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    Guides and Tutorials

    Starting a Newspaper Ministry

    Starting a Church Newspaper

    This tutorial was written by Pastor of Greeley, Colorado.  He was one of our first customers over five years ago and his newspaper was so successful in so many ways that we asked him to share what he did with his Christian Family Quarterly newspaper. We wish the same success and achievement for your ministry as well. – Patrick Carson, CEO, MakeMyNewspaper.com, Inc.

    Choose a link to jump ahead to that section of the tutorial.

    BENEFITS OF STARTING A NEWSPAPER MINISTRY

    There are many benefits—as you will discover as you read through this guide. Our own newspaper was incredibly well received by our community. The benefits begin to pile up. Here is a summary of why you may want to start your own newspaper ministry and what you may expect:

    • It can generate its own income to pay for itself.
    • It can generate a profit to help fund other ministries.
    • It gives you much, much more room to deliver a message.
    • You will see an increase in visitors. We did with our very first issue!
    • It is an accepted format. Businesses are more likely to carry your newspaper.
    • It gives another area for members to get involved in the church.
    • It allows you to establish relationships with businesses and helps to get them to invest in your ministry.
    • People are more apt to read it because of the diverse content.
    • You can promote your values, teachings, and advice in a much more profound way.
    • You can establish yourself as an expert in your field. It helps you establish credibility.
    • It will dramatically increase your name recognition.
    • It allows you to get the Gospel out for free or for little investment!

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    THINK LARGER THAN A NEWSLETTER

    A newspaper can do so much more for your ministry than simply being a newsletter. If, however, that is your only goal, you will find the prices at MakeMyNewspaper.com more than competitive to anything else you can find.

    But with the increased space a newspaper provides—in comparison to a newsletter—the newspaper can become an invaluable arm of your outreach ministry. A folded 22x14 sheet of paper gives you 4 pages at 11x14 inches. Compare that to your typical newsletter and you can begin to see that a newspaper can accommodate much more space than a newsletter can.

    With all the added space, our church is able to print articles on family, marriage, parenting, self-improvement, and Christian living all in one issue. This allows us to provide a positive message to the community in a format that is visual trusted. We give answers to real problems in the lives of people living around us and they respond!

    Don’t think ‘newsletter’. Think instead: ‘Christian community newspaper’!

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    PICK YOUR ‘NICHE’, NAME, AND SIZE

    Choosing the right niche is essential to the success of your newspaper. A niche is a corner or section of the so called market you will be addressing. There are many different issues, programs, causes, and problems you could write about. But it is important to remember that your newspaper, in order to become a staple in your community, needs to be somewhat predictable.

    For example, our church chose a family ‘niche’ and therefore all our articles primarily deal with family issues. People have come to anticipate our next publication because they are anticipating the articles on the family.

    There are several areas you need to consider in choosing your ‘niche’.

    • Demographics. How large is your town or city? How much coverage can you achieve easily based on your workforce and time frame? Are you a country church, an inner city work, or ministry specific?
    • Your strengths. Each pastor or ministry leader has his own strengths. If you have dealt a lot with marriages then you may want to focus on marriages. If you deal a lot with addictions, your niche may want to focus on that.
    • Political environment. I am not suggesting a political paper necessarily. But if your area is primarily liberal or conservative, this may have a bearing on the effectiveness of your chosen niche.
    • Church or ministry size. If you head a large ministry, a newspaper is great for networking and establishing clear communication between the various arms and legs of the work. If you have a smaller ministry, outreach may be your primary choice and will help focus you on a specific niche.
    • Recurring social issues. Many city churches find themselves dealing more with certain and recurring social issues than others. Do you have ministries specific to a certain social issue? Do you have a large children’s ministry? Have a college outreach? All of these need to be taken into consideration when choosing your niche.
    • Availability of content. Your content and the ease by which you can get the content will determine the overall size of your newspaper. Do you wish to do a 4 page, 8, 12 or 16 page newspaper? How much content do you have? How easy is it to write it or get it?

    Your newspaper name and content is based on your chosen niche. Warning! Don’t get so specific in your niche that you exhaust all your content in only a few issues. For example, one church calls their paper, ‘From Tragedy to Triumph’. This gives them much more flexibility in supplying content. They can deal with addictions, abuse of all kinds, and other types of success stories.

    We call ours ‘The Christian Family Quarterly’. This allows us to write articles on many issues that affect the family.

