Despite the growing popularity of e-books and e-magazines, people still overwhelmingly prefer to read magazines and books that are printed. A print magazine can be expensive to produce, but magazines make money, even in today’s digital age. New magazines are launched every month. In this article, we’ll look at producing a profitable magazine, both print and digital publications. If you’re interested in starting a general interest or niche magazine, here are ways to make your venture pay.
Sources of Revenue for a Profitable Magazine
There are three main ways that print magazines make money. They are subscriptions, classifieds, and display advertising.
One of the main ways to ensure a profitable magazine is through subscriptions. Many people buy single issues of magazines during certain times, for instance, while grocery shopping or browsing in a bookstore. You’ve probably done this yourself.
You may be attracted to the cover and decide to buy the magazine as an impulse, or you realize you’re going to need some light reading material while you’re on a trip, recovering from an illness, or otherwise in need of some entertainment.
Single-issue sales are part of a profitable magazine, but they aren’t enough to sustain a publication. Single-issue sales don’t cover the high costs of editing, printing, and distributing the magazine. To do that, every magazine needs regular subscribers. Getting the product directly to consumers lets them cut out the go-between of a bookstore or newsstand.
Most subscribers renew their subscriptions, so the magazine has a built-in audience that requires little marketing to keep. Magazines that own more than one title may also market their other titles to their subscribers, which can result in a two-for-one profit for the publisher. Subscriptions are also important because advertisers use subscription numbers to decide if they should spend money on advertising in a particular publication.
Look at the back of an average magazine, and you are likely to see classified ads. Often, these ads refer to items that were featured in the magazine’s editorial pages. For instance, an interior design magazine may list advertisements from the companies that make the furniture or accessories used in the featured room designs.
Fashion magazines often include the names and websites of the clothing pictured in their spreads. Regional and travel magazines carry advertising from restaurants and hotels.
Classified advertising may have disappeared from printed newspapers, but it is alive and well in a profitable magazine. Readers look for these ads to get more information about the products, services, and businesses they read about in a profitable magazine. These ads are attractive to businesses because they know they are reaching a direct, interested audience.
Display advertising is the largest revenue source for a profitable magazine. These ads are expensive, but they deliver impressive results. Most magazines have full-color, full-page ads that appear on the back cover, the interior, and the inside front cover. Some use two-page spreads. Ad prices are based on the placement of the ad and the magazine’s subscriber numbers. These ads can cost thousands of dollars to run in popular magazines that reach many subscribers.
Some ads are so highly and expensively produced that they almost seem like extensions of the magazine’s editorial pages. The ads you see in fashion magazines, architectural magazines, and travel magazines are often as visually arresting as the magazine’s official photo spreads. Display advertising is like television advertising. It’s a high-cost advertising method that delivers excellent results for advertisers who can afford it.
How to Attract Readers
Statistics say that more than 80% of adults read at least one magazine once a month. If you can create outstanding content, great-looking pictures, and attractive covers, you can get those readers so you have a profitable magazine.
The first thing to consider is whether your magazine will be general interest or niche focused. Most of the magazines you see prominently displayed on newsstands can be grouped into these basic categories:
- Food and cooking
- Women’s issues
- Health and fitness
- Do-it-yourself and home repair
- Interior design
- Home and family
- Work and business
Within those categories, dozens of magazines focus on a subset of that topic. If you want to attract those readers, you must know what attracts them to the magazines they choose.
Why would someone interested in cooking, for instance, choose Taste of Home over Epicurious? What makes a reader interested in business choose Forbes over Inc.? There can be some crossover, but most magazine subscribers stick to their favorites for a reason.
Solid Research Leads to a Profitable Magazine
Magazines make money when people regularly pick them up and eventually subscribe. To get those people to pick up your magazine, follow these pointers:
- Know your reader. What articles do their favorite magazines carry? What subjects appear on almost every cover?
- Offer high-quality content. Every magazine has its own version of high-quality content. Some supply small, easy-to-read bites of information that take only a few minutes to read. Others delve into long-form, detailed analyses and explanations. Others supply regular-length articles that are in between those two extremes. What type of article and editorial do your target readers like?
- Use layout and design. Professionally designed magazines look great, and they are a pleasure to look at and read. Use high-quality photos and images to illustrate your magazine. Most readers expect outstanding visuals in the magazines they read.
- Design an eye-catching cover. Covers sell books, and they sell magazines. Put the most compelling, newsworthy titles on the front to invite readers to pick up the issue and look inside it. Once they do, an article that delivers on the cover’s promise will keep them hooked.
Before you can begin publishing, do some research. If your magazine deals with a particular industry or profession, make some connections to learn about the issues that currently matter to people in that industry. Join professional associations, attend conventions, and connect with industry people on social media.
Learn about the magazine business. Get the details about what it will cost to pay for articles, print the magazine, and publish it. Printing and shipping are likely to be your biggest expenses.
Learn from a Profitable Magazine
You must also research your competition. Which magazines are your competitors? How will you stand out from them? Make sure you have a solid business plan that includes your plans for marketing and distribution.
How Digital Magazines Make Money
If you are planning an online magazine, you will have to do the same research into your readers, industry, and subject matter. An online magazine may not have printing or shipping costs, but it has other costs, and it will fail if you don’t take a businesslike approach. Here are the main sources to make a profitable magazine from digital publications.
Banner ads are a major source of online magazine profits. If you want to support your favorite online magazines, don’t use an ad blocker on your browser. Those ads allow them to offer some content for free because the banner ads make it a profitable magazine. Most of these magazines use commission-based, third-party servers like Google AdSense to make money from every click.
Membership or Subscription Plans
Digital magazines have embraced subscription plans. These allow readers to get their favorites on a mobile phone, laptop, tablet, or other portable device. They provide a continuous revenue stream for magazines.
Some magazines have a two-tier membership level. At the first level, which is typically free, readers get access to a limited number of articles. Those at the second level, which is a paid subscription, get access to more articles, unique events, and subscriber-only material.
Digital magazine profits also come from live events, including interviews with famous industry people, live online discussion groups, members-only webinars, and other special events. Tickets to these events create extra revenue. Live events and webinars are excellent marketing opportunities.
Successful Magazines Are Profitable Magazines
If you want to start a magazine, you can do it profitably. Conduct your research, and make the investment necessary to produce a magazine with great content, beautiful layouts, and a dedicated subscriber base. Whether you choose print or digital, there are proven ways to make a profitable magazine.
Get Professional Printing for Your Magazine
A profitable magazine needs a reliable, affordable printing partner. At Dazzle Printing, we are proud to print magazines for clients who demand the best in color rendering, speed, and customer service. To learn more about our magazine printing capabilities, talk to us today or check out our online pricing calculators.