Sunday, May 20, 2012

Making money Part II: custom content at MedCity

This weekend I spent a day and a half participating online in NewsU's Revenue Camp for Journalism Entrepreneurs, an intense session on some of the new ways journalists are making money on the Web. (The entire course will be available to view online in a few days; Twitter comments from the course are at #revcamp.)

Chris Seper, a digital media entrepreneur who started, a portal covering innovation in the life sciences and healthcare, talked about how to make money from custom content. He defined it as any content made to order for a client -- it could be a research paper, a blog entry that runs on the site, a video, an event, or an article. 
"We'll create content for anyone with a vested interest in innovation and health care," he told attendees. The publication's audience is C-level executives, entrepreneurs, investors and other stakeholders in those fields.

Potential ethical issues
Seper isolates his four journalists from producing the custom content to avoid confusing readers about the integrity of the editorial content on the sites. He hires free-lancers to produce the custom content. 
Articles and blogs created for clients are labeled as sponsored content. Seper admits that at times some readers might question whether the information produced for sponsors meets the standards of independence he espouses.
70 percent of revenue
Custom content produced 70 percent of the revenue last year for the combined websites (Cleveland, Philadelphia, Research Triangle and other verticals). Seper cautioned that this can be a time waster if costs are not carefully monitored. He insists that each project generate a 30 percent profit margin after considering employee time, advertising commissions and other expenses. If not, they won't do it, and he wants at least part of the fee up front in order to pay freelancers.
This year the combined websites, which employ 13 people, should generate "seven figures," Seper said. He launched Medcity with two partners in 2008 after taking a buyout from The Plain Dealer, where he was online medical editor. 
Market for a one-stop shop
Many hospitals produce enormous amounts of information and need someone to help them re-publish information in various formats. MedCity offers these clients the convenience of one point of contact, expertise in the subject area and expertise in journalism, Seper says. In essence  they manage a stable of reliable free-lancers for clients in the niches they serve. They won't accept work outside health care and life sciences. 
They also produce content on entrepreneurship and innovation for the Kauffman Foundation, which funds projects in those areas. 
Syndication, events
MedCity also resells content to syndicators such as Newsright, Newscred and Newstex, which produces enough revenue to pay one full-time salary, not an insignificant sum in a 13-person operation.
When asked if there was one thing he would go back and do differently, Seper said, "I would consider launching events even before doing the website," he said, because they produce a steady source of revenue and create visibility in the sector. 
Other advice: hire slow and fire fast. His main investor started to take the operation more seriously when they fired some salespeople. Firing people was a sign that they were focused on business results. "I'm amazed at how many awful mistakes we've made and we're still here," he says.

Making money Part I: Mark Briggs
Making Money Part IV: Events help build the brand

1 comment:

  1. making money is the process to make market upwards. It also increase rate of business. Thanks for sharing such kinds of money making tips.