We hear this story all the time: A passionate journalist launches a digital news publication with big editorial plans, only to find themselves bogged down in the thankless work of building and maintaining a professional website.
LION member and The North Salem Post founder Sarah Gayden wanted to avoid that fate, especially as a “solopreneur” wearing multiple hats at once.
Her solution: Patch Labs.
Patch Labs is a simple content management system (CMS) that’s built specifically for small independent publishers.
Unlike other CMS platforms, it includes all the features that small publishers need to publish and monetize their work (a newsletter builder, events calendar, metrics dashboard, advertising software, etc.) without the hassle of endless plug-ins and integrations.
Sarah launched The North Salem Post’s website on Patch Labs in December 2020, and she loved the CMS so much that she now helps onboard other independent publishers as the company’s director of growth & partnerships.
So here’s her pitch to you for how Patch Labs can support your local online news business.
First things first, what’s the relationship between Patch Labs and the local news platform Patch.com?
Patch Labs is the innovation arm of Patch.com. We operate an independent team parallel to the larger Patch organization. At Patch Labs, we build technology and tools that independent journalists use to power and run their own news publications. Editors who use Patch Labs technology are not employed by Patch.
Why is Patch Labs an especially good fit for small independent news publishers?
Local journalists are passionate about informing their communities, but technology all too often burdens when it should facilitate. Especially in micro-newsrooms (those run by just one person or maybe a handful of people), there isn’t time or resources to connect various tech platforms, debug mysterious issues or sort through plug-ins. And there certainly isn’t the luxury of spending several hundred dollars a month for a content management service.
Patch Labs built years of institutional knowledge and local news best practices into the platform: stats you need to see, newsletters, search optimization, a local events calendar (one of the most-read items) and so on. For independent journalists, we do the heavy lifting on the tech side, so they can just log in and publish the news.
Earning revenue is often a big challenge for small independent publishers. How does Patch Labs help?
Early on we realized our job was not to save local news; it was to save local journalists — so earning predictable, recurring revenue is at the core of everything we build.
Labs sites are structured to accept both individual financial support and digital advertising, and the tools we’ve built help make those revenue streams easier to launch and grow:
- We recently released AdBuilder, a simple tool that allows anyone to build and launch an ad campaign on a Patch Labs site within minutes.
- Editors can customize rates for ads, monthly support and one-time donations.
- Featured events allow you to get revenue from local organizations posting to a site’s community calendar.
- Sponsored content agreements can be finalized in minutes.
- All revenue payments are processed via Stripe. Editors input their banking or credit card details into our system; the rest is automatic.
And finally, we have an in-house sales team that advises, trains and can work as commissioned sellers on behalf of Patch Labs member sites. They hold quarterly sales training webinars, consult 1:1 with individual publishers and coordinate collection of creative assets and payments from local advertisers. One editor said recently: “Maybe at some point I’ll have the time and desire to figure it out on my own, but right now, I appreciate the help.”
How can publishers learn more about starting or migrating a news site on Patch Labs?
LION offers sponsorships to software and service providers, educational institutions and other businesses that aim to serve independent news publishers like LION’s members. Learn more about our sponsorships policy and sponsorship opportunities at lionpublishers.com/sponsorship.
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