Media Vent: There is No Secret Formula

Every publisher who still gets the majority of their revenue from print is seeking the magic formula for a simple transition from the old world medium to the new media world order.

Please take a moment to write this down. There is no secret formula. But there is an open and obvious path to publishing sustainability. And you don’t need me to tell you either, because you already know the answer.

You must have the very best content available in your particular niche. The conundrum is that ridiculously hard and that absurdly simple. If you have a singularly clear editorial voice and totally addictive content you will be the envy of all your publishing brothers and sisters who are still trying to figure it out.

Take the 124 year old Financial Times for example. The New York Times reported yesterday that last year the number of FT digital subscribers, now more than 300,000, surpassed the print circulation of the paper, which has slipped below that figure. This year, print and digital subscriptions and sales are set to overtake advertising as a source of revenue. Mobile devices now account for one-quarter of the FT‘s digital traffic and about 15 percent of new subscriptions.

The Financial Times was one of the first newspapers to charge readers for access to its Web site, which it did in 2002. It revamped its digital business model in 2007, moving to a “metered” approach, in which readers get a certain number of articles free before they are asked to subscribe.

I say again, what is your plan for success? Do you believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that your edit is the best damn edit on the planet for your area of interest? If so, charge whatever you like for your rare and valuable product and reap the rewards of excellence.

If not, then run-of-the-mill writing is indeed everywhere on the net and has very little to no actual retail value. The only way to rise out of the ashes on the Web is to have sustained and compelling excellence.

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.
– Steve Jobs

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  • Andrew, Bulbeck

    Thanks Bob, I agree with the thrust of your article. For a long time now I’ve felt that it’s not just the [technology] content delivery that counts but having something to worthwhile say and consistently having something new to offer in your field, hence the FT’s strong position right now.

    Here in the UK, so many publishers including the one I work for are too obsessed with technology and neglecting the creation of new content, often recycling the old.