Why You Should Be Publishing Special Digital Issues

Everybody’s Got Issues

Publishers already work incredibly hard. Your attention is on creating brilliant content: finding the right audience, the right sources, the right angle, the right words.

On top of all that, you have to do the actual publishing: the platform, the distribution, the promotion, the revenue streams.

It’s a lot.

In recognition of all that you do, you deserve a bonus, a neat little trick that will increase your revenue without adding to your workflow.

Two words for you: special issues. Yes, you – the news publisher – should be creating special digital issues.

What’s An Issue?

Before we dive too deep into special issues, let’s take a moment to talk about digital issues, generally. Stick with us: even if you’re not an issue-based publication (and not everybody is and that’s a-okay), this is going to be relevant.

In the olden days of the web, digital issues were typically just the print issue dropped onto a page in a single-format bundle: a PDF for readers to download or a flipbook for them to, well, flip through.

The problems with these formats are many. The file size is unwieldy which makes the load times for the pages unappealing. Plus, people can often be wary of downloading huge files onto their private computers.

Much worse, though, is the problem that these formats cause with search engines. To put it bluntly, PDFs and flipbooks are virtually invisible to Google and its ilk. You don’t share them on social media. They display terribly on mobile devices.

All of that content that you so laboriously put together? The sprawling world of the web has no idea it exists unless they already know where to look. And even if they can find it, their ability to interact with it is limited.

Hence the evolution of the true digital issue.

The Practice Digital Issue


A true digital issue is a collection of real web/html articles, with each article in its entirety individually accessible via link.  All the content is loaded directly onto the internet and can be read without download. 

Built on the backs of tools like ZEEN101’s IssueM and carefully guarded by a metered paywall like Leaky Paywall, these issues can be simply beautiful. They are quick to create, easy to navigate, and you control the reader’s access: samples for the unsubscribed, the whole thing for your loyal readers.

And the best part? They’re completely searchable and shareable. Your content will turn up in search engines and can be posted in social media. The metered paywall protects your investment without closing off your visibility.

One of the best examples we’ve ever seen of this is our old friend, Modern Drummer magazine. They’ve made the most of their digital issue: its layout, its ease, and its web visibility. Modern Drummer Digital Issue

(Which is probably why they’ve been recognized by the prestigious Ozzie Award).

So that’s digital issues. Now, what makes them special?

More Bang for Your Buck

As we’ve already said, digital publications generate a ton of content. That’s your primary aim. Your value lies in the wealth of content you create.

There’s almost no way for your readers to catch every article, even the ones relevant to your their particular interests. Which means you have a lot of value that is currently going unexplored.

Issue-based publishing is going to help you make the most of all that content.

Here, again, are the magic words: special issue.

A tool like IssueM’s Post-to-Issue-Importer plugin makes it a snap to re-package and re-use your existing content quickly and easily.

iPolitics.ca migrates their best articles into their Weekender every Friday to make sure their readers don’t miss their best articles.

iPolitics Weekender Special Issue

Is there a holiday around the corner? Create a Mother’s Day issue just by assigning all your relevant articles to a new issue. Click, click, click, click, live. Boom! Special issue.

Are your readers curious about the crime in your community? Click and collate your recent (or even historical) crime articles. Click, click, click, click, live. Boom! Crime Watch issue.

Or you can just as easily pull a whole historical issue out of the archive and bring it back to life as a featured issue. Frankenstein the heck out of that forgotten gold mine.

It is incredibly simple to repurpose your content. Pull articles from past issues into a feature or topical issue with just a few clicks.

That’s the bang. The buck is just as easy.

Special issues are a great additional revenue stream. Create a new level of subscription to include special issues.

Or use them as a promotional tool: a free gift to attract more readers or advertisers.

Either way, you’ve just used content you already have to enrich your reader experience and create more revenue without dedicating more time than it takes to scroll and click.

You win!

Minimal Effort Required

And we can’t say this enough: special issues work for all digital publications, whether you’re issue-based or not. Are you a news publishers who puts out too many articles a day to make a daily, weekly, quarterly issue feasible? That’s okay. You can still do special issues without any additional effort.

What a plug-in like IssueM does is create options. It adds another content type to your existing WordPress dashboard called ‘Articles’.

And when you want to create a special issue, you now have the option to migrate your chosen posts into Articles with a single click. Assign them to your special issue and voila! A new product to sell or promote.

Want to know more? Let’s talk.

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