According to reports by the National Public Radio (NPR), at least 20 million people nationwide still receive their news by way of a community paper.
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These statistics creates a bright outlook for those who are interested in starting a business putting out a community publication. With careful planning and execution your paper has the potential for great success.
Research the Market
Research your market thoroughly. Find out what the competition is doing, who your potential advertisers are as well as who your readers will be. All of this information will help you to decide how to package your paper.
Decide How To Publish
Decide whether you want an online publication, the traditional offline paper format or both. Both of these styles of paper have the potential to be successful. The success of your paper will depend largely on how well you plan and to what extent you follow through with those plans.
Get Finances Together
Get the financial structure of your newspaper together. This would include your accounting method, how staff will be paid, bookkeeping, how much will be spent on advertising and so forth. It's a good idea to hire someone who is a professional to handle your payroll and taxes.
Select Delivery Method
Select how often you want your paper delivered. Will it be a weekly community paper, bi-weekly, monthly, etc. You also need to decide if people will be able to subscribe to it and have it delivered automatically or will there be distribution points where community members can go and pick it up from. It you are having an online publication you'll need to decide if the paper will be delivered via email, a website or both.
Develop Sources For Stories
Develop sources for community stories. Do this by fostering relationships with community leaders, schools, non-profit organizations, local businesses, sports organizations, etc. Let them know that you have started a community newspaper and would be more than happy to include any newsworthy story in your publication.
Focus On the Community
Since you are publishing a community newspaper, your stories need to focus on keeping the community at the forefront. Highlight upcoming events, elections, parades, business grand openings, etc.
Learn To Sell Ads
Sales from advertising will be the lifeline of your newspaper. This is how you will generate money to pay bills and pay yourself. After all, it is a business. Learn to price and sell advertising. Your advertising sales is directly related to how long your paper stays in business.
Starting a community newspaper takes time and planning. Make sure you have a solid financial structure set up, develop community connections as sources for stories and learn to price and sell advertising. Taking these steps will help you to create a community newspaper that has longevity and is appealing to the community as a whole.