How To Create An Online Magazine
Written by Matt Clement
Today, sharing content online is easier than ever. The difficult part is making sure that your quality content stands out among the crowd.
If you’re reading this, you may have realized it’s time to bring your work to the next level and embrace an online magazine. We realize this seems like a daunting task, so we’re here to clear things up and help you get started.
What are you trying to accomplish?
Clearly defining your goals is the first step in any project. Like any publication, an online magazine requires you to make decisions regarding what type of audience you’re hoping to reach. This includes how you would like readers to engage with your content. For example, a digital magazine looking to gain subscribers is going to function differently than an online piece designed to sell a product.
Regardless of your primary goal, another vital part of starting an online magazine is to define your voice and overall brand style. This can often be done by creating style sheets or brand standards.
Decide early on the overall tone of your online presence and stick to it. If (and when) you become successful, you can curate a trustworthy team that will help carry the workload while still remaining true to your brand.
Developing a plan for sustained success through valuable differentiation
There are some key elements required to move towards creating a sustainable online magazine business. Most importantly though, you need to find how you will stick out in a crowded digital media landscape.
Will your content or your creative elements be unique? Will your marketing tactics be differentiated? And will those elements be valuable to your audience? We all need to be asking these questions. If the content we create does not come off as striking and useful to a reader, it is more than likely not going to lead to a return visit or a subscription.
Once this value proposition has been uncovered (and tested as valuable with a segment of your target audience) its important to find an intuitive, engaging platform to place your content on.
What platform is best for you?
Each option presents its own benefits and limitations. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what makes the most sense for your brand. Affordability is important, but it is also necessary to strive for an impactful experience that will keep bringing your readers back for more.
PDF and Flipbook
The PDF is a widely-used platform for sharing digital content. It is inexpensive and easy to customize, but it lacks an overall impact. A standard PDF leaves much to be desired in terms of interactivity and can cause serious frustration when reading on a mobile device. (We all know the pain of pinching to zoom on our phone screen.)
Additionally, once downloaded a PDF can no longer be tracked, as the experience has now been taken offline. In a time where data about your readers is so important, PDFs can leave you feeling out in the cold.
Flipbooks offer a more functional solution where you are actually able to recreate the feel of a print magazine in digital format. This is great for the desktop environment and functions well on tablet. But like the PDF, it becomes a bit of a struggle on a mobile device, as pinching to zoom is often a necessity.
In this way, PDFs and flipbooks offer low-price options that allow you to control the published content. But, they fall short in impact and ease of use.
Here you’ll find an example of a Norwegian Cruise Lines flipbook in our nxtbook4 platform. It’s important to note we go beyond the standard flipbook interface by giving options for a scrolling text version of the content. This allows the reader to see the content without pinching to zoom.
One other note is that Adobe Flash is on its way out, so if you do decide to move forward with a flipbook, make sure to create an HTML5 magazine. This is a safer source for your online publication and avoids a third-party download every time someone opens the publication.
If phone compatibility is your priority, apps are a great add on for sharing your online magazine. They also help you move forward in understanding engagement, as you’ll be able to track your most effective content.
Going with a native app has numerous advantages and disadvantages:
- Allows you to be an active part of the design process.
- Designed to be used on a smartphone and tablet, it’s easy to use and will provide a seamless experience.
- The downside is that these apps can be difficult to create, and often costly. (Especially if you don’t have a team dedicated to making sure the app runs smoothly.)
If a native app is your preferred platform, read more about how Nxtbook Media can make this easier for you.
A subscription app is another option for those without a team of app developers. In this scenario, your online magazine exists on an app alongside other various publications. Unfortunately, this does limit your ability to control the design and functionality of the magazine. Some other advantage and disadvantages include:
- You may get more viewers due to the popularity of these platforms and the marketing done on your behalf by the app owner.
- However, there are often rules in place that limit what and how you share your content.
- Also, the subscription app developer will take a hefty cut of the subscription to your online magazine.
- In some cases, you give over the rights to your content when you place it on a subscription app (be sure to read the fine print)!
A Responsive Online Magazine Solution
Responsive digital magazines are adaptable to any device. In essence, no matter what device you are on, the content will reflow. This means no more pinching to zoom! Using this technology, your readers can fully participate in remaking the design on desktop, resizing it to an experience that fits best in their current content consumption. These platforms can even include video and audio; ready for any and all content you could produce!
Just as flipbooks and apps do, these responsive magazines provide data that gives you feedback toward improving your overall publication. Using this data, you can track your readers’ behavior and cater your content accordingly.
Interested in how a responsive online magazine looks? Check out our work with Disney and the adaptability of our very own responsive platform, PageRaft.
Next Steps: Managing Your Content and Expanding
It’s safe to assume that if you’ve come to this post you’re already creating content worthy of an online magazine. But there are great sources designed to help if you’re stuck or need support before creating a publication.
Content writers are easily found online, and there are sites dedicated to connecting you with great writers who are eager to contribute. Stock photos and videos are also excellent ways to increase the appeal of your site or magazine. Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay are some of our favorites.
Before you know it, you’ll master the art of content creation, and you may need to hire a team of editors and designers to help you maintain your online magazine. (We believe you can do it!)
Internet content is rapidly growing and hence, so is competition for the eyes of readers. That said, now is the time to look beyond a PDF and embrace an interactive online magazine experience that truly garners your audience’s attention.
We’d love to hear from you to discuss how our digital solutions can apply to your own online magazine. Click here to receive an individualized, no strings attached demo to see how great your online magazine can be!
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We’d love to help with valuable information as you continue on your online magazine journey!