Make time for revenue work in 2023

A LION conversation about making revenue a part of your regular routine, with guests Kyle Constable and Lizzy Hazeltine

January 4, 2023 by Jenna Spinelle and Ben DeJarnette

News Guest graphic with headshot photos of guests Kyle Constable from The Connecticut Mirror and independent consultant Lizzy Hazeltine

With stories to edit, websites to update, and social media accounts to maintain, it’s easy for revenue work to fall by the wayside, unless it’s part of your daily routine. 

Our guests in this episode have ideas on how to keep you focused on getting dollars in the door in 2023 and beyond:

  • Kyle Constable is the director of membership and digital innovation at The Connecticut Mirror.
  • Lizzy Hazeltine is a business growth consultant who has worked with LION members across North America.

You can listen and subscribe to News Guest on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts

Here are a few excerpts from the conversation with Kyle and Lizzy, lightly edited for brevity and clarity:

On why publishers often struggle to prioritize revenue over editorial work

Lizzy Hazeltine: Our brains work against us. As a species, when we’re nervous, we tend to avoid [uncertainty] and to prioritize things that make us feel comfortable and that shut up the amygdala in the center of our brains. So making time for revenue often requires confronting some of our internal programming, and it requires being really courageous in the face of what is an unknowable outcome.

On applying your skills to new challenges in a revenue-focused role 

Lizzy: Nobody was born a membership manager. I mean, thank goodness, that would be strange. So the good news is, folks can get into this work with who they are. For example, if you’re a reporter who moves into a revenue role, what are you really good at? Finding things out about people? Verifying that information? That’s all essential for a major gifts program. Storytelling? That transfers directly to building a case for support.

On getting your whole team to adopt a revenue focus

Kyle Constable: I started on the newsroom side at The Mirror, so I understand the hesitancy to even dabble in the revenue space. But the reality is, we’re not asking our team to bow to the influence of anyone who’s offering money. We’re just asking them to remind people that the work they’re doing is important. That’s really what it comes back to. Even some of our reporters who have been doing this for 40 years, they’ve come to understand that they play a fundraising role.

On making fundraising appeals more efficient and replicable

Kyle: As you’re writing appeals for an annual fundraising campaign like NewsMatch, know that nobody remembers what you wrote and sent out in NewsMatch last year or the year before. I try to strike a balance each year between recycling old language and writing new language that I can add to the library of language that’s available to me in future years. That’s how you’re going to see the biggest return on investment for your time. 

On setting revenue goals for the new year

Lizzy: I encourage people to take the time and space that we get in the cold early days of January to figure out where you need to be in December 2023 – and then work backwards from there to make a plan for how much you need to raise on a monthly basis. That way it’s not a heroic end-of-year effort to pull off what is a 12-month goal. 

Kyle: You can set your New Year’s resolutions in January if you want, you can do it in February, you can do it whenever – but put a plan together and stick to it. And part of my plan is to have one damn good fundraising appeal every single month of 2023… because you never know who has capacity at any given moment, and that’s why you should always be asking.  

Want more advice on how to prioritize revenue in the new year? Sign up for the LION newsletter to get updates on this series and other resources and opportunities for independent publishers.

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