How to start a news website: This tutorial is a practical guideline on how you can create and run a successful local online newspaper portal , including the likes of CNN, Washington Post, Reuters etc.
Requirements to open a news website or online news portal are:
- An approximate start up cost of USD150-430
- Genuine and unstained passion for journalism
- A unique and short memorable domain name
- A cost effective web server that gives unique webhosting experience
- A mobile responsive newspaper WordPress themes template
- Hard work, focus and unrelenting determination to achieve success.
Types of News Website
There are typically two types of news and that is; bad or good news. There are typically three types of news website and they are:
Online Newspaper Portal
Online newspaper portals are typically run by the print media houses. In essence, the main newspaper company has a print paper version ( which is their main business model) and they publish/post the print version contents on their websites.
Local News Website
I always and will always recommend that starters or Journalist intending to launch in this niche should start locally. Running a local news website is quite different from having a newspaper parent company. Anybody, with little financial capital can start. Starting locally gives you higher leverage and easy way of launching out.
International News Site
CNN, Aljazeera are examples of international news site. One thing about them is that they are not running a physical newspaper print version. They only concentrate on the website and their media outlet ( basically TV).
Copying News From Other Websites
One thing should be understood and known; A news website, online portal and or local channel is respected for undiluted, original, non-partisan news and stories. This is why copying news from other websites should not be practiced by you at all. If you are aiming for a long term goal and building it to be a successful business, why stain and kill your journey by plagiarism from the beginning?
Though I started by copying and scrapping other content from authority sites, but I was both penalized by Google, search engines and humans. I learnt in a painful way and since then, I decided to do the right thing.
During the trump/Clinton campaign in 2016, Facebook, twitter, Google and other major internet search engines/social media sites improved their algorithm to detect plagiarized content and weed them out. The issue of copying and pasting news stories used to work before this time, but from then, it has stopped.
Even, if you have millions of followers on Facebook and twitter, you will discover that little traffic is coming from them even if you share your posts on them.
I explained the issue of permission, laws and legal developments when opening this type of niche business below.
How to open a News Website in India, UK, USA and others
Whether you are based in India, UK ( United Kingdom), USA or other countries, the same guidelines you are about to read in this tutorial applies to all. You may probably need to find out about the regulations as earlier mentioned above.
Design – WordPress News Themes
We are gradually going into the whole concept on how you can build your site. Getting the right design is of importance because of branding, professional perspective and your long terms success (from search engines- Google, Facebook etc).
In this 21st century, designing your news website is no longer an impossible task if you do not know about website designing or programming. The answer is in the use of WordPress platform.
WordPress software now powers more than 30% of all websites out there ( according to W3Techs) and I am going to show you how to create a news website in WordPress. Virtually all online news portal are WordPress news website built with this simple to use software.
What you need to do is to approach WordPress designing companies and buy their professionally looking templates ( it is called WordPress themes) for as low as USD 35-USD120 . The fee is usually a one time fee and you will use the themes forever ( though, some companies requires you to be paying maintenance fees annually – usually around USD5-50).
Some recommended online news templates built specifically for this project are listed below:
You will find all the templates/WordPress themes above at MYTHEMESHOP COMPANY
You will find all the templates/WordPress themes above at STUDIOPRESS
You will find all the templates/WordPress themes above at Themeforest
When you visit these companies, search for your preferred designs (you can type newspaper, news, magazine keywords in their search box), buy them and download the ZIP files on your computer. Once done, just relax; continue reading the tutorial (we will come back on how you will install it in the course of this tutorial)
I will be using the first template (template 1) as an example for the installation and configuration).
Webhosting And Domain Name
Now, you need to think of the sort of name you will call your news website. The name you give it is also going to be the technical name the web understands.
For example, www.nytimes.com, www.washingtonPost.com, www.huffingtonPost.com, www.reuters.com, www.timeslive.co.za, www.facebook.com, are all called New York Times, WashingtonPost, Huffington Post, Reuters, TimesLive and Facebook respectively.
In essence, the name of your site will be used for the technical name registration, in what is called the domain name.
The first task is to:
- Sit down and think of a good, reasonable, short, memorable, sweet and brandable name that can be used for your domain name and also your name.
- Write down different names that comes to your mind on your notepad or your diary
- Then , you will need to search if the name is available to be used ( and whether other people are not currently using it)
- At the same time, you will also need to check if you can use that exact same name for your Facebook page and twitter account ( this is important because of the branding advantage I earlier talked about)
To do that, use the form below to check if the name is available ( if it is available, I strongly advice you buy it and register immediately).
