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What if the most important thing you could do for the future of your news business was… take a long vacation this summer?

Sure, posting up at the beach might not feel as urgent as earning more revenue or scaling up your impact. 

But burnout is real: In our latest round of Sustainability Audit applications, nearly half of applicants cited burnout as one of the top challenges facing their organizations. 

And the stakes are high: As I wrote last year (and Poynter’s Alex Sujong Laughlin reminded us this week), news businesses that go under can often attribute their struggles as much to an overworked team as to a bad revenue year.

So what’s the solution? 

Of course, more money makes all problems easier to solve (or at least feel easier to solve). But assuming your resources are fixed, there are still ways to unplug from work and recharge for the months ahead without sacrificing your business goals. 

Here are a few strategies we’re seen work for LION members and other independent publishers:

1. Republish your best evergreen content. If you want to keep earning ad revenue or selling memberships while you’re gone, think about the “oldies but goodies” content that you could pull out from the vault. 

Have you written a great profile of a local leader or public figure? A seasonal guide of places to go and things to do? A public-interest investigative series (maybe one that won a LION Local Journalism Award last year)? 

Updating and republishing these types of stories can help you keep the content engine humming even as you take a break from the daily grind, and it creates an opportunity to remind readers of your very best work – and ask them to support it. 

2. Hire a freelancer to produce your core products. Let’s say you publish a money-making daily newsletter or another product that’s too lucrative to pause and too meaty to fill entirely with evergreen content. 

Maybe that product isn’t quite profitable enough yet to support a full-time hire, but what about a temporary, part-time freelancer who fills your shoes for a couple weeks and ensures the product gets out the door?

At worst, the freelancer flops and makes your readers extra thankful for your return. At best, they shine and earn themselves a role in your business as it grows. 

3. Use a publication break to plan and build for the long haul. It really is possible to press pause on publishing and step away for a while, especially if you’re leading a young news startup that’s still finding its feet. 

Just look at The Objective. As we talked about on our News Guest podcast, The Objective team took a break last summer not only to catch their breath but also to plan their next steps toward becoming a sustainable operation. 

The result? They came back even stronger, both as a team and as a business. 

Got advice for how to take a vacation while leading a news business? Hit reply and let us know, or share your advice in the News Entrepreneur Community on Slack. 

– Ben DeJarnette, communications manager, and the LION team

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14 ways to build a stronger news business

Once you’ve planned your next vacation, here are 14 other ways to build a stronger, more sustainable news business. 

Increase your impact

  • Republish data-driven journalism from a trusted newswire. Stacker provides publishers with engaging data journalism on topics that local audiences care about — all at no cost. Sign up for a demo. (Sponsored)
  • Grow your audience on Facebook. LION member Jerry Frear from NorthcentralPA.com led a talk last week about 10 ways to increase your Facebook reach and engagement.
  • Earn trust with your community. Trusting News is offering three opportunities to put trust-building strategies into practice – alongside a stipend to do it. (Apply by May 2.)

Earn more revenue

  • Get help developing a new revenue stream at this LMA webinar about how to monetize event calendars, marketing and ticketing. (TODAY)
  • Take advantage of National Small Business Week. Use one of these email fundraising ideas to invite readers to support your small business next week. (May 2-5)
  • Learn your ABCs (Always Be Closing) at this virtual workshop on how to close more sales by creating better systems for follow-ups. (May 10)
  • Hear advice on digital advertising at a half-day virtual conference featuring presentations by LION members Scott Brodbeck from ARLnow.com and Jay Senter from Shawnee Mission Post. (May 13)

Improve your business operations

  • Hire a social media manager. This virtual webinar will help you build a social media strategy and find the right person to lead it. (May 12)
  • Prepare your business to survive without you at a virtual workshop about planning for vacations, emergencies or even retirement. (May 17)

Check out these grants, awards, fellowships, and conferences

Become a LION member

Peer support. Business training and coaching. Eligibility for the LION Local Journalism Awards. 

These are all great reasons to become a LION member, but if you need another one, check out the LION-GNI Sustainability Audits and Funding program, our newest program that will help publishers identify opportunities to strengthen their news business and access up to $6,000 to subsidize the cost of making changes.

Got questions? You can learn more about LION membership on our website, or by emailing our membership director Stephanie Snyder (stephanie@lionpublishers.com) with questions about how LION can support you.

What we're reading

Government aid? In Canada, a tax credit that subsidizes the cost of news subscriptions doesn’t appear to be making a big difference for publishers. (Nieman Lab)

Newsletter ads. Programmatic advertising is becoming one of the easiest ways to monetize a newsletter, but it might not be the best way. (Simon Owens’s Media Newsletter)

Reader revenue models. More big-name publishers are moving away from subscriptions and toward memberships and donations, and they have data to justify it. (Digiday)

New beginnings. How America’s first abolitionist newspaper is being resurrected as a digital platform focused on racial justice and equity. (Boston Globe)

Positive peer pressure. How news leaders are putting pressure on newsrooms to share their staff diversity data, and how you can join the chorus. (Open News)

LIONs in the news

In honor of Earth Day, LION members Joanna Detz from EcoRI News and Nina Ignaczak from Planet Detroit shared with INN how they find peace and purpose while covering a heavy topic like climate change. 

Shouts-out to Joanna, Nina and all the LION members who are leading the way on climate and environmental coverage. 🙏

And in other LION member news…

  • The sister newsrooms Bridge Michigan and BridgeDetroit have added seven new staff members combined since the start of 2022.

Get in touch

When you reply to this email, we all receive it and you'll hear back from one of us. 

You can also email us directly at hello@lionpublishers.com.

Interested in sponsoring this newsletter? Visit our sponsorships page or email sponsorships@lionpublishers.com
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