Transact.io, a company that enables small payments for publishers, recently launched a free publishing system called The Daily Local for both new and established local news publishers. The system offers the WordPress CMS, and since the Daily Local supports a business model that includes subscriptions and a la carte purchases of articles for non-subscribers, the Transact.io software can handle those payments.
“Many local news publishers have already gone out of business, and many more will fail due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Transact.io co-founder Ken Goldsholl. “Our goal is to help publishers and journalists that want to start new publications create sustainable platforms, especially those who do not have access to capital to fund that kind of venture.”
The Daily Local became available for publishers in early July. Anyone who is interested in the platform can contact Transact.io at email@example.com, and depending on the publisher’s technical expertise, Transact.io can either provide the materials for the system or help install it. The company also offers training on how to use the system. Transact.io believes that this model could work in communities with at least 100,000 people. However, this could be ideal for communities with 200,000 to 500,000 people, Goldsholl said.
In addition, the Daily Local offers publishers a ready-to-use website layout that they can customize themselves. Goldsholl explained to E&P that he spent time looking through local news sites, and when he reviewed which ones were successful, they had a design modeled after national publications.
Transact.io also considered what kept readers on a website—and it’s not pop-ads and ads from a third-party server, said Goldsholl. That led to the decision for the Daily Local to feature sponsors over advertisers. However, publishers can place ads on their site with the CMS system.
The only thing the company will ask of publishers is that they use the Transact.io software for some amount of time, Goldsholl said. There are no upfront fees to use it, but the company will receive a portion of reader revenue and publishers can keep 100 percent of all other revenue.
While publishers are welcome to utilize the system for as long as they like, Transact.io wants to make sure that they have a decent chance of success. So, if a news site wants to utilize the platform, Transact.io requires that the team include at least a few experienced journalists.
In the end, Goldsholl said the Daily Local is just one tool for publishers to deliver the news. Although he hopes this tool will be a lifeboat for them, he explained they also must be proficient at understanding the news, know what is important to people in their community and how to get that information to them.
“We want to make this something that publishers really like and optimizes their revenue,” he said. “They need to survive, and we’ve come up with a model we think is sustainable.”
To view a prototype of the Daily Local website, visit dailylocal.transact.io.