According to Pew Research Center, about 86% of Americans regularly consume online news. Europeans don’t lag behind: Eurostat reveals that 72% of EU citizens visit online news portals to keep up with current events.
As a media business owner, you can’t skip the opportunity to capitalize on the popularity of news content. So you must be wondering how to start your own news website and make a profit. That’s what this article can help you with.
In the following paragraphs, AnyforSoft describes how to make a news website that will attract users and, more importantly, retain them. Rather than focusing on technical intricacies, we are zeroing in on the things that really matter for launching a successful site. You will learn:
- What content management system to choose for a news portal.
- How to find your niche and identify your target audience.
- What sources of content you can use. What features you should develop in order to succeed.
- How to build a news website and get listed in Google News.
- What ways to monetize news websites you can leverage, and much more.
Let’s jump straight into it.
Step 1: Find your niche
When it comes to starting a news website, you can either cover news on multiple topics or stick to only one subject. Traffic-wise, providing content on various topics seems like a better option. Big news portals such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Washington Post offer news stories on politics, fashion, business, tech, science, and many other subjects. It helps them attract visitors with different interests and thus have a broader audience.
However, this approach has significant drawbacks for beginners:
- Fierce competition. If you’re just starting a news website, you won’t be able to compete with the giants like The New York Times and The Washington Post. Until you accumulate enough backlinks and increase your Domain Rank, your website will rank low in search engines, so don’t expect much organic traffic.
- High costs. Another reason not to start a news website that covers too many topics is the fact that managing such a website will be costly. Just imagine how much news content appears every hour. If you were to create articles on many subjects, you would have to hire an entire team of content writers, let alone pay for expensive web hosting plans with more storage. Besides, the development of a big portal with hundreds of web pages is quite expensive and requires more time.
If you have enough time and financial resources, you can go ahead and create a news website that would cover everything: from politics to sports. However, if your budget is limited and you don’t want to plunge into tough competition, you better stick to one topic.
For example, you could dedicate your portal to the cryptocurrency niche, write about technology, or find any other subject that you’re passionate about. The more narrow-focused this subject is, the easier it will be for you to rank your news site.
Step 2: Identify your target audience
Once you’ve decided on the niche, the next step is to identify your target audience. The more information you will have on it, the more effective ad campaigns you will be able to run. In addition to that, knowing the preferences of your users will help you make more informed decisions when creating content as well as designing and optimizing your portal.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to thoroughly study the target market before building a news website.
One of the easiest and quickest ways to do this is by analyzing your competitors’ sites.
Suppose you want to create a cryptocurrency news portal. What you can do is google the cryptocurrency news keyword and then add ten websites that show up for it to your list. After that, visit SimilarWeb and scan each website you got. Even a free version of SimilarWeb will provide you with enough insights. More specifically, you will be able to see the countries from which users land on a website, as well as information on visitors’ age, gender distribution, and interests.
That will help you in creating the portrait of your target audience.
Step 3: Choose a CMS for your news site
Apart from WordPress, there are plenty of content management systems to use for making a news website. Surely, WordPress is the most popular CMS, partly because it has plenty of plugins that can help you set up your portal without coding.
However, you should know that as the most widespread CMS, WordPress is a constant target of hacker attacks. Besides, due to its reliance on third-party plugins and themes, the system is extremely vulnerable. In addition to the above, many claim that this CMS is slow and has a poor knowledge base, so when you face an issue, it may take a while to find a solution.
As experts in Drupal development, we believe that Drupal is the right and often the most appropriate solution for building news portals. If you want to make your own news website that will be secure and highly responsive, this CMS will most certainly satisfy your needs.
It has several advantages:
- Like WordPress, Drupal has open-source code, allowing you to make a news website with advanced custom features.
- Drupal is arguably the most secure CMS due to its advanced security features, such as access control, database encryption, and malicious data entry prevention. No wonder this system is used by government websites and the websites of big corporations.
- Drupal can handle high traffic and effectively process loads of data, so it is a great solution for big news websites that cover various topics and contain many web pages.
Step 4: Find sources of news content and hire writers
So you’ve found your niche, identified your target audience, and chosen a CMS. The next step is content creation. You need to hire experienced content writers or journalists to write news articles for your site.
Due to the specifics of the news industry, you should find at least two content creators who will work in shifts to monitor news radars and ensure that any important event gets timely covered. Such events may happen every hour or even more often, so make sure that you have enough team members to create content round the clock. The thing is, the first online news sites that cover a prominent event get all the attention, so you should strive to create and publish news materials as fast as you can.
In your work, you can use these sources of content:
- News aggregators. News aggregators are websites that collect content from multiple news websites and present it in one place. They publish excerpts from news and leave links to original articles, allowing users to visit those links and read entire materials. You could use news aggregators (such as Google News, for example) to monitor what’s happening in your industry and respond accordingly. If a story is fresh and your news site is one of the first to cover it, you will definitely get traffic from it.
- Social media platforms. We live in a world where even a short tweet can make big news. That’s why you should monitor the social media accounts of influencers in your industry and ensure that whenever they say something worthy of a news article, you will be the first to write it. For example, if you are starting a news website that publishes content related to electric cars, following Elon Musk along with the official Tesla account on Twitter would be a smart move.
