Mapping the Blueprint: The Genesis of a Media Venture – Google News Initiative Pre-Launch Lab

 I’ve been participating in the Google News Initiative Pre-Launch Lab to develop my plans for an independent media venture centered around art, technology and their impact on society. As part of the program, I’ve done exercises focused on defining minimum success criteria, including outputs, team needs and financial requirements over the first two years.

I want to share these learnings with my community to get feedback as I work to establish this new venture sustainably. Below you’ll find details on the research I’ve conducted so far, including my goals for platforms, engagement metrics and budget. I welcome any advice or suggestions as I continue refining my blueprint – the aim is to bring this concept to life in a structured way through collaborative planning and execution.

Here are the key learnings from my homework on defining minimum success criteria for an independent media company:

Over the past week, I’ve been doing research and planning for my new independent media venture focused on the intersection of art, technology and community. As part of developing realistic goals, I answered questions about minimum outputs, team needs and budget requirements over the first two years.

For outputs, my goal is to establish multiple engaging discussion platforms including a biweekly podcast, monthly long-form articles, weekly community posts and regular meetups. Within two years, Iaim to reach thousands of followers across platforms and engagement metrics.

To achieve this, I understand the need to assemble a dedicated part-time team including roles for content, social media, community building and administration. Trying to do everything solo is not feasible long-term.

My research also highlighted the importance of financial sustainability. To properly compensate team members and continue producing high-impact work, a minimum two-year budget of $250,000 is necessary. This incorporates costs like wages, equipment, events and growth needs.

Defining specific metrics helps validate ideas and ensures accountability as goals are worked towards methodically over time. It’s been illuminating to think through minimum viable plans and resourcing requirements realistically before scaling up operations.

I’m grateful for the insight this process provided. Moving forward, I’ll incorporate learnings as I develop long-term strategies, partnerships and funding models to bring my independent media venture to life sustainably. My aim is fostering meaningful discussions worldwide, and clarity on goals is integral to that mission.

Answers to Homework Questions:

1)What is the minimum outputs and impact are you aiming to achieve? Ultimately, most news startups launch with the goal of changing the status quo. We call this the impact goal. What mark do you want your efforts to leave on the world? What will be different the startup succeeds? How much content has been produced, and how frequently? Use a timeframe of two years in thinking about this question.

Over a period of two years, the aim is to become a vibrant hub for discussion and insight on the intersection of art, technology, and community through various mediums like podcasts, articles, social media, YouTube, and live events. By the end of year two, the goals include having: Bi-weekly podcast episodes.Monthly long-form articles. Weekly social media posts. 5,000 email subscribers. 3,000 YouTube subscribers. 1,000 Discord community members. 7,000 podcast subscribers. Monthly web traffic of 10,000 unique visitors. Monthly meetups and an annual conference.

2)What is the minimum team needed to support the impact? Can the impact goal stated above be achieved through the efforts of one person working full time? If not, what other resources might be necessary to take a shot at making this impact? Are they full time? Freelancers?

Minimum Team Needed: The outlined impact cannot be achieved by a solopreneur. A minimum part-time team is essential, comprising:

Content and Social Media Manager (Part-time/Freelancer): Combining the roles of content editing and social media management can provide synergy as the individual would be deeply involved in the creation, editing, and promotion of content across platforms.

Community and Event Coordinator (Part-time/Freelancer): This role merges community outreach and event coordination. The individual would engage with the community, plan, and execute monthly meetups and the annual conference. They could also liaise with venues and manage event promotions.

Administrative Assistant (Part-time/Freelancer): Provides administrative support such as scheduling, email management, basic bookkeeping, and other organizational tasks that free you up to focus on content creation, community engagement, and other core activities.

3) Again, use a timeframe of two years in thinking about this question. What is the minimum budget needed? We call this your “walk away number,” the minimum financial outcome after two years of effort. Keep in mind, this number should be realistic (not aspirational) and inclusive of the team members that you’ve identified above.

