Future of News bootcamp: make money in travel journalism
It’s a journalists dream: getting paid good money to travel the world or live abroad. Travel Journalism still remains one of the more glamorous genres inside the trade and with good reason. But it’s been hit hard by the changes as much as anywhere else; is there still a good business in it?
The answer from the seven journalists who attended the second Future of News Business Bootcamp this week was a wholehearted ‘yes!…but you have to be clever about it.’
If you’re not familiar with how the bootcamps work then check out the explanation here; but essentially they work on the premise that smaller numbers, an informal location and some bottles of wine equals good ideas and creativity.
Joining the bootcamp this week were Sarah Warwick, Rosamund Hutt, Will Peach, Patrick Smith, Lexi Mills, Tony Fernandes and James Carr; all of them have done the travel journalism thing and want to keep doing it. So how did we do?
The right questions
We frame the bootcamps by asking a series of business orientated questions, applying them to a specific area of journalism.
What’s the value? The team suggested things like inspiration & escape as well as basic language and currency information. Patrick Smith made the very good point that the real financial value in travel journalism is the fact it is actionable: people will buy holidays, for example, off the back of an article.
What are the target markets? We broke into two groups to come up with creative and unusual niche markets for travel journalism. Very popular was the expat market inside a given country (a model proved successful for hard news reporting by MexicoReporter.com); business travellers; the PAs of business travellers; the children of diplomats and even servicemen & women looking for things to do in their various locations.
Where’s the pain? This final question is the basis for many of the most successful businesses of the last century. What pain can you solve with your idea? For us, we’re looking for pains which can be solved by a travel journalist’s information, writing or multimedia. Some great ideas emerged, including products for old people who want to do adventure holidays, a way to help people avoid getting ripped off at the airport and even for people who are ‘bored & abroad’.
It’s not the journalism, stupid
I think the greatest realisation at the end of the evening though was agreeing on what makes money on a website or mobile device. Now, this might seem shocking or controversial to some of you; I suspect others realised this long ago. But collectively we pretty much agreed that on any “news” product, the journalism itself doesn’t make any money. It never will. It never has. It never should.
Instead it facilities a wide variety of other products which do make money; a subscription service, a shop, a sponsored mailing list, events etc. They cannot make money without the journalism, but the journalism cannot exist without them making money.
It’s an interesting symbiotic relationship which I think would form the base of any future news business in the online world. What do you think?
Either way, most of our bootcampers left with new ideas and optimism, so that’s mission complete! We’ll be doing one more in August, before the public meetups return in September.
Thanks very much to Patrick, Lexi, Tony, James, Sarah, Will and Rosamund for taking part in the experiment!