Why “The Magazine” Is A Model Every Publisher Should Study
Are you familiar with The Magazine? It's published every couple of weeks for the iOS platform and it offers plenty of terrific lessons for anyone looking to remain relevant in the digital content world. Here are a few of the key takeaways The Magazine offers:
The Value of Curation
The Magazine is all about highly curated content. Each edition leaves the reader looking for more. So many publishers are focused on heft these days. They want to provide more and more content to their readers. The Magazine shows that less definitely is more. What are you doing with and for the biggest names you work with (e.g., writers, editors, etc.)? Have you ever thought about how their work simply blends in with everything else you produce? How about creating a digital product that contains only the best of the best from your business? How valuable would that be for your readers?
Make The Price Irresistible
You can subscribe to The Magazine for either $1.99/month or $19.99/year. Pretty simple. And when you think about the quality of the content you're getting, either option is a bargain. Note that they always make one article free in each edition, thereby luring you in to become a subscriber and coughing up that $1.99/month. I'll bet their conversion rate from freeloader to subscriber is much higher than the industry standard, thanks largely to the level of curation and low price.
Simple UI's Trump Feature Creep
I love how The Magazine doesn't try to impress anyone with a bunch of user interface features nobody wants. How many times have you opened a content app and couldn't figure out how to navigate it. That's not a problem with The Magazine. It's as clean and simple as the Google search UI, something that's pretty rare in content apps these days.
Daily Doesn't Matter
Are you pushing new content in front of your readers every day? (Don't forget that newsletters and emails count too.) If so, look at what The Magazine does. It publishes a small number of articles twice a month and leave readers thoroughly satisfied, looking forward to the next edition in a couple of weeks. I get so many daily newsletters and emails pushed to me my eyes start to glaze over. The Magazine stands out because of quality and doesn't rely on always trying to be on your reading list every day. There's still a rhythm to what they're doing; it's just not a daily, always-fighting-for-your-attention model, and I deeply respect them for that.
Liberal Author Terms
OK, here's where the old-school publishers, the incumbents, are at a significant disadvantage vs. the startups. The Magazine is very author friendly. They offer a reasonable flat rate for articles and, more importantly, they offer non-exclusive terms. There's a windowing period of 60 days where The Magazine is the only place that content will appear, but after two months the author can publish it himself or take it elsewhere. Now that's a great way to attract writers!
In addition to all the points above, think of The Magazine's model as more than just another product or revenue stream. It's also a great way to establish a different type of relationship with your customers with highly curated content on a delivery schedule that always has them looking forward to the next edition.
Joe Wikert is Publishing President at Our Sunday Visitor (www.osv.com). Before joining OSV Joe was Director of Strategy and Business Development at Olive Software. Prior to Olive Software he was General Manager, Publisher, & Chair of the Tools of Change (TOC) conference at O’Reilly Media, Inc., where he managed each of the editorial groups at O’Reilly as well as the Microsoft Press team and the retail sales organization. Before joining O’Reilly Joe was Vice President and Executive Publisher at John Wiley & Sons, Inc., in their P/T division.