Thereafter, go to twitter.com and facebook.com (page) and register using that name. What I am trying to explain is shown in the scenario below:
- Name of website: www.haceweb.com
- Twitter account: www.twitter.com/haceweb
- Facebook page account profile: facebook.com/haceweb
- Instagram account: www.instagram.com/haceweb
Take time and do thorough search to get the perfect domain name, and then register it immediately!!
Use the search box below:
Web Hosting of the Domain Name
When registering the domain name, hosting for the website to be also happens at the same time. This is because without web hosting of the domain name, no one will see it and the domain name will not be accessible on the internet.
The act and process of website hosting of the domain name is just a way of buying a space on the internet to store your domain name, the contents (including pictures, videos e.t.c.) and make it available for people to visit, read and download.
With the company mentioned above, Bluehost, they give you a seamless / hassle free experience of both getting the domain name and hosting the domain name. I recommend you buy the hosting because:
- I use Bluehost on my own websites (including the one you are presently on)
- They are reliable, economically friendly, dependable and highly secure
- Once you buy the hosting, they waive the fee for the domain name (approximately USD17) for an entire year. This means the domain name becomes free ( this is a good deal)
- For as low as USD3.5, you can get started with a brand new website; other website hosting companies starts from USD25 per month.
For your hosting, Use my link below and get started for just $2.95/month (63% off your hosting plan) from Bluehost AND also get a free domain name registration
News Website Set Up
Now, for the domain name registration and hosting of the same, just follow the step by step guidelines shown on your screen by Bluehost.
For further understanding, I have screenshots the steps you need to take below:
The overall summary of everything is this:
- You will be given the login for your Bluehost account ( please keep it safe)
- You will also be given the username and password for your WordPress login account ( yournewwebsite.com/wp-admin); in most cases, your username is your email address or just admin. Please keep it safe
- Sign out of your Bluehost account because you are done with them, and from your browser, type in the login for your WordPress account ) in most cases, it will be yournewwebsite.com/wp-admin
- Type your username and password, once successfully login, you will now be shown your dashboard and from here, real work has just started.
Forget about any other thing they are telling you, follow the next steps below.
Step 5 (1)
Step 5 (2)
Step 5 (3)
Setting up account for your writers, editors and contributors
This is an important development when thinking on how to make a news website. You must remember that you are the administrator and sole owner of your website, therefore any posts and contents you write is being ascribed to you.
But, if you want other people to be featured on your site e.g. editors, columnists, contributors and all attribution to be given to them, then you need to create an account for them.
Creating an account for them makes it easy for them to upload contents and stories on the site from the comfort of their home and work place. This is what is called front end submission
The below picture will be of essential guidelines:
To do that, follow the steps below:
- From your dashboard, go to settings, locate users and click on it
- Create users ( chose whether they will be editors, contributors, writers, columnists e.t.c.)
- Type in their emails
- Upload their picture ( passport sized photographs)
- Give a brief description about them and click publish
A notification email will be sent to their email address containing the login details; with this approach, they automatically become privileged to start writing and posting on the news website.
If you want people to directly contribute their news and stories on your site, then you need this feature. On some template, you will see ‘submit your stories/news’ at the top of the header ( common with most viral website).
- First task is to get a template that has this feature as seen below:
Secondly, if you do not have it, then you can simply install the Front end submission plugins ( https://wordpress.org/plugins/frontend-uploader/), ( https://wordpress.org/plugins/pipe-video-recorder/
Go to the setting page of the plugins and adjust the settings ( e.g. disabling automatic post of submitted content until you approve it etc.)
How to get your news stories – sources
This is one major source of headache; I got to know about the trick from my former boss and mentor. He runs africaoilgasreport.com; follow the below steps to get ideas:
- Subscribe to latest updates on most companies websites and press release sections
- Follow most companies, celebrities, politicians, businessmen on their social media accounts. Most of them posts update about life and next line of actions on social media. A very good example is Donald Trump, the present president of USA (he is a twitter addict, www.twitter.com/realdonaldtrump)
- Subscribe to most press releases
- Study other top websites, study trending posts/articles and copy their latest posts (but rewrite and redraft it completely, with new headlines etc.)
- Go to meetings, network with journalists and other website publishers
- Go to buzzsumo ( https://buzzsumo.com/)to get ideas on latest news and trending stories.