    Chose your name based on your niche. Chose the size of your paper based on your ability to fill it with good content. The titles of the articles need to be catchy enough so that if someone happens to pick up one of your newspapers and just glances at the front, they see something that may appeal to them right away.

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    DETERMINE YOUR DISTRIBUTION SIZE

    When trying to figure out how many copies of your newspapers to get for each issue, you need to keep three factors in mind:

    • Population size of your distribution area.
    • Workforce.
    • Cost versus potential revenue or available funds.

    Clearly, if you live in a town of 2,000 people, you don’t need to order 10,000 newspapers. At the same time, if you live in a city of 2 million and print 100,000 newspapers with a workforce of two people, you’ll never get them out quickly enough.

    Our church prints 10,000 newspapers each quarter. It takes about two months for our church to actually distribute all 10,000 newspapers. This is because I want at least 60% to be passed out door to door and 40% placed in businesses such as restaurants. Therefore, to do a monthly newspaper at 10,000 copies would be overwhelming to our church. We would never get them all out as I want to.

    In our case, we pay for our newspaper by selling ads to local businesses (discussed later on). I had to weigh how much room I would allot for ads and the potential revenue against the number of copies of my newspapers I printed for each issue.

    For example, 10,000 eight page newspapers gives me the exact same amount of room to sell ads in as 20,000, or even 50,000 eight page newspapers would. The price difference between printing 10,000 and 20,000 newspapers, though, makes it much more difficult to raise the needed funds within the same eight pages. I would either have to raise my ad prices or add more pages to the publication. Both of these factors need to be considered.  Bear in mind, that newsprint is very inexpensive, and just few ads can literally pay for an additional 4 pages, which in return offers that much more advertising and content space.  Weigh your options carefully.  Also, if you are unsure, you’re better off starting with a smaller newspaper and growing larger with your next issue than starting big, being in financial difficulties and sizing down.

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    FUNDING YOUR NEWSPAPER MINISTRY

    Done right, this is a self sustaining ministry. You may certainly set a budget aside for it and pay everything up front. MakeMyNewspaper.com’s prices are incredible and will save you a lot of money over other traditional publications—including tracts, newsletters, flyers, and brochures.

    However, with all the space you have in the newspaper, just selling a few ads allows you to raise all the money you need to cover all your expenses. Our church usually sells enough ads to make a profit!

    Taking a small example, if you sell 24 ads (3 per page of an 8 page newspaper) at $100 each, you will raise $2,400. The price for 10,000, color, 8 page newspapers from MakeMyNewspaper.com is $799 (eight cents each). You make, therefore, $1,600 that can be used to fund other ministries as well!

    Selling advertisements is the best way to go. Here are some benefits:

    • Your church does not actually pay to get the Gospel out. The papers are paid for by the advertisers.
    • You make money on each issue to pay for other outreach programs.
    • You can solicit advertisers by explaining that by purchasing an AD in your paper they are contributing to the community by helping you to reach the community.
    • You build more solid relationships with businesses and business owners by partnering with them.
    • You get something, money, and the business gets something, advertising. It is a win-win situation!
    • Ads give your paper a more newspaper feel and look. People expect ads in newspapers.
    • It increases your paper’s credibility and circulation potential.

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    DETERMINING YOUR ADVERTISING PRICES

    As a basic premise, set a base AD equal to 1 cent per paper. Therefore, if you distribute 10,000 newspapers your base black and white AD ought to be set at $100. All other ads ought to be adjusted above or below that price.

    Pick your ad sizes first. Here are some suggested sizes (in inches):

    • 2 x 2
    • 2 x 3.5 (this is a business card size)
    • 2 x 10 (banner across your paper)
    • 3.5 x 3.5
    • Half page ad
    • Full page ad

    We chose the black and white business card ad (2 x 3.5) to be our base AD. We set the price for that at $100 and built everything else around that. Here is our current AD pricing as of this writing:

    Color:

    (We offer 4 pages that will have color Ads in them: Front, Back, and Middle Spread. First come, first served.)

    • $25.00 - Sponsor an article (Two lines of text immediately under the title or author name). This is great for name recognition or individuals who want to support our ministries but do not own a business to promote of their own.  
    • $120.00 - Small (2x2) square *
    • $150.00 - Medium (3.5 x 2) Business Card Size *
    • $195.00 - Large (3.5 x 3.5) square *
    • $250.00 – Banner (2 x 10)
    • $300.00 - Local Business Highlight article with large AD (300 word article promoting your business!).
    • $400.00 – Half page AD (6.5 x 10)
    • $600.00 – Full page AD (13 x 10)

    * Available for front page AD. Please add $25.00 for front page color AD.

