Making money without losing credibility

Mar 30 2015

For the past several weeks, my team and I have been working on launching The Rundown, a daily news quiz. In this time period, we’ve explored different outlets to format our quiz for our users. From a basic email to a Google form, we’ve been experimenting with how we want our quiz to look and what features we want to include.

Throughout this period, we have worked to ensure the final product would appeal to our users. We incorporated immediate feedback on answers, hyperlinks to learn more about news stories and a leader board so users could compete with friends. The goal of these efforts has been to not only gain more users, but also to make The Rundown more appealing to future investors.

This week, our website was finished and we no longer need to experiment with various forms for our quiz. Now that we have a fully functioning website that we can promote, our problems with bringing in money have begun. We know that we can get more people to play and garner interest from businesses to become involved with The Rundown. We’re just not sure how we want to include businesses in our quizzes.

Should we endorse sponsored content and have businesses pay to include their own questions in our quiz? Should we utilize paid hyperlinks to various news sources? While discovering the possibilities of these options, we have come across a significant obstacle that we’re still trying to overcome.

When you’re a service that aims to provide users with important news stories, it’s easy to lose your credibility in order to gain revenue. In our news quizzes, we don’t want to have a question about what museum ISIS attacked followed by the drink special of the day at a local bar. We’re struggling to find a middle ground between relaying important news and bringing in revenue to make the business sustainable. As a business, it’s important that we are trusted to give our users the top news stories for that day. Yet, also as a business, it’s important we sell something.

We have tried following other news outlets, such as The Skimm, to determine successful paths to receiving revenue. Right now, The Rundown team still hasn’t found the best solution to this problem. But this is what the Lab is for. It’s about experimentation and exploring new ideas. Most of the time, these ideas will be terrible. We’ll want to crawl into a hole because our brainstorming efforts have been stagnated. Then we’ll turn around and research more, making more mistakes but never failing to keep searching for an answer.


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