There’s Strength in Diversity in Indie Publishing

For publishers who want to learn the latest best practices and new opportunities, you can’t go wrong attending Making Publishing Pay in London this February. This year’s event includes four indie publishers that have successfully revamped their business models.

As Carolyn Morgan explains in WNP, these brands are creating new membership models and products that cross channels beautifully while delivering rich content users are will to pay for. 

  • Healthcare Business International (HBI) has long offered market intelligence in the private healthcare sector through paid newsletters, an online database and a yearly conference. Two years ago, the executive team decided to change things up. First, they morphed their nine products into four membership levels, making sales and marketing less complicated and more effective. Then they created “an ambitious business intelligence platform, HBI Intelligence, covering all private healthcare market sectors across EMEA,” Morgan explains. The product continues to evolve and new membership revenue is solid, already recapturing their investment.
  • The British Journal of Photography had a solid print readership, an active website, over a million followers on social media, and a series of popular paid photography award competitions. Last spring they launched a new membership program that combined some of the most popular offerings – the print and digital magazines, free award entries, and access to commission projects from their commercial partners. A few months out, they have sold 2500 memberships that generate incredibly high engagement rates.
  • “In 2012, Neil Thackray and Rory Brown, co-founders of TheMediaBriefing website and events, acquired two rather unloved print titles, Farmers Guardian and Pulse from UBM for £10m,” Morgan explains.  “A couple of years later they had divested media and medical activities to focus exclusively on the huge agribusiness sector. Their strategy of growing Farmers Guardian by moving to membership, acquiring and launching events and adding in data services paid off, with a big hike in revenues and profits.” The growth continues, with new acquisitions in agri-data services to raise their new entity, The AgriBriefing Group, higher up the B2B chain than ever.
  • Staying relevant is part art and part science, and the folks behind Travel Trade Gazette walk that fine line. “Six years ago, then editor Daniel Pearce bought out TTG from media conglomerate UBM. The new indie publishing business, TTG Media, set about relaunching the website and reinvigorating its events,” Morgan notes. “And in the last six years, revenues have doubled.” They’ve done this largely by focusing on specific niches in their audience to offer in-depth content and experiences not available elsewhere.

What do all four of these examples have in common? They are realigning their products to dovetail with how their audience operates and what they find valuable. Again, it’s all about the audience when it comes to trying new things, not simply innovating because we should. These are just four examples of the possibilities that abound for publishing brands when they are insightful enough to listen to their audience and brave enough to try a bold new approach.