AMC Coverage 2008: Independent Magazines Talk Digital

Magazines talk about how they’ve leveraged their online community to build more successful products

“If our business is attracting a set of people with a specific set of interests and values, then the Internet has provided us the most miraculous beautiful tool we could’ve imagined in our whole lives,” Bryan Welch, Publisher and Editorial Director of Odgen Publications, who introduced Sunday’s IMAG panel titled, Go Digital: Publicize Your Brand and Engage Your Readers.

Image courtesy of magazine.org

Image courtesy of magazine.org

Andrew Clurman, Group Publisher and COO, Active Interest Media moderated the panel and opened by noting that we’re all in the social networking business. “We are in the business of bringing people together”, he said. He believes there should be a sub-specialty called social publishing, as we must demonstrate the engagement of our audience. We must conduct research, test new products and develop products that are user-generated.

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For Dwell.com, it’s all about the audience

Luckily for Dwell.com, they have an audience that is dying to be a part of everything they do. Nancy Alonzo, Publisher, Dwell.com (left) stressed the importance of authenticity and innovation and offered up a few things to always keep in mind when running a multiplatform media company:

  • Remember to question and rethink old practices
  • Seek out the intersections and overlaps between platforms that enrich the experience with your brand
  • Learn and embrace the new technologies that serve your audience first; internal stakeholders second
  • Actively and frequently innovate the ways in which you serve your audience
  • Invite audience participation everywhere

The audience is always at the center of everything they do. They are on the phones with their audience every time they are considering a new direction, asking: what are your needs? How is your experience different when you visit our site? How can we create a site that ISN’T something you just visit every few weeks?

For 8020, it’s all about a community-driven platform

8020Media is a company based on the premise of being entirely community-driven. In fact, Mitchell Fox, President and CEO, 8020Media (center) says it is the only company dedicated to online communities that select the content contributed to the magazine. For example, on JPGmag.com, there are immense voting opportunities, comments, contacts and friends. Members select the photos that end up featured in their magazine. When a member photo is selected to be published, they get $100 from 8020 and a 1 year free subscription to JPG magazine. “It’s a real opportunity for average people to get distributed in a gorgeous, nationally distributed magazine,” said Fox.

At 8020, they measure success by profit. They’ve created the obvious revenue stream of advertising and subscription newsstand revenue, but the non-obvious one is “print services” – of the million or so photos online that users can purchase individually—directly from JPG. If you’re the photographer and your photo sells (and if you’ve given JPG the rights), you get a share of the revenue. What 8020 would love, is for certain photographers to get enough traction to be able to sell their main product in a much more successful way. “I would love to see sub-businesses grow out of what JPG is,” said Fox.

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