Case Study: Blottr Digital Limited (UK)

The name of the publication and / or company

Blottr Digital Limited

Established

August 2010

Web Address

Blottr.com

Form of the company

Limited company

Describe your site or business in few words.

Adam Baker, the founder:

“Blottr is a citizen journalism news service that enables anyone to capture, report and collaborate on news they are witnessing from mobile to web instantly.

When I was watching the atrocities of 9/11 unfold, I was surprised it took CNN as long as it did to break the coverage of what was going on. Yet there were hundreds of people capturing the footage without an outlet for it. Then, maybe 2 years ago, I saw a documentary using that footage the citizens had been capturing, and it was really powerful – raw, really engaging. It got me thinking that there’s got to be a better way to enable people on the scene to report the news. I’m also a news junkie, I really love news. Here in the UK paywalls are going up and the mainstream media is laying off lots of editorial staff. So I thought this is probably a really good time to launch a service like Blottr.

Our challenge is to make citizen journalism credible. We’ve done a really good job doing that, but we’ve still got a long way to go. Mainstream media will always have a place because they’re more analytical and they go more in-depth than we do. Majority of the content on Blottr is breaking news from people reporting what they’re witnessing. We were the first in Europe who had the image of Gaddafi having been shot, for example.”

Staff numbers

Who’s creating the content

Content creators, paid full-time

11 (editors, moderators)

Are some of the content creators citizen contributors or interns?

All content creators are citizen journalists. There are nearly 2000 of them.

How is your time divided between doing business and content?

I look after all business development. Everybody else looks after technology and content.

Business, marketing & sales, paid full-time

1 (Adam Baker)

How they make money

Revenue models and sustainability

Would you say your business model is sustainable?

We’re not at break-even point yet, but we’ll probably get there this year (2012). The model is sustainable because it isn’t derived from advertising revenue. We’ve got some great technology that powers Blottr, so we license it as a white label to other publishers to enable their users to be contributors as well as consumers. To give you an example, one of our customers is a cosmetic surgery magazine that’s got 12 000 of the world’s best cosmetic surgeons reading their content. With our technology powering their site they’re able to get those users to contribute as well. They are also able to sell advertising against the pages that their engaged users generate, so it actually becomes cost positive for them. It’s a real win-win. We have 17 clients in the UK at the moment (January 2012).

How much is your yearly or monthly revenue?

From September 2011 until the end of the year about 100 000 pounds. Hoping to go up to half a million this year.

Where does your revenue go?

It goes to the bank. We’re fairly lean. Most of our overhead is staff, about 95 percent. We don’t pay for any marketing.

How much do you pay to your contributors?

Our contributors are not paid for writing per se, but we monitor who our best contributors are and we approach them to see if they would like to write more regularly for us. Invariably they do. Then we pay them based on how popular their stories are. The pay is a between 20 pence and one pound for a thousand page views.

What about profit?

We’ve got plans to move into other countries fairly quickly anyway. Any profit, whether it’s what’s been forecasted or above, will certainly help us do that. We are fairly ambitious in how we want to scale the business. We want to be the catalyst for citizen journalism in all the markets we’re able to get into. We launched in Germany and France in November 2011.

What kind of advertising you sell?

Ad Networks, Sponsorship

Do you sell virtual or physical products?

Software, plugins or apps

Do you see your publication as your main product?

“The software, Newspoint, generates almost all of our revenue but Blottr is absolutely our main product. It’s where the value of our business is created and will continue to be created. We use Newspoint.biz as a means to generate revenue, but no more than that.

Until we get up to above 20 million unique users per month – which we probably will in about 12 months time – ads are not very meaningful to us. We’re talking about sponsorships now, and I think that will be the main type of advertising we sell. “

What would be the most important thing on your road to sustainability?

Continuing to grow our user numbers and our user engagement.

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