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MagNet 2017: Getting Big by Staying Small: Magazines, Digital & the Power of Niche

Leah Sandals of Canadian Art magazine outlined some editorial advantages of niche publishing, such as exclusive, “insider” knowledge, and the fact that niche audience members are highly engaged. She also went over some challenges, such as the tendency to use stale approaches or to emphasize proficiency in the field more so than the quality of writing or reportage.

She shared Canadian Art’s approach to “diving deeper” into their niche. Their approach is to “let print do what it does best, let web do what web does best.” While their print quarterly works as a “beautiful object” with issues that are unified, their digital edition is better for news, long form articles, and content that is less themed/unified and more “scattered.”

Ways to niche success include: applying mainstream strategies, such as providing news reportage your niche audience needs but can’t access anywhere else (for example, news on funders in your field, industry research); and bringing your niche knowledge to a wider audience. One strategy is to find an expert in your field to write a column about their experience or about a work in progress. It’s also useful to consider how your niche’s interests tie in to politics and how you might be able to go “behind the scenes,” shedding fresh light on political media not covered elsewhere. You may also wish to analyze how topics in your field intersect with other topics to broaden appeal.

Best practices include:

  • Offering cleanly designed, reliable and simple e-newsletters
  • Cultivating social media; being willing to experiment
  • Paying attention to analytics and the person who does your analytics
  • Partnering with foundations or sponsors to “dive deeper,” when it makes sense to do so
  • Embracing different voices and points of view.

By Natasha Sanders-Kay
Inclusiveness in Publishing Initiative & Sponsorship Coordinator, Magazine Association of BC
Managing Editor, subTerrain magazine
MagsBC Board Member