Magazines Register

When Subscriptions and Ad Sales Don’t Pay the Bills

As the magazine publishing industry faces ongoing challenges, it’s more important than ever for publishers to find new sources of revenue streams beyond subscription and ad dollars. Here are a few ways you can diversify your product and service offerings.

pay bills

First comes branding

If your publishing company’s only revenue sources are subscriptions and ads, it’s time to think about extending your brand into other areas. These days, most publishing companies can’t survive solely on the subscription/ad sales model. However, before diversifying, you should focus on strengthening your brand.

  • Consider what sets your magazine apart from the competition. Graphic imagery? Expert content? Then build on that to reinforce your brand.
  • Use social media to promote brand awareness and showcase your brand’s expertise.
  • Provide valuable free content to build readership, then put relevant premium content behind a paywall.
  • In-person conferences and exhibitions can build trust, enhance brand recognition, and generate sponsorship and attendee revenue.

Extending your brand through innovation

Once you have a recognizable brand, it’s time to branch out. It’s important to stay on top of current trends and new technologies so that you remain competitive in your niche. With technology advancements, innovation, and a little creativity, you should be able to add some unique offerings to your portfolio. For example:

  • Leverage your company’s publishing expertise to sell complementary eCommerce products (e.g., a fashion magazine can sell a line of make-up; a cooking title can sell a line of cookware). Companies whose greatest assets are their bodies of knowledge and expertise can host expert tutorials, videos, educational courses, and podcasts.
  • Build branded content programs where your experts work with advertisers to create valuable, native educational content.
  • Reuse and bundle previously created content.
  • Create an app that enables a task or functionality related to your niche (e.g., a restaurant guide for a travel magazine).
  • Provide innovative advertising products that increase user engagement and create a more compelling experience for readers and marketers.
  • Develop premium content and other benefits, products, and services that require payment to access.
  • Surround your customers with a portfolio of complementary and connected products, services, and experiences. For example:
    • Publish a related sister publication or newsletter.
    • Create educational courses surrounding your topic, or host seminars.
    • Create and sell related apps.
    • Open a marketplace for related products.
    • Host a conference.

shaking hands

Acquisitions, mergers, new geographic markets

Using trends and technology is one way to create new revenue streams, but there’s also the option of acquiring successful businesses with track records of connecting key constituencies, either digitally or through real-world events.

  • Instead of developing new technologies, partner with or acquire enterprises that provide complementary or extended products and services (e.g., a sports publication partnering with a video gaming company or sporting event, or a cooking magazine acquiring a meal delivery service).
  • Move into new locations, or even go global.
  • Create local publications to complement your core products.

Publishers can no longer rely on the traditional business model of subscriptions and ads to survive, much less thrive. It’s an exciting time with limitless opportunities for diversifying your revenue streams, but which options are the best ones for you? There’s a lot to consider, such as cost, available skill sets, and resources.

Contact your Sheridan representative for a consultation or visit our contact page to learn how Sheridan professionals can help you streamline your publishing processes, reduce costs, and keep up with changes in print and publishing strategies.

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