Digital Magazine Publishing

5 Essentials Every Digital Magazine Publishing System Needs to Be Profitable

We started this year with the launch of Food Gardening Network, a digital magazine publishing system that is built to follow all of our best practices, conduct additional testing, and most importantly—deliver high-quality gardening advice and recipes. It’s a hub for food gardeners of all skill levels, for creating and maintaining a food garden at home—with everything you need to ensure that you grow, harvest, and enjoy fabulous fresh food.

We’ve been deep in the trenches of building this digital magazine publishing system, and while we manage systems for our publishing partners, we still believe we learned so much by being in the trenches ourselves and wanted to share some highlights. Ready to go? Let’s get down to brass tacks.

Digital Magazine Publishing System Essentials

1. The Team

No ambitious endeavor is without a strong team behind it. Whether you’re launching a new magazine business, or you’re a legacy publisher building out a new digital magazine publishing system, having the key players in place makes all of the difference.

At the soul of your operation, you’ll need multiple editors, copyeditors, photo editors, videographers, developers, social marketers, ad marketers, partnerships, and a few managers to wrangle these very separate teams and to set and meet deadlines.

It’s no small feat and no small investment. In Giving Life to your New Digital Magazine Idea, we described the Food Gardening Network editorial team members and their basic job responsibilities at the network. You can also see the team list here.

You don’t have to hire an army of new employees if you already have them, but you do have to know how to organize the ones you have to effectively execute. It’s also worth considering what functions could be outsourced to maximize efficiency, cost, and results.


2. The Content

Having participated in the launch of dozens of print magazines and digital magazines, I can say with confidence that the process of launching a digital magazine is not much different than print. It all starts with creating a strategic planning framework and an editorial plan.

A couple of weeks ago, we revealed the content structure of the FGN digital magazine publishing system: reference collections, monthly magazine issues with how-to videos, daily tips, freebies, and soon-to-be digital cookbooks. We launched with six months worth of content and issues to start, which is what we’d recommend to any publisher.

If possible, the ideal scenario is to have 12 months’ worth of issues available in your archive. But if budgets are tight, you may decide to launch with as little as 3-6 months of back issues and allow the benefits of the archive to grow over time.

3. The Business Plan

In planning to launch a digital magazine or a digital edition of your magazine, there are many factors to take into consideration. We use a strategic planning framework as a tool in developing and communicating business plans within a multiplatform publishing organization. Read How to Create a Bulletproof Magazine Business Plan for a More Profitable Future to discover a seven-step magazine business plan that will determine how large your magazine business will become and how much of an investment will be required to build your business to maturity.

4. The Revenue 

As part of your business plan, consider your revenue plan. Determine the future of your revenue by product, and if applicable, also revenue by sponsor. Identify profitable new products, determine if native advertising is for you and how much you’ll charge to create this content, and decide how to price your premium subscription products. Identify your costs, risks, and opportunities so you know what you need to invest and can take advantage of the investor funds flowing back into the publishing market if necessary.

5. The System

With your product and marketing programs clearly outlined, now it’s time to consider the integrations with your fulfillment systems and email marketing service provider.

An experienced development team can design, configure, and test your website and its associated systems within the scope of about a thousand hours. This assumes your website development team is experienced in the processes, is leveraging a set of best practices and a software library of best practice components, and an existing content management system such as WordPress.

Our development team has been building and deploying successful content-driven membership websites for more than a decade, making a relatively quick development program possible.

No matter what technology stack you choose, it should help you efficiently manage your free and premium content, as well as build your email list to a complete, central database that informs your marketing decisions and helps you maximize the lifetime value of each subscriber.

We’ve built the Mequoda Haven WordPress System to accommodate a robust multiplatform publishing business. And we’ve built this customized digital publishing and marketing system for less money and in less time than other developers because we leverage existing software that has been built specifically for the needs of today’s multiplatform publishers – our custom Haven WordPress Digital Magazine Publishing System. Using our system, your technology plan means your organization reaps the benefits of stress-free technology, content-focused implementation, and ongoing profitability.

What Comes Next?

After you launch your digital magazine publishing system, you’ll want to begin by onboarding free basic members who will be granted limited access to your premium content and who will also receive regular marketing messages encouraging them to upgrade to premium status.

When we work with digital magazine publishers, we suggest all marketing programs should be run on a Six Sigma schedule where new offers and creative are regularly tested with the goal of improving conversion rates and fighting back offer-fatigue.

Over the past decade, we’ve launched more than 30 successful digital magazine publishing systems. If it’s time for you to generate more consumer revenue online, we’d love to share everything we’ve learned supporting, developing, operating, and optimizing these next-generation systems.

Schedule a free 60-minute consultation with us today to discuss how we can help you double or even triple your online revenue with a new digital magazine publishing system.

By Don Nicholas

Founder & Executive Publisher

Don Nicholas serves as Executive Publisher for Food Gardening Network and GreenPrints. He is responsible for all creative, technical, and financial aspects of these multiplatform brands. As senior member of the editorial team, he provides structural guidance, sets standards, and coordinates activities with the technology and business teams. Don is an active gardener whose favorite crops include tomatoes, basil, blueberries, and corn. He and his wife Gail live and work in southern Massachusetts surrounded by forests, family farms, cranberry bogs, and nearby beaches. Don is also the Founder of Mequoda Systems, LLC, which operates and supports numerous online communities including I Like Crochet, I Like Knitting, and We Like Sewing.

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