Working in digital media is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to creativity. On the one hand, you can track the performance of a particular image—or cover—with detailed statistics. This digital feedback lets you quickly hone your visual content for optimal effect. The downside, is you often have to ask yourself if popularity is the ultimate goal. Is your publication targeted at the masses, or is a niche audience the key to your success? A bigger digital audience doesn't necessarily mean more money particularly when it comes to product sales. It all comes down to your digital goals.
Why Content Is King
Heaven Has Heels was launched in the Fall of 2012, a niche, under-the-radar publication with no advertising budget and yet, out of 18 million publications Issuu.com asked us to be one of a select group to be involved with a number of promotions and creative opportunities. Overnight our audience doubled, then tripled. I think this is great news for independent publishers and content creators the world over. It proves that content is king. The key, is to produce the very best content humanly possible; to be creative, yet mindful, of your audience and to know the strengths of your brand.
What's Worked For Us
The analytics on Issuu are a great way to track what images are working for your brand. For us, that happens to be our monthly magazine. Here is a snapshot of our best performing images.
From left to right: Best Cover: Summer Issue 2014, Most Engaging Cover: February Issue 2015, Most Shared: Spring Issue 2015
WHAT WE'VE LEARNED ALONG THE WAY
1. The Brighter the Better: Two out of our top three covers for Heaven Has Heels feature bright, almost neon, backgrounds. This is not an accident. I don't care what fashion dictates, we need to be found in a see of visual fabulousness, that means being bright and bold.
2. There's always an exception to the rule: Our most engaging cover, according to Issuu, is black and white. This one was actually a submission, not one that I had directed but I loved the alluring and almost mysterious profile image of this shot. It turns out our readers felt the same way.
3. Avoid Clutter: One of the greatest fails in digital publishing is designing as if you're still in print. Let's face it, most people will only ever see a thumbnail size image of your content. Don't clutter it up with superfluous text. Make them click through to discover what's hidden inside.
4. Trust Yourself: It's your brand and ultimately you are the one to determine how it should be portrayed. You'll notice that although Heaven Has Heels is primarily a footwear brand, our covers don't always feature footwear. This is because I feel the driving force of our magazine is exceptional fashion imagery. Therefore, that is what I am going to promote. The shoes are inside. My job is to get readers to click through to find them.
5. Quantifying Creativity: Sometimes the image you love simply doesn't resonate with the masses and that's okay. If you love it, it's visually appealing and you feel it reflects the brand then forget the statistics. Don't underestimate the power of one click, one like, one follower.