This is the 15th article in a series about surviving as an independent magazine publisher. If you want to start at the beginning, check out the Introduction to The Ball Bearing and the Beach Ball.
I just spent a whackload of money on patches. You know, iron-on patches. We've done patches for our readers for a number of years. Folks love them. They are expensive but they lie flat - and this is good for publishers. Flat works! In my last column I wrote about not charging for certain things like weblinks or images of your advertisers actual ads on your site. I want to make one thing clear - if you can charge for this and folks see value in it, then by all means charge away. But as I have written before, you cannot be a slave to two masters. I have enough stress doing 6 issues a year. My website, is a completely different beast. I just don't have the manpower to create something special every day. So, I update it fairly often and focus my efforts on making the magazine my priority. Could I get a few hundred bucks a month in revenue? Perhaps. But I think that by not nickel and diming my advertisers, I send a clear message. Could I not give away patches? Sure, but think of what the increased exposure is like. Unlike stickers (which, to be truthful, I also adore) patches are significant. Could I sell the patches? Most likely. But again, what would it accomplish in the final analysis? Generally, only subscribers get patches and it's a huge deal. This year, those who participate on the Concrete Warped Tour Passport Program will also get a chance to win patches too.
In the big picture, the cost to produce Concrete Wave patches and stickers and other giveaways pale in comparison as to what it costs to print the damn magazine. Does it cost me a lot of money to keep the website running? Or the iPhone app going? Not really. I look at these as marketing expenses. But the truth is that these items are part of an inter-connected network of platforms that I've built.
We keep pushing forward with new ideas and initiatives for advertisers. Some make money, others break even and yes, a few go into the red. All the while, I continue to maintain that the PRINTED version of Concrete Wave is the foundation for everything else. This might run somewhat counter-intuitive to what you hear out there. But like I've stated time and again, if you think you're just delivering news and information on paper, you might find things somewhat difficult. There are literally thousands of publishers that can do this without paper for a fraction of what you're doing. So, take a step back and look carefully at what kind of things you are doing. You might find that 50 cent "part" can have quite an impact after all!
Michael Brooke is the publisher of Concrete Wave Magazine.