    Black and White:

    • $25.00 - Sponsor an article (Two lines of text immediately under the title or author name). This is great for name recognition or individuals who want to support our ministries but do not own a business to promote of their own.  
    • $75.00 - Small (2x2) square
    • $100.00 - Medium (3.5 x 2) Business Card Size
    • $150.00 - Large (3.5 x 3.5) square
    • $200.00 – Banner (2 x 10)
    • $250.00 - Local Business Highlight article with large AD (300 word article promoting your business!)
    • $350.00 – Half page AD (6.5 x 10)
    • $500.00 – Full page AD (13 x 10)

    NOTE: The Medium Black and White Ad Space averages out to about .01 cent per family!

    Selling Contracts:

    If you come out with more than one issue a year, try to sell contracts to each advertiser to get them to commit to more than one issue. Give them a discount if they do. Here is what we do:

    • Contract for 2 issues: 10% off each AD.
    • Contract for 3 issues: 15% off each AD.
    • Contract for 4 issues: 20% off each AD.

    This will save you time and make it easier to raise money for future issues.

    If you sell more ads than you need and feel you are running out of room, just add pages to your publications. If two people, for example, bought a full page black and white AD at the suggested prices above, that is $1,000. It would be a simple thing to just increase the page count in my newspaper to get all my content in. The prices at MakeMyNewspaper.com allow for this at super rates!

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    FINDING ADVERTISERS

    There is no substitute for asking. You have to ask. Still, here is how I would start:

    • Approach church members who have a business and offer them 50% off any AD. Give your own people a deal.
    • Ask all business owners in your church for referrals.
    • Approach everyone you currently know is a business owner and all those you currently do business with. Ask them to buy an AD.
    • Ask each of the above business owners to give you referrals too.
    • Approach and ask each of your referrals to buy an AD. Use the name of the person who referred you.
    • Ask them for referrals too.
    • Continue this pattern.

    This will give you a good start. From there, if you run out of places, you can cold call businesses, but when you do, here are some things to keep in mind:

    • Talk only to business owners or the one who can write the check. Come back if you have to. You can pitch it better than some employee that doesn’t care or fully understand it all.
    • Explain what the proceeds are going for: kids going to camp and other outreach ministries.
    • Provide samples of your newspapers if you have them.
    • Provide a price sheet.
    • Provide all your contact information.
    • Don’t wait for them to call you, you follow up on them.
    • Don’t be afraid when they say ‘no’.
    • You may want to offer free AD design services.

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    DESIGNING YOUR NEWSPAPER

    You can use your own desktop publishing program, though MakeMyNewspaper.com provides a Free online designer that you can use that offers Free templates and pre-structured newspaper layouts.   Be sure to follow all the suggested tips they provide and read their FAQ’s and Tutorial pages.  Simply sign up for a free account from the www.Makemynewspaper.com website, then select one of the templates below to begin designing. 

    Front Page, 3 Column
    Front Page, 3 Column
    11x14
    Church Bulletin Template
    Built with not only a banner ad on top, but using a single picture to highlight the current issue's main event. Bottom teases for inside pages.
    Church News
    Church News
    11x14
    Church Newsletter Template
    This front page newsletter or newspaper template is perfect to use for any religious organization.
    Good News
    Good News
    11x14
    Good News Newsletter Template
    A front page Church Newsletter template. Perfect for religious organizations and nonprofits.

    You may also use your own graphic program to design your newspaper and simply upload your own pdf’s when you order (as long as the parameters are met—see Specifications Page and below). Here are some things to think about:

    • Make sure everything is converted to CMYK color schemes instead of the default RGB color schemes most computers use. (No concern if using MMNC’s Online Designer)
    • Make sure your black text is 100% black font (K) and doesn’t have any percent of the other colors in them (CMY). (No concern if using MMNC’s Online Designer)
    • Keep in mind what people see. Pages 2 and 3 are an open spread set side by side. 4 and 5 are too and so forth. Whatever content is on page 2 will be seen right next to the content on page 3.
    • Alignments are important for a good looking paper. Try to keep everything aligned.
    • Justify your columns to ‘full’ so it gives a crisp edge to both sides of your article columns.
    • Stick with the same font size for all your articles. Don’t vary them just to fill up space. It looks tacky.  Typical font sizes are 11, 11.5, and 12.
    • Stick with the same kind of font for all your articles. Using different fonts for the primary reading makes the newspaper look messy.
    • Fill up space with pictures, puzzles, quotes, and other graphics. Puzzles and the like will increase the shelf life of your newspaper.
    • Most of the time, the printed copy of your newspaper will print darker than your computer screen copy looks. You may need to lighten some pictures and adjust the contrast and brightness to get a clear picture in print.
    • Don’t get too wild. Try to retain a consistent theme of graphics and text throughout the paper.
    • Put pictures of your own church members in the newspaper. This will make it more interesting to them and exciting.

