Traditional publishers and marketers alike see digital publishing as a huge opportunity. We've been living in the information age for quite some time, and the digital world is still evolving at breakneck speed. According to 2018 data, 45.3 percent of U.S. consumers read a digital magazine in the last 30 days, making high-value curated content more in demand than ever.
Online magazines enable print publishers to gain access to the massive audience of digital natives eager to discover their content. Online magazines can be incorporated into the content marketing mix of small and medium-sized businesses. This high-quality, in-depth format has the potential to increase brand awareness and drive more customers into the sales funnel.
Online magazines are used by many marketers and publishers to:
View reader analytics: You have no way of knowing what happens once your paper collateral or printed publications reach the hands of your readers. You can get detailed analytics with an online magazine on the right publishing platform. Analyze how long readers spend reading your articles and which pages they spend the most time on. These metrics provide you with immediate feedback, allowing you to create more impactful content with each issue.
Create new revenue streams: An online magazine can assist all types of publishers in creating new revenue streams. Print publishers can attract new digital media subscribers. They can also make money by strategically placing digital ads.
Marketers frequently use online magazines to promote products or services as a form of in-depth content marketing. They may provide entertainment or useful information to their target customers while also promoting their products and services.
Industries Benefiting from Online Publications
Online publications are used by businesses in a variety of industries as part of their content marketing strategy. Among these businesses are:
Traditional publishers include: Publishers who have long produced print magazines that their readers enjoy can now reach new audiences in the digital realm. An online edition can be a great freebie for print subscribers or a separate subscription for digital natives.
Universities and colleges: Schools can use digital magazines to communicate with alumni or for general marketing purposes. These assets, which are updated on a regular basis, can deliver campus news to alumni, students, professors, donors, and other stakeholders.
Sports leagues: Those in the sports industry can use a monthly newsletter to keep fans up to date on important team news, or a digital magazine to produce exclusive content for season ticket holders.
Hotels, resorts, and state and local tourism commissions can use digital magazines to cover popular events and local attractions and encourage readers to visit.
Associations: Industry and trade associations like to keep their members up to date on industry news, upcoming conferences, and other initiatives undertaken by the organization. An online magazine is a great way to keep members interested.
Steps to Creating an Online Magazine in 2022
1. Determine Your Digital Magazine's Objectives
First and foremost, what are you hoping to achieve?
The first step in any project is to clearly define your goals. An online magazine, like any other publication, requires you to make decisions about the type of audience you want to reach. This includes how you want readers to interact with your content. A digital magazine seeking subscribers, for example, will function differently than an online piece designed to sell a product.
Regardless of your primary goal, defining your voice and overall brand style is an important part of starting an online magazine. This is frequently accomplished by developing style sheets or brand standards.
Decide on and stick to an overall tone for your online presence early on. When you're successful, you can assemble a reliable team to help you carry the load while staying true to your brand.
2. Figure out what makes you unique.
How can you create a strategy for long-term success through valuable differentiation? A sustainable online magazine business requires a few key elements. Most importantly, you must figure out how to stand out in a crowded digital media landscape.
Will your content or creative elements be one-of-a-kind? Will your marketing strategies be distinct? Will those elements be useful to your target audience? These are questions that we must all ask. The content we create must be appealing and useful to readers in order to entice them to return and subscribe.
Once you've identified your value proposition and tested it with a subset of your target audience, it's critical to find an engaging platform to host your content.
3. Create a budget and calculate your ROI
Your budget will vary depending on your goals for creating a digital magazine. If you are a traditional publisher who already creates content for a printed periodical, digitizing it will necessitate the use of a publishing platform, some related technology, and technical skills. If you're starting a digital magazine from scratch, you'll need to budget for an editor-in-chief, writers, designers, and other content creators.
Once you have your content, the platform you choose is the main cost differentiator. On a shoestring budget, you can publish your magazine as a PDF for free. However, you'll still need to find a way to host it online, so this method isn't truly free. Other low-cost publishing platforms may retain ownership of your work or display their own advertisements within your publication.
4. Choose the Best Platform
Every publishing option has advantages and disadvantages. It is ultimately up to you to determine what is best for your brand. While price is important, it is also necessary to strive for an impactful experience that will keep your readers returning for more.
