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A re-born blogger?


Generating income from a #hyperlocal | Presented at #JES2015

3 min read

Following guidance from Sarah Hartley, who's chair of the panel that I'm speaking on at the first Journalism Enterprise Summit (#JES2015), below are a list of things that we've tried over nearly ten years of running our Isle of Wight News publication, OnTheWight.

Sarah impressively boiled down her speaking guidance to three points: What have you done?; What have you learned by doing it?; and, What are you doing next?.

Below are the first two. They're made up of our experience, of course others may have had completely different outcomes.

If they don't make sense, or need more clarity, do get in touch.


What have you done?What have you learned by doing it?
Gained the trust of the Island - Quite a challenge
Published 23k articles
Built a commenting community - 112k comments
Built uniques peaking at 100k/month
Readers will support you - become advocates
Their loyalty brings protection and they will 'Fight your corner'

News in and of itself doesn't pay -
- Brings attention, but time consuming to create
- Barrier to entry is forever dropping
- Unsure that the majority appreciate quality
 Tried and stopped  
As VB - Had non-standard sized adverts Don't do it!
Art work will have to be custom
You can't use ads from ad networks
Social media campaigns Take care - don't pollute your social media stream
Competitions Don't bother. Applications are limited even for massive prizes - Dream Holiday - New kitchen
Built Web sites Takes you away from your core business
Client back and forth extensive
Long term commitment
Presenting / Fronting other videos Not bad
Decent money
 What we've stuck with  
Event promotions Generally easy
Unsure - Are they too cheap?
Display ads You need someone dedicated to sales - a sales person
Need good graphics skills - internally or externally
Educate clients - It's not just about clicks, it's about brand recognision
You need guidlines for ad creatives - It's your publication this will be on. Respect your readers' eyes - and their bandwidth
Sponsored Features (Native Ads in the new world!) It's highly effective for clients
Great distribution - Published to our site; 20k+ Social media; Highly placed in search results
Offering different packages - eg Small business start-up packages
Take Overs THE best way to be noticed
Quite bit of desigin/programming work - Three versions. Desktop/tablet/mobile
... but quite a bit of money
 Still trying to  
Have tried to recruit sales people You can try sales yourself - but mindsets are different. You also struggle to find the time
Don't pick just on personality - Doesn't work.
You need a 'closer' - An actual sales person with proven track record

Twitter #Intro yourself at #ODCamp to make the most of your time there

4 min read

I'm lending a hand at Open Data Camp (#ODCamp) this weekend by helping people Network while at the event.

The goal of this Network, or Speed-dating as some of the crew have called it - to help people coming to the event to get the most from it, not only in the sessions, but by having fruitful conversations between sessions that will serve to stimulate, or perhaps grow into collaborations. This could be swapping ideas, have questions answered, building collaborations.

There's 130 people going to the event, so there's no real way of me getting to know them all, no matter how much research I carry out in advance.

It got me thinking about ways/systems to help people self-network - Peer-to-Peer networking, if you like (Ah, P2P, that takes you back doesn't it?).

Easy discovery of people's interests

In last night's organisers' Hangout, it popped into my mind about how coloured stickers were fantastically effective at the late-90s First Tuesday networking events for joining mutual interests. There it was a simple two colours - One for I have money to invest, the other, I have an idea looking for investment.

Chatting the initial idea over with the others, it wasn't quite right. Having applied more thought to it, Open Data Camp isn't that simple, there's a lot more areas/interests. Given that you'd end up needing a look-up chart for what each colour meant, defeating the point.

During a phone call with Chris Gutterdige today we kicked the idea around and I think have formed the start of an interesting idea.

Self-declaring your via Twitter

Before the event, on the way there, or during the event, if attendees Tweet out one/a few Tweets about themselves, How they're connected to Open Data and what their looking for, the P2P networking can start online and hope fully flourish at the event when they meeting in person.

Essentially you're creating a bit of data about yourself.

Examples are often the best way - So I might Tweet

@simonperry I use open data in our journalism at @OnTheWight 

your interest

Another might be the equivalent of the colours badge stickers, but much more flexible a mix of the things that you do and your interests.


Other tag labels might be

Perhaps the area you work in -

- What your interested in sharing

Chris suggested - if there's an area of Open Data that you've got a strong knowledge about and are willing/keen to share. 



@cgutteridge Organisational Open data

- People you'd like to meet/chat with

The last idea was for people that you know that you like to meet up with. This one is lifted from dating/small ads - - Would Like To Meet.

@simonperry Others in news and those interested in Open Data for social good

@simonperry interested in data in journalism

All searchable

Of course this all bring the advantages of search-ability. If you want to meet up with people at who work in a particular field, they'd be easy to find and therefore connect to at the event.

Let's give it a go!

I don't know - this all might be a complete daft idea, or it might be something quite useful. Either way, let's have a play at ODCamp - if it's doing to work anywhere, this is a good place to start.

Of course, if you have any thoughts on this, want to meet anyone at , or just want a general chat about Open Data, just come and say hello.


Local news groups centralising editorial enabled #Hyperlocal to get a foothold in the UK

1 min read

Tim Bourne (a friend and past colleague) raises the question of local news being decimated in the UK. Interesting points brought up on his recent personal experience.

Here's my response/take on it

I think the address of the Ealing Gazette's editorial office says it all Tim - It's 8.5 miles away, in middle of Hammersmith. That's not a local paper. That's a team trying to gather together goodness knows how many papers spread around a wide area, away from where they actually are.

It's past management decisions to centralise editorial to increase profits that enabled Hyperlocal news to flourish in the UK in the first place. Hyperlocal news providers are based in the community.

Agreed income have been hit by classified revenue loss, but past withdraw of editorial away from the areas they cover started the rot.

(Thanks for kind words about OnTheWight BTW)


Crowd-funding #hyperlocal: Considering the funder's 'Entitlement' question

2 min read

I saw BrixtonBlog's Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign today. 

I think they've hit exactly the right note  - especially liked the tone and cut of the video.

Wishing them very best with it. 

I'm not wanting to cast a shadow over it in any way, as I know they do good work.

The Entitlement question

It does raise what I think might be an interesting discussion point - a point that Sally had brought up about crowd-funding, when we'd been discussing at OnTheWight - How much entitlement might those who donate feel that they have over the publication?

Our (frankly rather strange) experience in the past has pointed to this as a possibility. It's happened a few times - by individuals or a business or two.

One real-world example

One case - an individual had given us a tenner (yes you read that right), then started to write to us attempting to steer our editorial policy, feeling he had the right as he was 'supporting' us. He had, to that point (and since, mostly), seemed quite a sane and reasonable person.

Obviously he had chance in directing us, but to underline the point we took the decision to refund his money.

Cross-fingers this won't happen with BrixtonBlog, but for hyperlocals it worth considering how can this be avoided and planned around.


You're doing something right when =>1 political party constantly refers to 'an online site' instead of your publication name!