Business model: the challenges

You learnt how business doesn’t need to be scary. You learnt how you can find inspiration within your work. Now all you need to do is put together a business plan. Yes, I am talking to you, journo free lancer.

To end my motivational speech, I present you the Business Model Canvas, as I put it together it for my first business idea in action.

Briefly, Birmingham City Council plans to relaunch their online project called Birmingham Faith Map. It has been put together as an excellent search tool for places of worship, faith organisations and faith groups around the city.

However, the project has been stalling and lacking in content which would keep interest and participation alive. Without news updates, and most pages void of content, an otherwise excellent project is collecting mostly… internet dust. A media expert such as myself can shake it back to life.


Click on the image to get to the completed canvas on the respective website. 

First steps into running my free lance business

  • What business am I doing as a free lance journalist?
    Selling my media expertise.
  • What does my media expertise consist in?
    Efficiently managing a Facebook page, a Twitter account, YouTube video channel, podcasting, writing for online. This involves knowledge in what keeps people interested and engage online.
  • Who am I selling it to?
    A local government institution who is interested in and needs my media expertise (online writing, video making, podcasting, social media accounts management).
  • How am I selling my media expertise?
    By taking the appropriate steps into doing business. By using a business plan which is meant to clarify how it all works and support an action plan.
    By presenting my client with why and how they need my expertise.

How to understand Business Model Canvas

When you are not used to working with a business plan and language, you might find it very off putting, as have I. Finding a good resource though, such as Canvaniser, can sort your first problem. The website explains how to use the model canvas, which helps you understand each piece of the structure.

If, however, you prefer to see and hear rather than read, YouTube offers you a good pool of tutorials. You can go for the short one, or for the long one.

Watch the short tutorial here:

Now you can watch the longer tutorial if you want to go more in depth with what this is all about:

How to face the challenges of a business tool

I will not say it was easy to use the Business Model Canvas. Thinking of myself as not particularly gifted for business, with my background in humanities, Theology, literature and arts, I was not sure how I could manage using completely different terms and structures.

But then journalism is about communication. If you look at the canvas, it identifies the client, the relation to the client, what you offer, what they gain by using your business, what are the main activities your business will conduct.

Let us translate all these in a media environment.

  • What does the client translate to? 
    Your user, your reader, your media consumer.
  • What does the relation to the client translate to?
    How you interact with your user (you give them the opportunity to leave online comments, for example – see Discuss boards on major online newspapers such as The Guardian)
  • What does the client gain by using your business?
    This translates to why your user comes back to your website, what is it they they get out of it (stay informed, be entertained, find opinions that match theirs)
  • What are the main activities of your business?
    Let’s say you have an online media website. You offer online content (text, video, audio), Facebook and Twitter updates, photo galleries, data, and so on.

If we take what we know, put the business thinking cap on and transfer all these into a business model, we can make it work. We might not get it right the first time, as practice and experience build in time, but it can be a great start.


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