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In the last 5 years, the number of subscribers to news platforms has increased by 200%
and in a crazy 2020 — by 36%. That reflects an internet users’ great interest in news, which provides excellent conditions to create your own news website. From this article, you will learn how to develop such a portal, what it requires, and how much it costs.
News portal niche
The first thing you need to do is choose a topic of news that you’re going to be delivering to your readers. Focus on one topic is needed because the launch of a news website, which is going to report everything, will hardly be able to compete with market leaders: BBC, CNN, Fox News, or The New York Times.
You should choose the news topic on the basis of the following considerations:
- The topic should be interesting to a big number of users. For instance, millions of people worldwide would read news about celebrities’ lives and art. While a limited number of people would be interested in news about mycology (a science about fungi).
- The topic should be relevant to the target market. For example, news about American football is popular in the USA while no one is interested in it in Europe. People here are more interested in soccer.
- The topic should focus on a relatively narrow niche because it's the only way for a new news portal to stand out among the competitors. And you’ll have loads of competitors in this market because everybody can create a news website and quite quickly and cheaply at that.
- The topic should have a stable and growing audience. For example, many people will be interested in news about the soccer world cup, but only shortly before, during, and after the world cup, which takes place once in four years.
Your site’s monetization model
. This is a traditional monetization model of news websites. For instance, you have to subscribe: $2 per week and $8 per month to get full access to news on the New York Times website. News aggregator inkl is also using the subscription model: $10 per month and $100 per year. Nevertheless, along with it, inkl offers an alternative model of access as well – readers can pay $0,10 per article. This option is convenient for those, who don’t really follow the news but want to read about something specific sometimes.
Ads in the app
. Almost all free and freemium news websites
are using this monetization model. For example, Flipboard is using this model (quite aggressive advertising, but you can turn it off) just like BBC, Fox News, Buzzfeed, and many more. If you decide to bet on advertising when launching your news website, remember that you should be careful with this monetization model: if there will be too many advertisements or it will bother readers, you’re going to lose them or they’re going to start using ad blockers (uBlock Origin, AdBlock, Ghostery, AdGuard and so forth).
. This approach implies that most of your news content will be provided for free and you’ll offer your readers some exclusive material. For example, on news platforms for traders, such exclusive material can be experts’ opinions of how particular news is going to influence the value of the asset / market. Other options of exclusive possibilities: switching off of the advertisements, videos, experts’ articles.
. It used to be a very rare monetization model before, but it has become quite popular with small and medium news websites over the last few years. Large news aggregators like The Guardian also accept donations
from their readers, but it’s not their main source of income.
Methods of new content generation
At the next stage of launching your own news website, you need to determine how exactly you will create content – text of news. You can do it in several ways:
- Copywriters. This is the simplest and most common approach: you hire a team of copywriters, who will track news of the given topic and rewrite them for your site – it’s pretty easy, quick, and cheap.
- Algorithms (AI). This method is usually used by news aggregators, the algorithms of which collect news from all over the web and place them on their sites. Besides, testing of a special artificial intelligence for news writing (for example, GPT-3) has been conducted over the last five years.
- Users. Apart from that, users can write news for your site themselves and you will only administer this process. This method was formerly used only by forums and news communities on social networks. Now the users’ labor of generating news content is used by many large online portals — from Medium to YouTube.
Main features of a news portal
. Simply defined, a feed is just a list of posts, which the users are able to scroll to see headlines and brief descriptions of recently published news. Earlier the list was formed on the basis of publication time. Now it’s customary to personalize feed for each user based on his previous activity, list of saved topics and authors, location, recommendations of other readers, and the like – all this data is usually connected by artificial intelligence like on Google News.
Sign up, log in
. It’s not necessary to sign up on most news websites to read and search for news. But they offer people such a possibility, which makes it possible to comment on news, form the lists of saved news, choose favorite topics, subscribe, etc. You can sign up via email, phone number, or accounts on Google and Facebook.
. You need to implement a content management system (CMS) on your site to publish
, edit, and manage the news. It should contain an editor of Readymag, WordPress, and Medium level, where you can type the text as well as work with images, video, and tables.
. User profile collects all information about a user: name, date of birth, gender, image, contacts, links to accounts on social networks, favorite topics, and possibly even a brief description. Aside from that, it’s usually possible to adjust the website appearance, privacy levels, payment details (subscription), email messages, etc. in the user profile.
Search system and filters
. A search system is a tool, which allows finding interesting articles with the help of keywords, categories, hashtags, and other filters. You can expand the ordinary search system by creating something like a tree of news, where cause-and-effect relations will be marked (experts have to do the marking).
Possibility to «follow»
. No one likes to repeat the same thing over and over again even if it’s only choosing a topic from the list. Therefore, popular news platforms offer the opportunity to «follow», due to which people select one or several news topics, which will form their news feed. On The Guardian website, the users are able to follow particular authors in addition to topics (or instead of them).
. This is a useful feature that, on the one hand, enables readers to express themselves and interact with each other, which increases their engagement. On the other hand, comments can help to understand what news (authors) your users really like. There is a negative aspect though: if topics covered by your news website spark interest or ambiguous, you can attract Internet trolls, who will be igniting conflicts among users. In this case, you should moderate comments somehow.
. What’s the use of notifications on a news portal? Well, you can use them to notify users of the latest news, their favorite authors’ new publications, soon subscription expiration, responses to their comments, reminders of forgotten favorites and saved articles. Besides, you can use push notifications for communication or surveys.
. Presence of geotargeting means that your news app will be able to know the location of users’ devices and automatically determine the interface language or send the users news about events occurring nearby. This feature is especially useful for sites that post news about local or time-limited events; for instance, where you can spend your free time today or buy something at a discount.
Recommendations to readers
. Sometimes posts touch on the same matters, but they are not part of one category. Or the user reads a couple of texts of the topic that he isn’t subscribed to. In such cases, your news website has to recommend similar articles to readers (below the post). It’s better to implement this feature through modern artificial intelligence (AI) mechanisms and machine learning, which can provide more accurate suggestions if you manage it right, which will make users come back to your site again and again.
Subscription, freemium model
. If you choose a monetization model that implies paid access to content, you have to demonstrate the usefulness of this content. The way of doing it depends on the topic. For example, you better sell news about financial markets
by specifying their speed of emergence and accuracy while news about research studies is sold with the help of maximum data completeness.
. If you’re going to use a monetization model with a subscription, you need to add a possibility to pay for the subscription to the site. You can do it through integrations with such payment systems as PayPal, Stripe, Paytm, or BrainTree. You should choose payment gateways on the basis of the most popular payment methods among your target audience.
. It allows managing the website settings, users, posts, payment system, and the like. Adding and deleting website pages, changing the design, and editing content.
. It usually reflects performance indicators and metrics, which are used to track and manage information inside your resource whether it is a news blog, an aggregator, or any other online periodical.
Process of a news site development
Online news is a highly competitive market so it’s better to create your news site with the help of custom development. Because it’s the only way to implement a unique project and not the template site, design and functionality of which won’t differ from thousands of other news platforms. You can entrust such a custom development to a marketing agency or a full-cycle development company. This article describes where to look and how to choose a technical partner in detail: «Choose a custom erp software development company
Once you choose a technical partner, you can start a direct development of your own news website. This process usually consists of the following stages:
- Agreement. At the first stage, you and the development company draw up the scope of work and sign an agreement, where you describe all cooperation details – starting with payment and ending with performance indicators. Make sure to document all your preferences including a deadline.
- Prototyping. This stage implies the creation of wireframes of your website’s each screen. In addition, the user flow is discussed at length.