- The official websites of governments, corporations, and famous individuals. The logic behind it is the same: if a certain company, government organization, or individual is related to the industry you operate in, you should regularly monitor their official website and promptly respond to updates.
Step 5: Develop core features
How to make a news website that will be successful? Among other things mentioned in this article, you should develop the following features.
Most popular news sites such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC, New York Post, and others have search panels, allowing users to quickly find news articles by keywords. By developing your own search bar, you will make your portal more convenient and user-friendly.
Breaking news section
Some news are more prominent than others. Make sure that your news site has a separate section to place breaking news so that users can quickly scan it and get an idea of what's trending at the moment.
Social media integration
People tend to share interesting news on their social media accounts. That, in turn, helps news publishers increase website visibility and drive more traffic. Considering this, add social media buttons to your website to help users share your content.
Every major publisher has a newsletter. By creating your own, you will be able to inform users of interesting news while encouraging them to visit your website and read them. You can also use email newsletters to send holiday greetings and bond with your readers.
Some publishers allow readers to leave comments on news stories (like The Washington Post, for instance). It encourages visitors to engage in conversations, which results in more time spent on the website.
Step 6: Set up an RSS feed
Setting up an RSS feed is a must for anyone who is creating a news website. We already explained what RSS feeds are and how they work in our article on developing a crypto news aggregator—make sure to check it out if you haven’t already.
Long story short, RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a web feed that enables users and websites to access your content in a standardized format. News aggregators can connect to websites through RSS feeds and share their content (title + short description) with links to original materials. Given that aggregators are highly popular, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to be featured on them and increase your website traffic. Therefore, you should set up an RSS feed first thing after starting a news website.
Creating an RSS feed requires a little bit of coding. Namely, you will have to use the eXtensible Markup Language (XML) to create an XML file—please refer to this WikiHow article for guidance. If you don’t want to worry about this, you could hire an experienced development team that would create a news website with everything you need.
AnyforSoft has hands-on experience in developing solutions for news publishers and media companies. We can help you with a project of any complexity.
For example, our team participated in the redesign of a popular Ukrainian news portal KharkivToday. More specifically, we created appealing visuals, designed better UX/UI to provide a smoother user experience, improved website security, and set up social media integration. All of that resulted in 11% traffic growth and a 14% increase in time users spend on the site.
We also developed the European version of the popular American site Bitcoin Magazine. Our design team created a minimalistic and clean design with a simple and readable typeface. Since Bitcoin Magazine had plenty of article categories, we did our best to ensure smooth and easy navigation. The end result completely satisfied both our client and their website visitors.
Step 7: Get listed in Google News after starting a news website
Google News is one of the most popular aggregators on the internet. In October 2022 alone, it had over 469 million visits. Just imagine how much traffic Google News could drive to your news site if it appeared there.
But how to create a news website that will be featured in Google News?
Previously to get your website listed in Google News, you had to manually submit it. Luckily, today Google features news portals automatically—all you have to do is to ensure that your site complies with general, technical, and quality guidelines. It also shouldn’t violate Google News policies.
- The content you create must be timely, relevant, and interesting to the Google News audience.
- It must be original as well as easy to read and navigate.
- Your news stories must be trustworthy as well as based on real expertise and reliable data.
- The URLs and anchors on your site must be descriptive of content and unique.
- Your domain must be accessible for Google Bots to reach it.
- Your news must be reliable, helpful, and created with users in mind.
- They must have good depth and variation.
If you succeed in complying with these guidelines, your site will show up in Google News and traffic won’t take long to come.
Step 8: Decide on a monetization model
At this point, the question of how to make a news website shouldn’t bother you. Once the website creation is complete, you have to consider ways to monetize your portal. Here are the most widely used monetization models in the industry:
- Direct advertising. Just like any website, news portals can benefit from displaying ad banners. You will get a commission every time a user clicks on the ad on your website.
- Sponsored content. Another monetization model is sponsored content. It implies publishing materials from advertisers on your site (sometimes presenting them as news). You get paid for each publication and can set your price for this service.
- Subscription. Subscription is arguably the most popular monetization model among major news publishers. The idea is simple: you divide your content into free (general news) and paid (studies, research, analytical materials). In order to access paid materials, users have to pay a weekly, monthly, or yearly fee. Most sites don’t charge more than 2$ per month, so to make good money off the subscription model, you will need a decent amount of visitors.
- Paid articles. If you publish expert-level articles with statistics, interesting insights, in-depth analysis, and exclusive data, you can charge readers for individual articles. One article can cost between $1 and $50.
Creating a news website with AnyforSoft
Now you know how to start a news website and make it successful. All you’re left to do is find a team to implement your idea into a tangible product.
AnyforSoft can help you with this!
We have professional developers, a quarter of which are senior-level specialists. They can use a vast variety of technologies to build the most advanced and sophisticated software solutions. More importantly, when creating a news website, our developers take into account your business needs and requirements to make sure that you are 100% satisfied with the end result.
So don’t hesitate to contact us and tell us more about your project. We are looking forward to mutually beneficial cooperation!