Ten secrets of online magazine success
I've neglected my blog lately due to illness and overwork. Sorry. But here's a guest post from James Fryer who launched regional online magazine SoGlos.com, which celebrates its fourth birthday this week. To celebrate, he's sharing his top 10 secrets of success. I bumped number nine up to number 2!
1. Content is king
Traditional journalistic values still hold true online and SoGlos.com’s content is exclusively written by trained journalists ensuring a consistent and professional quality for readers and advertisers. A surprising number of regional media outlets no longer place such a high value on their content, whether on or offline.
2. Marry journalism and SEO
Professional editorial content is an SEO dream and around 65% of SoGlos.com’s readers come through the search engines. Ensure headlines, subheadings and body content is properly tagged in your HTML; link your RSS feed to Twitter, Facebook and news aggregation services; ensure your writers are aware of how to optimise articles for the web; and regularly publish high quality content.
3. Niche publishing works
While the large publishing houses attempt to cover everything from news, property, jobs, classifieds and motors to sport and what’s on their national network of websites, by focusing specifically on arts, entertainment and leisure in Gloucestershire SoGlos.com has established itself as the market leader for both readers and advertisers alike.
4. Make it easy for advertisers
Many regional businesses are still apprehensive about the transition from print to online advertising. Instead of offering cost-per-impression or pay-per-click advertising, SoGlos.com offers fixed display advertising positions for a set number of weeks or months – reassuring advertisers who are used to buying print adverts in the same way. SoGlos.com also provides a full and transparent media pack detailing products, reach and costs.
5. Embrace the right social media
Having a presence on the main social media websites is essential for all online publishers, but lookout for specific opportunities to create viral success.
SoGlos.com’s YouTube videos have collectively been viewed more than 5.3 million times, and its dedicated channel is one of the most popular in the south west, thanks to a focus on identifying and filming quirky local events such as the Cheese Rolling, Football in the River or British Shin Kicking.
6. Differentiate your directory
With so many national websites competing in the online directory market, it’s important to differentiate your directory and offer users added value.
On SoGlos.com readers will find a carefully selected choice of Gloucestershire leisure venues such as restaurants and attractions, with each listing including at least a brief description written by the online magazine’s journalists.
SoGlos.com’s directory is also represented in geographical context on its bespoke Google-powered interactive map.
7. Protect your content
If you publish good quality original content online, it will inevitably be used without permission by naive and opportunistic third parties.
Check for copyright infringement with tools such as Copyscape, and be prepared to enforce retrospective license fees if competing media ignore your requests to respect the law.
SoGlos.com has been subject to copyright infringement by more than 30 individual magazines, newspapers, radio stations and websites, and has called upon specialist media law firm Wiggin to represent it on around five occasions.
8. Share and license your content
While it’s important to protect your copyright, you will also want to ensure content reaches the largest possible audience.
To achieve this aim SoGlos.com created a ‘what’s on widget’ fed by the online magazine’s own events calendar, which has been embedded on around 300 websites in the county and links directly back to SoGlos.com’s content..
SoGlos.com has also monetised its content through licensing articles, pictures and videos – with video footage in particular having been licensed to the likes of MTV, BBC Newsnight, Richard & Judy and Have I Got News For You.
9. Engage your audience
SoGlos.com formerly encouraged UGC through readers reviewing venues listed on the online magazine, but this inevitably lead to a bias experienced by all websites allowing this form of interaction.
Instead, SoGlos.com now encourages readers to ‘Like’, ‘Tweet’ or ‘+1’ content through popular Facebook, Twitter and Google sharing buttons, while maintaining its focus on high quality editorial written by journalists.
10. Don’t ignore the offline world
While building a loyal online readership, email newsletter subscriber list and social media community are all priorities, encouraging offline awareness is also crucial to building trust with readers and advertisers.
SoGlos.com has achieved this through promotional boards at Gloucester Rugby’s Kingsholm Stadium and Prescott Speed Hill Climb near Cheltenham, through sponsoring high profile local events and via its ‘top 10 Gloucestershire events’ leaflets distributed across the county each season, for example.
SoGlos.com is dedicated to covering arts, entertainment and leisure in Gloucestershire, and is the most influential resource of its kind in the county – now attracting 76,000 unique monthly readers, as well as sending a weekly email newsletter to 17,600 subscribers. In 2010 it was crowned ‘Website of the Year’ in the EDF South West Media Awards, while in 2011 it was ‘Highly Commended’ in the same award category.
Four years since launching, SoGlos.com remains one of the UK’s only commercially successful examples of professional independent online media, generating revenue through the sale of display advertising, enhanced venue and event listings, and sponsorship.
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