Media Voices co-host Peter Houston sends out a weekly newsletter called The Magazine Diaries. Each edition shares the best magazine publishing ideas he comes across for you to steal, adapt or reuse. 

Time’s up for Time Out has to be one of the laziest headlines ever. Sorry if you were the Guardian sub who wrote it, but seriously. Switching to digital only like Time Out doesn’t mean it’s over. It just means it makes sense, commercially, to stop paying for print.

The current reality is that not every title can survive a publishing paradigm where manufacturing and distribution costs aren’t covered by ads, subs or single copy sales. Sometimes digital-only is the only option.

So here’s a bonus idea worth stealing — reconsider your print position regularly and rationally. Right-size your print output to suit your commercial reality and build out your digital presence as if the print didn’t exist, not because you don’t want it to, but because one day you might not have a choice.

Bring back glossy magazine cover stars

At a time when most people sidle into content sideways through search or social media, Insider has re-created an old-school marquee feature with its new Cover Star profile. Delivered via a newsletter that links directly to a fully designed digital cover story, the launch issue spotlights Serena Williams talking about life after tennis.

Insider owners Axel Springer have sprung for some top photography and writing talent to give this the glossy treatment. But giving your team the freedom to produce one amazing story that will make readers want to dive deeper into what you offer is a great way to showcase your content. Just make sure your readers can find their way to the rest of the good stuff inside.

Find someone like Ali to sell your magazine

Maybe you got the impression I don’t care about print from the intro. But, nah, I love print and this story about an independent magazine store in New York City made my heart soar; 2,500 magazines under one roof, are you kidding me. But also the shopkeeper Ali just sounds like the best of us, offering personalised life advice with every title sold, more like a bartender than a newsagent.

But heartwarming as it is, the most useful part of this story is not Ali’s agony uncle role, it’s his Instagram account. He regularly posts new titles as they hit the shelf as well as selfies with his favourite articles and customers and, with 40,000 followers, business is good.

Less is more when it comes to advertising

Customer satisfaction is a pretty simple concept – Simon & Garfunkel knew it back in in 1970. But somehow it gets forgotten when publishers start talking about increasing ad revenue and the ‘more ads = more money’ equation dominates the discussion. Jacob Donnelly says that’s because it can take a while for satisfaction driven success to reach the spreadsheets. But from digital behemoth Dotdash Meredith to indie print publishers that only sell ads to a few strongly aligned brands, less ads + better ad performance = better business. Dial it down Madmen.


Republished with kind permission. Subscribe to The Magazine Diaries to get three steal-able ideas in your inbox every Friday.

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