I lit up this morning when reading an article in the pages of Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab.

The article describes the inner workings of AllNovaScotia.com, a startup business journal in Canada’s largest Maritime Province that charges a healthy $360 a year for access to content. From what I can tell there is no free version.

AllNovaScotia has 5,950 subscribers, whose monthly dues generate 80 per cent of its revenue. Three people with different email addresses can share a $30 a month subscription, but they can’t pass the stories on to anyone else without some effort. The publication — produced by a staff of 14, 11 of them reporters — is locked down in Flash, making sharing usually a cumbersome ordeal of cobbling together screenshots. No sharing buttons here.

A focus on people and their wealth makes AllNovaScotia a different beast from typical business coverage that focuses on companies. People’s names are bolded in stories, frequently paired with their corporate compensation and the assessed value of their house. An almost-daily feature is Who’s Suing Whom.

Lots of things to consider here. Work your niche, and offer somewhat lurid content if you want people to covet it and pay for it (AllNoviaScotia is published by David Bentley, who co-founded a gossip publication called Frank Magazine in the 1980s).

The other thing is don’t hesitate to charge for content, once you’ve determined how best to serve your audience. “You can’t be in the content business and not get paid for it,” Bentley says. Emphasis on business.

All of which leads me think how we might modify AdPulp’s editorial product so it doesn’t compete with the trades or other ad blogs, but delivers the perfect mix of stories and images that ad pros will gladly pay for. Like photos of themselves sunning in Cannes and gossip about who is sleeping with whom back in Manhattan and Santa Monica. Plus, the dish on which creative directors are total assholes, and which producers are the most fun to party with on location.

Of course, there’s just one small problem with my plan. I won’t put out a pub just for money. Yet, there is clearly a way to offer the meaty substance that real journalists cook up and industry cocktail chatter in the same vehicle. Sounds like AllNoviaScotia has it figured out, and I imagine many other niche and regional publishers are about to discover the right approach, as well. Because “You can’t be in the content business and not get paid for it.”

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Digital culture, Media