Dreaming up the perfect niche for print magazines, designing the layout, developing, writing and sourcing quality content and eventually printing a gorgeous magazine are all part of the steps required to publish a magazine. But selling print magazines is the next critical phase that all magazine publishers need to focus on to find the right readers for their publication and ensure funding for future issues.
Connecting with retail outlets that are willing to stock your print magazines is an obvious way to drive magazine sales, but thinking creatively will help you ensure long-term sales growth potential. Publishers can build a roadmap for future sales using a multi-faceted approach to print and digital content and marketing.
Are Print Magazines Still Viable in an Increasingly Digital World?
Self-publishing a print magazines is a little bit more complicated than self-publishing a novel or even a nonfiction book. Print magazines are made by digital printers like Dazzle Printing all the time, but some of the biggest hurdles magazine producers face today include the three different costs required to sell print magazines.
- Commissions: Today, publishers are expected to pay retailers a direct commission on magazine sales, making the financial commitment to a retail seller challenging for many magazine creators, especially those that are self-funded.
- Pay-to-Sell: Some distribution channels require a per-issue payment, effectively asking magazine producers to pay to sell their publications.
- Retail Placement Fees: Many retailers that allow magazine producers to bypass their distribution channels only offer prime, eye-level retail shelf space for a fee.
But you can sell print magazines when you look at them through the lens of an increasingly digital world. To build a successful print magazine business, integrate these five key strategies that combine the best of print and digital publications.
1. Be Smart about Online Content with Print Magazines
Just because you are publishing print magazines doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a strong online presence as well. In fact, digital content that supports and complements your print publication is necessary to build and grow your readership and fan base. But just duplicating your print magazine content in digital format is not enough. Instead, follow a few basic principles to support your print magazine business model with a digital one.
Social Media: Set up an account on the big social media platforms with your magazine’s name and information. Then, focus on using one or more to interact with potential readers, advertisers and the target audience for your magazine.
Your social media platforms should regularly provide a link to buy the most recent issue of the print magazines as part of your ongoing social media strategy. Digital consumers also expect dialog with a brand via their social media, so remember that responsiveness will build connections that may lead to more buyers for your print magazines.
Website: Print magazines should be connected to a well-designed online site that supports but doesn’t mirror the magazine exactly. The website can provide digital versions of selected content from the current issue as well as supportive content like behind-the-scenes articles as well as paywall-protected content.
Readers can find the website easily by posting the web address on social media bios, and the website can similarly link all social media handles prominently to help direct readers toward all of the ways they can interact with the business.
Community: Focus on fostering an authentic digital community that will help drive traffic to your print magazines as well as build a strong base of readers and potential customers.
2. Connect with Other Magazine Publishers
Changes in the print media landscape in recent years mean magazine publishers need to think differently. Partnering and collaborating with, rather than simply competing against, other magazine publishers is a great way to sell print magazines.
Find independent publishers in your niche. Use Google to search using terms like independent, magazine directory and list of [magazine niche] publishers.
Connect with magazine editors directly. Find out if they collaborate with other magazines who help each other out.
Contact an established coalition of self-publishers. The Indie Publisher Club is an online group that works together with cross-promotions and other online support while trading helpful insight about their own experience as independent publishers.
3. Cross Promote Smart Partnerships
Use your magazine’s related industries to find partnerships that will be mutually beneficial. Approach businesses that have some commonality of content with your magazine or companies that share your audience. An alliance with these types of businesses or other magazines will allow partners to promote each other’s interests, building a stronger community around both businesses.
Magazine editors can contribute content to other businesses’ publications, websites, newsletters or magazines. Businesses can write guest columns or other content for the magazine in exchange for advertising space in the magazine, the website or both. Businesses can promote each other in their respective newsletters and on their own social media platforms, helping to build engagement and excitement around each other’s shared content.
For magazines partnering with other publications, offers of discounted dual subscriptions are the perfect way to promote both businesses and increase sales of your print magazines.
4. Focus on the Reader
One of the likely reasons you decided to create a magazine is an undeniable passion for the content area as well as strong insight into the niche, making you the perfect editor-in-chief for your publication. But a magazine that doesn’t directly appeal to the reader may struggle to gain and retain an audience.
Publications that put the reader’s interests first will be more successful because the consistent refining of the content, style and presentation of the magazine’s content will keep the audience engaged and wanting more. But in order to focus on what the reader wants, magazine creators need to understand who their readers are.
First, creators should investigate the marketplace to see how other publications in their niche focus on readers. Look at how each publication directly addresses their readers, provides targeted advertising to their readers and hones their content.
Then, decide on who exactly your target audience is based on your content’s most likely fans as well as who other publications in your niche are successfully reaching.
Magazine creators should also take careful note of what other publications are currently available in the marketplace by scouring all available magazines in their niche. Not only does it help to understand the magazine business better by seeing what is working and what isn’t, but gaining a clear understanding of what you need to do to set your publication apart from the rest is key to finding your magazine’s place among other, more established publications.
Once you know who your reader is and what the market looks like, choose and refine the content you include and how it is presented based on what your target readers want to see. Include content that will appeal to their interests, where they spend their time online and how they like to ingest content. For example, if your target audience loves social media, consider presenting content in small, easily digestible bites and fewer long-form articles in your publication.
5. Recognize your Magazine’s Dual Purpose
The final but most critical way to sell print magazines is to remember that the print magazine is only one aspect of your business model. The sale of physical copies of your magazine will bring in some revenue, but the platform it provides for other income streams will likely be much more lucrative.
Your print magazine should deliver content that your readers will pay for. Creative interviews with industry leaders, deep-dive articles into topics your readers want to know more about and related information that appeals to your target reader’s lifestyle or other interests are all types of content you can include that will excite your audience and entice potential readers to subscribe.
The passion for your subject and deep knowledge of the niche are key elements to a successful magazine.
- Subscriptions or Freebies: Offer free or discounted subscriptions to your magazine or other partner publications.
- Courses or Digital Paywall Content: Link digital-only content to your print magazine to draw users to your website and encourage them to find additional magazine content online as well as educational opportunities.
- Incentives: Your publication can provide opportunities for readers to buy products, subscriptions or services from you or strategic partners.
- QR Codes: These convenient digital links can be placed on magazine inserts or directly into the content of your publication to allow you to link your print media with revenue-enhancing tools. Working with point-and-open camera technology on most cell phones, QR codes enable instantaneous connections to your website, digital content, instant downloads of specials and offers and subscription sign-ups.
Printing Your Magazine
Dazzle Printing can help you print a beautiful, full-color magazine that your readers will love. And with your key strategies in place to help you sell more magazines, Dazzle Printing is the perfect partner to have in place so you can count on a gorgeous issue each time you are ready to publish a new one.