Launching a digital magazine

by PETER DRAGAR, EDITION DIGITAL

May 2016

If you are new to digital publishing you’re probably not sure where to begin. Luckily, Edition Digital is always here to support you. That’s why we’ve put together a list packed with useful tips to help you create your first digital publication.

A print version is a good foundation for a digital magazine

If you have a print version, you don’t have to start from scratch. In fact, it will speed up the process of creating a digital version of your magazine.

Your existing content is a great basis for a digital version with artwork elements and design features which you can employ in your digital edition.

But don’t just settle for a PDF replica. A digital magazine with interactive and rich media features offers a much better experience for your users.

Don’t ever settle for a PDF replica of your print publication.

Make an editorial plan

Your editorial plan is key.

It shows how your budget is being spent.

It describes what is inside each issue, publication frequency, who is involved and, most importantly, the strategy. Does it just follow the print magazine or enrich its content?

Once the plan is in place you are able to see if your budget is still within boundaries.

The editorial plan also helps you decide on a monetisation strategy.

Find multimedia content

The easiest way to enrich content on the page is to add galleries and movie clips into articles. Print magazines have limited real space and designers always have pictures they can’t include in print editions.

Readers love galleries and movie clips. If you have a YouTube channel (you should), embed your YouTube videos into your digital magazine.

Sometimes galleries and videos require extra production, so make sure the budget allows it.

Remember, you can always reach out to bloggers and YouTube publishers who are willing to share multimedia content with you.

Find bonus content, which you wouldn't be able to include in a print version

In addition to galleries and movie clips you should include bonus content. It doesn’t have to be a brand new story but do try to include material that hasn’t made it into the print magazine, such as behind-the-scene stories and shots. Try to ensure that your print and digital editions complement each other.

Readers have various types of screens

Some digital providers try to convince you that you need different formats and media versions for each market.

That doesn’t make any sense.

You should create one digital magazine which works everywhere, as desktop, tablet and mobile versions. 

Don’t create a version only visible to iTunes or Google Play. Edition Digital gives you a system where only one digital publication is required for all markets and screens. We like to call this approach “responsible design”. Responsible design helps you create a digital magazine and doesn’t limit your creativity or require HTML knowledge.

Mobile First

You should always “think mobile” from the very beginning of the creative process, but building a mobile version can also easily be done at the end of the process. So, don’t be under the impression that you have to build your mobile version on a limited screen size first, which could kill your creativity. Instead, during the creation of an article, keep in mind that it will also have a mobile version. And if everything is planned in advance, your artwork elements, galleries and videos can be borrowed from the desktop version to build a mobile page - which speeds up the creative process.

Your readers are everywhere

Implement a proper marketing strategy for your digital magazine.

In digital realms readers are everywhere; your competitors can reach them too.

A well-defined digital magazine with a good title, description and an attractive share image published on social media might lure in more users than a paid advert.

Social media are for free if you are smart. But they all require regular updates to stay alive and attract more readers. If you have a print version, you also have a huge selling channel potentially for all your subscribers.

But your story shouldn’t end there. You still have a lot of additional options such as email campaigns and freemiums to convert visitors into subscribers.

And don’t stop promoting your digital magazine after going live. Having a good online magazine is not enough. You have to keep promoting it on every possible channel.

Find a selling strategy

There are plenty of options to choose from if you want to monetise your digital magazine.

If you already have a print version, then using a subscription model makes sense. A bundle could include both print and digital magazines, for example.

One of the greatest advantages of your digital magazine is the capacity to host a magazine library for your back issues. This could help you establish a membership model where members have access to all issues within a certain period of time.

You may also opt for a newsstand model which would cover all markets in one go, from web to iTunes and Google play.

In principle, the optimal solution is a combination of a self-branded newsstand and sales through applications on popular app stores, to make your publication available wherever your users look. But do take into account that selling online only costs you the credit card fee, while selling through apps costs you from 30-40%.

Some publishers choose to launch with a free digital magazine to attract subscribers. At the end of a fixed period (perhaps a year) a fee is introduced. Having built loyalty with existing free subscribers the objective is to convert them to paid membership.

Regularly analyse your content

Don’t forget to analyse your stats. If your traffic flow is not fluid enough, you’re doing something wrong.

Don’t make your interactive elements more important than the editorial content. Don’t hide your content within layers where it is hard to reach and impossible to share.

A user friendly reading experience is your top priority. 

Use the data to determine your readers’ behaviour, what they like and what they don’t, and adjust your design and content accordingly.