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The key to making money with website journalism is to hire someone to handle advertising full-time. If I outsourced advertising on my website - maybe to someone who would take a 10% or 25% cut instead of a salary, so I could afford it - I could make quite a bit of money. Don't know why more people don't pick up on this. Besides static ads like google ads and amazon ads, you can get advertisers who are eager to pay $200/mth for an ad on a reasonably popular website, especially if the content is related to their product - you just have to take the time to find them and ask them.

I agree: if I had seen a long-term future in solo blogging, a dedicated salesperson would have lifted my revenues. But, high enough? I ran out of energy before I could try that next step.

I may have more luck with my next venture.

The closest web-based business model that works is sports journalism. I went to Michigan State (for many years) as an undergraduate and I follow Spartan football and basketball obsessively.

Jim Camporoni started out on the Michigan State News in J-School about 20 years ago and could have followed his peers into a traditional newspaper job. Instead, he got started early on with paid coverage of MSU sports. He started with a biweekly newspaper and then added an e-mail service for an additional charge.

Today he runs the Spartan website for the Rivals Sports Network. http://michiganstate.rivals.com/default.asp

This has some free content, but most requires a monthly subscription. In addition, Jim still publishes the paper (although most subscibers take the on-line delivery option). The paper includes paid advertising. Jim also offers the Spartan Plus (not part of Rivals) subscription for almost real time coverage, including his blogs, podcasts, and vcasts.

Now, I have no idea how much revenue Jim generates from all this, but I do know that he has at least five full and part-time reporters that provide content. This week, two of them are covering summer high-school AAU basketball in Las Vegas, where MSU basketball recruits are playing. They cover all home and away MSU football and baskeball games - in much greater depth than the newspapers ever did in their best days.

The Detroit papers still have some beat writers assigned to MSU and U of M, but the coverage is pretty sparse and I can't remember the last time that I read something in the on-line Detroit papers that I hadn't already seen from one of Jim's sources. In fact, the Detroit Free Press uses one of Jim's reporters (Matt Dorsey) to cover football recruiting, and the Detroit News uses one of the Rivals UofM guys (Sam Webb) for its football recruiting coverage.

Jim Camparoni is not alone in web coverage of MSU sports. Hondo Carpenter has his Spartan Nation site - http://spartannation.com/ and there is the GoSpartans.Net site http://michiganstate.scout.com/ which is part of the Scout national network. You will also see the merchandise that these sites offer.

Overall, today I am willing to pay a nominal monthly charge to get sports coverage for my teams that is in much greater depth and far more timely than the newspapers could ever deliver.

I haven't done any research, but I am pretty certain that there are other schools such as Notre Dame, Ohio State, Southern Cal, Texas, Nebraska, and most of the SEC schools, whose alums support even more journalists than MSU.

Now, the key is to find other topics that people care about as much as sports.

Here's Jim Comparoni's other web site for the additional publications that I subscribe to. As you can see, Jim is responsible for a lot more content here. Each year he puts out at least 18 44-page newspapers; 80 lengthy Spartan Plus blogs, and bonus podcasts. Greg may be the Espresso Pundit, but Comparoni takes caffeine consumption to a new level.

http://www.spartanmagazineonline.com/

http://www.spartanmagazineonline.com/

Hopkins also blew most (if not all) of his Gannett severance pay on a long vacation in Europe. Now, a bad business model is still a bad business model, but have some reserve cash allows more time to turn things around.

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