Why I Decided To Launch A Free Magazine And Not Bother With Subscriptions

Ishita Gupta

Ishita Gupta is founder and publisher of Fear.less, an online magazine dedicated to stories of overcoming fear. The magazine launched its first issue in May 2010.

Rather than bothering with a subscription model, Gupta decided to go after advertising revenue.  Here’s her logic:

The Challenge:
The most challenging part of creating the magazine was figuring out a business model that sustained the magazine and still allowed the content to be free to subscribers. Because we wanted to encourage virality and make sure our content made its way into the hands of people who really needed it, we kept the magazine model free to subscribers. But that also meant that we needed to find a model that supported and sustained the creation of the magazine and the expenses that came with it.

The Solution: We decided to create a revenue model based on third party advertising in the magazine. Advertisers are used to placing ads in print magazines or in banner ads online. We decided to venture away from that traditional route and focus on advertisers who understood the reputation, quality content, and vested audience we had for the magazine – advertisers who focused on delivering an uplifting experience to our audience. We created a model based on full page ads within the magazine and included links to their social networks within the ads. Digital ads that are placed adjacent to highly relevant and positive content, where clicks to their homepage is measurable, and which reaches a targeted audience is highly appealing to advertisers.

The Aftermath: We’re still involved in the tricky dance between advertisers and digital! People are used to paying for print ads offline and banner ads on websites. But Fear.less magazine blends those two elements, and advertisers aren’t sure how to embrace that new world. Our team is optimistic when companies who align with our brand see the value in advertising to our audience and create an ad for an issue, but it’s still a tough climb to get advertisers to sign on.

The Lesson: The lesson we take away each time we approach advertisers is: Are we looking for advertisers who measure click to click, or those who understand the experience we’re delivering for our audience. Knowing whom you want to support in the magazine, including advertisers and contributors, is a big decision that helps us approach the right people. Each time we speak with advertisers we understand more and more that we’re interested in someone – a company or brand – who recognises the value and experience we’re giving our readers. Knowing who you’re not interested in is almost as important as knowing who you ARE interested in!

The Young Entrepreneur Council was founded by Scott Gerber, a serial entrepreneur, internationally syndicated small business columnist and author of the book, Never Get a “Real” Job. The YEC’s mission is to help young people build successful businesses and overcome the devastating epidemics of youth underemployment and unemployment.

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