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. 

Here’s what I’ve learned from doing a Substack newsletter for four weeks.

It’s really hard!

That’s it. That’s my takeaway, my wisdom, my insight. That’s the Tweet.

  • It’s hard to show up every week when you’ve got other things to do
  • It’s hard to come up with content you think your readers will like
  • It’s hard to convince people to subscribe
  • It’s hard to be the best, smartest, most enthusiastic version of yourself

Here’s the thing though… that’s the point. If it was easy every Muppet would be doing it.

Instead it’s the people that put the work in week after week that succeed, whether that’s getting your podcast past episode seven or still publishing a magazine founded in 1739.

So, here’s to buckling down to find and share more publishing ideas worth stealing.

Go narrow

I stole this from today’s Media Voices newsletter, so apologies if you’ve already seen it. But this post from John Yedinak, co-founder of Aging Media, deserves to be read regularly.

He originally wrote it in 2019 when Buzzfeed and Vice were going through a painful round of redundancies. He’s resurfaced it this week because, well, it’s almost as crap now as it was back then.

Anyway, John’s point, and the idea worth stealing, is that where broad based media enterprises struggle to justify their existence, publishers targeting smaller, specialised audiences can charge a premium. Go narrow with content that an audience vertical can’t do without.

One caveat, supporting my opening whine, John says you’ll need…

Persistence, unique insights, and analysis you can’t find anywhere else, not lists and general news that can be found on half a dozen different websites.

Bonus idea: If you didn’t see this the first time, it’s not a repeat.

Show your workings

Danish slow-news startup Zetland was initially free. But, reality bites and they had to turn to their subscribers for the financial help to survive. To engage potential subscribers, they shared a gamified version of their actual budgets and let people see the consequences of a variety of financial decisions. Their ‘radical openness’ showed how the title would fold without support. Their initial payment push in 2019, brought in 2800 new members in 4 weeks and took them to breakeven. They have since made it an annual event.

I’m not suggesting you handover all your budget spreadsheets, but sharing the real-world consequences of not contributing to your costs is an emotional button worth pushing.

The periodic table of community

Community is one of those buzzwords that everyone uses, but honestly, no one really knows 100% what it means. Well, there’s now a handy-dandy periodic table available to help us all get on the same page, literally, with community strategy.

It’s been developed by Michelle Goodall, the CMO of community platform Guild, as a reference and teaching aid. The table details 10 main elements from community types, to community management roles and platforms.

One of the key concerns of any strategic development project is to make sure all your team members understand and share your goals. If you’re trying to build a community (and you should be), this is a great framework to help define what you want.


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

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