Why so many independent publishers choose Newspack as their CMS

With more than 50 LION members now on Newspack, it’s the platform of choice for small and midsize news organizations.

October 18, 2022 by Ben DeJarnette

CalMatters home page, powered by Newspack
CalMatters is one of nearly 200 independent publishers that uses Newspack as its CMS.

This post is sponsored by Newspack, the all-in-one publishing platform used by nearly 200 independent news publishers to grow audience and generate revenue. Request a demo»

Philomath News is a rural news startup with a single employee. CalMatters is a statewide nonprofit with a staff of more than 50 and a seven-figure budget. So what do they have in common? 

Like nearly 200 other independent publishers, they both rely on Newspack to grow audience and revenue. 

“When I started Newspack three years ago, my goal was to help independent digital news organizations publish great journalism and find a path to sustainability,” said Kinsey Wilson, the founder and head of Newspack. “One way to do that is to ensure that local independent publishers have access to the same technology as larger organizations – at a fraction of the cost.”

To learn more about what Newspack can do for your news business, schedule a demo here, or read on for a Q&A with Newspack founder Kinsey Wilson that covers publishers’ most common questions about Newspack. 

You say you provide great technology to small independent publishers at a fraction of what it would typically cost. How is that possible?

We’ve done it in part by raising nearly $10m in grant funding to subsidize our startup costs, and by standardizing our technology solutions using industry best practices. We build common tools – rather than custom, one-off solutions – that can be used by many while still giving publishers the flexibility to express their brand as they see fit. That encourages smart business practices while keeping costs down.

Newspack charges a flat monthly rate for its publishing platform, whereas some other CMS platforms charge a percentage of revenue. What’s your pitch to publishers for why the upfront investment is worth it?

Our goal is to earn fair value for the tools and services we’re delivering, without penalizing the most successful publishers simply because they’re making more money. That would only encourage those high-earning publishers to find other solutions. Instead, we’d rather keep them on the platform and hope they contribute their expertise to the community we’re building.

Revenue is a top concern for many LION members and independent publishers. How does Newspack help?

We deliver great publishing tools. But that’s only the start. We’ve also built an end-to-end advertising solution that’s easy to implement. And a full suite of what we call “reader activation” tools that help you manage everything from initial registration to newsletter signup to donation to membership or subscription, depending on your model.

Newspack’s publishing platform is built on WordPress, but it’s a very different experience than many WordPress veterans will be used to. Can you explain how? 

As an open source technology, the beauty of WordPress is that it invites contributions from developers all over the globe. That means there are more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress ecosystem, which support an almost infinite variety of functions. Of course, the curse of WordPress is that there are more than 50,000 plugins, which creates a paradox of choice and a huge maintenance headache. We shoulder that burden for you by making smart selections based on our knowledge of the business, and by making sure they’re secure and play well together.

Our membership at LION includes established publishers who have already launched news sites and aspiring founders who are just getting started. Is Newspack an option for both those groups?

Publishers large and small generally need access to a similar suite of tools. For established publishers, we provide free migration to the platform. But whether you’ve been around for years or are just starting out, your needs are similar: a publishing system that is easy to use, optimized for speed and looks great on mobile; tools to attract and engage audience; and advertising and reader revenue systems to build revenue.

How can publishers learn more about starting or migrating a news site on Newspack?

Sit in on one of our weekly demos. Or simply contact us so we can discuss your needs.

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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