Whether it is print or digital publishing or the print industry, 2021 continues many trends that began taking hold in 2018. The strongest developments relate to niche development and search engine optimization (SEO), with the development of online communities a strong contender for the top trend. Niche publishers continue to flourish, and they will increase in popularity, especially in the digital publishing realm.
Major Trends in Publishing Industry
- You need expertise in information technology since businesses have begun moving toward IT service providers over traditional print suppliers. You’ll need to add to your expertise organically or by partnering with an experienced IT service provider. The move to IT services translates to a more diverse product portfolio and assures print security.
- The trend toward digital publishing continues to grow and succeed. Those who succeeded with their digital launch attributed their success to a devotion of commitment, time, and resources. Rather than simply introduce new digital products, they revamped and re-launched existing digital publications and tools. When a digital launch did fail, it was due to a lack of commitment and time. When it comes to re-launches, integrate content engagement and artificial intelligence (AI) for auto-tagging to scale and create process efficiencies.
- You’ll continue to focus on basics like SEO strategies but also leverage advanced technology such as AI to tout your digital and print publications. Other marketing options include creating subscription content and podcasting. AI significantly contributes to building audience engagement. Strong SEO will help you get a better Google ranking which has further increased in importance. Its shift to a mobile-first index continues to spotlight local results and personalized search results.
- Small online publishers will begin honing their niches. As co-founder and editor of 101 Holidays, Mark Hodson told the State of Digital Publishing, the Pareto Principle will come into play more than ever. Digital publications will further rely on user trust built from quality editorial content.
- Publishers will create platforms to collect and visualize audience, and community data as the focus on segmentation grows even more. This will lead to building branded lean WordPress sites, says Rupert Collins-White, the content director of Burlington Media Group. Those segmented blogs will feature authentic storytelling and content native to the digital platform.
- While content remains king, it is site architecture that combines with SEO to draw more visitors to publishing brands online. You’ll experience redesigns that focus on redistributing the information to make it much easier for consumers to find.
- In 2021, it will all be about building brand loyalty. Publishers will develop content, experiences, and customer service channels for their loyal customers to cultivate community.” Marketing campaigns will combine networking events with increased partnerships, said Emily Hughes, an audience development consultant at Loup Digital.
Analysis of the Trends
Now that the shakeups from 2018 have settled and the industry has a handle on GDPR and Ads.txt, publishers, especially digital publishers, have gotten back to business as usual. That business is shaped by the emerging trends, though. Now that they have adjusted to new regulations, they’re trying to innovate and develop new platform opportunities.
Nearly every trend shares one ultimate focus – drawing more traffic to their web properties. Digital publishers especially want quality visitors to their websites, e-books, and social media platforms. That means a concerted effort towards SEO and audience growth through better marketing. Google and the constant tweak of its algorithms create a new challenge for publishers since it and other search engines are necessary for reliable and consistent traffic.
Building the audience only begins the process. Publishers also need to monetize traffic, and one 2021 trend is their development of new revenue streams. Money follows ease of use, though, so publishers named the challenge of “website speed and infrastructure” as a top-three concern. That’s because many of the emerging reach methods, such as podcasting and 4K video, require a savvy website design with high-speed Internet on the part of the user. But, with mobile use continually growing, users expect all content to load just as quickly and easily on their phone as on their computer. Since website design plays such a vital role in brand building and SEO, trends that surround great websites range from AMP to PWAs to Schema markup, which is key.
Ironically, publishers have deserted traditional media themselves. Less than ten percent said they got their industry information from AdAge or AdWeek or another print publication. More than 70 percent turned to a combination of blogs and forums to get their industry information. Only the brand DIGIDAY had at least ten percent devoting readership to it. As far as to use as a news platform, the most avoided sources were Facebook and Instagram. More than 50 percent of publishers indicated Facebook as the least trustworthy platform. It lacks transparency and has reduced Facebook page reach, adding to its unpopularity with the publishing sector.
In regards to content, the 2021 trend is for long-form written content, which lends itself to SEO. Second to it is video content.
Publishing Industry Stats and Growth Projections in 2021
- You’ll need to leverage podcasting with your publishing. In 2018, podcast listeners in the US grew from 40 percent to 44 percent of the total population.
- The top revenue stream for worldwide news publishers became digital publishing subscriptions, with 44 percent of the world population reading online.
- Printing isn’t going anywhere. The majority of businesses, 64 percent, told Quocirca’s Global Print 2025 study printing would remain important well into 2025.
- Publishing continues to be a viable employer, with about 814,000 people employed in the field worldwide and approximately 69,709 independent publishers.
- While the global book publishing industry is worth about $103 billion, it has continued to experience 0 percent annual growth five years running.
- Self-publishing continues to provide an “in” for those who want to publish, but self-published e-books provide better response for the author. On Kindle, 17 of the 100 top-selling books are self-published.
- Publishers report that their highest priority in 2021 is audience growth and marketing, with 34. 2 percent placing it at the top. Second to that priority comes successful SEO, say 25.8 percent.
- Publishers have deserted traditional media as a source for information, and instead, 64.2 percent say they read blogs, with second place going to forums, with 11.7 percent of publishers reporting it as their source for industry news.
- Publishers say their biggest challenges of 2021 include creating unique content that readers want, 23.3 percent, keeping up with Google algorithm changes, 22.5 percent, and diversifying website revenue, 20.8 percent.
The publishing and printing trends of 2021 continue to drive more people away from print and a larger audience online. In addition to consuming greater digitally published books, website visitors gobble up video content on mobile, which challenges publishers to create content consumable on any device that still loads quickly. Publishers continue to turn to back-end solutions to draw greater audiences to their front-end publications. Look for content development to continue as the major driver of audience development with distribution via social media networks helping drive new visitors to web properties and bookstores.