Mary Redon | for editor and editor
The local news industry may have a wary eye on Axios, which is expanding its Axios Local operations to 11 cities by the end of the year, adding to the 14 cities already on the board. Axios Local aims to be in many more cities, but it doesn’t yet have exact expansion dates beyond the first 25, they said in an email to E&P.
Each local Axios city has a paywall-free homepage and newsletter, emailed to subscribers free of charge every day of the week and written in Axios’ hard-hitting Smart Brevity style. In a recent interview, Ted Williams, Managing Director of Axios Local, said the model was primarily ad-based. He estimates the advertising mix at 60% local buyers and 40% national. Axios Local generated $5 million in revenue in 2021. However, the profitability of the local division is likely years away.
Ted Williams, Managing Director of Axios Local
Williams also said the operation would hire in roles at all levels, including sales. Axios has a national sales team made up of people in DC, New York and San Francisco. It also has a smaller Axios Local-focused sales team with people in Charlotte, Austin, Denver, and Columbus. As of mid-February, Axios Local had over 40 editors, with 29 open editorial positions. “If you look at the quality of the reporters we hire, we definitely hire senior reporters in those markets, who have had very good careers locally, usually with one of the major publishers in the given city,” said Williams.
The grassroots effort has around 700,000 subscribers at the end of January. Charlotte has the largest Axios Local subscription, with Denver, the Twin Cities and Tampa each approaching 100,000 brands about a year into existence. Newsletter open rates are between 30% and 55% in cities today, says Axios.
Axios also recently launched a membership program and job boards in cities. “The idea is to make advertising the primary source of revenue, and then supplement that with a job board and a membership program,” Williams said. In Charlotte, Axios also has an event board where people can post events for a fee.
The membership program has not yet been heavily marketed. “Right now we’re building the program,” Williams said. It may include exclusive author newsletters. “Over time, we believe there is a demand for local events, both virtual and physical when it comes back. We do not intend to block or pay for content. »
Charlotte, where Williams launched the local site Charlotte Agenda in 2015 before selling it to Axios in 2020, has the largest membership program. The membership effort in Charlotte brings in over $100,000 in annual membership revenue from approximately 2,000 members. Charlotte is also the only city to offer a weekend newsletter in addition to the weekday offering. Williams said Axios Local would consider this year whether to add more weekend newsletters.
“We see the intelligent professional as our target audience. We’re thinking about how to deliver the smart business news and information they need and matter to them,” Williams said of Axios’ philosophy. The philosophy is further explained in an Axios Local manifesto which states, “We want to bring smart, modern, and reliable local information to every community in America. That sounds incredibly ambitious (or just plain insane). business problems by thinking small.
South Carolina-based 6AM City is often cited as a competitor and has launched operations in several cities where Axios has camped. The 11 Axios Locals now have on deck are Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Phoenix, Raleigh, Richmond, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Seattle.
A reading of a recent Axios Twin Cities newsletter shows stories about no-knock warrants, a new restaurant, worker line-up and salad vending machines at the airport. The bulletin contains links to stories from Minnesota Public Radio, Fox 9 and Star Tribune.
Axios Local includes Sponsored Stories, just like the main Axios site. Some of the sponsored stories are in the Axios Smart Brevity style and format that Axios uses in its news copy and which Axios has trademarked and turned into a SaaS business called Axios HQ. The Smart Brevity style comes with paragraph tags, called Axioms, which read “Why this matters”, “1 big thing”, and “Go further”, among other exhortations and classifications.
The company doesn’t allow advertisers to use any of the editorial axioms in ads, but the style’s practices for bold, bullets, and word count carry over to ads. All advertisements carry a “A message from” disclaimer to distinguish them from Axios editorial content.
This fall, Axios is releasing a playbook that lays out the “secrets of Smart Brevity, the media company’s signature style for effective and efficient communication,” the company explains. Axios also recently launched three Axios Pro newsletters, which cover industry-specific news and analysis: Fintech Deals, Retail Deals and Health Tech Deals, with Climate Deals and Media Deals reportedly not far behind.
Axios, headquartered in Arlington, Va., is owned by Axios Media Inc. Major shareholders are founders Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen and Roy Schwartz, all formerly of Politico. All Axios employees benefit from stock options in the company.
Investors include Cox Enterprises, Glade Brook Capital, Greycroft and NBC. Viewers may have seen Axios on MSNBC, as the channel and Axios make a sponsored appearance on weekdays.
Mary Reardon is a Wisconsin-based writer and editor.