Publishing your first news, stories or special piece
If you follow the above instructions and guidelines, then I must congratulate you on your perseverance; I think by now, everything should be set, and if you need assistance, you can contact me through my contact page or chat live with me on the chat features at the bottom of the page.
Now, it is time for you to publish your first news, stories, piece or even articles; to do that, follow the guidelines below:
Open your dashboard (if you have closed it), and if not, locate posts (towards the left hand side of the dashboard), click on ‘add new’.
Give the posts a title, select and chose a category, upload a featured image. The image below will be of help.
Setting up your news website on Google search console and analytics
Now, everything is getting interesting, now if everything is actually according to the detailed guidelines above, then I once again congratulate you because you have turn yourself to a self-tutor.
Now, it is time to get Google involved in your news website. There are two practical stages:
- Submitting your news website to Google News ( there are tough and stringent conditions required); I suggest you check out their requirements and check if you qualify, read it here. And also from Google directly here.
- Going on Google search console to get your site indexed and recognized.
For Google search console, follow the steps below;
- Go to Google search console at google.com/console ( https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home)
- Click sign up (you must have a Gmail account, and if not, just sign up for a free Gmail account)
- Once signed up, you will need to submit your website for verification, submit your sitemaps (the sitemap can be configured from the Yoast SEO plugins I earlier recommended)
- Follow the below guidelines (pictures) and videos on how to get this done!!
How to get Google to index your posts and website
Please remember to ‘ uncheck the do not index this site’ option ; I earlier made mention of this and it is important you uncheck it so that Google and other search engines can crawl and index your websites with the posts.
If you submit your news websites on Google search console, remember to submit your sitemaps and publish your posts consistently, Google will naturally crawl the site and all your news stories/posts. For faster indexing, make use of the “fetch as Google” tool as seen below.
I recommend you read and install these plugins ( https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/)
MARKETING / PROMOTION / SUCCESS TIPS
We are done with the above task (which I prefer to call the technical aspect of setting up an online newspaper websites). In this step 2, I call it the marketing and growth step because it contains proven strategies and steps to take your news website to a successful level.
Getting and setting up Facebook Page Account
Facebook is the powerhouse and the blood line of all successful news website out there. Trust me, If Facebook should die today, 90% of websites will die along with it.
With that said and done, it is important (not negotiable) you open a Facebook page. To do that,
- Go to Facebook.com, scroll down and click on Page (or rather if you have a Facebook account, you can simply open a Facebook page for your business).
- Create a page for your news website ( remember to use the name of your site, I made mention of this important point earlier)
- Use a creative background and profile picture to represent your brand, logo and purpose of business
- Complete the profile information
Creating Facebook Ads
Just setting up your Facebook page is not enough; you need to let people know about your new page and website. The first task to do is to send invitation to your friends, family members, colleagues etc. for them to like the page and be a follower. Please note that you can only run Facebook Ads from your FB page and not from your own personal Facebook account.
After this, you need to spend money (invest) to get lots of likes (followers) on FB. From my experience, 1000-1200 dollars will give you approximately 35,000 – 80,000 followers. I will not be able to discuss at length on how to get lots of likes from running a Facebook Ad, however, the following resources are recommended to read:
- Neil Patel: Beginners guide to facebook ads that convert
Please, to run and manage a successful news website, you need to invest in Facebook, get to engage with your followers etc.
Tricks of getting more visitors/explosive traffic from Facebook
If you want to make a successful news website, this guideline on traffic generation using Facebook is essential. Please note, that without Facebook, your news website can never become successful. You need FB more than you think. However, with the recent Algorithm tweak, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get traffic from the world’s largest social networking website.
However, you can follow the below guidelines to get the best out of FB.
- Do not automate posting of your articles / news stories to FB ( this means you should not use third party automated tools. Do it manually.
- Share and posts your articles at optimal times to get the best exposure (notably in the morning and also anytime from 5pm till 11pm)
- Try as much as possible to commit time in engaging with your followers by responding to their likes, comments, shares, answering questions etc. ( you can hire a staff to do this for you)
- Another trick is to focus on Facebook groups; join many FB groups related to your niche, become a friend to the Admins of the group and convinced them to be sharing your posts for you to their group members
- Another trick is to open more than one Facebook page for your news website. This is what I mean; instead of just opening an FB page for the site, open also FB page for each popular categories and share each posts both on the main FB page and also on the category pages. This trick is what transformed https://www.legit.ng/ into the most popular and successful news site in Nigeria.
