13 Tips for Increasing Revenue Through Reprints and Content Licensing
Magazine publishers invest significant time, money and resources into producing quality content, both for print and online publication. However, once it publishes, that content does not necessarily cease to be valuable. Smart publishers also invest in repurposing their content for sale after it publishes, through reprints and licensing agreements, and as a result, can generate a greater return on their initial investment.
Reprint sales and content licensing professionals shared with Publishing Executive the following tips on how to maximize this aspect of your business and generate increased revenue.
Growing Your Reprint Business
1. Be proactive. Many publishers simply respond to reprint requests rather than actively soliciting sales. Instead of assigning reprint responsibilities to an entry-level staff member, as many publishers do, appoint a seasoned, dedicated sales professional who knows your products and will actively sell and follow up on potential customers.
2. Offer bundled reprint packages. While the demand for electronic reprints, or e-prints, has been increasing significantly, they are not replacing traditional reprints, according to several reprint services professionals. Therefore, many publishers are selling reprint packages that offer both print and electronic reprints. “One thing that helps … is bundled packages,” says Dan Fineberg, director of marketing for Lancaster, Pa.-based The YGS Group, a reprint provider to the publishing industry. “We’ll bundle, [for example,] hard-copy reprints with an electronic version and ancillary items, such as plaques or awards.”
3. When selling e-prints, restrict usage. Whereas print quantities are finite, in digital form, content can be distributed to a much larger audience. Reprint services are moving away from “unlocked” PDFs of articles, and are now switching to licensing deals that restrict the number of times a PDF can be posted, distributed and copied.
Brian Kolb, vice president of licensing and global branding for Wright’s Reprints, based in The Woodlands, Texas, says he will work with a customer to figure out what the intended use of a digital reprint will be, what will be contained in the PDF, and on how many URLs the content will appear. “The main variable is the end use—what’s the end-user trying to bring in, in terms of revenue,” he says (for example, what goal does a marketer have for the reprint?). He notes that sites are policed frequently to make sure the licensing agreement has been upheld.
Kolb explains that an e-print can be sold as a stand-alone, one-time-use PDF and, for an additional fee, can be unlocked. The reprint can then be printed at a per-print cost, or a flat rate can be paid for a specified number of print reprints.
4. Consider using a third-party reprint services provider. Many providers do not charge a fee for their services, and instead receive a commission on sales.
Determining the Price of Your Reprints
5. Evaluate your content’s value to the end-user. “If someone wants to purchase a reprint [for marketing purposes], … how does that cost relate to their other options for marketing, whether it’s taking an ad out in the magazine or attending an industry trade show,” says Fineberg. “Companies need to consider the value as well as the reach they can obtain from any marketing activity; reprints are an important part of the mix. Companies see the value in receiving positive editorial; likewise, they should look to extend that value through reuse.”
6. Know your brand’s value in the marketplace. “[For example,] US News and Forbes may have a higher value than Tube or Pipe Journal,” says Jeannie Martin, manager of reprint marketing, Michigan City, Ind.-based FosteReprints.
7. Re-evaluate your pricing every year or so. “If a publication we’re working with becomes stronger and more prominent and more valuable in the industry, then the value of their editorial is going to be worth more to people in the industry,” says Fineberg.
Martin advises publishers to consider whether reprint sales are growing or slumping, and to test pricing structures.
Protecting––and Profiting from––Your Content Through Licensing
8. Every article posted online should be available for instant licensing. “If there is no mechanism [available online to license an article], human nature being what it is, users will simply cut, copy and paste the content,” says Mike O’Donnell, CEO of Seattle, Wash.-based iCopyright.
“The mechanism to license needs to be present at the user’s point of contact with the content,” O’Donnell continues. “If the mechanism is present, most users will do the right thing and use it. Publishing content with no mechanism to license it instantly is like having a store with no cash register and no way to accept payment.”
9. A customer should be able to obtain a digital license as quickly and easily as possible. “Most people … are ‘hot’ to buy upon reading the piece. Don’t expect them to call or suffer a long … waiting period. They will either ‘take it’ without permission, or find a similar piece for reuse from another publisher,” says O’Donnell.
“You can really improve your customer service, too. Faster, higher quality responsiveness can’t be anything but good,” adds Woody Johnson, vice president, publisher products, for Danvers, Mass.-based Copyright Clearance Center.
10. The more reuse options a user has, the higher the probability that the user will buy. “People like to have choices. Publishers should offer a wide variety of reuse options. … Not every user has the budget to afford $5,000 custom color reprints, but many will pay $50 to $500 for black-and-white photocopies,” says O’Donnell.
11. Free uses drive sales. O’Donnell advises publishers to offer a limited number of free uses, such as the ability to e-mail, print or save the article for free, in limited quantities and accompanied by ads. “If users want [larger] quantities, with no ads, they should be able to ‘upgrade’ to paid licenses,” he says. “Many publishers include a link to e-mail, print and save articles, but fail to communicate their copyrights and limits to the reuse. They unknowingly grant users an implied license to do whatever they want with the content. If publishers include these links, they should expressly communicate their copyrights. They should state a limit, such as no more than 10 e-mails or 10 copies.”
12. Every license sold should empower “hyperdistribution” and additional sales. “For example, if a publisher sells an online user the rights to make 50 copies, the copies should include a copyright notation and link that allows the 50 people who get the copies to purchase rights of their own,” says O’Donnell, noting that the customer then becomes a marketer and reseller of the publisher’s content. “Another good example is a license to republish the article on a company Web site or social networking site such as Facebook. The article may be seen by thousands of other people who never would have seen it on the publisher’s Web site. The article includes the publisher’s brand and links back to the publisher’s Web site, attracting new visitors, new subscribers and new licensees for the publisher.”
13. Automating your content-licensing process does not necessarily mean eliminating staff. “People feel threatened by automating, but what you really do is go from a mode of being reactive, where you’re coming into an inbox that’s full and trying to deal with it, to managing the business and figuring out what requests require a higher touch, so that you’re focusing on adding value to your organization,” says Johnson. “Usually what ends up happening [as a result of automating the process] is the people who are responsible for this are happier with their function … and able to manage the business rather than being reactive to requests.”