How to Turn a Single Magazine into a Multiplatform Magazine

A basic overview of how a single magazine can turn into a multiplatform magazine through revenue and content model planning

Over the last few weeks we’ve gone over our a collection of content business models used by publishers and we’ve used Green Gardens Network as an example to make our points. If you’re new to Mequoda, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with Green Gardens Network (GGN), our composite case study of a multiplatform magazine, and CEO Rose Harper, the embodiment of all our clients whose “example” we use as a teaching tool without revealing real publishers’ names or data.

Today I’d like to share our technology plan for Green Gardens Network. If you run a B2C consumer magazine, this plan could apply to you.

Our technology plan for Green Gardens reflects our overall strategy of attracting a new audience, capturing their email addresses with free reports, engaging this new audience with content-packed emails and monetizing them with subscriptions, books, courses, and tours.


Since Green Gardens has many years of working with advertisers, the affinity models it pursues can include third-party sponsorship as well as sponsorship by GGN itself to promote its own publications and events.

Here are the sections of the GGN site and their content model considerations:

Portal content business model (sponsor-driven revenue): Portals are a given as part of any niche publisher’s web presence. The GGN portal will generate revenue from third-party sponsorship which will include web channel sponsor banner ads and text ads as well as native advertising posts.

Calendar content business model (sponsor-driven revenue): With the many planting and flower societies and organizations across the country and around the world that offer tours and conferences – and of course the fact that GGN itself produces and sells tickets to many of its own tours – a calendar is a natural for GGN. Revenue comes from category sponsorship opportunities (banner display ads).

Directory content business model (sponsor-driven revenue): The sponsorship package GGN offers is one way sponsors can develop a broad and deep relationship with GGN and its customers. They present a way to take large but relatively few checks. As any legacy magazine publisher knows, there are many advertisers who quite happily take fractional ads. In the digital world, where sponsorship packages are the goal, an online directory enables publishers to take many, small checks from a wide range of advertisers and GGN wants to tap into that revenue.

Freebie content business model (sponsor-driven revenue): The freebie section offering is another essential element of a well-planned audience development website. Category sponsors on the portal will also be sponsors of the aligned free guides. So, for instance, the sponsor of the Rose category of the GGN will also sponsor the Rose Care free guide. Because many of GGN’s sponsors are savvy direct marketers themselves, they maintain their own email newsletters and welcome the opportunity to add those downloading GGN’s Rose Care free guide to their email list.

Magazine content business model (user and sponsor-driven revenue): GGN is one of those fortunate niche magazine publishers that can take sponsor revenue for display ads and native ads, as well as user revenue generated by selling individual issues as well as subscriptions.

Book content business model (user-driven revenue): The book section of the site promotes GGN books and videos. There is no third-party sponsorship so the revenue from this area of Green Gardens Network comes exclusively from users purchasing products through individual purchases. GGN will not be generating revenue from sponsorship of the books and videos, but that is a possibility in the future.

Course content business model (user-driven revenue): The online courses GGN will offer are derivative of the books and videos GGN publishes and include quizzes and Green Gardens Master Gardener certification. To reduce capital requirements and allow time for more of the books and videos to be produced, GGN will launch the course section of the site in a second development phase. As with the books and videos, the revenue model will be user purchase although users will be able to purchase an individual course, or purchase unlimited access to all courses by annual subscription. As with the books and videos, GGN will not be taking sponsorship of the courses, but this is a possibility in the future.

Event content business model (user and sponsor-driven revenue): The garden and greenhouse tours that GGN will be producing will be the peak of their product pyramid – the highest level of user engagement and value as well as price – so their contribution to the success of the business is substantial, beyond just the considerable user revenue they will generate. GGN will sell tours individually. The high price point and the high fixed costs per participant combine to make a tour subscription unlikely to succeed. In addition, that high level of commitment on the part of those who take the tours makes them an attractive market for sponsors, so GGN will sell sponsorship to these tours which will include mention in the promotional materials as well as the tour guide participants will receive. GGN does not believe all 21 of its flower categories can support a tour, so tour sponsorship will not be part of the standard sponsorship package but will instead be an optional add-on.

Do you have any questions on why we chose these models for Green Gardens? Leave a comment below.


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