Starting a Profitable Newspaper
We offer the following only as a guide for you to start your own newspaper. While the general structure is informative, every person or organization has their own way of adding their own special touch to any endeavor.
- Benefits of Starting a Newspaper
- Think Larger than a Newsletter
- Pick Your “Niche,” Name, and Size
- Determine Your Distribution Size
- Funding Your Newspaper Business
- Determining Your Advertising Prices
- Finding Advertisers
- Designing Tips and Suggestions for Your Newspaper
- Distributing Your Newspaper
- In Conclusion
There are many benefits—as you will discover as you read through this guide. Newspapers can be incredibly well received by your community, especially “niche” or theme oriented newspapers, in this day and age of the declining dailies and weeklies. People still like to read, they just are more selective in what they read. Here is a summary of why you may want to start your own newspaper and what you may expect:
- It can generate its own income to pay for itself while promoting your interests at the same time.
- It can generate a profit to help with extra income for any reasons of your choice.
- It gives you much, much more room to deliver a message than a flyer or newsletter.
- Advertising in a newspaper is inherently accepted by everyone over any other type of print media.
- It is an accepted format. Businesses of every kind are more than likely to carry your newspaper and “theme” papers are enthusiastically received.
- It offers many ways for members or your business or organization to be involved.
- It allows you to establish relationships with businesses and helps to get them to invest in your cause.
- People are more apt to read it because of the diverse content centered around a general theme.
- You can promote your causes, values, teachings, and advice in a much more profound way.
- You can establish yourself as an expert in your field. It helps you establish credibility.
- It will dramatically increase your name recognition.
- It allows you to get your message out for free or for little investment!
A newspaper can do so much more than a simple newsletter. If, however, that is your only goal, you will find the prices at MakeMyNewspaper more than competitive to anything else you will find.
But with the increased space a newspaper provides—in comparison to a newsletter—the newspaper can become an invaluable arm of information. A folded 22x14 sheet of paper gives you 4 pages at 11x14 inches. Compare that to your typical newsletter and you can begin to see that a newspaper can accommodate much more space than a newsletter can at a fraction of the price.
Don’t think ‘newsletter’. Think instead ‘newspaper!’
Choosing the right niche is essential to the success of your newspaper. A niche is a corner or section of the overall market you will be addressing. There are many different issues, programs, causes, and problems, products, and services you could write about. But it is important to remember that your newspaper, in order to become a staple in your community, needs to be somewhat predictable to those who are interested in it as well as something you are knowledgeable about.
For example, one church chose a ‘family niche’ and therefore all the articles primarily dealt with family issues. People have come to anticipate their next publication because they are anticipating the articles on the family.
There are several areas you need to consider in choosing your ‘niche’.
- Demographics. How large is your town or city? How much coverage can you achieve easily based on your workforce and time frame? If your town is large, should you choose a zone, or distribute citywide?
- Your strengths. Each individual is endowed with his or her own particular strengths. If you specialize in a particular field, you may want to focus on that area as your niche. If you supply a particular product or specific service, keep your newspaper relevant to who you are or what your business is.
- Political environment. We are not suggesting a political paper necessarily—although that can be a good niche. But if your area is primarily liberal or conservative, this may have a bearing on the effectiveness of your chosen niche.
- Aim and Audience. If you are trying to promote a service, product or message, you need to keep in mind who your audience will be. Make sure, in addition, you have a good purpose or aim for your newspaper. If you are a realtor, for example, many of your articles may want to deal with housing, mortgages, property, and so forth. How readily can you reach your target audience?
- Recurring social issues. If you can tie your articles in with the prevailing social issues of the day, you will probably be read. If you own an electronics store, for example, write reviews on products and how they can simply help, or make clear some of the issues people deal with on a daily basis. For example, write a review on a particular cell phone and how it can assist parents in keeping track of their children. Your name or niche ought to have some ties with social issues. These are the things most people are interested in.
- Availability of content. Your content and the ease by which you can get the content will determine the overall size of your newspaper. Do you wish to do a 4 page, 8, 12 or 16 page newspaper? How much content do you have? How easy is it to write it or get it?
