Ah, we love this story. The Atlantic is, of course, the 153-year-old brainy magazine which had been perennially losing money.
Well, despite the global economic meltdown and everything else, the magazine has hit profits this year for the first time in a long while, the New York Times reports this morning.
How did they do it? “We imagined ourselves as a venture-capital-backed start-up in Silicon Valley whose mission was to attack and disrupt The Atlantic,” according to Justin B. Smith, president of the Atlantic Media Company.
Here’s what they did:
- Focused aggressively on the web, luring away famous bloggers like Andrew Sullivan and Megan McArdle;
- Brought down the barriers between the print side and the online side, and hired a bunch of great young writers;
- Owned its identity as a prestigious, political magazine, and the affluent readership that comes with it, moving its headquarters from Boston to Washington, D.C..
By making itself a big part of the online conversation, The Atlantic boosted its profile and therefore its readership, both online and off. Now digital ads are 40% of the company’s ad revenue, a proportion which is much higher than in other magazines.
A big part of The Atlantic’s business but largely unexplored in the NYT piece, though, is their thriving events business. The Atlantic throws exclusive conferences and events with thought leaders all the time, and they’re a big part of its revenues.
Still, there’s much that other magazines can learn from The Atlantic’s turnaround and return to profitability. And we congratulate them on their newfound financial health!
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