How to Use Magazines as a Market Research Tool For Your Sites

October 24, 2008 - Written by Gyutae Park  

How many magazine subscriptions do you currently own? 1? 2? More than 3? Chances are that in the past month, you’ve at least read a couple magazine articles about various topics you’re interested in such as the upcoming US election, football, or even celebrity news. Whatever the case may be, I think we can all agree that magazines are heavily integrated into mainstream media and supply a significant portion of the information we consume.

Believe it or not, the magazine business has been around since the 1700’s when The Gentleman’s Magazine was first published in London. Magazines have drastically changed and evolved since then, but they continue to be a popular medium for readers to gain the latest news, knowledge, and gossip information. Today there are thousands of magazines spanning almost every industry imaginable – from politics and science to stamp collecting and quilting.

As a blogger, online publisher, or Internet marketer, you should always be paying attention to the magazine industry because it offers a ton of insights that can help your Internet business. Most content websites are just online versions of print magazines after all, no?

In this article, I want to lay out a few market research tips that show you how you can use magazines to improve your content sites and blogs. Subscribe to as many trade journals and magazines as you can – especially if you work within a specific niche. You’ll learn a lot more than you might think.

Below are the 3 ways to use magazines as a market research tool for your websites.

Topic selection

As I mentioned, there are thousands of print magazines in circulation covering a wide array of industries and interests. If you’re looking to a start a new blog or website and are searching for potential topics, browsing through a listing of magazines is a great place to start. Generally speaking, if a niche is able to support some sort of trade magazine, it usually means that there’s money to be made. A magazine, like many content websites, is supported by advertising income so there must be a healthy market for related products and services (and thus sponsors) in order for it to survive. If a magazine can make money, you can easily do the same with your sites in the same niche. Look at the comprehensive magazine listings on Amazon to get started.

Content ideas

Many magazines have been around for a long time and enlist experienced editors who know how to write engaging content about topics that readers are interested in. With big budgets, huge subscriber bases, and extensive testing grounds, these magazine companies are able to churn out some of the best content available.

As an aspiring web publisher, you can learn a lot from the magazines and apply your observations to your own business. For example, you should be focusing on the following components of content.

  • Look at headlines, especially on the magazine cover. These are designed to get your attention and entice you to read more.
  • What are the most popular topics covered by the magazine? Not only does this show new trends in your niche, but it may also uncover winning themes that are proven to work. For example, in the Internet marketing niche, personal earnings articles always seem to get attention.
  • Get a sense of the overall style and tone of the magazine editors. As an online blogger, how can you build off of a certain style or present a new angle?
  • Analyze the format that the magazine uses… ad placement, images, colors, features, etc. All of this valuable information can be utilized when optimizing your own site.

Sponsors & Advertising

If you have sites that run off of an advertising business model, why wouldn’t you keep up with magazines? Magazines attract high profile sponsors and enable you to keep up with the big companies in your niche. Heck, you might even be able to work out advertising deals this way.

Magazines are full of advertisement pages, but they’re there for good reason. Try studying the ads… you’ll get insights into what converts and what your potential customers are attracted to.

Depending on your budget, you may even want to experiment with your offline marketing by placing an ad for your site in the publication.

That’s it!

So what magazines are you subscribed to? Do you use them to think of new ideas for your sites? For Internet marketing, I frequently read Search Marketing Standard, Revenue, and Stompernet’s Net Effect. What are your experiences with magazines for your Internet business market research?

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30 Responses to “How to Use Magazines as a Market Research Tool For Your Sites”

fromtheold on October 24th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Brilliant post. Having been a magazine designer for a few years i can totally agree with this post. They put a lot of research in focussing on where to put what.

Gyutae Park on October 24th, 2008

That’s awesome… I would love to get more of your insights into the magazine industry from your experiences working as a designer. Design and format are especially important to print magazines because they can’t make on-the-fly changes like you and I can on our websites.

Girish on October 24th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email


I just managed to solicit a sponsorship for one of my niche blogs thanks to your post!

I called up one of the local advertisers who had advertised on an entire page in the magazine (a major monthly) and they agreed!

I would prefer not to reveal the URL of the blog but the niche was “knitting” and it was extremely targeted towards my locality.

Gyutae Park on October 24th, 2008

Congrats Girish!! It’s amazing the deals that you can get done if you simply ask. Don’t be intimidated by big companies – a lot of times they’d be more than willing to partner with you, especially if you have a lot of offer them. Sure these companies may be big, but a lot of them are pretty much just getting started online.

Girish on October 24th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Thanks for the encouragement Gyutae. This wasn’t so much a partnership as a sponsorship 🙂

And yeah,great to see you’re on of the pro-bloggers who actually takes the time to interact with his readers.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Gyutae Park on October 24th, 2008

Hey no problem.. it’s what I enjoy doing.

