Case Study

If you build it, they will come. Become the brand and your own boss

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 09.50.30

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review sports columnist gives it all up to be his own boss.

“In order to do this, you have to be old enough to have the trust of the community,” Kovacevic said.“And you have to be young enough to see what the next waves are [in media].”

Dejan Kovacevic seemed to have everything in place. He was front and center in a passionate sports town as the lead columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He had stability for his family with a nice salary and benefits.

Then last July, Kovacevic walked away from all of it to launch his own website. Even he jokes about the audacity of such a move in today’s precarious media environment.

“I had a momentary lapse of reason,” Kovacevic said.

Actually, Kovacevic, 48, had a vision that there was a better way for him to cover the Pittsburgh sports scene. Thus far, it is hard to argue with the results.
His site, DKonPittsburghSports, will hit its one-year anniversary with nearly 14,000 subscribers; he says they pay an average of $20 per year. He says the site also earns another $60,000 per year from sponsors.

Given the current growth, Kovacevic hopes to reach 20,000 subscribers by the end of 2015. He does the math and it comes to potential annual revenue of nearly $500,000.

“That’s a lot of money,” said Kovacevic, sounding almost surprised at that figure.

The money is more than enough for him to hire full-time Pirates and Penguins beat reporters for his site, and he is looking for someone to cover the Steelers. He adds he is paying “newspaper-level wages” for those positions.

Kovacevic, though, is the main attraction. He built a following with more than 20 years of covering sports in Pittsburgh. In 2011, he placed among the top 4 columnists in the Associated Press Sports Editors contest.

Kovacevic says he enjoyed working for newspapers, but he thought the future was elsewhere.

“Doing a site had been in my head for a long time,” Kovacevic said. “More than anything, it was the frustration with newspapers over their inability, slash, ignorance, slash, and unwillingness with how to deal with the needs and wants of their readers.”

Kovacevic said he initially had an eye-opening moment when he started a reader Q/A column while covering the Penguins in the mid-2005s. It became immensely popular, enabling him to see the potential for interaction with the readers.

Kovacevic says the coverage on his site is “personality driven” with his reporters encouraged to thrust opinions and analysis into their stories. On average, he writes four columns per week, plus a Friday insiders columns.

“We’re the antithesis of newspapers, where it is faceless and you’re never supposed to use ‘I’ in a column,” Kovacevic said. “That doesn’t work anymore … Everything on our site takes a more conversational ‘come-inside-with-us’ tone. We take the subscribers inside the teams. To be honest, I don’t see the newspapers as our competition. They’re not doing it like we’re doing it.”

Kovacevic initially planned to take out a $100,000 loan when he started the site. However, he said he took in revenues of $38,000 from subscribers on the first day and he never had to go to the bank.

At its basic level, Kovacevic thinks his formula is simple: Sports sells. He says if Bill Gates walked into a Pittsburgh newsroom and learned the Steelers generated 40 percent of the traffic on the paper’s site, he would say, ‘Which 40 percent of you are covering the Steelers?’”

“Sports accounts for more than half the traffic on any newspaper’s website,” Kovacevic said. “Yet these newspapers still have newsrooms of 200-300 people. It doesn’t make sense. We cherry-picked the one thing everyone reads.”

Kovacevic added on average most of his subscribers pay $1.50 per month, “or roughly the cost of a daily newspaper.” Many of those readers access the site via an app. He said half of the site’s 400,000 page views came from the app in June.

“The app has been a game-changer for us,” Kovacevic said.

It remains to be seen whether Kovacevic has started a trend. Among sportswriters launching their own sites are: Gary Shelton, formerly of the Tampa Bay Times, and Dave Elfin who covers the sports beat in Washington D.C.

Kovacevic said he has fielded numerous calls from sports columnists and reporters who are interesting in starting a site. He passes along the following advice.

“In order to do this, you have to be old enough to have the trust of the community,” Kovacevic said. “And you have to be young enough to see what the next waves are [in media].”

Read More…

About Zoran Opalic

Professional in design and publishing industry. Conceptualize and orchestrate designs and redesigns that effectively reinforce and build brand images. Proven ability to drive record-high campaign in increasing publication sales and execute successful product launches...


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Aston Martin DB10

Production will be strictly limited to 10 of the bespoke sports cars, developed and built by the designers, engineers and highly skilled craftspeople at Aston Martin’s Gaydon headquarters.

Architect Oscar Niemeyer

"My work is not about form follows function, but form follows beauty or, even better, form follows feminine."

BACK to BASICS: Portraits

Portraits of people are one of the first elements of the photography used in newspapers.

Typography: x-heigh

In typography, x-heigh refers to the heigh of lower case letters without upper or lower parts when compared to capital letters...

Designer George Lois

“I always knew I was the most talented kid in the school, ” says George Lois of his time at Music and Art. “I was lucky to be exposed to the city’s best art education"...


Newspaper typefaces require a higher legibility then typefaces used for other printed products. Newspaper are printed on a paper of lesser quality under high speed.

How to redesign 1

Good redesign is driven by a deep understanding of the editorial mission of the publication.

Headline on photographs

The eternal dilemma! Dilemma of all editors on the planet Earth – to put or not put the headline or any kind of type in the photo.

Design Facts

Three elements that will greatly help you to understand how readers are observing you.

Typeface: NY Times Magazine

Sunday Magazine is an expansive family of fonts for information in tiny spaces and headlines at large sizes.


When, why and whether to use infographic. The basic fact is that infographic refresh the publication, and it contributes to originality of your product.

A well-designed publication

Everything that a well-designed publication must have...



%d bloggers like this: