Zimbabwe is a nation currently going through turbulent cycles from all angles. The rate at which events occur or emerge is so breakneck, daily. This has created a space in which the appetite for news is high and the increased propagation of fake news is rampant. Keeping Zimbabweans informed, educated and entertained is a pursuit one can embark on to make money. All you have to do is to ask yourself what niche or target audience you want to serve and pick up from there. Currently, there are many media businesses in the country but you can always find a way to compete with them. In this article, I delve into how you can start such a business.
When many hear ‘media business’ they are already disinterested because they are wondering how they are going to afford technical physical equipment. I always underscore the importance of capitalising on the internet and social media in business development. Thus, essentially, starting off with the inclusion of print media can be quite a longshot given the nature of related costs. Due to the economic downturn, one would obviously want to start with very limited costs. So the trick is to take off with electronic media – the key focus being on the internet and social media.
The thrust is that you want to provide news (and even adding on, edutainment content) to build a huge and loyal audience. That means you must make a strategic decision on which target audience you want to serve i.e. sports, business, politics, and so on – or you could serve all categories. Obviously serving all available categories will entail a wider reach which may be to your advantage.
In terms of revenue, you will see what works best for you but the strategies are plenty. One can be a subscription model (though it shouldn’t be your sole revenue stream). Another one which is more efficacious is affiliate marketing. If you execute well, you’ll get to a point where your audience is so huge that businesses will approach you to pay for ad placement on your platforms.
You must, however, understand that you might go for a long stretch without realizing any revenue. Prospects of making revenue only come into focus once you’ve built a loyal audience that’s huge.
So I’ve already pointed out to start off with electronic media. My rationale in that is the low costs needed to start from that angle. That means you’ll definitely need to get a sleek and highly responsive website developed. That site must be designed in such a way that video clips are seamlessly incorporable. There must also be built-in share-ability that makes it easy for viewers/readers to share your publications. There must also be room for them to easily engage with your posts i.e. comments, likes and the like. So this entails having good computer infrastructure and internet connectivity. The website must be your base of operations and must be synced with other photo-sharing and video-sharing sites; plus it’s wise to also work with email lists.
Since you’re going to leverage on social media, you must capitalize on the live video features. Video has been extensively proven to be the most engaging form of content. Pre-recorded or live, it’s most engaging – remember always keep it short and sweet. All those aspects considered, it means you’ll need to have video production paraphernalia. Now, you don’t necessarily need to have top-of-the-range expensive cameras. Simple tripods (or selfie sticks) and simple cameras (or phone cameras) with HD features can actually suffice.
The writing component of the articles is very important so you might want to brush up your writing skills or outsource from those who can.
The beauty of the media business is its scalability – meaning you can start solo. Then as the business grows and the reach widens you scale. Some required components or services you might even outsource.
Not much capital is needed to start as I already alluded to (with respect to the approach I recommended). The initial money required will be needed for some of the key components I highlighted earlier.
When it comes to the market, the world is your oyster. You have all the leeway to map out strategies that can build for yourself a significant and loyal audience. The online community is so broad and as much as you might be focusing on the local market, it’ll always spill over. Remember you’ll be focusing on Zimbabwean matters, so every Zimbabwean (local and abroad) and the world over will be curious to interact with your media publications.
Registration of the business is the first stop, it’s imperative! This business presents a paradigm that entails principles of journalism so ensure you’re privy to laws or regulations in that respect. You can get into serious trouble if you violate certain media laws of the land. Principles of ethical reporting and respect for copyright must be deeply espoused in this type of business. Be factual, be thorough and be principled lest your business gets sued owing to fake news that can be interpreted as defamation of character and other like offences. You can also cover your bases by using appropriate disclaimers where applicable.
This is a good business for one to start, be it you have journalism qualifications or not. Ensure you publish media content regularly and consistently, daily or weekly – it’s up to you. I’ll say this again, be factual and desist from propagating fake news. Be renowned for being the source of real-time, ethical and factual reporting plus spice it up with edutainment.