Think of the sponsorship as your foot in the door. It’s a great way to network, show them what you have to offer, and then see how things go from there. Most big deals start off this way so look up to big things. 🙂

Ann Arbor Web Design on October 27th, 2008

@Girish I know what you mean about a problogger who interacts with his readers, that is one of the first things i noticed about this blog and apart from the great content, one of the chief reasons for me to keep visiting.

Make Money Blogging on November 2nd, 2008

Wow I am glad to be even reading this too.. Happy for you!

JR @ Verizon Ringtones on October 26th, 2008

Magazines are a fantastic resource for website content, especially because there is always the latest stories there on whatever topic you need.

Gyutae Park on October 26th, 2008

Believe it or not, a lot of magazines are outdated by the time they are printed, especially in fast-moving industries like technology. The beauty of the Internet is that top stories on news sites reach millions of people immediately.

Still, magazines are great resources for market research and for figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

Mike Huang on October 26th, 2008

Oh man, don’t even talk about magazines lol. After I started bloggin-ads, I stopped touching the pile of magazines that I get every month. They were free, but it was still a waste 🙁


Gyutae Park on October 26th, 2008

Hey Mike, magazines can be overwhelming especially when they pile up without being read. However, sometimes I find that they’re useful to skim through to understand what the mainstream publishing companies are doing in your niche.

Gerri on October 28th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I was driving home the other day and saw a few billboards that looked out of place and then saw a couple that looked like they were placed perfectly. I got to thinking about this post and since them I am looking at a lot of things in the real world and not just magazines and thinking about how it could relate to blogging. It’s all your fault Gyutae. This is a good post that gives you a different perspective on things.

Gyutae Park on October 28th, 2008

lol, sorry about that Gerri. 😛
There are a lot of things in the offline world that will help you to gain new insights and apply them to the blogging world. Too many times we’re too narrow minded in thinking that the Internet is everything. There’s hundreds of years of research and experience in the offline marketing world that we can learn from. Keep your eye open!

custom t-shirts on October 28th, 2008

After signing up to 50+ magazine subscriptions.
1) My mail man hates me.
2) I have lost a room to magazines.
3) When I want to scream, I open the door to the magazine room
Magazines have ruined my life! LOL!

Gyutae Park on October 28th, 2008

Ok, when I said to use magazines as a market research tool, I didn’t mean to subscribe to every single one you could find. That’s just crazy and unrealistic. At least you’ll never run out of bathroom reading material.

mini christmas tree on October 29th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Hi Park,
It is really useful to read Magazines, even though the internet is dominating the magazines.

Gyutae Park on October 30th, 2008

The Internet is taking over magazines in terms of readership, but magazines are still very insightful because companies throw millions of dollars at them to get it right. Plus magazines have been around for a very long time.

Craig S. Kiessling on October 30th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Great and insightful post Gyutae! I’m an outside-of-the-box type of marketing thinker, but I didn’t think of this avenue – very nice! 🙂

Gyutae Park on October 30th, 2008

Hey Craig,
The reason why you may not have thought of this avenue is probably because you’re an outside-the-box type thinker. Sometimes we fail to see the resources we have right in front of us!

Karl Hadwen on October 31st, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I have a few magazine’s that im signed up for but no business onces, i tend to find all the information I need on the internet 😉 like most people but anyways interesting post and I will definately read more posts from you.

Kind Regards

Karl Hadwen.

Gyutae Park on November 5th, 2008

Thanks Karl. The Internet is changing the way we read information for sure. But still I think magazines have a solid future – especially the more established ones with an online presence as well.

SEO Stuart on November 1st, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Fantastic article, since getting involved on the web I have kinda left magazines behind. I never thought of your great idea to use them for content ideas, by analyzing their already succesful editing work i’m sure lot’s can be learn’t. Thanks Gyutae, i’m gonna try and find some good resources now, great idea.

Gyutae Park on November 5th, 2008

Glad you liked the article. Like I said, some of the best examples and resources are actually held in traditional print rather than on the Internet. It’s just a matter of looking in the right places.

Photo Printer on November 5th, 2008

Use magazines as a tool while you can! They, and all other print publications, are going into a death spiral right now…….everything is migrating online.

Gyutae Park on November 5th, 2008

While magazines and newspapers are certainly on the decline, I wouldn’t say that they’re going into a death spiral. There will always be a need for print publications and we can always learn from what worked in the past.

Whateverebay on November 14th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I have a library of Magazines. Of course I try not to clutter. However, I have some blogs that are about Hollywood and fashion trends. I get a ton of info from the Magazines; their sites and local newpapers. I check out the Sales ads of course. Not only do I get my local Newspaper but I have 5 major cities’ Newspaper sent to me. The information found on their sites for the NewPaper is not the same as in paper. On the paper I am looking for sales and the community events…etc… 🙂

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