There are many reasons to create an online news website. Maybe you're already in the news business and want to modernize your existing site. Or, maybe, your organization is exploring digital marketing as a way to reach new customers. Regardless, you will eventually need to choose a news platform.
There are plenty of open-source news publishing software packages available today with WordPress, Drupal and Joomla as a few examples. If your organization has the technical resources to set up, customize and host a website using open-source software, you can use these as your "home-grown" news platform and this article may not be for you.
This article is geared toward organizations that cannot or do not want to operate their own news platform and prefer to pay a news platform for a turn-key service that allows them to easily lay out a site and start publishing content.
If this sounds like your organization, here are five things you will need to consider when selecting a news platform provider:
Features of News Publishing Software
It may seem obvious but a news publishing platform should be great for creating, managing and distributing news content. It should be more than just a content management system. Content should be populated once and then used for the website, newsletter, social posts, syndication via RSS feeds, etc. It should support rich media in the form of interactive maps, embedded video, photo galleries, MP3 audio, etc. It should be easy to optimize the website content for SEO without coding.
The platform should include revenue generating features. Advertising management is essential with layout-based ad positions as well as in-article and in-feed ad positions. Other common revenue generating features to look for are calendar and directory apps that allow upselling of premium listings. And, the platform should support subscriptions and paywalls to limit access to content based on subscription status.
Lastly, the platform should support everything else that is need to manage a modern website including drag-and-drop layout tools, webforms, menu management system, e-commerce, to name a few.
Costs for News Publishing Software
Costs for news publishing platforms vary wildly from $40-$500 per month. The main thing to look for is a provider that will let you pay a monthly amount that matches the success of your business. For news sites, success can usually can be measured in monthly traffic or page views assuming that you are properly monetizing your content. So if you are a startup, look for a platform provider that will let you use the full feature set for a reasonable monthly rate while you build your business.
One factor that many people fail to consider is support. Sometimes being able to schedule a meeting with support staff early in the process can be just the boost you need to get your website launched. Of course being able to submit an online ticket regarding a feature and receive a timely response from professional support staff can be invaluable. Having your software and hosting support provided by the same company usually leads to less finger-pointing and a better customer experience.
Scaling your News Site
The dream of most news sites is to build and attract a huge audience to your content. Ironically, unless you consider it upfront, your website may or may not be able to scale up to handle a huge audience. Even worse, some flat-rate hosting solutions may limit your traffic or bandwidth at some level just as your site is taking off. So, a key thing to consider is that the provider gives you the ability to easily select increasing tiers of service for an incremental price. These tiers should provide the ability to seamlessly bring on more cloud-based web servers to handle the load when your content is in high demand.
Like most businesses you want to make sure that your news platform provider understands news publishing and has a good track-record on handling clients like you. A reputable provider should be able to provide a list of satisfied customers upon request.
Bondware has been serving news publishers since 1999. Our news publishing platform (ContentEngine) powers this website, our newsletter and social media automated posting.