2018 News Digital Media Viability Lab

Maharat Explores New Revenue Channels for Media Platforms

How do websites make money these days? And how do they plan on sustaining themselves for the future? These are two big questions for media platforms today.

This is why Maharat Foundation, an organization that advocates for freedom of expression, supported by DW Akademie, organized a workshop that addressed the monetization of media.

The four-day workshop, organized in the beginning of April, dealt with standard and nonstandard methods of raising revenue.

“We will be spending some time talking about ads, which are the traditional way of making money,” Christian Fahrenbach, German journalist and trainer at the workshop, said. “But we will also talk about subscription and membership, which is becoming more and more important today, as well as other ways of selling content.”

Indeed before starting the course, most groups believed that membership, subscriptions and sponsorships are the only ways to make money for their websites.

“There are many other ways to get creative while making money, such as organizing events, or becoming publishers for other platforms, but these will be discussed later” Fahrenbach said.

However, before any monetization method was discussed, participants had to identify their stakeholders and what their needs are.

For example, a municipality might be a stakeholder in a monthly journal that deals with all public issues and problems.

The problem with “Why”

Selling content isn’t easy. Competition is tough and readers’ attention span keeps getting shorter and shorter (last time it was estimated to be eight seconds for humans, the same as that of a goldfish).

So how do you make people buy content from you?

The answer is simple. It all starts with “why”.

When you talk about your business, always start with the cause and the “why” behind it instead of the “how”. By explaining to people your mission and your beliefs, they tend to sympathize with you and your cause. And so are more inclined to pay for your content.

For example, you might own a newspaper that aims to fight corruption and expose the culprits in the political domain. Gaining people’s sympathy in this case isn’t difficult.

Another thing you can do is to build a community of loyal supporters who are willing to subscribe and read your latest content. In other words, your value proposition will increase because you gave your community a “sense of belonging” as the lecturer Maria Fronoschuk, co-founder & CEO of media company Platfor.ma, said.

Get creative with content

After understanding your platform’s business model, you ought to start using the trial and error approach. There are two ways to do this.

The first is the internal method, which targets the users of your platform. You have different options such as selling ad space, subscriptions, and developing new products. These products can be e-books, podcasts, online courses, documents, premium account or any other service derived from your content.

The second method is the external method, which has to do with services to other companies (B2B model). This may include organizing events, selling content to agencies, promoting affiliate products (which means you feature them on your website and you receive a commission), reviewing the affiliate products, and selling all kinds of services online.

While no media institution can use all these methods to raise revenue, each company needs to find the right kind of combination that works for their platform.

“There is no one pillar for sustainability,” Fahrenbach told the participants. “You have to get creative and use a combinations of revenue streams to pull through and make profit.”