Having in-depth knowledge of a particular topic puts you at an advantage in any industry. The digital media industry is no exception. Recent trends show that niche publications are set to surpass general interest outlets, with readers showing strong preference for publications that focus directly on a few pertinent topics.
The idea behind building growth through industry specialization has been around for some time. Publishers with clear editorial directions have greater potential to build loyal audiences, which develop into paying subscribers over time.
With so many publications fighting to cover the exact same stories, publishers that take a unique approach stand out. General interest publications have been decreasing in prominence for some time. We all know how difficult it is to multitask without losing focus. That seems to be what’s happened to most general interest publishers, and especially print publishers. In trying to please everyone, they have ended up pleasing no one and their audiences have dwindled.
There is one arena in which general interest publishers have a leg up over niche publications, and that has to do with audience size. The broader your focus, the larger your potential audience. Consider this example: More people are likely to be interested in global politics than local government in a specific town, so a website focused on international politics will generate more search engine traffic than a hyperlocal website focused on government at the community level. However, the opportunities for revenue generation are often greater when you have a small but devoted audience, rather than a large audience of casual readers.
Display advertising may favor those publishers with heavy website traffic, but subscription and membership programs are more lucrative for highly specialized, niche publications.
Which types of special-interest publications are most profitable, and what steps should you take to differentiate your website in a crowded market?
It’s never easy to build a new publication from the ground up. Expertise and credibility take time to develop. However, the best strategy for publishers who want to build their niche publications is to hire professional journalists who will develop high-quality content on a regular schedule. Your reporters’ expertise can be refined and expanded upon through regular vertical-specific newsletters and social media posts. For example, your reporters can post on Twitter and Facebook about the topics they cover for your publication, including links to articles by other prominent journalists covering the same topics. This not only builds the reporters’ authority, but it also builds your publication’s authority and credibility.
Another consideration when looking at your ability to generate revenue is how well you’re able to speak to your audience about very specific interests. Building a publication around a narrow focus doesn’t have to limit your revenue opportunities. Niche publications rely on diversified revenue portfolios that encompass everything from native advertising to affiliate marketing. Special-interest publications actually have an easier time attracting sponsors and advertisers than general interest publications, because businesses that choose to advertise clearly understand the demographic they’ll be reaching.
What comes next for niche publications?
The next step in the evolution of special-interest publications is for publications to continue diversifying their revenue streams. Given the rapid acceleration of syndication and partnerships, it’s likely we will see some publishers coming together in 2021. It’s also likely that some publishers will get into programmatic advertising this year, and that shoppable display ads will grow to become more common.
Every topic or niche brings its own set of unique opportunities, both from the perspective of audience growth and from the perspective of revenue. The growth of new social networking platforms will likely have a big impact on the direction that small and mid-size publishers choose to go.
Data and analytics platforms can offer some guidance as publishers chart their path for the coming months, as well, shining a light on the topics and trends that an audience is most interested in learning more about.
If you’d like to learn more about how to break through the content overload and grow your audience as a special-interest publisher, reach out to Web Publisher PRO today.