Metro Offers Product to Increase Revenue on Newspaper Websites

by Kevin Slimp, March 2009

Metro Offers Product to Increase Revenue on Newspaper Websites
I’ll never forget my first business. It was a publishing company. I came up with the idea and shared it with a friend during a water skiing outing on Thanksgiving Day 1988. Yes, I lived in Florida back then.

We were soon in business and looking for a way to make a profit. Somewhere, we’d both heard the adage, “You have to spend money to make money.”

Spend money we did. And we made a tidy profit in return.

One of the questions I get asked the most when I’m speaking to groups of publishers is, “How can I make money on my newspaper Web site without spending a fortune?”

I’m going to tell you how. Get a pen. I’ll wait. Robert Zimmerman, president of Metro Creative Graphics, has been pestering me for months to look at a product they’ve been working on. Boy, am I glad he did. Here’s the idea: Metro has created special sections - much like the special sections in your print edition - for newspaper Web sites. Not one or two page sections. Full blown special sections. You find an advertiser or two to sponsor one of these “Microsites” and voila, you’re in the money.

These Web sites are a snap to configure and they end up right on your Web site, not on some obscure URL out in the Netherlands. People go to your Web site, click on a link to your special section and they are taken directly to it.

Here’s how it works. For around $200 per month, a newspaper can subscribe to the “Timely Features Microsites” service. For this, you receive three special section templates per month. There are special sections related to autos, homes, holidays and more. In a year, you’d receive 36 special section templates to choose from. You can create as few or as many special sections for your newspaper Web site as you’d like. There’s even a handy calculator at to help you calculate just how much money you can make on this service.

For example, let’s say you thought you could sell ads for one special section each month for twelve months. Let’s assume you sell three box ads and skyscrapers for $300 apiece in each Microsite. That’s $21,600 in a year. Obviously, if you run a special section related to travel and highways, you should be able to sell a lot more than six ads. But I don’t want you to get too excited. You can also sell site sponsorships, directory listings and more. According to my calculations, even a small weekly newspaper could make a lot more than $20,000 per year using this service.

Here’s the catch. There’s not one. No catch. It works as advertised. I went up to Metro’s Microsites area and created a couple of special sections in about an hour. My favorite is a spring travel section. All the stories and layouts were done for me. I simply uploaded the ads, along with link information, and uploaded the site. Oh, speaking of uploading the site, you don’t even have to do that if you don’t want to. You can hit a “publish” button and the site will be uploaded to your Web site for you.

As my friends in New England say, “I kid you not.”

If you want to see for yourself, just look at the Microsite I uploaded a few minutes ago. You can find it at Just click on the “Spring Travel” link on the right side of the home page.

A little more detail, to whet your appetite. You can upload JPEG files or animated GIF files in the ad areas. You can also create your own stories and pictures to add to those already available. If you visit the Microsite I created, you’ll notice two stories on the front page that were placed there just to show you it can be done. As you move between stories, you might also notice that the ads rotate. I created a couple of “skyscraper” and “box” ads for my Microsite. While reading one story, you might see a skyscraper ad for Braincast webinars. When you move to another article, you might seen a different ad in the same place.

OK. That’s it. No one is allowed to tell me they can’t make money on their newspaper Web site. For more information, visit

Institute of Newspaper Technology Announces Lineup Many of you know that I direct a training program for newspaper designers, publishers and I.T. related staff called the Institute of Newspaper Technology. The schedule for the October 2009 session is complete and includes classes in InDesign, scripting, photo editing, video production for Web sites, Flash, Illustrator, InCopy, Adobe Bridge, digital photography, audio slideshow creation, fonts, editing photos in camera raw, Photoshop, font management and more. As you can see, we’re trying to cover topics of most interest to print and online newspapers. Basic and advanced classes are offered. Instructors include Lisa Griffin, Russell Viers, Jay Nelson, Rob Heller and Kevin Slimp. Guest speakers will also be on hand. For more information, visit