Online Vs. Print Publishing

Things to Consider For Online Publishing

Time and Money

  1. Your financial costs a publisher will be considerably less online, but your investment in time will be about the same, if not greater. You will also need different skills in and online environment, such as HTML coding, and using FTP to edit your documents once online.
  2. If you plan on spending a lot of time and effort putting together your publication online, don't expect to be rewarded for it financially. The way it stands today, advertisers will most likely not pay to have their banner on your site. Print is still the only option if you don't want to be guaranteed of "volunteering" your time. Decide right away if you are comfortable with "giving away" your work. Online, you will most certainly provide your work for free, but this will mean more time for content , and less time worrying about advertising sales. In print, you have the potential to make money, but you will spend a lot of time focusing on how to accomplish this.
  3. Meeting deadlines in print means dealing with content as well as advertising, which can be stressful and frustrating. Online, your deadlines are self-imposed, and you will most likely not be worrying about ads.

Marketing, Distribution, and Circulation

You want your publication to reach the greatest number of people who will be interested in reading it. Consider the following when deciding whether to publish online or in print.

  1. Distribution online is cheaper than the physical delivery of printed pages, but there are no clear-cut ways to target and market on the Web. The best bet is to link to similar sites, and hope for the best. This is another reason why advertising revenue is hard to come by on the Web.
  2. If your publication is local, you may be better off in print. Local advertisers can have copies of your publication dropped off at their shops and places of business for sale and distribution. This relationship is impossible on the Web. If you are planning on being national or worldwide, the Web has distinct advantages, but you will need to be very creative with marketing your work.

Content and Quality

A high quality publication with high quality content will attract more readers and advertisers. Be aware of the following things:

  1. Many well-known and talented writers, graphic designers and editors will not be attracted to working on the Web. First, there is no money in it, and second they cannot be guaranteed a substantial readership.
  2. People still seem to like the look and feel of print magazines, and often complain that they dislike reading from a computer screen. A high quality print magazine may contain extensive text and interviews that people will not enjoy reading on the Web. Quality online is a matter of keeping the reader's attention by breaking up and manipulating text. This may require extra effort and time for editorial planning and decision making.

In closing, stick with your instincts. If you have the drive and talent to publish, don't be afraid to publish online because you're afraid your work will be un-rewarded. Currently online publishing pays its own way. You put your work online, and that's it, no print run, no lugging stuff around town, no late bills and assorted other financial headaches.

The truth is that it will take many brave publishers to go online and experiment with the possibilities before anyone will have a chance to succeed, and possibly meet the noble goal of making a living from their work. Online publishing may provide unique opportunities that have yet to reveal themselves. The creative, tenacious online publisher may be among the first to discover these possibilities. And remember, print publishing will be expensive and time consuming, and certainly carries no sure promise of "paying for itself."

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