By Campbell Brown, VP, Global News Partnerships and Anthea Watson Strong, Product Manager, News
One of the most exciting stories in journalism in recent years has been the growing number of independent writers who are making a living and building businesses by connecting directly with their readers. That’s why we’re launching Bulletin, a set of publishing and subscription tools to support these creators in the US. And today, we’re proud to introduce Bulletin’s first wave of writers.
Enabling a direct relationship between small businesses and their customers has long been at the heart of Facebook’s success as a platform. Over the last decade we’ve seen entire industries form, thanks in large part to the power of this new business model, from small app developers to direct-to-consumer-startups and independent creators.
Our unique ability to help talented people find and connect with the audiences and markets they need to flourish gives independent journalism a greater opportunity to thrive. The popularity of our local Groups and Pages has shown us that people are hungry for locally-relevant, longer-form content produced by expert and authoritative voices.
Through Bulletin, we want to make Facebook a better place for these creators, and unify our existing tools with something that could more directly support great writing and audio content — from podcasts to Live Audio Rooms — all in one place.
To test our new platform, we partnered with a small, diverse group of voices to learn how to best support their work. Some are up-and-coming writers looking to find and build their audience, while others have a long history of work and sizable following that has inspired discussion in the US and across the world.
And soon we’ll have publications from local news writers, a group of journalists who are of critical importance to communities around the world. We believe these creators can benefit in unique ways from the reach of our platform and its role connecting local communities.
This first group is just the beginning of what’s to come, and we'll take a careful approach to expanding availability to more creators over time.
Bulletin will include support focused on content creation, monetization and audience growth. Key features and integrations that will be available to these creators include:
Robust publishing tools
We're building tools that enable creators to start their own publications and write long-form articles:
Each Bulletin creator will have a standalone website under their own brand, and will be able to customize their publication's name, logo and color palette.
Creators can customize their articles with multi-media embeds & other styling options.
Sustainable business models
We want creators to build sustainable independent businesses on their own terms. That means:
Bulletin writers will keep all of their subscription revenue for the length of these partnerships, and will have the ability to take their subscriber lists and content with them. Subscription payments will be securely handled by Facebook Pay, allowing subscribers to pay with a credit card, debit card or PayPal account.
Writers are able to offer a range of subscription-based features, including content, commenting abilities and Facebook groups accessible only by subscribers.
We will also have analytics tools to help writers understand their audience and grow their subscribers over time.
And to start, we’re offering a multi-year licensing deal to give these writers time to build a relationship with their readers.
Discovery and Distribution
We want to connect audiences with a range of new and diverse voices, and enable them to go deeper into the topics they care about. That means:
Bulletin content will be eligible for distribution in Facebook News and other discovery surfaces to help audiences easily find it and subscribe.
We’ll include tools to distribute podcasts in addition to longform writing, including externally-hosted podcasts and additional audio features coming soon.
Bulletin will integrate with Facebook Pages to enable publishing across various multimedia formats.
Bulletin writers will have an opportunity to foster deeper connections with their audiences on Facebook. That means:
They can create Facebook groups, free or subscriber-only, to nurture a community of readers. Within their groups, they'll also have the ability to create subscriber-only content or host subscriber-only conversations.
Writers will have the ability to leverage Facebook's existing tools like Facebook Live or Live Audio Rooms to continue the discussion with their communities.
To help writers keep discussions respectful, we’ll also offer a suite of comment moderation tools, like the ability for writers to control who can comment (such as paid subscribers only), and turn off comments.
We also want Bulletin writers to focus on publishing their work and growing their revenue. We’ll provide a robust package of third-party perks, including legal resources, design support, and we will be offering assistance with financial services through third parties as well. We respect the work of writers and want to be clear that anyone who partners with us will have complete editorial independence.
Throughout this year, we’ll roll out new investments, products and services aimed to support more independent writers and experts. For example, we’re working on more ways for writers to differentiate their publications through additional design options, to promote their work across other platforms outside of Facebook and to make it easier for them to collaborate with other creators.
We’ll share more as the initiative develops and as we bring more creators on board. In the meantime, head to Bulletin to see the first articles from this talented initial group of writers.
Writers you’ll find at Bulletin.com:
Adam Grant, Adam Grant Thinks Again: New insights from organizational psychologist and bestselling author Adam Grant to rethink how we work, lead, and live*
Dorie Greenspan, xoxo Dorie: Stories and recipes, food, travel and great conversations from here, there and around the table.
Erin Andrews, The Real Deal with Erin Andrews: An Emmy nominated sports broadcaster, founder of WEAR by Erin Andrews, and Co-Host of Calm Down with Erin and Charissa.
Dr. James Hamblin, The Body: A community exploring the science of medicine and art of being well
Jane Wells, Wells Street: Every story is a money story, even the crazy ones. Wells Street reports on the good, the bad, and the super ugly from Wall Street to Main Street, with an occasional detour to federal prison.
Jessica Yellin, News Not Noise: Breaking down the biggest stories, with context and facts. Separating the news from the noise -- so you get information not a panic attack.
Malcolm Gladwell, Oh, MG: Gladwell answers your burning questions... and his own.
Mitch Albom, Life at the Orphanage: Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he's learned there every day.
Dr. Raven Baxter, Science and the Culture: Dr. Raven Baxter discusses science, culture, society, and their intersections through critical thought pieces, captivating storytelling, and factual reporting of current events in science and beyond.
Ron Claiborne, Second Acts: He spent 40 years in news, the last 32 years as a correspondent and news reader at ABC News. Some say Ron's retired. He says he an explorer. Second Acts is where he will share those explorations.
Tan France, Tan France's Real Reality: There’s so much more to me than meets the (Queer) eye. Follow along for the behind-the-scenes of my real life.
Tyler Cowen & Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution: Dim sum for the mind. An eclectic blend of economics, politics, the arts and more from Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok. Something new every day.