If you are starting a sports news website or business in 2022, there are tools and strategies that you can use to help you get an advantage over your competition.
We look a few key things to know, and to do, if you are launching a new sports news site.
Audience-Building – Know Your Strengths
The lifeblood of any business is cashflow and customers, and for a sports news business it’s going to be your audience. You will have to decide early on what your core strengths are.
- Are you naturally inclined towards building an audience via social media?
- Do you have experience in search engine optimisation and writing for Google News or other news aggregators?
- Are you a competent developer or tech-savvy enough to build a news app quickly?
While your long-term approach will be holistic and cover all aspects of audience building, at launch time you will need to triple-down on your core strength, whatever it is.
And if you are not familiar any of these but have a huge passion for sports analysis, you will definitely need to partner with someone who is strong is any of these three categories.
Alternatively, depending your core strengths (written word or audio/visual), you can always start smaller with an established sports news site like The Sports Today to get experience and learn about the business before launching on your own.
Adding Value – Do Work That Doesn’t Scale
Your core offering to the market – in this case sports fans – should provide differentiated value. An excellent way of ensuring is to do work that doesn’t scale.
This means doing work that larger companies in your space are unable to do due to their size or demands on their time. It also raises the bar in terms of the value you add to the industry by asking you to be better than your competition.
Good examples of this include:
- Detailed technical analysis of events (or segments within events) plus insights that traditional sports media misses.
- Compiling disparate information into one easy-to-use resource – a great example of this is stats sites or football tv schedules.
- Attending every single event in your space and writing/talking about it and covering it comprehensively.
- Building a unique network of contacts in the industry that gives you the power of ‘breaking news’ in the industry.
- Creating a product that solves a major bottleneck in your industry – e.g. building a statistical analysis app for sports journalists.
You can add value in many different ways, but it is imperative that you add value. Simply existing is a recipe for wasting money and time.
Building Your Brand
Entrepreneurs build their brand in different ways, but one thing is common amongst top performers: they have a clear brand identity from day one and that informs their actions and the direction their business takes.
You might say – I just want to start a sports news site – but the truth is, you want that site to succeed, which means standing out from the competition, which means building a brand identity.
- Your brand can be hugely personal – built around a persona or your pre-existing social media presence
- It can be technology or feature driven – for example, Football Today is a news site that focus on providing ‘today’s snapshot in football news’
- You brand can also be ideological – a business built on competing on price, or quality, or efficiency, or design, or any specific metric that you believe you can provide value on.
Branding is not as complicated it is made out to be. However, you do need to pick a ‘guiding light’ that defines your business – it makes it easier for you to communicate your vision and it makes it easier for your employees and customers (readers) to understand what you do.
Cashflow Is King
Finally, nothing matters more in a business than cashflow. Instead of spending 6 to 12 months building the perfect business plan or website, force yourself to launch quickly and to become profitable as quickly as possible while also building your brand.
In entrepreneurship, the allure of venture capitalism and investors can mislead founders. For most businesses it’s quite easy to bootstrap and build a minimum viable product (MVP) within months if not weeks.
For a sports news site, it literally is a matter of weeks if not days.
Once you know your key points:
- What value you are offering the market
- What your brand identity looks like
- How you will acquire your audience
It’s time to get to work, create and ship as soon as possible. Build your site, launch your social media channel, create a no-code app to demonstrate your MVP – and start working on building your audience.
Your specific cashflow situation will depend on how you are monetising – sponsorships, advertising, membership fees, paid apps affiliate marketing, product sales – and your timelines for becoming profitable may vary depending on how you are monetising your site.
For example, a standard news site will need substantial amounts of traffic to become profitable through just advertising and sponsorships, which means you will need to factor in a few months of hard work to promote your site and create content.
An app could take months of low activity before suddenly going viral.
However, the core focus here should be reaching profitability and not chasing vanity metrics like x-million views or downloads. Whether you are grinding it out on your own or have an investor on board, it’s always better to be a profitable small business than it is to be a unprofitable one.
And if by the end of this year you have an active, profitable or close to profitable sports news business – you will be much better placed to grow it further, find partners to help you scale and down the line, either build it into an industry leader or cash out at a good valuation – depending on what your goals are.