Your newspaper name and content is based on your chosen niche. Warning! Don’t get so specific in your niche that you exhaust all your content in only a few issues. For example, one church calls their paper, ‘From Tragedy to Triumph’. This gives them much more flexibility in supplying content. They can deal with addictions, abuse of all kinds, and other types of success stories.
Choose your name based on your niche. Choose the size of your paper based on your ability to fill it with good content. The titles of the articles need to be catchy enough so that if someone happens to pick up one of your newspapers and just glances at the front, they see something that may appeal to them right away.
When trying to figure out how many copies of your newspapers to get for each issue, you need to keep three factors in mind:
- Population size of your distribution area.
- Cost versus potential revenue or available funds.
Clearly, if you live in a town of 2,000 people, you don’t need to order 10,000 newspapers. At the same time, if you live in a city of 2 million and print 100,000 newspapers with a workforce of two people, you’ll never get them out quickly enough.
There are two basic distribution methods (discussed more in depth later on) that should factor into your size of distribution. They are: canvassing neighborhoods, and placing copies in friendly businesses.
Another factor is your revenue desired from the newspaper. If you sell ads in your newspaper, you must weigh how much room you can allot for ads and the potential revenue from those ads against the number of copies of the newspapers that you intend to print for each issue.
For example, 10,000 eight page newspapers gives you the exact same amount of room to sell ads in as 20,000, or even 50,000 eight page newspapers would. The price difference between printing 10,000 and 20,000 newspapers, though, makes it more difficult to raise the needed funds by selling ads within the same eight pages. You have to either raise the ad prices or add more pages to the publication to compensate for a higher distribution. Both of these factors need to be considered. Bear in mind, that newsprint is very inexpensive, and just a few ads can literally pay for an additional 4 pages, which in return offers that much more advertising and content space. Weigh your options carefully. Also, if you are unsure, you’re better off starting with a smaller newspaper and growing larger with your next issue than starting big, being in financial difficulties and sizing down.
Done right, this is a self sustaining business. You may certainly set a budget aside for it and pay everything up front. MakeMyNewspaper prices are incredible and will save you a lot of money over other traditional publications—including newsletters, flyers, other advertising media and brochures.
However, with all the space you have in the newspaper, just selling a few ads allows you to raise all the money you need to cover all your expenses. There is plenty of space to make a tidy profit!
Taking a small example, if you sell 24 ads (3 per page of an 8 page newspaper) at $100 each, you will raise $2,400. You can make up to $1,500 in profit! Four additional ads at the same price per page adds $800 more. Raise the price of your ads and your income grows significantly.
Selling advertisements is the best way to go. Here are some benefits:
- The newspapers are paid for by the advertisers.
- You make money on each issue from the advertising.
- You can solicit advertisers by explaining that by purchasing an AD in your paper they are contributing to the community by helping you to reach the community, and they in return are reaching out to the community.
- You build more solid relationships with businesses and business owners by partnering with them.
- You get something, money, and the business gets something, advertising. It is a win-win situation!
- Ads give your paper a more newspaper feel and look. People expect ads in newspapers.
- It increases your paper’s credibility and circulation potential. Most businesses who advertise will also carry your newspaper!
As a basic premise, set a base AD equal to 1 cent per paper. Therefore, if you distribute 10,000 newspapers your base black and white AD ought to be set at $100. All other ads ought to be adjusted above or below that price. If the ad is bigger, charge more. If it has color charge more and so on.
That said, you still need to be aware of two other factors. First, the population of your area. The smaller the population, the less they are used to paying for advertisements. You may need to adjust your pricing to factor this in. Second, the competition. The competition in this case is not competing publications, but rather competing avenues of advertising. If someone could go elsewhere and pay less while reaching more people, they will. You need to know what other ad agencies or venues are selling their ads for and how wide their distribution is. Armed with that information, it may change your pricing to stay competitive.
Pick your ad sizes first. Here are some suggested sizes (in inches):
- 2 x 2
- 2 x 3.5 (this is a business card size)
- 2 x 10 (banner across your paper)
- 3.5 x 3.5
- Half page ad
- Full page ad
The black and white business card ad (2 x 3.5) could be your base ad. By setting the price for that at $100 and building everything else around that, we understand our structure. Here is a sample of current AD pricing under this structure:
(We offer 4 pages that will have color Ads in them: Front, Back, and Middle Spread. First come, first served.)
