Joomag’s Guide to Magazine Subscription Websites

Creating a profitable online magazine is only half the battle; launching a subscription website is the other.

But many publishers shy away from the latter because they’re too intimidated or they just don’t know how to do it. If you fall into either of these categories, then you’re in the right place. Below we’ve put together a handy guide to help you understand and make the most out of your magazine subscription website.

A Quick Definition

A magazine subscription website (MSW) sells subscriptions of digital and print magazines. It also archives issues and lets subscribers access them. Publishers furnish these websites with a constant supply of content covering a variety of topics.

The keyword here is “constant” which means that if you’re considering a MSW, you absolutely must produce a steady flow of publications for your subscribers (doubly so if you’re intending to use impose subscription fees).You can say goodbye to your customers if you don’t!

Why Have a Magazine Subscription Website in the First Place?

Value! The value proposition of these websites can determine how often visitors will convert into full-fledged subscribers. If your website’s interface is streamlined and offers an easy-to-use experience, then more people will flock to it. If it’s not, well, you get the point.

Websites that adopt a successful subscription model provide value to both customers and publishers.

  • Convenience for customers. Publications can be browsed and viewed from a single website. If you use a subscription auto-renewal system, subscribers won’t have to worry about missing future content or re-subscribing. Because many publishers leverage subscriptions as flat rates for their websites, customers can stay within their monthly budgets because they’ll know the upfront costs. And people assign more value to subscriptions that are conveniently bundled together (think “2 for the price of 1”).
  • Better sales forecasting for publishers. If a publisher is making repeated sales from his or her MSW content, it becomes easier to predict future revenue outcomes. Publishers can use this consistency in revenue to shape future pricing models, determine the net profit attributed to an entire future relationship with a customer, easily identify core subscriber personas, and other benefits.

 

How Can You Start?

With a custom domain. A custom domain is a purchasable URL that can be registered for personal use, forming the basis of your subscription website. Web users can type in your domain’s URL on address bars, find your website instantly, and view your content from there.

Domains are relatively inexpensive and anyone can register them. If you’re curious as to how, this helpful article details the process. And here are some prices to expect from popular domain registering websites today:

  • GoDaddy: around $14.99/year for .com domains
  • Namecheap: around $10.99/year for .com domains
  • com: starts at $4.99/month for 1 year

What Your MSW Will Need to Succeed

To successfully monetize your publications, gain subscribers, reel in advertisers, and capitalize on ecommerce opportunities, your MSW will need some added functionalities. Here’s a handy checklist of what they are:

  • A payment processing system to ensure you’re able to handle all payments for subscriptions, magazine issues, advertising, etc.
  • A well-rounded content management system that allows you to add, edit, and update your content.
  • A versatile design interface so your MSW reflects who you are as a publisher and what type of content you are offering.
  • An email or subscriber list to store your readers’ information.
  • Room for additional functionality to cover any future needs including the ability to leave comments, surveys, and search features.

How Much Does a Magazine Subscription Website Cost?

Publishers creating their own MSW from the ground up can typically expect to pay upwards of $10,000.

But don’t panic! There are much cheaper alternatives that come in the form of managed services such as…

  • SubHub: $100/month
  • MemberGate: $167/month
  • Wishlist: $197/month

These website building platforms supply you with professional tools to launch your own MSW and are great starting points. They’re easy to use, offer streamlined upgrading services, and provide good support systems if you need them.

So take the time to experiment and find out which one works best for you.

Tips & Tricks

  • The best subscription websites have custom home pages for different membership plans. They also let publishers manage discounts and access to content based on membership levels.
  • Trying to grow your subscriber or email list? Then try enabling free subscriptions first. Subscribers won’t feel pressured to pay from the get-go and can do so whenever they are comfortable.
  • Paywalls require additional payment from users if they want to access further content. If implemented correctly in your MSW, they are a great way to open up new revenue streams and gather more subscriber info for your email list.
  • Have a library feature and search functionality. Both will be incredibly handy as you produce more content for your MSW.
  • Most publishers agree that a MSW should be considered once you have a good amount of publications under your belt.

 

Unfortunately, many publishers spend too much time and money on confusing subscription websites that don’t promote their publications or gain subscribers (which should always be your MSW’s focus). Use our guide to avoid being one of them!