    Study some of the available examples on MakeMyNewspaper.com.

    More Design Tips

    The most important thing about a newspaper is keeping it simple to read. Don’t get too complicated with graphics and keep your articles separated and with bold Headings.

    • Decide on a name for your paper and make this large and on the top of your newspaper. Make sure that it is the name of your business or at least suggests what your business is about (for instance, if you own a hair salon, you want to avoid names like "Harry’s Newspaper" or "Joanne’s " as those names have no message as to the content of the kind of paper you are producing.
    • Make sure you have your business name, phone number, address, email address and any other pertinent information also somewhere on top of your newspaper.
    • Include what issue this is that you are printing near the top. (Issue One, or March Issue, or something along these lines)
    • You may want to include an index of some kind near the top of your newspaper (New Technology for Hair Coloring...Page 3).
    • Don't get complicated with your advertising! Make sure your own content is very easy to find and read! The simplest place to put advertisement is along the bottom of each page. You can decide this for yourself.
    • Content must be easy to find and have strong Headings (see our Content Tips).

    More Content Tips

    Keep your content simple, easy to find (bold headings), easy to read (don't use extremely fancy fonts) and keep some space between articles. Also, don’t try to include too much information as your font size (the size of your letters) in your articles need to stay at least the size of 12 or larger for everyone to be able to read easily. Strategic pictures and photos can also be wonderful to attract the eye to an article, though don't get crazy and use too many because it will dilute the strength of each photo.

    The content in your paper is solely yours to decide. For the most part, it should coincide with whatever your paper is supposed to be about. Again, if you are a hair salon, you probably don't want articles on the latest technology of lawn ornaments, or of the recent discovery of microorganisms in Egyptian tombs. Keep your articles related to your business.

    Use your people to help! Get them to submit articles, enlist proofreaders, and get them to sell ads. This is an exciting ministry that many people can get involved in!

    There are places around the internet where you can get content.

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    DISTRIBUTING YOUR NEWSPAPER

    This product is very exciting for the church. I have several people who have taken this ministry to heart and they go out of their way to distribute our newspapers. One lady usually passes out around 3,000 all by herself.

    Canvassing neighborhoods is a great way to get your name and message in front of people. We try to get at least 60% of our newspapers out this way. I have a few rules, however, regarding distributing in this manner.

    • Don’t violate a ‘no trespassing’ sign.
    • Don’t leave a newspaper at a ‘no soliciting’ sign unless you knock first and ask.
    • Don’t put a newspaper in the mail box (it’s illegal).
    • Secure the paper in some manner so it doesn’t get blown away or rained on.

    This has been very effective method of introducing our church to people.

    Also, another effective means of distributing your newspapers is to find friendly businesses and restaurants that will accept your newspapers. Any place where there is a waiting room is ideal. People often look for something to read while they are waiting. If you chose a good ‘niche’, many of these businesses would be very pleased to accept your paper for their customers to enjoy while they are waiting.

    Restaurants are the best, I’ve found, along with, interestingly, the library. Here is a list of places you may want to consider distributing your newspapers:

    • Doctor’s and Dentist’s Offices
    • Libraries
    • Coffee Shops
    • Waiting Rooms of every sort
    • Retail Stores with Community Bulletin Boards
    • Hospitals
    • Convenience Stores
    • Gas Stations
    • Restaurants
    • Apartment Building Offices (especially if they don’t allow distribution of papers door to door. They often will allow them in the office).
    • Apartment Complexes – Door to Door
    • Neighborhoods – Door to Door

    Be careful to get the proper permissions. If they don’t allow them and you leave some anyway, odds are, they end up in the trash. Keep track of the rate your newspapers are taken. Some places may need more and other places less.

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    IN CONCLUSION

    I hope this short guide gives you a solid sense of what this ministry requires. I don’t have the time to list all the wonderful things this newspaper has done for our church. The best proof is to do it yourself and find out.

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    Co-Authored and with permission - P. Carson