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The Ezine as a Unique Media Form

By Ellen Jackson
Posted Wednesday, August 18, 2004

So if an ezine is an electronic magazine, then it's just like a magazine, only online, right?

Not quite. There are some similarities, and also some striking differences. Understanding these important differences is the first step in creating an effective online publication.

An electronic magazine and a hard copy magazine are different creatures altogether, and people read an ezine much differently than they would read a magazine. An ezine differs in form and in function from a magazine because the Internet is a different medium from hard copy magazine print. People use the Internet for different reasons and in different ways than they use a magazine.

You can't read an ezine in bed!
When you read a magazine, you're focused on that publication as your sole activity for a period of time. You may sit down for 10 or 20 minutes or more and browse through various sections, flipping past the parts that
you're not interested in at the moment. I keep the magazines I subscribe to on my night stand, and I go back and read them bit by bit throughout the month. Eventually, I get around to looking at most of the contents, even the parts that are somewhat less interesting to me. Reading
magazines is a form of relaxation. Even more serious publications such as news and trade magazines are designed to be attractive and entertaining at some level.

You can't read an ezine in bed or in your favorite lounge chair. Well ok, if you have a laptop, technically I guess you can, but I don't know of many people who do. When people sit down in front of their computer, they're usually there for a number of different reasons. A computer is inherently
a multitasking tool. With the advent of the Internet as an extremely popular form of communication, the multitasking function of computers has increased beyond all measure.

Ezine readers are busy people with short attention spans When your ezine pops up in your subscriber's email window, they already have other things on their mind. There's almost certainly other mail for them to go through, in addition to whatever else they have planned for their time in
cyberspace. You've got a lot of competition.

You have approximately five seconds to capture your reader's interest, or they're off to the next thing on their list. And when they click on to the next item on their agenda, they're not turning the page to check out the next article in your magazine, they're gone from your publication and off
to something else altogether. The Internet is all about instant gratification. At the click of a mouse, they can pretty much go wherever they please. If they don't like what's in front of them at the moment, the delete button is a pretty handy and accessible tool.

People don't generally read ezines for relaxation, but for information. While there are exceptions to every rule, this is especially true with business oriented ezines. And because of the "instant gratification" quality of the Internet, we want our information and we want it now.

Ezines have a lower "perceived value" than print media Unlike print magazines, ezines are highly disposable. We're not likely to throw out our print magazines until we're sure we've read everything we want to read. Magazines are tangible, we can hold them in our hands. And people seem to have an inborn aversion to tossing out a magazine before they're sure they've gotten their money's worth. Your ezine, on the other hand, is intangible. Like most ezines, it may even be free. But even if it is not, the simple fact that it is intangible and much shorter than a magazine means that it has a lower perceived value than a paper print magazine subscription.

It's now or never
Granted, the people who receive your ezine have subscribed to it, they are predisposed to a desire to read what you have to say. But they are not usually going to spend 10 or 20 minutes with your publication, and they're probably not going back to it later, even if they save it with good
intentions of doing so. There's just too much competition for their attention. You've got about 5 minutes max, and you've got to assume that it's a one shot deal.

So you'll need to make the most of those precious 5 minutes. For starters, you've only got about 5 SECONDS for them to decide whether to read the issue or not. If they are familiar with your publication and have enjoyed it and benefited from it in the past, you've got a definite advantage, but many will still skim through it first to decide if the content
is of interest to them. Capture their interest with an attention getting headline and a well-written main article, and they're likely to keep reading. Further their interest with a few links to interesting subject matter and resources, and you might have a chance of keeping their attention focused on your purposes for quite a while.

Too much of a good thing
Too much quality content, on the other hand, might be a waste of time. If they can't get it all read in one short sitting, they may set it aside for later, which you might think would be a good thing. But what are the chances of them actually coming back to it? Tomorrow, if not sooner,
there will be another ezine waiting for their attention. Like I said, you've got a lot of competition.

Get to the point
If you look at any print magazine, the first few pages are advertisements and fluff. You can't do that in an ezine. A sponsor ad at the top of the page is an acceptable part of the medium, but you'd better follow up pretty quickly with some solid content that is targeted to your subscribers' interests if you want to keep their attention.

If your reader has to scroll down the page to find out if there's anything of interest to them, you'll likely lose some of them. Make sure your main article or at least a table of contents is placed high enough so your readers can see it when they first open the email.

Bottom line is, readily accessible, high quality content in a manageable quantity is everything in ezine publication. If you don't have that, you may have many subscribers, but few actual readers.

Successful ezines CAN and DO make six-figure incomes for their publishers. Learn how to rev up the marketing potential of your ezine today with "Ezine Adrenaline" at: (

About the Author
Ellen Jackson is the publisher of Offbeat News and the owner/webmaster of Offbeat Marketing. Visit Offbeat Marketing to find information and top quality, affordable resources for building your online business at


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