22 Oct

How To Start A Digital Magazine And Make Money

Turn Cost Into Profit When Starting A Magazine App

Magazine apps are an attractive way to launch a magazine brand, especially if you are new to publishing and have limited resources.

For traditional print based magazine publishers apps can provide a new revenue stream and the opportunity to reach readers who would never buy the print version.

Reader take up of paid downloads has been slow, however, and for many publishers the level of sales being generated has been disappointing.

So how do we make money from publishing a digital magazine…

The Good News

  • The start up costs are low…typically a fraction of the cost of print based magazine publishing.
  • It’s relatively simple…there are a number of tried and tested magazine app platforms that are cost effective and work well.
  • Apple Newsstand and Google Play give you a ready route to market.

The Bad News

  • Whilst you may find it easy to attract readers to download your free app most magazines are finding it very difficult to attract paid downloads.
  • Apple Newsstand is awful…the likelihood of anyone finding your magazine is slim.
  • There is so much competition for reader attention, many markets are saturated with digital magazines.
Start A Digital Magazine And Make Money

Launch A Magazine App

How Do You Create A Magazine App

For those starting on the journey to launching a magazine app a recap of the basics may be useful

Designing A Custom Digital Magazine

If you have pretty advanced design skills and access to Adobe Creative Suite it is perfectly possible to produce a really impressive custom app with all of the bells and whistles that the best magazine apps are using. This will be a bespoke product with a superficial similarity to a print based magazine but with real interactivity and depth.

Which Magazines Are Doing This Well?

As an example of how well this can be achieved I would recommend having a look at what’s available on  Pocketmags and perhaps buying a copy of BBC Sky At Night. The magazine does a brilliant job and it does give a flavor of how much creativity and  depth can be added to a print based magazine.

What If You Do Not Have The Skills To Build A Custom Magazine App

This is where is gets really interesting…

Most magazine apps have grown out of existing print publications. If you are a print based magazine publisher it is simple to re-purpose the PDF’s that you use to print your magazine to create a magazine app.

The fact is that 90% of magazine apps are simply digital facsimiles of the print edition. What most publishers are actually doing is simply using their print ready PDF’s to create a digital copy of the magazine that can be downloaded to a tablet.

There are good reasons why you would want to consider this;

  • It is cheap, compared to magazine printing the investment is modest.
  • It requires no additional design work other than a simple adjustment to your print ready PDF’s.
  • Its easy to understand, you are basically using the same production process that you use for your print magazine.

But Isn’t It All A Bit Dull?

It certainly is and this is one reason why, for many publishers, digital magazine sales are underwhelming.

If you offer your readers nothing more than a digital alternative to paper they are unlikely to be impressed. Readers will want a level of depth and interactivity and many publishers fail to add this to their magazine apps.

As an absolute minimum I would suggest that you should –

  • Make all web addresses and email links live.
  • Include a digital contents list.
  • Provide a content summary on Apple Newsstand and Google Play.

You could also begin to add some extra features and interactivity by –

  • Supplementing the magazine content by adding photo spreads.
  • Adding video links.

It is surprising how many publishers do not do this. None of it is difficult, these are simply tasks that need to be are built into the magazines production processes and become part of the regular workflow that is undertake with every issue.

How To Make Money From Your Magazine App

#1 Use The Print Magazine To Market The Magazine App

Navigating Apple Newsstand is a nightmare and readers are very unlikely to find your magazine by searching for it.

  • Flag the magazine app in the print publication and encourage readers to download your app.
  • Use posts on your social media channels  to encourage readers to purchase each new issue.
  • Market the app clearly on your web site and include a link to encourage purchase.

#2 Market Your Digital Subscriptions

  • Print and digital bundles  work well and a section of your readership will be willing to pay a premium for access to both print and digital versions.
  • Consider including free access to back issues with your digital subscription.
  • Offer digital gift subs especially as last minute Christmas presents.

#3 Have A Clear Advertising Offer For Your Magazine App

  • Offer splash pages and app sponsorship to print advertisers.
  • Bundle print, web and app advertising.
  • Sell advertisers the opportunity to  sponsor your free app download.

One Thing You Can Do Today To Make Money From Your Magazine App

Advertising is often the most neglected area for many print based publishers who launch a digital magazine. There are some great advertising placement options that can be used and in many markets there are advertisers who will find this very attractive.

Your app will give you access to splash pages and banners that many publishers are poor at marketing, this could offer you a great opportunity for additional advertising revenue for your magazine.

How I Can Help

If you are new to publishing and starting a digital magazine I can help you understand the opportunities and pitfalls and can provide some solid ideas for making your magazine app the cornerstone of a sustainable business.

Please drop me a line if you would like some help.

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