A constant question for magazine websites – especially as most of us have small budgets for online-exclusive content – is when (and even if) to post print content on the website. At one extreme, Tina Brown of the Daily Beast recently said at an event that you shouldn’t put any content online (thanks to Lisa Murphy for the link):
“Now, of course, [Magazines] just simply post it right up online, which to be honest is insane. I don’t think monthlies should post their stuff online. I really don’t… It’s nuts! Why would you do that?”
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Wired, which many of us would agree is doing quite well online, and puts every little bit of the magazine on its website (although admittedly the print content is only a fraction of everything on their site).
So should you put your print content online? Well, why wouldn’t you? For one thing, I’ll guarantee that every issue, you’ll have people looking to link to or share your content, and having it online is the only reasonable way for that to happen. The sad thing is, you won’t always know if a reader came online to send an article to a friend and couldn’t do it – meaning you missed out on a site visitor and potential reader. By putting content online, you’re giving it the chance to build an audience for you. Second, the more (well-repurposed) content you have on the site, the more there is for people to link to and Google to point people to. Simply put, all else being equal, more content equals more traffic. Third, you’ll be building an archive that you and your readers are guaranteed to find useful later on.
As for when to put things online, Phillip Smith recently blogged on this topic quite thoroughly, after surveying many of us in the industry, and came up with a good series of conclusions, which I suggest you read in full over there. But the final word from almost everyone, for a number of reasons, was to stagger the dates that articles go live.
What does your publication do, and do you think it’s the best solution?