Digital Publishing Reader Revenue
3 mins read

Publishers: The why and how of diversifying your revenue

We’ve all heard the old saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” It’s the basic premise of diversification — an approach that’s often used to shield investors from market volatility and reduce risk within their portfolio.

But diversification applies to more than just stocks and bonds. As a publisher, diversifying your revenue streams can help to protect you from inevitable ebbs and flows across the industry. By tapping into a variety of income opportunities, you can ensure your earnings will be more sustainable over the long term.

For publishers, the only constant is change

Things move fast in the world of online publishing. Innovative tools, channels, and tactics spring up constantly, and there’s always something new to explore. At the same time, tried-and-true revenue sources can fall out of favor with little or no warning.

Recent economic upheaval and widespread uncertainty make it more difficult than ever to predict which monetization strategies will be successful at any given time. Here are just a few examples of current trends that are impacting publishers’ ability to earn:

Labor and supply chain disruptions

While retailers have borne the brunt of labor and merchandise shortages, online publishers are also seeing the impact. Earnings from ecommerce and affiliate may take a hit due to out-of-stock products, fewer affiliate deals, and less generous commissions.

Negative social media perceptions

For the first time in its history, social media giant Facebook is seeing a decline in usage. While other platforms like Instagram and TikTok are still growing (albeit slowly), mounting concerns about data privacy and transparency could impact publishers’ ability to drive revenue through social ads.

The rise of subscription fatigue

Revenue from digital subscriptions soared during the Covid-19 pandemic, but publishers are now faced with the challenge of retaining those subscribers by continuing to deliver the value paying customers demand.

Increased resistance to traditional marketing

Born between 1996 and 2010, Generation Z already possesses enormous spending power, but they also pose a unique marketing challenge. These digital natives are savvier and more selective than any group before them – so typical approaches may be less effective as Gen Z matures.

4 ways to diversify your revenue

As an online publisher, you have endless options for expanding your mix of revenue streams, from ecommerce and affiliate to advertising, data, and more. Of course, not every tactic is right for every publisher. Before you start your diversification efforts, consider your audience, brand identity, content production capabilities, and the resources you have available.

Here are a few options to kick off your journey to better income diversification:

1. Advertising

Advertising is one of the most common ways for publishers to generate revenue. And even if you already have an active ad program, there are always opportunities to improve and add new categories to your advertising mix: display ads, native ads, programmatic, and more. For details and inspiration, download 50 Ways to Make Media Pay from our partners at What’s New in Publishing.

2. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a foundational element of online publishing. It’s also one of the easiest ways to diversify your earnings. Start-up is simple, it offers tremendous revenue potential, and it’s endlessly flexible – whether you’re endorsing products you love, sharing links on social, or providing price comparisons. If you’re looking for new affiliate ideas, check out our ebook: 5 Ways to Make Affiliate Marketing Work for You.

3. Data monetization

Data monetization offers a variety of ways to drive incremental revenue from your proprietary first-party data. If you have an extensive subscriber list, you can safely monetize your email data using our hashed email solution. You can also enhance the value of your website audience data through data enrichment.

4. Other content-based strategies

Other content-based strategies let you tap into the value of your high-quality content to drive revenue in creative ways. For example, newsletters can provide diverse monetization opportunities like sponsorships, paid advertisements, and subscriber-only exclusives. Ebooks and other long-form assets can be sold as standalone products or positioned as premium content for paid subscribers.