I am currently running a media magazine blog focusing on business, startups news and entrepreneurship. We have a digital magazine that we release every 2 months. The blog side which is basically the main site has more traffic than the magazine side (which is hosted on Issuu but embedded on our site) under the same conditions. The magazine takes most of the financial resources because of the design but the output in terms of traffic is still very low. Do you think it’s prudent for us to put much effort on the blog side and do away with the magazine for now or should we just hold a bit longer?.
Hi Otieno. A few ideas ... If the magazine is print-based, you may be able to charge more for the ads. This can offset the cost. Many magazines are run like a premium product using this model. If it's online-only, then it may be duplicative of the blog. In that case, you might consider building up the blog advertiser base, and use this client list as a basis for a relaunch of the magazine. Finally, you may be able to use the growing blog readership as a future subscription base for the magazine. You probably have an email newsletter associated with the blog. This email list could be a good marketing vehicle for premium products like a magazine or ebook or some publication that costs more to produce.
I run Bikerumor.com, the world's largest cycling tech blog that's almost 10 years old. We've experimented with monthly digital magazines in the past, some that were recaps of all prior month's coverage plus a few bonus editorial sections, and others that were category specific guides (like a Cyclocross Buyer's Guide). All were well received, but had few downloads that didn't justify the time and energy we put into them. They were basically experiments / distractions from the core business.
Perhaps we just didn't put enough time and energy into them, or give them a long enough go of it to make a fair assessment of their value, but even with our longstanding operation as a "blog" we had a hard time selling ad space in these e-mags.
My hunch is the blog/website has more value and is an easier sell, and I'd encourage you to develop ethical solutions to sponsored content that provides real value to our readers. (as in, not advertorials) This has helped us grow ad revenue and is far more beneficial for SEO.
All that said, a couple of things to put my point of view in perspective: I don't take the time to read digital magazines, but I do read websites, print mags, books and PDF reports on topics of interest. So, any of those might be better alternatives to drive either ad revenue or boost your reach. Print magazines continue to command premium pricing for their ads despite dubious value to the advertiser, and it's unlikely digital ad spends will quite catch up in per-impression amounts, but the total spend will likely continue to shift to online.
At the end of the day, what does your gut tell you? Are you holding onto the magazine for emotional reasons? Or for valid business reasons? I agree with one of the other answer's recommendations to set a firm timeline for evaluating progress with hard numbers to define performance. Sometimes it's hard to let go of things we're emotionally invested in, but sunk costs will only grow the longer we hang on.
The focus should be on what generates revenue. The blog I assume drives traffic to a subscription. The magazine will not exist very long without advertisers. The blog will have no purpose then. The focus in most publishing has to be on advertisers. This can be an issue because your readers may only subscribe for content and not respond to ads. The main focus you need is to define why people should advertise in your magazine. The purpose of the magazine is to inform. The information gets consumed. What are advertisers gaining and why? What numbers are you generating? If you really want to excel evaluate the ads and where you are driving people. If they buy an ad and it takes them to a crappy site where is the value there? Hit me up for more details. email@example.com
The optimal solution is to always focus on multi-purpose ALL content creation. Thus, if you do a video, then have it exported to audio as a podcast and transcribed and formatted into an article (for both blog and magazine) and formatted as a longer ebook. All formatting should be templated so that once you've cranked out one video,podcast,article, ebook you can streamline future publishing.
It will be nice if you can hold on on the magazine and focus more on the blog for the time being which in turn will help to get more resources to develop more on the magazine. Also focusing more on the blog helps you to remain focused and remain dedicated to the task and meet your audience expectation and most importantly reduce cost.