In September 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I launched my own publication, La Jornada Filipina. It’s a side project that I’ve been working on alongside my full-time job as a books journalist. For more than three years, I wrote and edited articles; interviewed many people in my community, including foreign diplomats; attended cultural events; and socialized with members of the high society. It was an exciting and novel experience for me, and I learned new skills that I can apply to future jobs.
Aside from that, I learned how to manage an online magazine. Because I mostly work on it after work, sometimes, it has felt like a full-time job. Yes, it’s a side project, but I devote time to it when I can, attending events on weekdays and weekends and writing news about my community.
I acted as the CEO or Editor-in-Chief, overseeing all business processes. I was involved in everything from taxes and website production to writing and social media.
In this blog post, however, I’ll share what I learned while managing the publication from the production side.
Content (and lots of it). An online magazine such as mine must publish at least five pieces per day. Without content, there’s no reason for readers to visit the site, and since it’s a commercial publisher, there would be no views.
Revenue stream. To survive, a commercial media company must generate revenue from sources other than text-based content, such as newsletters, videos, and podcasts. The goal is to diversify revenue streams and reach out to audiences who prefer different news formats.
Funding. To produce a high quality and original article, you need funds. If you’re looking for writers with specialized knowledge, you need to pay them fairly. If you plan to write it yourself, you’ll need funds to travel and interview people. You need funds to pay for the artwork, as well as translation, in our case.
Brand Development. It’s not enough to simply launch a website. Yes, anyone can start an internet publication. It’s easy to provide a platform for writing. I myself built La Jornada Filipina’s website using WordPress, purchased a theme from ThemeForest, tweaked and customized it to my liking by adding custom functions, set up emails, and established a social media presence.
Those are not enough, however.
You must have a value proposition for your audience. What distinguishes the publication? What sets it apart from the rest? In our case, La Jornada Filipina is the only news outlet in the Philippines that publishes in Spanish. You must develop a brand that becomes a destination, something that readers would visit on a daily basis.
You must have a value proposition for your audience. What distinguishes the publication? What sets it apart from the rest?
Knowing Your Audience. For the first three years, we published a wide range of content in various categories. Basically, we experimented to see what works. But now that we’re past that stage, we can better target our audience, see where they frequent and why. We now know what type of content to prioritize to increase readership.
SEO. If you want to have constant page views, there must be a balance of SEO-driven content and topical news articles. SEO content can generate clicks from search engines like Google. On the other hand, if you have a large social media presence, newsy content will bring you traffic. The goal is to increase views and readership, so content strategy must be balanced.
Monetization. To make a living out of it, you must increase page views and then apply to Google Adsense or MediaVine if it has a significant number of page views. I was accepted into the Google Adsense program about five months after I launched the publication.
La Jornada Filipina enables me to write better and manage other writers more effectively. I’m proud of what I’ve done with it, and that it contributes to a cause close to my heart, something that continues the legacy of Spanish journalism in the Philippines.
Right now, I’m not sure what the future holds for this passion project. I may sell it in the future to a media company looking to target Hispanic audiences in the Philippines. I might put my own money into it to ramp up production. I may even pitch the business idea to investors.
One thing is certain, however. I’d never stop writing for it. It’s my life’s work; I don’t know how to expand it right now, but I know it’ll get there eventually.