Thinking Outside the Box – Ideas for Non-Ad Revenue

Revenue - Finding Non-Ad Revenue

It’s safe to say that advertising revenue is top of mind for many magazine publishers, especially when it represents a major source of revenue for a publisher’s budget. Since selling advertising space can be a challenge, it’s beneficial to evaluate revenue models that include other income sources. Read on for revenue ideas that look beyond traditional ad sales to bring in dollars.

Offer digital value

We’ve covered How to Add Digital Value to Print Advertisements. That article covers many no- or low-cost tactics to boost the perceived values of ad space purchased by your sponsoring advertisers.

Consider creating digital value for your print advertising by offering coupons or incentives online and/or by bundling print ad sales with banner ads on your website. You can create a cost structure that encourages advertisers to buy your bundled offers.

For those advertisers who aren’t ready to invest in print ads, offer a modestly priced digital-only option that enables you to start a business relationship with them and keep the conversation going.


Make magazine’s Maker Faire is a great example of a publication-sponsored event focused on their target audience’s main interests. Their family-friendly events now span the nation and the globe. For smaller publications, you can still accomplish big things and draw a national crowd with an annual, well-organized, paid event that celebrates the values, mission and interests of your magazine and readership.

If you aren’t prepared to host an event solo, consider another magazine publisher or business that compliments your focus and is interested in co-sponsoring a paid event. Festivals and events often bring in more advertisers because they allow companies to reach their target audience in different ways.

Regional publishers can also look to other industries altogether when finding co-sponsors, just like The Atlantic magazine did in joining forces with the Aspen Institute to put on the annual Aspen Ideas Festival.

Expand your advertising scope

Even if you’re a regional magazine, look for ways to expand the scope of your advertising base to a national level. If you’re able to draw in like-minded companies on a national level, your other revenue streams will benefit, especially when it comes to running events as mentioned previously.

For example, consider a magazine that focuses on the food culture in a specific city. There are opportunities to pull in advertisers who offer products or services aligned with the interests of your audience. In this example, a national advertiser who sells specialized cooking tools or who offers food- or wine-focused vacation packages, would be a great match to sponsor portions of a magazine publisher’s events.


Consider curating content from past issues to produce and sell a book.

If you are a regional magazine, consider a book chronicling the area’s historic places or historical events as a way to broaden the scope of interest and position your magazine as an authority on your specific location.

For hobby and specialty magazines, consider a “how-to” book compiling best practices and insider tips. If your publication is focused on interior decorating, for instance, consider a book that offers helpful hints and tricks for interiors that address common pain points among home owners.

Woodsmith magazine is a great example of a specialty magazine that has repackaged content in various forms to extend the revenue-generating power of their content.


In addition to books, think about other types of things your target audience might purchase. If your publication focuses on a specific location, you could sell soft goods like t-shirts, aprons or hats that have to do with the city name or images and words specific to where you are.

You can create a Shop section on your website or link to a free e-commerce platform like Big Cartel.

Subscription-only Content

Magazine publishers should also consider offering premium, subscription-only content on your website. You could develop new content separate from your magazine’s current issue or you could dive deeper into particular content that’s found in your printed edition.

For example, if your publication focuses on fitness, consider having subscription-only content that focuses on advice from experts, training programs and weekly recipes tailored to specific fitness regimens.

Some publishers are creating video featuring experts demonstrating their tips visually and making this available behind a paywall. This is an excellent way to extend magazine content and generate revenue.

Membership Clubs

Whether online only, in-person only or a mix of the two, consider creating clubs around the top interests of your readership.

If you’re an auto-focused magazine, consider creating a club that’s free to join, but revolves around paid events like exclusive access to test drive new car models at certain local dealerships or getting to accompany professional drivers around a race track.

Members will naturally form friendships and community around the topic, and the events create interpersonal connections and interaction. This will fully engage your audience and will also generate positive word-of-mouth and referrals.


When considering adding revenue streams to the mix, focus on the audience instead of the advertiser. Think of the different products, services and events that will have the highest appeal and engagement among your readership. Develop your offerings around your publication’s specific focus, but in a way that includes tangential activities and products that fit well into the lifestyle and habits of your audience.

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