The Most Common Types of Digital Magazines
Consider what's available before deciding on a platform for your magazine. There are numerous digital publishing solutions available, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. You have the following options for creating digital magazines online:
Flash publications: Flash magazines were once a popular way to provide rich, engaging digital viewing experiences. They provided simulated page flipping in addition to multimedia content. Flash magazines are now a thing of the past, thanks to Adobe's announcement that it would be phased out by 2020.
PDF magazines: Publishing your magazine as a PDF is the cheapest way to go digital. This could be as simple as selecting "publish as PDF" in your document design software. This method, however, has some drawbacks. PDFs are not mobile-first and impede the user experience. Because of their fixed layout, mobile viewers must frequently master a "pinch, zoom, and slide" finger dance to view them. They also provide little analytics beyond the number of downloads of the document.
Publishers with a loyal readership who are willing to download a separate app to view content can create a stunning mobile-first experience with their digital magazines. While they require a significant amount of effort to develop, the payoff is substantial. Publishers have the ability to control the digital experience, include multimedia content, use targeted advertising, and engage their readers through notifications.
Flipbook magazines, also known as digital replicas, mimic the traditional print experience. Documents appear in print and provide the satisfying experience of flipping pages. They are a mid-range cost solution that elevates the experience above that of a traditional PDF. They also offer publishers improved reader analytics.
HTML5 magazines: HTML5 magazines use the same coding as websites, allowing for a responsive design. Text and graphics will reflow to any screen size, providing an excellent user experience from any location. They can be hosted online and do not require any downloading. They also provide detailed analytics and incredible design flexibility.
Differences Between a PDF and a Flipbook
The PDF format is a popular way to share digital content. It is inexpensive and simple to personalize, but it lacks overall impact. A standard PDF leaves much to be desired in terms of interactivity, and reading on a mobile device can be extremely frustrating. We've all experienced the agony of pinching to zoom on our phone screen.
Furthermore, once a PDF is downloaded, it can no longer be tracked as the experience moves offline. PDFs can leave you feeling cold in an age when data about your readers is so important.
Flipbooks provide a more functional solution by allowing you to digitally recreate the feel of a print magazine. This is ideal for desktop use and also works well on tablets. Still, like the PDF, it can be difficult to use on a mobile device because pinching to zoom is frequently required.
As a result, PDFs and standard flipbooks are less expensive options that allow you to control the published content. They may fall short in terms of impact and usability.
5. Make a Content Strategy or Plan
Some brands that plan to enter the digital publishing space are already producing content fit for an online magazine. There are excellent resources available to assist you if you are stuck or require assistance before creating your publication.
You can easily find content writers online, and there are sites that will connect you with great writers eager to contribute. Stock photos and videos are also great ways to improve the visual appeal of your website or magazine. Some of our favourite images come from Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay.
You'll have mastered the art of content creation before you know it, and you may even need to expand your team of editors and designers to help you maintain your growing online magazine. We have faith in you!
6. Plan the Layout of Your Magazine
It will be easier to manage your magazine if it has a predetermined structure. You'll always be aware of the number of articles and pages of content required to fill each issue. You'll also have some recurring topics that you'll need to cover. Divide your table of contents into relevant sections for your reader, such as "Current Events," "Arts and Culture," and "Sports," or whatever makes sense for your niche. Determine the number of articles or pages that will fit into each section.
It's also a good idea to sketch out every problem. Consider how the left and right-hand pages on each spread will interact if you're making a flipbook-style magazine. Set page limits or word counts to help you better manage multi-page articles and how they'll appear in the final layout. You could have pre-set slots for splash images or full-page ads.
If you intend to create an interactive magazine with a responsive design, the finished product will not resemble a traditional print edition. Users will move around by scrolling or swiping from left to right. Each article will fit on one page, which the reader will be able to scroll down indefinitely. As a result, you are not required to meet a specific page limit or word count with each article. They can be as short or as long as needed to cover the story thoroughly, and pictures can be placed wherever you want.
Your main concern with a responsive magazine will be structuring the publication so that there are enough articles. Because each piece will take up only one "page," regardless of length, you'll need a wide range of individual articles to fill out the publication. You should also consider ad placement and how it affects the flow of your articles. Advertisements can take up the entire page or appear as thin columns between two articles.
