Magazine of the Month: CHARLIE – Moving from Digital-Only to Digital and Specialty Print In Style

Each month Niche Media recognizes a niche magazine that really stands out. This month’s pick: CHARLIE – a regional magazine and website for Charleston, SC. Cover_lowRes

How do you recognize a really great regional magazine? When members of Team Niche have been in Charleston, locals mentioned and referenced it all the time. All. The. Time. It was obvious that its target audience reads it cover-to-cover – either in print or online – and finds it valuable enough to share. We’re in California and we fought over a promotional copy when it came though the office. What makes it more amazing is that it started as a digital-only publication and later added print.

Caroline Nuttall, CHARLIE’s Publisher, tells us in her own words what makes CHARLIE special and how it made the jump from pixels to print:

“I started CHARLIE as an online-only magazine four years ago in the height of the recession. The focus was on building a strong brand through fiercely unique content and high engagement with a quality, hyper-local audience. Since then, we’ve launched several extension platforms including emails, a social calendar, a CLUB, a social buying model, and events. Our biggest extension platform came last year when we launched two special issue print editions.”

“I wanted to evolve the print model. I have tons of unread magazines stacked up around my house and I’m in the magazine business, for heaven’s sake! How do you create intense demand and consumption around a traditional model in an overly-crowded market? The answer: high-end, long shelf-life, collectible special issues. No re-purposed content between web and print. Limited runs to drive urgency.”

“The result? CHARLIE’s first-ever magazine, 50 Most Progressive, was profitable. Three hundred issues flew off shelves in 24 hour periods, 10,000 were gone in 2 weeks, hundreds of locals ordered them online for $10 a copy (they were free locally) just to ensure they got theirs. Our second magazine, The 2012 Book, was up 56% in advertising and saw a 208% profit increase. Wider brand recognition of CHARLIE, 700% increase in web traffic, happy readers and happy advertisers. We are launching four books this year.”

“It’s not digital that’s the future. It’s an evolved model of the new and the old.”


Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments! Plus, Carl Landau – Niche Media’s Grand Poobah – just launched a blog all about creating and marketing targeted events –  Check it out!

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Niched Out Magazines: The 2012 Nichee Award Winners!

This year an absolutely outstanding group of niche magazines entered the Nichee Awards. Our winners are great examples of finding a niche market and serving it well.

Best Niche B2B Magazine went to Multi-Unit Franchisee, a magazine dedicated to delivering vital information and business solutions to multi-unit franchisees. This magazine is loaded with owner profiles, financial tips, management ideas, technology solutions, and more to give their readers tools and information they need to succeed.

Runner Up LP (LossPrevention) reaches ½ of the U.S. loss prevention community. They are digital integration superstars with an active website, digital magazine, webinars, a virtual tradeshow, weekly e-newsletter, and strong social media presence.

We had a tie for Best Niche Consumer Magazine.  The Iowa Sportsman, serving the hunting and fishing men and women of Iowa, wants readers to believe that their contributions to the magazine are just as important as the ownership’s. This niche mag is passionate about its audience, and it shows!  Momentum has brought the bicycle experience to a whole new market by covering urban transportation without heavy focus on the predominantly male demographic.

Runner Up TulsaPeople is celebrating its 26th year of capturing the spirit of living, working, and playing in Tulsa. It combines beautiful design and compelling journalism to showcase the people, places, and events that make life in Tulsa interesting and fun.

Best Design went to Process for breaking the rules of design in all the right ways to reach their market of communications, marketing, creative services, and print-buying organizations and individuals.


This post is part of the March issue of Niched Out News.

How to Become a Media Buyer’s Best (Ad Sales) Friend

Think Niche – Think Video!

Success Story: Renaissance Publishing Thrives in the Big Easy with The Magazine Manager

Magazine of the Month: The 2012 Nichee Award Winners!

Niche Notes

Email Deliverability Tips and Myths

20 Great Revenue-Generating Ideas

At the 2011 Niche Digital Conference, attendees shared their ideas to boost online revenue for target-interest magazines. Do your own ideas to share? Tell us in the comments!

#1 Exclusive advertisers: Allow one advertiser on a certain day of the month to occupy all the ad spots on each page of your entire website.

#2 Balance editorial calendar against SEO research. Use key word research tools to determine what web users are “really” searching for… then write content about those topics.

#3 Provide an RSS feed of news to advertisers with static websites. Most advertisers have dead, static sites and your content can liven them up and help them look more relevant. Use Feedburner to help.

#4 Get on board with Google+. What is your plan? Don’t play catch-up. Get ahead of the kids and figure out what Google + has to offer through their various “circles”.

#5 Create a unique incentive plan for your sales team that provides a bonus for selling online. Your margins are better in web, so pay a better commission. Or, structure a better plan for banners sold. Out of cash?  Give days off or free lunch. Get creative.

#6 Create special holiday or seasonal digital editions. From holiday gift guides to summer camp guides, take ideas and turn them into digital-only special publications. Be sure to tell advertisers how you are going to tell the public about the special digital edition.

#7 Stop giving away digital space! Just stop it!

#8 Create an e-newsletter from your sales team to your current advertisers. Create a list of your current clients and start sending out an e-newsletter. This should contain helpful hints, links to great articles, and deadline information. You can find great information about this on,, and

#9 Use short videos to answer advertisers’ common questions. Is there a question that you are often asked by advertisers? Record an answer and create an answer archive. Keep it simple. Jing is a great tool for this type of sales tool.

#10 Spread out your content! Don’t publish all of your magazine’s content online at the beginning of the month. Use the date stamping tools of your content management system to load your content all at one, but publish it piece by piece over a period of time.

#11 Create strategic alliances to offer expanded digital services to your advertisers. Find local web designers, videographers, photographers, and other service providers. Form a creative network where you all get rewarded for referrals.

#12 Register the .tv and .mobi for your main domain. Expand your offerings!

#13 Flip it – “Buy an ad in our digital edition and get the print as added value.” This is a unique twist that may not work for everyone, but give it a try to shake things up for your sales team.

#14 Make sure you charge for social media. You should charge $75 – $125/thousand for your social media updates on your Facebook page and Twitter feed.

#15 Create e-books from magazine content. You have years of content, so put it to good use. Create e-books around a specific topic.

#16 Use a daily video tip to drive B2B sales. Advertisers like the exposure, and they are also your best experts. Have them pay to be the expert in a section on your site and record their answers to submitted questions.

#17 Create an interactive media kit. A PDF just isn’t enough. Advertisers require more stimuli than ever before to make a decision. Also, they want information NOW! is a great example of an online media kit.

#18 Monitor your SEO ranking and search volume monthly for key search terms. Each month you want a report that shows you where your site ranks for all the key terms that you have researched as important. Also, you want to re-run your key word research often. Raven is a good tool for this.

#19 Create a social media interaction plan.  Each day a member of your team should be assigned to monitor and reply to social media comments. Assign days and make it mandatory.

#20 Create a simple website sign-in with Facebook Connect. Make it as easy as possible for users to sign in to your web site. This is critical if you want to survey behavior or demo targeted advertising.