How to Start a Local News Website

How to Start a Local News Website

If you buy something through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

The local news industry is changing. But just because it’s not as profitable to start a newspaper anymore doesn’t mean you can’t build a business around the concept of sharing information with local residents.

Joe Thompson is an entrepreneur who knows what it’s like to run a local website. As the owner of The Valley Ledger, a local publication in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, he’s learned the ins and outs of running a local website. If you’re interested in starting your own, take a look at the tips below.

How To Start a Local News Website Business

Create Consistent Branding

Before actually launching The Valley Ledger, Thompson says he was careful to make sure he could secure the same name for the site’s domain and every popular social media platform. This allowed him to keep the brand consistent and make it easier for people to actually find The Valley Ledger on each of the sites they actually use.

Stick With a Specific Mission

As you create your content and share information with your network, you’ll want to make sure that you keep it consistent so that readers know what to expect.

For Thompson and The Valley Ledger, that means sharing positive information about the Lehigh Valley. And Thompson says that staying true to that has made all the difference. He told Small Business Trends in an email, “Overall, we were very fortunate to be able to quickly be recognized as a source of positive information for the Lehigh Valley. Our willingness to freely promote others led to quick success. We have also stayed true to our mission to only share positive information about the Lehigh Valley area.”

Build a Network

To share information about local groups, businesses or causes, you need to create a network that will allow you to easily access that information. That means you need to get your name out there and build trust with local newsmakers so they’ll send you press releases and other relevant information. A lot of this will simply evolve over time as you build your reputation.

Thompson says, “In the first year, it was amazing to get three press releases a week. Two and a half years later it is nothing to get three or more press releases a day.”

Get the Word Out

You also need to find ways to get the word out to potential readers and followers. You can use social media, online ads and other digital marketing methods. But sometimes you can also use more traditional marketing tactics to reach people on a local level.

Thompson offered one example, “In the first year, we had the opportunity to trade advertising on the site for advertising at events. That really helped push our name out even further. As the site continues to grow so does the ability to sell ad space on the site.”

Build a Staff

When you first get started, it might be your only option to build your site as a one-person operation. But Thompson says that as you grow, it’s unrealistic to think that you can do it all on your own. That might mean hiring official employees or simply finding contributors or others who can help you on other levels.

Thompson says, “From the time I started the site it has gone from just myself, to seven regular contributors, six photographers, many one-time contributors, two content editors and a growing list of sources for press releases.”

Using Computer Photo via Shutterstock

More in: 8 Comments ▼

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

8 Reactions
  1. Hi Annie,

    I checked the news website of Joe and it is truly inspiring. I have been thinking of setting up and launching my own local news website with core focus on Lagos, the commercial center of Nigeria.

    Your guideline and piece is timely and truly helpful.


  2. Hello Annie,

    Thanks for this great post. I am also willing to start a local news website and these tips will surely help to build my news site. Thanks again for this informative post

  3. Hello Annie
    You said that very true
    A local news website has much influence in comparison with global news.
    You can easily target local customers and build a local business too.
    The big thing about is that advertising on facebook and google is much effective in this case.
    thank you

  4. Skype has established its internet-dependent buyer beta to the
    world, following establishing it broadly from
    the United states and You.K. previously this month.
    Skype for Internet also now can handle Linux and Chromebook
    for instant text messaging conversation (no voice and video
    however, individuals require a connect-in set up).

    The expansion of your beta adds help for a longer list of languages to aid strengthen that
    global usability

  5. I like that you mention building a network. My dad is looking to finding a reliable local news station. I’ll be sure to talk to him about building a good network in order to find what’s best for him.

  6. These are some pretty fantastic tips, especially the one about getting a network established. After all, in order to report on up-to-date, current news, you will need to have a reliable network. That way you can more easily gather information as it comes in and report on it correctly.

  7. Starting a local news website is not a child play as you have to gone through different aspects as hiring the different staffs which needs manpower to select them as hiring the journalist is not so easy as you have to see their experience in the journalist field as experience matters a lot in every field.