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Strategic insights
A Guide to Journalists Thinking about Starting an Individual Media Company

46
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Written by on December 4, 2017

One of the emerging media trends is that many journalists are thinking about starting their own individual media companies, to create their own channels and get monetized directly.

I see this more and more on Twitter. Here, for instance, is just one of many examples...

Rossalyn Warren is a journalist who has written for the Guardian, VICE, NYT, and Washington Post. She is thinking perhaps there is another way to make a living, rather than selling articles on a freelance basis to existing media companies.

Throughout 2017, I have also received a lot of emails about this. The reason people ask me, is because I'm one of the people who actually made this work. Back in 2010, I started Baekdal Plus, my subscription based part of this site (which you are reading now), where I provide my readers with guidance, trends, and strategic insights about the media industry... for $9/month.

While I also do media consulting (mostly for very large, traditional media companies), Baekdal Plus alone is able to sustain me, and this is how I make my living.

So, in this article, I will give you my advice on creating a sustainable individual media company.

  • What have I learned over the past 7 years?
  • What mistakes do people make?
  • What should you do differently?
  • What is the real potential here?
  • And in what ways do you need to rethink your focus to make something like this work?

This article has several sections. We will talk about the business models and the financial perspective and all the challenges we have with that. And then we are going to talk about you, and the strategy of getting people to connect with you as an individual.

And this is not a quick read. This report is 46 pages long, because I wanted to give you a very in-depth perspective on this.

So, if you are thinking about creating your own media channel, grab yourself a cup of coffee, and let's get going.

Four massively different types of media

One of the fundamental aspects of the media industry today is that we are seeing a split in how it is defined. In the old days, media was defined as local and national newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio, and the definition of each was pretty straight forward.

It was a format-first approach, where the format also defined your editorial focus. There was a distinctive editorial difference between being a newspaper reporter, a journalist working for a magazine, and someone creating shows for TV.

Today, the internet has completely eradicated this way of defining media. This is partly because the internet is format agnostic (it doesn't care whether something is text or video); partly because the distribution is frictionless (remember, a monthly magazine was monthly because of the distribution cost); and partly because the way way people behave online is very different.

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.

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