Image courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/kalexanderson/
You have an idea for a publication and now you want to think about how you can generate revenue for your content. Whether you need to pay contributors, distributors, or fund an entire business with full-time salaries, there are some very creative ways you can fund digital publications. Here are just a few:
- summary: Content is available only for subscribers, or perhaps you have a monthly “free articles” meter like the NY Times. Most regular internet users are now very familiar with this model
- example: NYTimes – http://www.nytimes.com, The Dish – http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/
- tool: tinypass — http://www.tinypass.com/
PAY PER ISSUE
- summary: Issues or individual documents are downloadable after paying a one-time fee
- example: The Atavist stories (iOS app) – https://atavist.com/
- tool: There are many solutions – you can roll your own or a WordPress plugin like easydigitaldownloads will do the trick — https://easydigitaldownloads.com/
JOIN A MAILING LIST FOR ACCESS TO EBOOK
- summary: make content available to readers after they sign up for a mailing list. Great solution for those distributing well-researched reports, ebooks or white papers.
- example: Woopie customer ReadyForZero offers their ebooks to mailing list subscribers – http://blog.readyforzero.com/
- tool: MailChimp – http://kb.mailchimp.com/article/i-want-to-send-a-report-file-mp3-video-to-people-who-sign-up-for-my-list/
PAY BY TWEET
- summary: Content is initially locked and can be unlocked by readers tweeting links to the publication or individual articles. As a bonus, it’s an easy way to create buzz and grow reach. On the flip side, people may find this tedious and would prefer not to clutter their twitter timeline.
- example: live preview by CodeCanyon: http://demo.byonepress.com/social-locker-for-wordpress/
- tool: Twitter’s new Flock to Unlock mechanism: https://business.twitter.com/tactics/flock-unlock or CodeCanyon’s Content/URL Locker: http://codecanyon.net/item/-google-tweet-like-contenturl-locker/1591436
Note: This used to be an option for Facebook too (like our page to read our content, The New Yorker famously did this (http://www.insidefacebook.com/2011/04/11/new-yorker-like-page/), but as of November 2014, Facebook will be turning off this functionality so not a good idea to invest in this now – more here: https://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/2014/08/07/Graph-API-v2.1/
DONATIONS / TIPS
- summary: Offer a way for readers and those interested to show they value this work by providing regular or one-time donations or “tips”.
- example: Guernica magazine – http://www.guernicamag.com/information/donate/
- how: Gratipay (formerly gittip): https://gratipay.com/, or accept donations via bit coin like the RNLI (http://rnli.org/bitcoin)
- summary: Pre-fund your book or magazine by creating a crowdfunding campaign to raise awareness, build an audience, etc. As a bonus, this is a great way to do market research to determine if it’s a viable business in the first place!
- example: The Last Story of Robert Bradford, by Lyra McKee – http://www.beaconreader.com/projects/the-last-story-of-robert-bradford
- how: Kickstarter – https://www.kickstarter.com/discover/categories/journalism, Beacon – http://www.beaconreader.com/
THE OLD FAITHFUL:
DISTRIBUTORS – Amazon/Kindle, Apple/iBooks, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, etc.
ADVERTISERS – Using paid advertisements relevant to your audience to provide value for readers, advertiser and you the publisher (we like non-intrusive, full-page responsive ads like this one: http://readidea.com/magazines/issue1/blacknight-advert.html
SUBSCRIBERS– More and more consumers are happy to pay for content they find valuable or want to support. Follow Model View Culture’s example and charge your subscribers on a regular basis: https://model-view-culture.myshopify.com/products/model-view-culture-digital-subscription