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Before we talk about the loneliness of news entrepreneurship, let’s start with an antidote to it: our Independent News Sustainability Summit in Austin this October!

We’re partnering with News Revenue Hub and RevLab at The Texas Tribune to host this year’s Summit – our first in-person event since 2019 – and there are a few key deadlines coming up:

  • Pitch a session idea by July 12. We’re looking for ideas big and small, including success stories, lessons learned, best practices or other insights that might be helpful to share with your peers – even if you don’t think it merits a full session. 
  • Buy discounted Summit tickets by August 19. Capacity for the Summit is limited and the early-bird discount ends in less than two months, so don’t wait too much longer to snag your tickets. 
  • Stay tuned for more details on travel scholarships. We’re excited to be able to offer a small number of scholarships to people who need help covering travel and lodging costs in order to attend the Summit. You can sign up for updates on the Summit website
— Ben DeJarnette, communications manager, and the LION team

How to make entrepreneurship less lonely

“An echo chamber of one.”

That’s how one LION member recently described their experience as a “solopreneur” news founder – and based on the early insights from our LION-GNI Sustainability Audits and Funding program, they’re not alone in feeling that way. 

Leadership of any kind can be a lonely journey, but we’ve heard from our members that it’s especially hard when you’re the only leader at your organization, which is often the case for independent news businesses with annual revenue closer to $100K than $1 million

We created the LION-GNI Sustainability Audits and Funding program to help publishers navigate challenges like these and access funding to implement solutions, and we’re excited to announce that 26 more publishers will receive audits and support this summer

Want to join them? We’re already accepting applications to participate in our next round of audits, and we’ll have more insights to share soon about what we’re learning from the process.

In the meantime, here’s some of the advice and resources we shared with publishers who named loneliness and a lack of business support as one of their main challenges. 

1. Assemble an advisory board: Creating a volunteer advisory board can provide solo leaders with a small group of allies and stakeholders to bounce ideas off and seek advice and validation. Another benefit: These allies will become even more invested in the organization and may leverage their own networks in ways that impact the bottom line, such as sharing ad/sponsorship leads or referring new subscribers or donors.

2. Recommended reading: 

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7 resources for independent publishers

Here are seven more resources and opportunities that can help you build a stronger, more sustainable news business

1. Improve your sales skills. This seven-week Google News Initiative course will provide early-stage news founders with the sales savvy they need to acquire new customers and partners. The course will run virtually for seven weeks, with live sessions taking place on Tuesdays starting August 9. Apply by July 12 and contact conorc@google.com with questions.
 
2. Learn about a new fund for independent online news publishers
. The Google News Initiative’s News Equity Fund is a multi-million dollar commitment to provide financial support and opportunities to independent, online news organizations that primarily serve underrepresented communities. The deadline to apply is July 21. 
 
3. Get help covering abortion and reproductive health. The latest INN newsletter includes a list of resources to help journalists navigate the impact and implications of last week’s Supreme Court decision. 

4. Build out your list of potential advertisers. The aptly named website Who Sponsors Stuff includes a directory of businesses that have recently purchased advertising in email newsletters, as well as a calculator to help you price your ad slots. 

5. Build trust by explaining your process. The latest Trusting News tipsheet features five ways that you can demystify your work for readers and earn their trust in the process.

6. Meet with a revenue consultant. There’s still time for active LION members to sign up for free revenue consulting sessions with coaches Lizzy Hazeltine and David Yoder, who both bring years of experience helping independent news business design and execute revenue growth strategies.

7. Join a group effort to cover democracy. The Center for Cooperative Media is helping lead a Democracy Day collaboration on September 15, and any news organization in the U.S. is invited to participate. 

What we're reading

Make or break. What news founders need to know about setting goals, defining success and knowing when to call it quits. (Simon Owens’s Media Newsletter)

Performance farce. Why newsrooms should stop enforcing the norms of “objectivity” and let their journalists be human. (Poynter)

Generational divide. How young people consume news differently than older generations, and why those differences might not fade with time. (Nieman Lab)

Team work. How leaders can help make work more joyful for their teams and colleagues. (Harvard Business Review)

Say less. How news businesses can stand out by producing deeper, more insightful content on a slower production cycle. (The Rebooting)

LIONs in the news

LION members are helping lead the way when it comes to making local news more equitable and inclusive, and new initiatives in Vermont and Pennsylvania are the latest signs of progress. 
  • PublicSource is one of five newsrooms in Pittsburgh that will work with the American Press Institute to improve how they collectively cover and serve communities of color. 
We’re excited to watch these efforts develop and will report back as we learn more about their implementation and impact. 👏
 
And in other LION member news…
  • Chalkbeat has finished building a team for its new spinoff organization Votebeat, which is now fully operational in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Texas. 

Get in touch

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

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