Looks like crowdfunding is a viable way to launch a niche print product…but it’s not the entire answer.
In this era of micro-breweries, artisan bakeries and small-batch distilleries, the idea of gaining a rabid, dedicated audience for a niche idea is proving itself every day.
The same principle – connecting with a small but mighty fan base with a shared passion – is finding success in independent niche magazine publishing. And they are using Kickstarter and similar crowdfunding sites to do it, explains Chris Sutcliffe in The Media Briefing.
“As of March last year there were just shy of 2,000 funding campaigns for journalistic products on Kickstarter,” Sutcliffe explains. “And though not all have been successfully funded – a quick look at the current crop of campaigns reveals more than a few that are unlikely to get funded – there are enough successes to demonstrate that crowdfunding is a credible option for people trying to start a niche print product.”
Sutcliffe interviewed some indie publishers who have used crowdfunding to launch in print, like HOLO’s editor-in-chief Greg J. Smith.
“While we certainly did not expect to receive 200 per cent of what we asked for, we did know we have an audience in place before our campaign began,” Smith notes. “Our publication is tightly connected to CreativeApplications.net, we’ve been writing about art and technology there for years and have a sizeable readership there. So we knew some of those readers would be game to support our foray into print, but apparently quite a lot of them were!”
Sutcliffe wisely cautions that just getting funding and launching is not enough to sustain a viable publication.
“Even with a successfully funded campaign, the costs of printing and distributing a magazine are steep enough that there’s unlikely to be too much left over to market it,” he writes.
Good point, to be sure.
Yet the void left by the mass magazine industry is slowly being filled by provocative, compelling new titles that offer something highly relevant to a tightly targeted audience. And Kickstarter can help get these babies out in the world.
“So while it’s possible to launch a niche print magazine off the back of a successful Kickstarter campaign, it’s vital to think about how you’ll continue beyond the second and third issues,” Sutcliffe continues. “The third and final part of this series will highlight some examples of niche magazines which have done just that – and answer the question ‘are niche publications the future of print?’”
We’ve been talking about this for a while now, as regionals and niche titles bloom. This marriage of digital audience-building and printed delivery makes for some exciting new opportunities for passionate publishers and their fans.