7. Select Design Elements and Develop a Brand Strategy
The headshots that appear on the covers of some of the most well-known print magazines obscure a portion of their own logos. This is because these publishers have mastered branding to the point where people don't even need to read the title to recognize it. While your publication may not need to stand out on the shelf as much as a print edition, digital magazine design is equally important. A unified visual style will assist readers in connecting with and remembering your brand.
Your visual identity will convey what you stand for and who your content is intended for. Develop a brand strategy that includes a brand book of rules for all of your designers, writers, and editors to follow in order to send the right message every time.
Consider the fonts, colors, photography style, and graphic elements you want your brand to be associated with.
Aside from design elements, your branding strategy should include language usage guidelines, such as tone of voice and word choice. Even the most multimedia-heavy publication will be propelled by well-written, consistent content. Even if your team is hundreds strong, make sure it all sends the right message and feels like it was written by one person.
8. Consider Some Typical Magazine Revenue Models
You're probably starting an online magazine because it has the potential to be profitable. A high-quality digital periodical can be a cornerstone of your content marketing strategy if you're a marketing manager at a small business. You are expanding your customer base by attracting an audience. If you publish articles as your primary business, you have several options for monetizing your content. Among your alternatives are:
You can charge your audience a monthly or annual subscription fee in exchange for access, just like print magazines. The most profitable publishers provide a variety of subscription tiers and options. The most expensive all-access plan may grant readers access to digital publications, exclusive videos, and additional content. Some subscription plans may combine print and digital versions, allowing readers to access both. Other options may only provide readers with access to the digital version.
Advertising is another way to monetize your content. Because there is no friction in accessing free magazines, they often have a larger readership. Some people regard the internet as a source of free information and may be unwilling to pay a subscription fee for something they can obtain for free elsewhere. Advertisement is the primary source of revenue for publishers who do not require subscriptions. Ad sales alone generated $9.68 billion in revenue for periodicals publishers in 2019.
The right brands will pay a premium to get in front of the right people. Publishers cultivate fertile ground for advertisers by cultivating a niche, loyal audience. They can directly embed ads or create sponsored articles that combine high-quality content with brand or product mentions.
If a reader must have a subscription to view your magazine, they will almost certainly encounter a paywall the first time they try to access your content. A paywall is a barrier that allows your publications to rank in search engines while preventing readers from viewing them before paying. They can pay for individual article access or a subscription for unlimited access.
You can also set your paywall to appear only halfway through your magazine. This allows readers to sample your content before asking them to pay to continue reading. You can also set the paywall to activate after a certain number of issues or articles have been viewed.
Magazines as Lead Generation Tool
Content marketers are unlikely to make a profit from their publications. Instead, they use helpful articles to persuade customers to purchase their products or services. Within that strategy, a digital magazine could be considered premium content. Prospects can still access it for free if they provide their email or contact information in exchange. This strategy is long-term in nature. The content itself can help them progress further along the buyer's journey, and the marketing team now has contact information to send them more marketing materials.
9. Make a Digital Marketing Strategy.
You must consider distribution after you have created your magazine. What will your target audience think of it? How will you build a devoted following? A solid marketing strategy for your publication should include the following five steps:
Get ready for the launch: First, determine how many downloads you want in your first month. Consider who is most likely to read your publication and announce it where they are most likely to see it. Tease your launch on your website and social media channels if you already have a following. Look for press opportunities to raise awareness of your new magazine.
Create buzz: As soon as your magazine goes live, gather reviews to keep the momentum going. Email blogs and reviewers in your niche and request a review. If you've created a standalone app, request that your users leave reviews and ratings on the app store.
Promote through all channels: Incorporate links to your new publication into your email newsletter. Share excerpts from your articles on social media to entice your followers to read more.
Allow your readers a sneak peek: While your current customers or followers may be your first subscribers, your magazine should also assist you in growing your audience. Find a way to give new visitors a sneak peek in order to increase the likelihood that they will subscribe.
Use reader analytics: Using detailed data, improve each issue you publish. Examine how long your readers spend with your content and which articles are the most popular. Using this information, you can create the magazine that your readers enjoy interacting with the most. By meeting the needs of your audience, you will increase loyalty and continue to find new readers.
10. Consult with an Industry Expert
Internet content is rapidly expanding, as is competition for readers' attention. Now is the time to move beyond a PDF and embrace an interactive online magazine experience that truly captures the attention of your audience.