How to price your digital magazine

I see a trend. The trend is $1.99 per month.

Why? Because the Apple Newsstand (found within iTunes’ App Store) is now selling quite a lot of magazines and is showing price points for publications. Many are at $1.99/mo. Web magazines (see The Magazine, The Dish) are also converting to the $1.99 per month pricing model and they are finding that this price point works for them.

Back to the Apple Newsstand.

the magazineIt’s interesting to note that Apple magazine sales compared to android magazine sales are 75 to 1. In other words for every 75 downloads of magazines that Apple has in the Apple newsstand, 1 download happens in the android magazine store.

Price matching. It’s also important to realize that you have to price match your Apple Newsstand magazine (if you have one) and your web based magazine. The prices certainly don’t have to be the same but it sure helps. And if people are actually paying a $1.99 per month why not employ the same pricing on the web especially if you have a responsive website. Responsive means that you can read your publication on any phone, iPad, or tablet easily and without any additional effort on the part of the reader.

So psychologically why does this model work?

I think in today’s “free everything on the web” society in which we live, we have to do a few things:

  1. We have to give away our content for free. This means as we publish articles we have to make sure that some or most of them are free for both individuals to consume, to start enjoying, and to consider subscribing.
  2. Let Google crawl through your index of articles so that when people search for information on your topic they find your articles. That’s what gives them the chance to subscribe to your magazine.
  3. Set up a leaky pay wall.

New York Times shown on LaptopThere is a concept that seems to working well called the leaky pay wall. The New York Times pioneered the leaky payroll model. What is it? It means that you have access to a certain amount of articles every month before you get that pop up that says – hey you have to subscribe. Free content and free articles allow people to share loads of articles on the web via social networks, and allow Google to deliver search results for those articles. This is very important – you must do this too.

So back to the $1.99 price point.

Think about how it’s a low barrier price point. It’s easy for people to spend the $2 to try out your magazine after they are enjoying your free content. The next reason shows up on their credit card statement once they subscribe to your $1.99 a month plan, they get the charge on the credit card bill. What do you do when you see a $1.99 charge for something you enjoy? You keep paying it. The low price point increases the chances that a subscriber will stay a subscriber because it’s just not that much money especially if it gives them some pleasure.

Think of reading pleasure as a valuable block of time

Speaking of pleasure what makes a magazine pleasurable? Let’s go a little bit beyond the great content side of the equation let’s talk about time and our lack of it in today’s society. We like to spend about 20-30 minutes or so reading a magazine when it comes out. That’s about the amount of free time in a block that we have in our busy worlds today.

The trick is:

  1. to publish just enough content to fill that 20-30 min block of time so that your readers find value in your topics but,
  2. they don’t get overwhelmed by the number of stories.

One of the interesting things to note is that we feel guilty if we get a magazine, put it on the table and never read it because we think it’s too much or we don’t have the time for it. That’s bad for long-term subscriptions.

Think about publishing 4 to 7 articles and calling it a magazine.

I know that sounds crazy but take a look at what the digital magazines are doing successfully. They are publishing 4 or 7 articles twice per month on a niche topic, which could be technology, lifestyle or something similar. For example, let’s say you publish your articles twice a month for the $1.99 per month model, deliver exceptional value to your readership, and they can consume your articles in about 20-30 min of it at a time.

Go back and rethink how you price and publish. It’s your money.

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