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Media careers

Publishing: Online

Why get into online publishing?

It’s all about publishing things online these days. Every year for the past half a decade, the business billionaires, blog commentators and virtually anybody else in the online space have laid claim to ‘this year’ being the year of online content.

Mr Murdoch has installed ‘paywalls’ to lock in his precious content and started charging for access. Recently, the iPad and the Kindle having been shaking their fists at traditional newspapers and paperbacks with such defiance that many people in the industry are now predicting the imminent demise of the printing press.

Regardless of how well print media lasts in the future, the unassailable rise of online publishing just keeps on going. So what does this mean? Jobs, and lots of them.

Why is online publishing such an important field?

Whether it’s your laptop, your mobile or the TV, everything is now connected in some shape or form to the internet. One of the main uses people have for this medium is the consumption of the written word. Online publishing takes many forms and is getting more innovative each and every day. The industry is expanding rapidly and is consistently crying out for new talent.

Editorial publishing and journalism careers are heavily embedded in the world of online publishing, with the traditional editorial assistants, reporters, sub-editors and editors present as always.

However, technology understandably plays a big part in online publishing. Not only are the sites that host the content getting more and more elaborate and interactive, the devices themselves are challenging the dominance of the laptop. Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s iPad and a host of other ‘tablets’ are now changing the way we experience online content. This means that web developers play just as much a part in the publishing industry as the writers themselves.

Magazines, for example, are now beginning to launch solely as iPad apps. This is an emphatic example of the increasing prominence of online media channels that were previously regarded as ‘alternative’.  

What will an online publishing career involve?

If online publishing is your bag, a CMS (a.k.a. Content Management System) will shortly be becoming your best friend. Every site, app or extension utilises what is commonly referred to as a ‘back end’ – the control panel that all online publishers rely on to upload their articles onto web pages.

Whether you’re a proofreader, writer or the head honcho, you’ll all use the CMS in some shape or form. Editorial changes or amendments to articles can now be made instantly. If an article is put up that doesn’t get many clicks, it can be immediately swapped for another one.

We now step into the mysterious work of web analytics and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) professionals. Given how simple it is to close a web page, delete an email or ignore a request, the hunt for traffic is unrelenting.

Web analytics gurus pore over stats to deliver reports on how websites are performing, what content is popular, what is bombing and what the publisher should be focusing on. In many ways, they have as much power and influence as the editor, as they can guide the direction of the content based on user behaviour.

In much the same way, SEO technicians try to work out how to most effectively drive traffic to the site via search engines. If they find the right keywords, it potentially means millions of additional users each month.

This leads onto advertising, the bedrock of online publishing. Virtually every online business model is dependent on advertising to pay for the developers, writers and managers. As such, account executives, account managers, media planners and digital executives scour the big spenders to tempt them into moving their cash online. Expect to spend a lot of time measuring traffic, assessing advert accountability and working out how much something ‘costs per click’.  

If you’re CMS-savvy, want to put your proofreading, editing or writing skills to the test in a challenging new medium, or you’re jumping ship from print publishing after the doom-and-gloom predictions, online publishing may be the right place for you!