The Print Model for Publishing
This print model of publishing has the advertiser at its heart, after all its the advertiser that provides a large chunk of the publication’s revenue. Print formats need advertisers because publishing like this is an expensive business – you have some pretty hefty printing and distribution costs to contend with. This model worked well until people started giving content away for free online. The result of this was that circulations fell and so did the interest from advertisers.
When money is tight in this model it is generally the writer who is first to suffer. The value of their work is reduced as publishers seek to reduce costs and sometimes (but not always) the quality of output is reduced.
So what are the other options for writers?
The Online Model for Publishing
So if organizations are publishing content online, why can’t writers just do it for themselves? Start a blog, throw in some AdWords and make money directly. Right? Right?!
If only it were that easy. People have come to expect content on blogs to be free so in order to make any sort of money from your blog you’re going to have to go back to advertisers. Using an ad system like AdWords you’re going to need an awful lot of traffic which in turn means you’ll need exclusive content that hundreds of thousands of people can’t get anywhere else. This brings us back to the problem of distribution which is what caused all the trouble for print publishers.
The Micropublishing Model
The thing that excites us most about micropublishing is the fact that there is no need for mass distribution for the model to work. With the low overheads of micropublishing, a small distribution can still be profitable. Using this model a writer with an existing following from social networks like Twitter can sell directly to readers at a reduced cost, therefore retaining more of the profit.
The key to the success of this model may not be the scale of distribution but rather the method. Providing the content that your readers want in a format that suits them may mean that they are more likely to pay for it. This has been shown with the success of the Apple’s Newsstand but it doesn’t have to be limited to Apple devices.
This means that the writer rather than the advertiser holds all the cards for the first time. This can only be a good thing – the ability to write and publish at your own discretion will offer the same freedom that self publishers of e-books have been enjoying recently.
Micro publications like Matter and The Magazine have hit the headlines for doing exactly this. As the market matures and more writers adopt this model readers will hopefully get the benefit of better content in a way that suits them.
It’s these foundations that we’re building Beacon on and we’re truly excited about the possibilities that micropublishing offers. If you’re interested in starting your own micro publication then we would love to work with you. Use the sign up form or give us a shout on Twitter @beacon_mags.