Digital publishing is great news for creative people. Never before has it been easier to create and distribute your ideas. With more people relying on their phones and tech gadgets to receive information, it is no wonder that digital publishing is growing leaps and bounds. Long gone are the days of having to walk into a bookstore to find the latest bestseller, or wait for the newspaper to arrive to read the day’s top stories. Now all you need to do is log onto one of your digital devices and everything is right at your fingertips. Greater access to information has meant greater demand for it, and the digitizing of distribution has made it possible for anyone with internet access to play the field.
Digital publishing can mean different things to different people. As a result, it is surprisingly hard to find a universal definition for the term. “Digital” refers to any online media available on electronic devices, including phones, e-readers, laptops and tablets. “Publishing” is defined by Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary as “bringing printed works (as books) before the public usually for sale.” Combine the two, and digital publishing refers to using online technology to digitally display information and stories (content) and disseminate it through electronic devices.
Companies have gravitated towards digital publishing and digital publishing platforms because it is more cost effective and allows them to reach a larger audience. Writers who want to self-publish have started to do so digitally because it gives them more control over when and how people see their content.
Examples of digital publishing:
- Company Reports
- “Stories” posted to social media
- Resource materials
- Digital magazines
- Scientific journals
- Digital catalogs
- Digital brochures
- PDF files
- Mobile apps
- User manuals
- Photo albums
The Pros of Digital Publishing
- Web publishing is cheaper than traditional publishing. It helps to keep production and marketing costs low, extends visibility into new markets, and helps drives more sales. Many platforms let you start publishing content for free.
- Practically any business can publish digital content and profit from it. Digital content can be measured and tracked by browser-based analytics, like time spent, bounce-rate, click-throughs, and orders. Never before has the impact of published content been so measureable!
- Digital content, like newspapers and magazines, can be updated and distributed to the public at any time. Publication, itself, is nearly instantaneous.
- By creating content and distributing it online, you can reach mobile and global audiences. You are no longer limited by physical proximity.
- Online content is easier to edit. Typos, incorrect dates, or outdated information call all be fixed instantly and without having to pay to reprint anything.
- Digital publishing gives you complete power over your content. You have control to decide when to publish an article, when to take it down and whether or not to charge for the content. There’s more flexibility in your revenue model. Because it doesn’t cost anything to publish, you have more leeway in deciding what to charge because there is very little, if any, overhead to cover.
- Web content is interactive. Media such as videos, music, and photos can be embedded to draw more attention to your work.
- You’re not limited to digital formats. You can create a print-digital hybrid, where print products can help you monetize your digital content, and you can build a digital following for your self-published, offline content.
The Do’s of Digital Publishing
DO: Follow your existing brand guidelines
Be consistent. You want your digital assets to be a seamless extension of your brand. Therefore, they need to feel familiar and easy recognizable to your readers. Regardless of the type of content you are creating, always keep in mind the overall message, style and tone of your brand. Be diligent about keeping the look and feel the same across all your channels.
DO: Be willing to trying new things
New trends in digital publishing are emerging every day. Sometimes it can feel like you are getting whiplash just trying to keep up with everything. In order to stay relevant, be open to change and willing to try new things. This can be as simple as incorporating videos into your online newsletters. Sometimes it’s easier or faster to build a following on a new channel than try to break into a really popular one.
DO: Monitor your metrics
One of the biggest advantages of digital publishing is that you have to be able to monitor your metrics in real time. That means that you can constantly see an accurate count of how many people are reading your content and where they are located. This then gives you the insight to determine what content is working for your audience and isn’t, empowering you to optimize.
DO: Promote your content
Your work isn’t finished when you hit the publish button. In fact, it is only just beginning. Now it is time to get people to read your content. Getting the word out is the best way to drive traffic, create buzz and ensure that people who matter see your content. Many marketers suggest following the 80/20 rule, where 80% of your time is focused on promoting your digital content, and 20% of your time is spent actually making your work.
DO: Choose quality over quantity
It can be tempting to want to post as much online content as possible. The more your readers see the better off you are, right? Unfortunately, that is not the case.
There is a reason they say that quality is better than quantity in digital publishing. It is better to spend your time creating a small amount of content that is more powerful than cranking out a large amount of content that says very little.
DO: Be an original
Don’t just copy what’s popular or trendy—do the work to find your own voice and create something authentically you. With everyone wanting to find his or her place in the digital publishing space, it can be hard to stand out. It’s ok to look and see what everyone else is doing, but then find a way to do it better and in a different way to attract more readers. Thinking outside the box and creating something entirely new—entirely you—is going to win you more readers in the long run.
Next step? Leverage your online following to sell and distribute your content in print.