Micropublishing for Mobile: 3 Ways Small Content Makes a Big Impact

10-7-2013 8-13-49 PM
Micropublishing gives readers that’s small, but not compressed.


Micropublishing for mobile might be the next big thing. Readers get bite-sized pieces of content that’s just right for smartphones and tablets, and publishers get a new way to build their audience.

Different from just a scaled-down version of a larger website, micropublishing – also called subcompact – is designed small from the ground up. This isn’t paring down another story, it’s creating original content that’s intentionally sleek.

Craig Mod seems to have written the seminal essay on micropublishing at his Craigmod blog. He compares micropublishing with the subcompact vehicle trend of the late 1960s and early ’70s. When given all of the features of a typical car, automotive companies were perhaps tasked with figuring out, as Mod says, ”What’s the simplest thing we can build with this?”

So, given the contents of a typical newspaper or magazine, and their online counterparts, what’s the simplest thing you can make for mobile? Perhaps it shouldn’t be just a smaller version of what already exists.

Scaled down content might be a misnomer, if micropublishing is its own original thing. But to carry a brand across platforms, publishers do need to think about content volume, file size, and aesthetics in a way that keeps a brand recognizable from smartphone to tablet to computer to the glossy, tangible pages of a magazine.

Here are three ways to produce micro-content that takes advantage of this new trend.

Use Publishing Tools Designed for Micropublishing

It sounds simple enough, but the tools you need to create content for smartphones and tablets aren’t necessarily the same as other tools. According to Mod, micropublishing tools should be simple and easy to understand with few instructions. Like the content itself, these tools are the result of assessing what’s common, and figuring out the best thing to build with it.

Don’t Give Your Work Away for Free

Young woman smiling, using a digital tablet.
A subcompact magazine or news publication is optimized for the device where readers find it.

Content might be small, but that doesn’t mean there’s no value. Don’t be shy about subscription-based access. If you’re wondering how much revenue a subcompact magazine could generate, consider The Magazine, the breakout micro magazine for mobile. According to PandoDaily , at $1.99 per month, The Magazine is turning a definite profit.

Appreciate the Beauty of ”Small”

The point of micropublishing isn’t compressing as much as you can to fit on a miniature display. Consider the last time you checked out magazine covers and newspapers on the Newsstand app. Did they make the best use of the space available, or did they all look like Barbie-sized versions of their full-size counterparts? Mod says the reason why these publications look like minis is because they are. There’s no separate attention to optimizing covers and content for small-scale devices. With micropublishing, it’s different. The whole point is small, so start and end that way.

Micropublishing lets even one-man or one-woman-show publishers produce compelling material, and the market shows there’s an appetite for it. Don’t apologize for being small, since that’s the beauty of micro. Instead, celebrate it. With cross-platform marketing, a micro magazine can even complement a large, thriving press.

There’s plenty of inspiration, if you need some. Although The Magazine claimed its spot as one of, if not the premier subcompact magazine, the trend is taking off. It’s yours to shape as you see fit.

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