‘Start Me Up’ – Sustainable Digital Media Businesses

Connor Thomas O’Brien with Rohan Workman and Steph Harmon

Connor Tomas O’Brien with Rohan Workman and Steph Harmon

This afternoon session of Digital Writers’ Masterclass, hosted by Connor Tomas O’Brien, featured Steph Harmon, Managing Editor of Junkee, and Rohan Workman, Manager of the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP) in discussion about sustainable digital media businesses.

Rohan observed that television networks are starting to realise how important it is for journalists to have a personal brand, as the majority now have their own Twitter accounts to create an interactive and real-time experiences. Rohan noted that bloggers are powerhouses in their own right, with seventeen-year-old girls with a passion for fashion sitting in the front row of high-end runway shows. ‘If you have a passion for a particular topic, and you can offer better than what’s already out there, then get involved’. Ultimately, the power is now with the consumer, as it is really up to them to see and select what they want.

Steph agreed, adding that major media suppliers are facing audience problems – users used to go to the homepage of a newspaper to look for news, but now newspapers have to find users. She noted, at Junkee “we don’t publish content for our audience, we publish it for our audience’s friends’. Steph offered the following advice for those seeking to set up their own site:

  1. Fill the gap (What is different about what you are creating? How is it new? Junkee aims for quality over quantity.)
  2. Invest in tech
  3. Learn how to internet (Strategize for articles that go viral—milk it! Be aware of what draws users to your site, but be wary of exploiting it too much. ‘The job of an editor is to make sure there’s a balance of click baits and quality articles, otherwise you’ll sabotage your own site’. There needs to be a pay-off for click bait.)
  4. Learn how to money (If you only have one person join you when you start up your company, make sure it’s sales. Junkee had four major advertisers signed up prior to the launch.)

A few highlights from audience question time:

Is curation the end of serendipity?

Rohan said articles will still fall your way, but from a different method (social media).

How much of the Junkee content is researched?

The in-house editorial team capitalise on viral web content. Junkee pay freelancers to research original works.

What funding opportunities are there in Melbourne?

Rohan suggested Lean Startup (http://theleanstartup.com/) and to attend Silicon Beach (http://siliconbeachaustralia.org/) networking events.

Does a particular word length get the most clicks?

Steph found that opinion pieces, around 800 words, do really well.

If you’re just starting out, how can you pay contributors?

Steph recommends giving the writers something back – mentor them to make sure they’re aware of what you’re getting out of their work.

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