Twitter Account – Set Up And Followers Growth
Twitter is presently proving to be more effective and efficient in sending massive traffic to a news website. What I personally discovered is that, twitter has organic influence on Google search rankings than Facebook.
I use twitter a lot and I recommend the same to you.
Go to www.twitter.com and sign up (remember to use the domain name for branding purposes). If you want to get the best out of twitter, you need to also engage with your followers, reply to their comments, like them, retweets their posts likewise.
However, the major benefit and challenge likewise is getting lots of followers. To do that, I will never advise you to use twitter Ads because it is crazily expensive, but the most recommended way to get twitter targeted followers is to use an App called Manageflitter. I recommend you check them out (Manageflitter Apps).
If you grow your follower diligently and non-stop on a daily basis, I will not be surprised if your followers becomes 30,000 in two (2) months
After this, anytime you publish a story, share and tweet the story on your timeline and you will be surprised with the viral effect sensation you will get.
Leverage on Networking Potentials!!
Remember that the focus of this stage is to share with you proven ways to market your news website, give it maximum exposure and get massive traffic to it. One of the ways to achieve this, aside using Facebook and twitter is to network.
This is what I mean.
Anything that has to do with newspaper, news etc. has something to do with Journalists and their associated groups. So, your first task is to become friends with most Journalists. By doing this, you will be able to get first-hand information on latest news and also be able to make your own site popular.
Go to meetings, conferences, symposiums, luncheons and network with other minded people!!
Make a deal with social media influencers
Have you heard the phrase ‘Work Smarter and not harder!!’
I am a personal testimony to the powerful effects by leveraging on this simple idea. Why do you think companies and brands pays so much money to celebrities and popular people on social media?
I started off with FB Ads, but over time, I embraced this idea and to my amazement, the flood of traffic from twitter and Facebook blew me away.
How do you handle this?
Look out for popular individuals with lots of followers, fans and subscribers on YouTube, Facebook and twitter. Reach out to them with the aim of helping you share and spread the contents of your site. You can read more about influencers, how to get and engage with them in my earlier post on how to create a successful video website like YouTube. Read it here.
Using Press releases
Sign up with major press release websites; get to receive first-hand information and updates about events, trends and issues. However, the best use of PR is to help your contents and stories reach broader global audience.
Due to the research made by mequoda.com, the following are the best and most recommended PR sites you should check out ( they are excellent to even help your contents gets on Google news):
Free Press Release sites:
Premium (Paid) Press Release sites:
How to start a news website and make money
Someone sent me a message saying; ‘how can a news website make money’? I understand that the essence of business is to make money and be profitable. Please understand that it is most likely that in your first six months, you will not make money (or at least make reasonable money on a monthly basis).
With that settled, let me explain all the full details about making money with your newspaper website. Basically, there are three proven ways and methods of making money in this niche and they are;
- Using Cost Per Click (notably the use of Google AdSense)
- Direct advertisements
- Press releases
Cost Per Click (Google AdSense)
This program is run by Google and it is by far the most reliable, effective way of making money on the internet.
Nearly 98% of all news websites uses it because of the accuracy of the displayed advert and zero efforts from your own end. However, there are certain rules you need to abide with if you wish to get accepted on the program.
If a visitor checks out a story on your website and clicks on any advert (provided by Google), you get a commission and get paid for that click.
I know websites that are making more than USD10, 000 – USD100,000 per month using this program alone. To check out the eligibility and sign up , check out Google AdSense at www.google.com/adsense
This is where the main money and earnings are. Offering direct advertisement gives you more control and you are well able to set up conditions e.g. running a 360 by 360 Ad for one month etc.;
The major advantage of direct advertisement is that you are in direct touch with the company or advertiser and you also stand the chance of making more money with your online news website.
Buzzfeed and LadBible, the online viral website behemoths and other notable giant online newspaper sites uses this money making model to make a killing amount of money every year.
Companies, advertisers approaches them and pay a high amount of money. So what they do is to come up with a solid well researched post about the product, company etc and then publishes it with the links of the product or company. If you want to run a successful news website, I highly recommend you give premium press release a priority in your initial marketing effort.
This is a more effective method because it goes to the targeted audience. You can also embrace this model and you will be surprised with the insane amount of money you will be making.
I think this guideline is a handy and effective tutorial to help you get started with your dream of running and launching your own news website. I am open to helpful suggestions and help.
If you find it helpful and resourceful, please bookmark it, share it with your friends and families and also share on Facebook.