Eighteen months after launch, Justin Chisholm’s iPad magazine sailracing’s app has been downloaded 85,000 times and he is close to employing an advertising sales director. Nevertheless, he has ascended a steep learning curve since producing his launch issue.
His first change off tack was the cover charge. Initially, the magazine sold for £3.99 a copy through the Apple store. Within a couple of issues, Chisholm had decided that a free model, supported by advertising, made more business sense. “It is important to be able to show advertisers that I am reaching a big market”, he says.
He is also frank about the work load of running a magazine single handed. “It seemed a lot easier to concentrate on growing one revenue stream – advertising – rather than having to keep on top of advertising and subscriptions.
It is not the only business streamlining that he has done either. Originally he used a separate design agency to put the pages together. For his next edition he intends to bring that work in house. “It is amazing how much time can be soaked up in maintaining business relationships”, he explains. “The designers were great, but tooing and froing with emails, trying to get changes made, and having a similar situation with contributors, just wasted so much time. There will be a slight deterioration in quality when I take over the design, but the time saving will make a huge difference to me”.
He also plans to branch out from just producing an iPad edition. That will remain his focus, but from having a shop-front website, his web presence will become more magazine-like, and he intends to make his material available via an RSS feed, so that it can be read via Instapaper and Flipboard. “So far as the advertisers are concerned, the bigger the audience, the better”.
Until now, Chisholm has taken the lead with advertising sales too and this is set to change. “I have looked for ad sales people before, but it has been struggle to find someone suitable who was willing to work on commission. I have found that person now, but it has required me to completely rethink my business relationship with ad sales”.
To date the magazine has comfortable washed its face, but the surpluses thus far generated have not been enough to give Chisholm a living. He is confident with the soon-to-be completed restructuring, that the publication will become a lot more profitable. “The advertisers have always been so positive, and we are the only magazine in our niche, so I am confident that the investment will pay off in the near future.”