- $25.00 - Sponsor an article (Two lines of text immediately under the title or author name). This is great for name recognition or individuals who want to support our ministries but do not own a business to promote of their own.
- $120.00 - Small (2x2) square *
- $150.00 - Medium (3.5 x 2) Business Card Size *
- $195.00 - Large (3.5 x 3.5) square *
- $250.00 – Banner (2 x 10)
- $300.00 - Local Business Highlight article with large AD (300 word article promoting your business!).
- $400.00 – Half page AD (6.5 x 10)
- $600.00 – Full page AD (13 x 10)
* Available for front page AD. Please add $25.00 for front page color AD.
Black and White:
- $25.00 - Sponsor an article (Two lines of text immediately under the title or author name). This is great for name recognition or individuals who wish to help and promote their own interests or expertise.
- $75.00 - Small (2x2) square
- $100.00 - Medium (3.5 x 2) Business Card Size
- $150.00 - Large (3.5 x 3.5) square
- $200.00 – Banner (2 x 10)
- $250.00 - Local Business Highlight article with large AD (300 word article promoting your business!)
- $350.00 – Half page AD (6.5 x 10)
- $500.00 – Full page AD (13 x 10)
NOTE: The Medium Black and White Ad Space averages out to about .01 cent per newspaper!
If you come out with more than one issue a year, try to sell contracts to each advertiser to get them to commit to more than one issue. Give them a discount if they do. Here is what you could do:
- Contract for 2 issues: 10% off each AD.
- Contract for 3 issues: 15% off each AD.
- Contract for 4 issues: 20% off each AD.
This will save you time and make it easier to raise money for future issues.
If you sell more ads than you need and feel you are running out of room, just add pages to your publications. If two people, for example, bought a full page black and white AD at the suggested prices above, that is $1,000. It would be a simple thing to just increase the page count in your newspaper to get all your content in. The prices at MakeMyNewspaper allow for this at super rates!
There is no substitute for asking. You have to ask. Still, here is how you could start:
- Approach everyone you currently know is a business owner and all those you currently do business with. Ask them to buy an AD.
- Ask each of the above business owners to give you referrals.
- Approach and ask each of your referrals to buy an AD. Use the name of the person who referred you.
- Ask them for referrals too.
- Continue this pattern.
This will give you a good start. From there, if you run out of places, you can cold call businesses, but when you do, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Talk only to business owners or the one who can write the check or make a decision. Come back if you have to. You can pitch it better than some employee that doesn’t care or fully understand it all.
- Explain what the proceeds are going for, or what your newspaper is all about.
- Provide samples of your newspapers if you have them.
- Provide a price sheet.
- Provide all your contact information.
- Don’t wait for them to call you, you follow up on them.
- Don’t be afraid when they say ‘no’.
- You may want to offer free AD design services.
You can use your own desktop publishing program, though MakeMyNewspaper provides a free Cloud Newspaper Designer that you can use that offers free templates (see below) and pre-structured newspaper layouts. Be sure to follow all the suggested tips we provide and read our FAQ’s and Tutorial pages. You may also use your own graphic program to design your newspaper and simply upload your own PDFs when you order (as long as the Specifications are followed).
- Decide on a name for your paper and make this large and on the top of your newspaper. Make sure that it is the name of your business or at least suggests what your business is about (for instance, if you own a hair salon, you want to avoid names like "Harry’s Newspaper" or "JoAnne's " as those names have no message as to the content of the kind of paper you are producing.
- Make sure you also have your business name, phone number, address, email address and any other pertinent information somewhere on top of your newspaper.
- Include the current issue number and volume number somewhere near the top along with a date. (Issue One, or March Issue, or something along these lines.)
- You may want to include an index of some kind near the top of your newspaper (New Technology for Hair Coloring...Page 3).
- Don't get complicated with your advertising! Make sure your own content is very easy to find and read! The simplest place to put advertisement is along the bottom of each page. You can decide this for yourself.
- Content must be easy to find and have strong Headings (see our Content Tips).
