I was just reading this piece about rethinking magazines in 2010. I like the premise of Sir Richard Branson’s Project, an iPad-only magazine, but whether it makes money or not isn’t my big issue. Instead, this whole line of thinking got me into magazine thinking, and that, to me, is the win.
I write for Entrepreneur magazine. If you actually look at a magazine, there’s a formula for each of them. There’s a cover feature, a few larger stories, and a whole lot of bits and tidbits. There are columns (that’s what I do for Entrepreneur Magazine), and of course there are ads and all that.
What do you have to think about to make a magazine?
Content – Community – Marketplace
People gather around content. We talk about those things we find interesting. Be it Martha Stewart Living or Cosmopolitan or Sports Illustrated, there’s a bunch of people gathered around content.
The gathering of those people is the community. Smarter people figure out how to empower the community’s ability to talk amongst themselves, independent (but supported by) the content.
It’s not a business if it doesn’t make money. Magazines sell ads. They experiment with other types of monetization options. Subscriptions, for most publications, isn’t exactly a revenue source. It’s a nice to have. That’s why you see “save 71% off the cover price.” They need your name on a list so they can tell advertisers that there are that many people subscribed to the magazine.
There are many other models to integrating a marketplace. We’re developing a few for The Pulse Network right now. You could say that Third Tribe Marketing is a built-in marketplace, because you pay for membership.
But it’s all three. Content. Community. Marketplace. That’s what makes it work.
The point is this: if you look at this kind of framework for your projects, it becomes clear what kind of magazine you’ve created or not created with your content. It becomes obvious that you do or don’t have a community. Without the first two being fairly solid, there’ll never be a chance at the marketplace.
Going into 2011, that’s something I’m paying very close attention to in my own design. Magazine thinking is how I’ll work on improving the media I create for me, for Human Business Works, for Entrepreneur, and for any of the many other projects I’m running.
What about you?