Digital Innovation Digital Publishing
3 mins read

Is consulting revenue a possibility for publishers?

With its new sustainability division, Time is the latest publisher to look to develop consulting revenue

Iconic magazine brand Time is the latest in a line of publishing companies that are hoping to win over clients with their unique expertise. The business is looking to generate consulting revenue from companies that need help moving beyond carbon offsetting. But it also sees the move as a credibility play to bolster its environmental credentials.

Context

  • Running a successful publishing business takes laser focus on understanding and delivering against audience needs. To serve your readers well, especially online, you have to develop a keen understanding of your subject area and how to deliver and monetize content and services effectively.
  • Several publishing companies have taken the skills and expertise developed over the last decade in transforming their businesses and are now offering to share their secrets with paying clients. With its C02 by Time division, Time magazine is using its research and analysis expertise to curate a carbon offset portfolio that businesses can fund to offset their own emissions.
  • Times Planet Portfolio is said to be as much about cementing credibility in the climate space as a straight revenue play. Editor-in-chief and CEO Edward Felsenthal  has said:

In addition to covering climate leaders, as we do, in our journalism, we want to be a leader ourselves and this is an opportunity for us to take action within our own company.

Consulting revenue

While credibility is a key asset for publishers, an array of publishers, from global names like the Financial Times and Axios to independent contract publishers like the UK’s Think Publishing, are making money telling people how to do what they do.

FT Strategies is the consultancy arm of the Financial Times. With a highly successful digital subscriptions brand, the company now sells “practical best-in-class expertise” to other businesses trying to grow in the digital economy.

Axios is selling its ‘Smart Brevity’ approach to corporate communications. Developed as a way to ‘say more with less’ in its own newsletters, the firm sells its unique techniques through a software and consulting business that charges $10,000 a year for help replicating its winning newsletter formula.

Rethink is the consultancy arm of Think, an independent contract publishing agency that focuses on membership organizations. It offers a range of consultancy services built on 20+ years of experience, from benchmarking costs and developing sustainable commercial strategies to preparing publishing companies for sale.

Selling consultancy

It can make strong commercial sense for publishers to leverage their learnings to help other companies face up to the challenges of doing business. But, for a publisher to sell consultancy services, they need to have several critical components in place:

Reputation – No one will pay you to tell them how to fix their business unless you are seen as an exemplar in your chosen field. Be the best in your niche.

Expertise – You must be able to prove that you’ve been there, done that and made a lot of money selling the t-shirts.

Staff – The people that helped drive your success should be able to look at similar problems in other companies and develop practical solutions.

Process – Your clients will need to be able to put your advice into action and evaluate progress; deliver detail on the strategies and methodologies that have worked for your business.

This piece was originally published in Spiny Trends and is re-published with permission. Spiny Trends is a division of Spiny.ai, a content analytics and revenue generation platform for digital publishers. For weekly updates and analysis on the industry news you need as a media and publishing business, subscribe to Spiny’s Trends weekly email roundup here.