7 challenges of online publishing

By Churchill Masheti

Today, most newspapers and magazines publish their contents or products online due to the development of the internet and the entire infrastructure around it. Needless to say, the norm is that people are always glued to their devices with the intent of staying up-to-date. This, in turn, makes it necessary for publishers to be on top of their game on matters of content available within their respective websites. As much as online publishing gives you advantages such as coming across incredibly vast amounts of articles, there exist numerous challenges that come with it. Furthermore, the rapid rate of innovations makes it even harder and more challenging to deal with some issues. If you are running an online publication or you wish to start, consider the following insights!

1. Attracting and retaining new readers for your publication

As you depend on the readers to consume your digital products, you need to develop strategies that will ensure that you gain as much readership as possible since considerable amounts of publications are constantly putting efforts to grow. It becomes more challenging, especially if your audience is unresponsive or passive, making it harder to tell whether they have lost interest, don't want to be there, or don't know your publication. Your readers' attention is easily swayed due to the number of accessible articles. Gaining new readers sometimes may take you much time, and retaining the existing ones will require you to produce content of high quality and credibility. Find our tips on how to grow your publication here. Depending on the size of your publication, the costs involved can be strenuous, making it challenging to attract or retain the existing readers you have for your magazine.

2. Choosing a niche for online publishing

There are many fields that your publication can focus on. It is not an easy feat trying to reach a broad readership and develop a specific focus for your publication at the same time. Lack of a particular focus will deprive your publication of otherwise excellent content that could have been produced if the focus had been clear. Readers would be bumping into your articles and never return – a situation that would have been different if you had loyal readers who follow the specific focus of your publication. Otherwise, having a narrow focus for your publication could also be challenging, depending on the market situation. Still, in the long run, choosing a correct niche could prove incredibly beneficial.

3. The challenge of managing others

Depending on the size of your publication, the chances are that you will not be capable of doing everything alone. You may need to bring other people on board, staff writers, or freelance journalists. You will then have to familiarize them with the publication’s editorial style and train them to ensure consistency. As if this is not enough, responding to their emails and any other concerns related to work may not be an easy task. All these will consume much of your time at the expense of your other role that you should be playing in the company. Prioritizing between your daily duties and being constantly available in your inbox to answer any concerns that could arise is challenging to deal with, bearing in mind frustrations that could occur due to late responses to some members at certain times.

Managing others requires much time and commitment (Pexels photo)

4. Mind the Generation Z factor

You may have already realized that there is a new generation that forms a significant part of the readers. It is impossible to keep hold of the digital natives on your publication because they have many news sources at their disposal. In addition, coming up with content that is specifically tailored to them is not easily done. If your publication is relatively tiny, solving certain specifics, such as coming up with a payment model for the younger generation, is even more challenging. It involves a lot of effort and resources to achieve overall success and ensure growth, albeit sometimes not at your desired rate. In most cases, the young generation trades their loyalty to high-quality publications, thus putting you under constant pressure to produce quality work regardless of the costs involved. For you to connect with them, engagement is vital, alongside doing more audience research so that you can know what is best to publish for them.

5. Availability of free content

As a result of numerous amounts of free content with which readers are spoiled across the internet, it is difficult to convince them to pay for the content you publish. Therefore, getting subscriptions from the readers, especially the younger generation, is a great challenge. Without making any form of income, your investment will become hardly worthwhile unless you make personal efforts to sustain it. For small publications, free content is a huge disadvantage because even the silent readers that they may have can barely be converted into paying ones. Nonetheless, you can make money in several other ways: Banner advertising, blog posts with sponsored interviews, sponsored banners in your email templates, and provide premium content access that readers can subscribe to every month.

6. Print vs. Digital war 

Even though many people may claim that print is obsolete, this is incorrect. Whereas it is unreasonable to deny the growth of digital publishing, many subscribers are still primarily interested in reading print publications. This means that print compromises a considerable amount of revenue that digital publishers could otherwise earn. To survive this, you will need to research your users and their preferences so that you publish content that is relatable to them and what they want. 

The situation is different for huge and well-established companies. Some can combine media, print, and digital forms, thereby enhancing customer loyalty as print-first customers are most loyal. The costs involved are significant for smaller companies and can only struggle to make the digital area viable.

7. Readers consume news differently

While you may spend more than enough time preparing content for publishing, it could be true that the readers, on the other hand, do the exact opposite. With most people using their smartphones to access information online, they impatiently skim through to find an interesting read. Also, online content becomes obsolete way faster, such that if someone publishes something before you, the chances are that you will not get maximum value for yours. Keeping user concentration through an article is not easy with different distractions around. As if this is not enough, people do not necessarily depend on publications to access information. Things such as applications, social media, and emails are all sources of information, and thus, taming readers to your website is a task too big to perform. To avoid this, make sure that your content is of good quality and highly engaging so that you keep your readers' attention much more. Make sure you are responsive to comments and concerns they may have to raise.

Are you a publisher looking for writers for your publication? We at The Story Market help you get access to the best writers from all over the world. We also offer tips on topics like international syndication for publications or the collaboration between publishers and journalists.

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