A few good ways smart magazines get “small checks” in between all of the big ones from major sponsorships.
The more space you have on your website, the better. You already know about bundling multiplatform sponsorships and selling banner ads on your site and promotions in your email newsletters. But do you know which content business models can provide additional revenue from sponsors?
We know a few smart magazines who do. For example, Metro Parent, a southeastern Michigan parenting magazine sells directory listings to local businesses through a directory content business model. Metro Parent already hosts a large directory of people, places, and things to see in and around southeastern Michigan, and anyone can submit to be included in their free directory.
They have directories of summer camps, family venues, schools, pediatricians, kid-friendly restaurants, and many more.
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However, sponsors can pay to be listed at the top, and these listings also show up at the bottom of articles as related resources. So at Metro Parent, an advertiser can easily buy space in their directory and on their article pages through the use of their directory content business model.
Another strength of Metro Parent is selling sponsorship packages as part of their magazine content business model. This is where they work with sponsors to develop custom content that’s featured in their native web edition magazine.
Metro Parent’s custom content is hugely beneficial for their sponsors. Because they have a web magazine, sponsored content can be promoted in daily emails, portal posts, social media, and everything they normally use to drive traffic to a post. They also allow the sponsors to re-use the content on their own sites and use their own social media outlets to drive traffic to the content.
What we love most about Metro Parent is that they’re not saying “let me sell you ad space.”
What they’re saying is, “let’s talk about your content goals and message development – and let’s work in conjunction with your experts and our experts to write 12 great articles. And let’s make a media package that drives traffic to those articles.” Their success with selling these sponsorships is one of the many reasons why we inducted Vice President Alexis Bourkoulas and Editor in Chief Julia Elliott into the Mequoda Hall of Fame this year.
Another content business model that’s easily leveraged for the sponsorship model is the calendar content business model. Like the directory model, calendar listings can be sponsored by businesses and highlighted or otherwise promoted. The New York Times Events section is a widely used example of a mass-market calendar. Loss Prevention Media Events section is a similar example in the narrow, B2B niche of retail loss prevention. This section is a huge resource for loss prevention professionals, who can come to this one place to find upcoming trade events. Meanwhile, as a traffic-driving tool, they hope they pop over to the rest of the site while they’re visiting.
While simply having a calendar that includes event listings is great for your readers, and can bring people back to your website, you can also feature calendar listings as part of this business model, and sponsors will pay you for it.
Finally, the classified content business model is basically 100% sponsor-driven, but your sponsors are users, not big-brand advertisers. Listings for products, services, and jobs are the backbone of the classified content business model.
They are, as we are fond of saying, a great way to take lots of “small checks,” as opposed to big sponsorships where you sell fewer of them but get larger checks.
For the most part, if you have a classified website attached to your magazine (like Boating magazine’s Boating Classifieds) you’ll generate revenue through payments for listings. Some classified websites have a category for free listings, like Craigslist, or for example, most job listing sites charge employers for listing job openings but a person seeking a job may be able to post a “position wanted” listing for free.
What’s nice about the classified content business is that if built well, it’s self-serve, so those “small checks” can come in a lot faster and with much less effort than the big ones.
Regardless of whether you’re getting “small checks” or large ones, I’d love to hear how you’re leveraging these content models in the comments.