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At Content Creators, journalists practice their craft and get paid

by: Julia Scott |

Tim Collie stumbled upon a universal truth while building his news startup, Content Creators. “Most people don’t like their website.” The design is bad, or they don’t know how to upload videos. The content stagnates, and the site becomes a calling card appended with excuses.

Imagine then, that you get a cold call from Collie, 51.

“We’re story tellers,” his pitch goes. “We’ve looked at your website. We believe we can help provide you with content and videos.”

Talk about full service. Content Creators offers ghostwriting, editing, website design, photography, video, social media, and any other kind of content creation you can think of. Folks who design websites don’t typically follow up by providing content and keeping the thing bug-free.


Content Creators does. In fact, it is rare that they are hired to create a website and not contribute the content.

It’s one reason why the start up, barely three years old, makes enough to pay out of state college tuition for Collie’s two sons.

“We are willing to work with people who have basic skills,” he said. Not that he and his two partners, photographer and videographer Andrew Innerarity and business manager Jodie Knofsky, have left their day jobs. Collie edits the political news website Newsmax.com.

Content Creators is based in South Florida and covers three counties, Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade. Instead of having a main office, Collie and his partners work from home and on the road. “We’re kind of virtual,” he said. “We can move anywhere.”

Eighty percent of the work is done by Collie and his two partners. The rest is contractors. Expenses are minimal. Gas money eats up a chunk of change. Indemnity insurance is another big ticket at a few hundred bucks a month.

Revenue streams are packed into each contract, which may cover a particular project or include monthly services. Individual videos run roughly $1,000 a minute. Monthly contracts range from $6,000-$10,000. Website creation costs between $5,000 and $10,000.

Bootstrapping means the marketing budget is non-existent. Marketing is not a skill inherent to Collie or his partners, and hiring a marketing professional is not financially appealing. So Collie does it himself.

“Our marketing is very primitive,” he said. “I literally printed out a list of non profits in South Florida and started cold calling. There wasn’t a methodical market research.”

When he gets busy marketing falls by the wayside, which leads to dead periods during which he restarts his cold calling. Many gigs are word of mouth referrals or through informal talks Collie gives on social media and storytelling. If Collie had to point to one failure, it would be running a business. He got into an entrepreneurial mindset at KDMC’s News Entrepreneur Boot Camp in May 2009, but struggles with cash flow. Tracking down bills is not a strong point. (Disclosure: I attended Boot Camp with Collie.)

“I think journalists should stick to being journalists, but find a business mind who likes journalism who can do the business,” he said.

Another tip Collie and his crew picked up early on is being involved in selecting subjects to be on camera. The person a client wants on screen may not be a great speaker, or particularly polished.

A perk to hiring Content Creators is that the firm works in two languages other than English, including Haitian Creole, and Spanish. Portuguese is next on the list.

Clients also get top access. It’s not uncommon for Collie’s cell phone to buzz with a plea to provide video coverage in a few hours.

Just as important, perhaps, as full service is the company’s focus on non-profits. Content Creators retains a journalistic sense of purpose to their work, an approach that dovetails with the non-commercial mission statements of its clients.

Content Creators covers many of the same subjects Collie dealt with as a foreign war correspondent for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the The Tampa Tribune: Islam and women, drug use, sex trafficking, human genetics, senior issues, HIV.

The videos are powerful stuff. One meshes five women’s voices to tell how each triumphed over dismal circumstances. Another juxtaposes one man’s vision of a drug high with the life-threatening reality.

It’s a kind of journalism that nods to the reality of our industry, where entrepreneurial news veterans can practice their craft and still get paid.

Julia Scott is the founder of the money-saving blog BargainBabe.com.

The News Leadership 3.0 blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Julia Scott

Julia Scott is the founder of BargainBabe.com. The site helps people save money on everyday expenses like groceries, gasoline, and
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