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How Multiplatform Magazines Make Money Outside Their Magazines

As you develop your multiplatform magazine brand, consider the revenue generation systems that apply most directly to your business

If you are a magazine publisher, you are a digital magazine publisher. You are online, and hopefully you have a digital edition of your magazine. But that may be all you’re doing, and if your print and digital magazine are all you have, you’ll want to be broadening your multiplatform magazine horizons.

Every time my team and I sit down with a new digital magazine client, we review how each of the following revenue generation systems might be deployed for their organization. We tend to divide them up between sponsor-driven revenue generation systems and user-driven revenue generation systems:

Sponsor-Driven Revenue Generation Systems

  • A Native Sponsorship Revenue Generation System generates revenue through advertorial-based native ads.
  • A Display Sponsorship Revenue Generation System generates revenue through display ads like those in print magazines.
  • A Directory Sponsorship Revenue Generation System generates revenue through paid directory listings like YP.com.
  • A Classified Sponsorship Revenue Generation System generates revenue through paid classified ads like eBay, Craigslist, or job listings on Media Bistro.
  • A Webinar Sponsorship Revenue Generation System generates revenue through webinars.
  • An Event Sponsorship Revenue Generation System generates revenue through sponsored live events.

User-Driven Revenue Generation Systems

  • A Magazine Marketing Revenue Generation System generates revenue through magazine subscription sales.
  • A Book Marketing Revenue Generation System generates revenue through book sales.
  • An Advisory Marketing Revenue Generation System generates revenue through an advisory service, like you often find in investing publications.
  • A Club Marketing Revenue Generation System generates revenue through a club membership.
  • A Course Marketing Revenue Generation System generates revenue through e-learning courses.
  • An Event Marketing Revenue Generation System generates revenue through user-supported, unsponsored, or only partially sponsored events.

From these revenue generation systems, you can deduce some clear digital magazine platforms: magazine, directory, classifieds, webinars, events, books, advisory, clubs, and courses. The content on each platform is completely different, and generates revenue in totally different ways.

The core of online business models

Online business models can be broken into two main categories: conventional business models adapted to the internet and internet-specific business models.

There is an array of conventional business models, ranging from direct sales to the brick and mortar business model. These businesses may have started in the physical realm, with many ending up online. These models did not develop on the internet, although they have transitioned to this medium.

Internet-specific business models are ones that did not, or could not exist without the internet. Many of these revolutionized the way online businesses generated revenue as many traditional business models operating on the internet also adopted some of these internet-specific models.

The 12 revenue-generating systems above are a mix of both.

Sponsor-Driven  Revenue Generation Systems

  • A Native Sponsorship Revenue Generation System has existed since print, and can be created both online and offline.
  • A Display Sponsorship Revenue Generation System has also existed since print, so while it can refer to full-page glossy ads, it can also refer to banner ads and sponsored pop-ups.
  • A Directory Sponsorship Revenue Generation System had primarily included paid listings in directories, some as in disguise as business indexes, but now they exist online in the form of digital directories where you sign up to put listings on specific websites for a fee.
  • A Classified Sponsorship Revenue Generation System is one of the oldest forms of user-generated revenue, allowing customers to post classified ads for jobs, selling cars, and posting obituaries. Now this can all be done online, and many publishers offer the ability to publish on both platforms for a single price.
  • An Event Sponsorship Revenue Generation System relies on sponsors, and sponsorship packages are sold in person, online, and through the phone, making this a very multiplatform product and revenue stream.
  • A Webinar Sponsorship Revenue Generation System exists only online, because webinars are digital products, so sponsors are typically also acquired online.

User-Driven Revenue Generation Systems

  • A Magazine Marketing Revenue Generation System involves selling magazine subscriptions online and offline. Through newsstands and blow-in cards, but also through magazine subscription websites and digital newsstands.
  • A Book Marketing Revenue Generation System began with bookstores, but now people are so used to buying books online through Amazon that it’s no big step for them to buy books directly through publishers, including digital ebook downloads.
  • An Advisory Marketing Revenue Generation System could be sold in person, but we’re finding that many advisories make a name for themselves online, and only after initial sales online, may become in-person transactions. Some advisory services are, of course, 100% digital, which further improves digital revenue streams from this platform.
  • A Club Marketing Revenue Generation System has traditionally been sold offline and online, but the convenience factor of online clubs makes this a hugely viable source of digital revenue.
  • A Course Marketing Revenue Generation System is entirely online, creating a 100% online digital revenue stream, although it certainly can be marketed offline through other products like magazines.
  • An Event Marketing Revenue Generation System can generate revenue online or offline, for digital events or in-person events. Tickets used to be sold at box offices, or by will call and mail to get tickets. Now they’re purchased online and printed on home computers.

If you’re thinking about expanding your legacy magazine business, I’d love to chat about the process of evaluating each of the above magazine media revenue generation systems for your organization. I’d also be happy to describe the process we developed for planning, developing, and optimizing a fully integrated, multiplatform niche media business.

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