Monetizing Journalism using a Jobs Board

Monetizing online journalism is a difficult problem right now.  Online advertising and sponsorships can generate money.  Sites like the WSJ, The Times of London and the Sunday Times have erected pay walls which have brought some success at monetizing their content.  The NYTimes and others plan to follow suit.

On Streetsblog and Streetfilms, we have been receiving sponsorships and ads which are posted in our sidebars, running donation drives, selling t-shirts, and hosting fundraisers.

Next we want to launch a jobs board, copying from our sister blog GothamSchools.  GothamSchools launched their jobs board in September last year.  They first seeded the board with forty free job postings before charging $50 for subsequent postings for 30 days on the site.  A job can be “featured” for an extra $50 a month.

In considering plans for a Streetsblog jobs board, I first gathered some stats from the GothamSchools board.  (These statistics were updated to include the final values for Feb.)

We can see here that the jobs board seems to have gathered some momentum but it doesn’t seem to be growing much.  It certainly hasn’t tapped into the hundreds of education jobs that must be available right now in the NYC area.

We’ve thought of some strategies to make the board more successful:  We could lower the cost of posting a job.  We could promote the board more aggressively on GothamSchools, maybe having a blog entry showing “jobs of the day.”  We could call HR representatives in schools to try and convince them to use our jobs board, perhaps offering an initial discount to them.  We could partner with other jobs sites.  We could post ads on google.  I also feel that improving the design and functionality of the jobs board could help win people over.

One competitive advantage that GothamSchools has over competing jobs boards is that it has access to passive job candidates, people that are currently employed and are not actively looking for a job.  These are the bulk of people who read GothamSchools on a daily basis.  Passive job candidates can be more valuable than activate jobs candidates because they tend to be better qualified.  This advantage also exists for a Streetsblog jobs board.  Perhaps we should market ourselves by stating this strength.

To further this research, I would like to contact people who have posted to the GothamSchools jobs board for their feedback.  I would also like to contact people we think should have posted to the board, but for some reason decided not to.  We can apply what we learn from this research to improvements to the GothamSchools board and to the new Streetsblog jobs board.

Please add your ideas to the comments below and stay tuned for future developments.

3 Responses to “Monetizing Journalism using a Jobs Board”

  1. Vanessa Says:

    Thanks for this analysis, Chris. I don’t know a great deal about job boards, but…

    Plugging the open jobs (or their employers) on the board seems like a great idea to me. For those who read the blog via feed readers, it gets the info in front of them too…and it’s no more difficult than a normal blog post to breeze past. My other suggestions, for what they’re worth, are to move the job board up on the sidebar (which is really crowded!) and to better explain what the job board offers position advertisers in a pithy one-sentence sort of way (a la the masters: I would also definitely show more jobs on a page. Scrolling is easy, page loads less so.

    The renewal feature sounds like a good idea too. A more advanced feature would be to allow people to purchase a ‘job pack’ (“purchase 8 posts for a 10% discount, use them when you want!”). As someone who has done a lot of job posting, I can say that I have purchased many job packs, and it makes the process much easier. Every time I have to type in my cc number, my fingers go numb.

    One thing I really like about the current GS board is the clean interface. It’s much easier to use than, say, many university recruitment systems. I think $50 is a real deal…I don’t see too many job sites that allow you to post for less, and this is a pretty targeted readership for the employer.

    I’ve seen a couple of comments on GothamSchools noting that many schools cannot post on the board because of school rules…do you think that plays a big role, or a small one?

    Just some ideas for ya.

  2. Chris Abraham Says:

    One question that was raised is, what type of jobs would be posted on a Streetsblog jobs board? GothamSchools has a more obvious market here: teaching and admin positions at schools.

  3. Vanessa Says:

    That is a good question. From the reader survey we did in the fall, we confirmed that a large portion of the Streetsblog readership fall into one or more of the following categories:
    - “livable streets supporting” gov’t officials (planners, transportation engineers, public outreach staff, policymakers)
    - Cycling, transit, and ped-issue advocates
    - Folks at transportation-related planning firms, engineering firms, and technology companies

    The swath is a little wider than the obvious choices for education (teachers, principals, etc).