and here are 51 ideas for native advertising.) In our work at MDIF, we have found that news organizations no longer use only two or three revenue models to earn revenue. Instead, five to 10 different models are quite common so a company does not become dependent on a small number of income sources, any of which may fail. That said, it is important to get one revenue model working well before trying a different one — a scattergun strategy is not effective.
Spending time understanding online market conditions and the existing competition will help you identify options for revenue generation and target audience. Even more importantly, when you consider revenue options, you must ask yourself one question (and answer it honestly): Do you have the ability — internal skills and resources — to implement the chosen model? Each revenue strategy has its own requirements, its own benefits and drawbacks, and the opportunity cost needs careful evaluation before making a choice.
In Indonesia, digital legal news source Hukumonline, offers specialist live events to complement content. This provides revenue diversification as well as helping to establish the company as the “go-to source” for information. And in South Africa, each year the Mail & Guardian profiles the country’s brightest up-and-coming stars in categories ranging from health and politics to sport and education, showcasing the full spectrum of young excellence in the country. Both the annual event where the list is announced and the accompanying print supplement are a major boost for revenue and profile.