👏 How the Henrico Citizen mastered the reader revenue funnel

In this recent Poynter article, Conecta Arizona’s founder mentions one word that can summarize the solopreneur experience: “Lonely.” 

Here at LION Publishers, we know how hard it can be to go solo, especially if your journalism, audience demographics, or publishing methods don’t fit the mold of your average newsroom.

That’s why the best part of being a LION member is the community that comes with it. If you need to brainstorm on an idea, you can post about it in our News Entrepreneur Community Slack channel (which has over 1,500 contributors). If you want to celebrate a major milestone, you can apply for a LION Award and gain recognition among your peers. If you crave in-person connection, come to this year’s Summit

By joining LION, you can enjoy the benefits of running your own business without sacrificing the resources and community you’d have within a larger organization. Find out why more than 500 independent news publishers have already become LION members, and apply today.

– Stephanie Synder, LION’s associate director of membership products and services

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Learn more about LION’s Sustainability Audits

Considering applying for a LION Sustainability Audit? We’ll host a Q&A at 2 p.m. ET tomorrow (Jan. 19) to answer questions about the process, including how to apply, cycle timelines, selection criteria, and more. Find out how receiving an expert organizational analysis and $20,000 in direct funding can benefit your news business. Sign up here.

📅 Applications for the second Audit cycle are due by April 15. Apply here.

9 additional resources for independent publishers

1. Prepare for reporting season in “purple” states. If you’re a journalist or newsroom executive in one of these swing states –– AZ, GA, MI, PA, WI, or NC –– tune in to two expert briefing sessions led by Aspen Digital, a nonpartisan organization focused on media policy, to learn about AI’s role in the election, the current state of the partisan divide, and other pressing topics. (TODAY and Jan. 25)

2. Apply for the Fundraising for Community Media program. This three-month, tuition-free, online opportunity seeks to equip Asian, Black, and Latine newsroom leaders with the skills and competencies needed to develop business strategies and sustainable revenue streams around fundraising. (Apply by Jan. 19)

3. Apply for the 2024 Advancing Democracy Fellowship, led by the Solutions Journalism Network in partnership with Hearken and Trusting News and designed to help 20 newsrooms reinvent politics, governance, and elections coverage with and for their communities. (Apply by Jan. 19)

4. Explore your newsletter strategy. North Carolina local news organizations can sign up for the 2024 NC Newsletter Challenge Boot Camp, a six-week deep dive into launching a new newsletter or revamping an existing one. (Apply by Feb. 2)

5. Celebrate exceptional journalism. Check out the 2024 Poynter Journalism Prizes award categories and submit your best work from 2023 for consideration. (Apply by Feb. 16)

6. Avoid these common newsletter errors. Inbox Collective combed through thousands of newsletters to compile the top ten mistakes nonprofits make in their newsletters. 

7. Make sense of media buying. This new report, Buyers Unfiltered, from UNC’s Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media, uncovers how NC ad buyers make purchasing decisions and outlines 11 tactics for generating media revenue.

8. Follow your heart (goals). Learn why LION coach AX Mina recommends creating HEART Goals in addition to traditional SMART Goals.

9. Save the date for LION’s Independent News Sustainability Summit. Mark your calendar for September 5-7, 2024, to attend our Summit, which aims to gather 500 independent news leaders for three days of learning and connection. Tickets will be available soon.

What we’re reading

Down a rabbit hole. A new study shows that when people do their own research to combat misinformation, it actually leads them farther from the truth and increases their likelihood of believing fake news. (Nieman Lab)

Mentorship multiplied. Here are five tips for mentoring multiple people without stretching yourself too thin. (Harvard Business Review)

A monumental milestone. How the News Revenue Hub helped raise $100 million for newsrooms and journalism organizations across North America, and what happened when they encouraged one of their clients to remove its paywall. (News Revenue Hub)

Community census. How to rebuild media trust by reporting on your community’s quality of life. (Editor & Publisher)

Future hopes. The Pivot Fund asked hyperlocal news publishers and funders how they’d invest $500 million into local news, and 54 percent of respondents said they’d give to the Black press and BIPOC-led news organizations. (The Pivot Fund)

LIONs in the news

Moving prospects from readers to donors takes effort and time. But what exactly should you be doing, how, and when? This week, we’re inspired by one LION member’s quest to better understand its reader revenue funnel –– and get to the bottom of these burning questions.

In 2023, the Henrico Citizen attracted over 9,000 new subscribers and generated nearly $35,000 in reader revenue. This Better News case study outlines how they did it –– and includes insights on what went well and what didn’t work as expected, along with some fantastic tips to experiment with.

Read the case study.

4 ways to use the funnel to grow reader revenue – Better News
The Henrico (Va.) Citizen added 9,000 email subscribers and generated $34,000 in reader revenue in one year.
4 ways to use the funnel to grow reader revenue – Better News
The Henrico (Va.) Citizen added 9,000 email subscribers and generated $34,000 in reader revenue in one year.

Want to dive in deeper? Check out “Understanding Your Market and Audience,” “How to Create a Revenue Growth Plan,” and other courses in our News Entrepreneur Academy (available to LION members).

In other LION member news:

  • Billy Penn at WHYY is hiring an editor/director and an audience growth consultant.
  • Enlace Latino NC’s 2023 NewsMatch fundraising efforts raised about $11,000, and thanks to matches, they tripled it to more than $33,000. 
  • Austin Vida also participated in 2023 NewsMatch and unlocked over $12,000 in matching funds. 
  • Saco Bay News launched a t-shirt designed by a local artist to help diversify its revenue streams. 
  • The Lansing Journal published a new impact statement video that’s well worth a watch.

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