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Digital magazines and earning opportunities for publishers

Luca Filigheddu


Generating more earnings has been on the mind of print media publishers since disruptive technologies rocked the industry. Despite this, several publishing houses have found their success; but not before making some radical changes.


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I can hear it now: Radical changes?! Yes. Radical changes. Publishing, especially magazine publishing is in a freefall. And that’s why changes that make the most impact are needed. Only then can you turn around the falling fortunes of your publication. The solution is clear; change your strategy to “digital first”.

By converting your primary business from a print magazine to a digital magazine, you can turn around your declining brand and breathe new life into it. It might seem abrupt, but times have changed, and people consume content differently. The Atlantic is one such publication that has turned its luck around by going digital first.

Here’s how going digital can help you earn more:

Up-selling subscription packages

When we say “digital first”, we don’t mean completely abandon your print magazine and offer purely digital subscriptions. You can still offer them side-by-side but with a specific focus on your digital magazine and other digital content such as blogs and your website.

It’s not enough to just offer digital magazines. You may have to provide free access articles as well because that’s what helps attract new readers. Think of it as a kind of free taste of what you offer paid subscribers.

By having a print magazine, a digital magazine and a website with a blog, you can play a bit with your subscription packages. For example, you can offer print-only, digital-only and print and digital combined. Purchasing print-only and digital-only packages can be made more expensive than getting both.

When a potential subscriber is purchasing either a print-only or digital-only subscription, you can offer then both for a smaller additional fee than what would have been a more expensive total of getting both.

Digital ad revenues

Once you have a digital magazine (and other online content), you can start offering digital ads to your current and future advertisers. The same way how you up-sold your subscribers, you can also come up with a way to better package combined print and digital ads.

You can offer different forms of ads that were previously not available for print magazines. You can embed videos, audio and links within digital magazines. Variation in ad pricing no longer depends on how much space an ad takes in a page or which page is it placed. You can charge more for ads that are considered more interactive or catchy to readers such as video or audio.

Advertorials, or articles that promote certain products or services, can now be more effective since you can embed links or calls-to-action that direct to your client’s landing pages.

At the same time, you can also start offering more affordable ads to businesses that may have smaller budgets since you can link even text phrases or words within articles. If they can’t afford image ads then maybe text link ads will be more affordable.

There are also opportunities for packaging various ads across your channels. For example, aside from a video ad in a digital magazine, you can offer them a blog which will link specifically to a web page or landing page of their choosing. 

Reach a bigger market

Digital magazines and other digital content give you the opportunity to be discovered by new readers on the internet.

Previously, you had to rely on your network of distributors to expand your reach. Now, the internet gives you the opportunity to reach new readers that may be interested in your content. If you’re a regional magazine, you can expand towards a national reach. If you’re a nationally-distributed magazine, you can think of launching an international edition. Bigger readership can translate to higher ad revenues.


Opening yourself up to digital magazines can bring you many opportunities to increase your revenues. But in the end, it’s up to you if you want to want to recognize the changes in the industry or if you want to risk it and continue on your current path.