- Make sure everything is converted to CMYK color schemes instead of the default RGB color schemes most computers use. (Not a concern if using our Cloud Newspaper Designer.)
- Make sure your black text is 100% black font (K) and doesn’t have any percent of the other colors in them (CMY). (Not a concern if using our Cloud Newspaper Designer.)
- Keep in mind what people see. Pages 2 and 3 are an open spread set side by side. 4 and 5 are too in a newspaper larger than 4 pages and so forth. Whatever content is on page 2 will be seen right next to the content on page 3.
- Alignments are important for a good looking paper. Try to keep everything aligned.
- Justify your columns to ‘full’ so it gives a crisp edge to both sides of your article columns.
- Stick with the same font size for all your articles. Don’t vary them just to fill up space. It looks tacky. Typical font sizes are 11, 11.5, and 12 for articles.
- Stick with the same type of font for all your articles. Using different types of fonts for the primary reading makes the newspaper look messy.
- Fill up space with pictures, puzzles, quotes, and other graphics. Puzzles and the like will increase the shelf life of your newspaper.
- Most of the time, the printed copy of your newspaper will print darker than your computer screen copy looks. You may need to lighten some pictures and adjust the contrast and brightness to get a clear picture in print.
- Don’t get too wild. Try to retain a consistent theme of graphics and text throughout the paper.
- Put pictures of your own employees, partners, members, or associates in the newspaper. This will make it more interesting to them and exciting. Tell your advertisers to use pictures of themselves as well in their ads…much more personal.
- Study some of the available examples on the MakeMyNewspaper sample page or have a sample pack mailed to you.
The most important thing about a newspaper is keeping it simple to read. Don’t get too complicated with graphics and keep your articles separated and with bold Headings.
Keep your content simple, easy to find (bold headings), easy to read (don't use extremely fancy fonts) and keep some space between articles. Also, don’t try to include too much information as your font size (the size of your letters) in your articles need to stay at least the size of 12 or larger for everyone to be able to read easily. Strategic pictures and photos can also be wonderful to attract the eye to an article, though don't get crazy and use too many because it will dilute the strength of each photo.
The content in your paper is solely yours to decide. For the most part, it should coincide with whatever your paper is supposed to be about. Again, if you are a hair salon, you probably don't want articles on the latest technology of lawn ornaments, or of the recent discovery of microorganisms in Egyptian tombs. Keep your articles related to your business.
Use your friends and partners to help! Get them to submit articles, enlist proofreaders, and get them to sell ads!
There are places around the internet where you can get content.
A new niche newspaper product is always very exciting when it’s first published…that’s why you want to start with the best paper you can. You’ll find your friends and business acquaintances will go out of their way to help distribute your newspapers.
Canvassing neighborhoods is a great way to get your name and message in front of people. It’s harder but very effective, especially starting out. Here are some rules you might go by:
- Don’t violate a ‘no trespassing’ sign.
- Don’t leave a newspaper at a ‘no soliciting’ sign unless you knock first and ask.
- Don’t put a newspaper in the mail box (it’s illegal).
- Secure the paper in some manner so it doesn’t get blown away or rained on.
This has been very effective method of introducing newspapers to communities.
Also, another effective means of distributing your newspapers is to find friendly businesses and restaurants that will accept your newspapers. Any place where there is a waiting room is ideal. People often look for something to read while they are waiting. If you chose a good ‘niche’, many of these businesses would be very pleased to accept your paper for their customers to enjoy while they are waiting.
Restaurants are the best, we’ve found. Here is a list of places you may want to consider distributing your newspapers:
- Doctor’s and Dentist’s Offices
- Coffee Shops
- Waiting Rooms of every sort
- Retail Stores with Community Bulletin Boards
- Convenience Stores
- Gas Stations
- Apartment Building Offices (especially if they don’t allow distribution of papers door to door. They often will allow them in the office).
- Apartment Complexes – Door to Door
- Neighborhoods – Door to Door
Be careful to get the proper permissions. If they don’t allow them and you leave some anyway, odds are, they end up in the trash. Keep track of the rate your newspapers are taken. Some places may need more and other places less.
We hope this short guide gives you a solid sense of what your new newspaper requires to get it off the ground the first time.