The Niche Magazine Conference will take place in Nashville, TN this coming February. Don Nicholas, Mequoda Group’s CEO, attended a Niche Media conference earlier this year, was impressed and offered to be one of the event’s sponsors.
To prepare for the conference, we interviewed Carl Landau, the Niche Magazine Conference’s Host. The first question we asked was:
How do you define a niche magazine? Is it the size, the topics, the fact that many are run independently, or is it something completely different?
A niche magazine refers to a “target audience” publication: a magazine that has a well defined audience. The editorial is geared specifically to this audience. The advertisers are well defined and have specific products and services that audience is likely interested in. I started a magazine called “Brew Your Own.” It served the universe of 2 million people that make beer at home in the US. This is a good example of a well-defined niche magazine. These days, most magazines are considered “niche magazines,” with a database of 10,000 niche magazines in the US and Canada.
How do you think tablet computing will change the niche magazine industry?
The danger before us is that publishers are giving away advertising in their mobile and tablet versions of their magazines. We saw this with the web; the results were disastrous and it has taken years to recover.
The growing number of users that have added tablets into their daily life is astounding. The stats do not show any signs of this growth slowing down. With the Kindle Fire at $199, the price to add a tablet to your life is very low. Publishers need to plan now and create digital strategies for mobile and tablet.
The planning needs to start first with user needs analysis and sales strategy; building for users, not for your editorial team. Then, you need a plan for workflow issues, freelancer agreements, and of course, sale integration. By 2015 I predict that the vast majority of white-collar households will have at least one tablet. The great thing about this shift is that if handled correctly, niche publishers stand to see their profit margins increase since the cost of tablet/mobile production is far less than print.
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What will publishers find at the conference that will help them transition from print to digital publishing?
At the Niche Magazine Conference we emphasize an integrated solution. Print is very much alive in the niche space. We offer several classes on how to generate digital revenue in addition to print. The fact of the matter is that today, the average niche publisher still generates 85% – 90% of their revenue via print vs. digital. This is changing slowly, but we don’t ignore print even though it’s not as sexy as digital is now.
In an industry with so many publishing conferences, why did you decide to launch a magazine conference in 2007? What’s different about your conference that has led to success?
I had been a magazine publisher for over 20 years–started and sold five magazines. I attended and spoke at many conferences. Most of these conferences had a program geared toward big consumer titles that had little to do with what I was doing. What do I learn from listening to a keynote from Time Magazine? They are in an entire different business than I’m in. I had a small staff, small budgets and could not enter into ventures where I couldn’t make money immediately. Plus, the conferences I previously attended weren’t fun or personable.
We’ve got a ton of personality that goes with our conference… Hey, I will be wearing a cowboy hat and spurs at our Nashville Conference. This puts everyone at ease and helps everyone relax and have a good time. And most importantly, share information with their fellow publishers, which is what the conference is all about.
If you attend the Niche Magazine Conference in Nashville this February, make sure to come say “Hi” to myself and Laura Pittman, Mequoda Group’s CFO. We will be there, and excited to meet everyone.