Minimum Budget Needed: The minimum budget encompasses personal compensation, equipment, event costs, and staff wages over two years. Here’s a rough breakdown:

Personal Compensation: $30,000 in year one, $60,000 in year two.
Equipment Costs: $10,000 in year one, $20,000 in year two.
Event Costs: Estimate a monthly meetup cost and an annual conference cost, multiply accordingly.
Staff Wages: Calculate based on $30 per hour per staff member, estimating the number of hours required weekly.

Year 1: Building from Ground Zero

Quarter 1:

  1. Pre-launch Preparation:
    • Website Development: Ensure the website is functional, user-friendly, and ready for launch.
    • Social Media Profiles: Set up profiles on key platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Discord).
    • Content Calendar: Plan the first three months of content, including topics for podcasts and articles.
  2. Launch:
    • Officially launch the website and social media profiles.
    • Release the first podcast episode and article, and introduce the venture to your network.
    • Begin weekly social media posts to build an online presence.
  3. Community Engagement:
    • Launch the Discord community and encourage discussions around podcast topics and articles.
    • Start building an email list by offering a newsletter subscription on the website.
  4. Feedback Collection:
    • Collect feedback on the content, website usability, and topics the audience would like to see covered.

Quarter 2:

  1. Content Production:
    • Continue with the bi-weekly podcast and introduce monthly long-form articles.
    • Utilize feedback to improve and tailor content to audience preferences.
  2. Marketing and Promotion:
    • Utilize free promotional methods initially such as social media, SEO, and collaborations with other creators.
  3. Community Growth:
    • Continue to grow the Discord community and email list.
    • Host a virtual meetup to engage with the community and gather feedback.
  4. Monetization Planning:
    • Research and plan potential monetization strategies such as memberships, donations, or affiliate marketing.

Quarter 3:

  1. Content Diversification:
    • Begin creating additional content for YouTube based on community feedback and preferences.
  2. Initial Monetization:
    • Introduce a Patreon or a similar membership model for audience members willing to support the venture financially.
  3. Partnership Outreach:
    • Reach out to potential partners for collaboration, guest podcast episodes, or joint content creation.
  4. Event Planning:
    • Start planning a larger virtual event or workshop towards the end of the year.

Quarter 4:

  1. Monetization Expansion:
    • Explore introducing merchandise or affiliate marketing as additional revenue streams.
  2. Event Execution:
    • Host the virtual event or workshop and collect feedback for future improvements.
  3. Year-End Review:
    • Assess the progress against the goals set for year one.
    • Adjust the plan for year two based on the learnings and feedback received.

Year 2: Growth and Sustainability

Quarter 1:

  1. Revenue Targets:
    • Aim to achieve a consistent monthly revenue through memberships, merchandise sales, and affiliate marketing.
    • Establish a target for monthly revenue (e.g., $1,000 per month) and work towards achieving it.
  2. Content Strategy:
    • Continue to diversify content based on what is resonating with the audience.
    • Introduce new series or themes in the podcast and articles based on trending topics and community interests.
  3. Community Engagement:
    • Engage with the community to develop content that addresses their interests and concerns.
    • Host regular virtual meetups to maintain community engagement and gather feedback.

Quarter 2:

  1. Monetization Review:
    • Assess the effectiveness of the monetization strategies in place and adjust as needed.
  2. Marketing Efforts:
    • Invest in some low-cost marketing strategies to reach a wider audience and grow the community.
  3. Team Expansion Planning:
    • Based on revenue growth, plan for potential part-time hires to manage increased workload.

Quarter 3:

  1. Sponsorship Outreach:
    • Begin reaching out to potential sponsors for the podcast or website.
  2. Team Expansion:
    • If revenue allows, bring on a part-time content editor or social media manager to help with workload.
  3. Content Production:
    • Maintain consistency in content production and continue to diversify content formats.

Quarter 4:

  1. Annual Event:
    • Plan and execute a larger annual event to celebrate the community and share knowledge.
  2. Year-End Review and Future Planning:
    • Assess the progress against the goals set for year two.
    • Begin strategizing for the next phase of MÖTLEYKRÜG Media, setting new goals and strategies for the coming years.

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