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The Domino Effect: How blogs fill niche holes left by magazines that close

This post is cowritten by Heidi and Cision Internet research editor Ashley Cunningham. Ashley researches blogs and news websites for Cision’s research database. She formerly wrote the blog Biscotti & Blahniks.

Are new interior design blogs filling the void left by the closing of Domino magazine?

When Domino magazine recently announced that the March 2009 issue would be its last, groans of disappointment rippled through Cision’s research department. As Ashley said when we started discussing this post, “It was the perfect interior design magazine for me. I mean, if I went with some of the others, it’s not like I have 50 grand to drop on custom cabinets for my kitchen.”

You see, Domino’s goal from the onset was to bring interior design to the masses. Appealing to readers’ eclectic tastes and tighter budgets, Domino offered space-saving tips to apartment dwellers and lower-cost options on the latest styles. It balanced the inspirational with the practical, pairing Philippe Starck chairs with Target lamps and readers loved the results.

Advertisers, however, didn’t feel the same. In a farewell letter on Domino’s website, the editorial team wrote, “From your tremendous response, we know that we were onto something. In this tough economy, however, we simply weren’t able to get the advertising support we needed.”

It costs a lot of money to put out a glossy magazine… it costs a lot less to produce a blog. Without the overhead costs and advertising responsibilities, is it up to bloggers to capture an interior design audience without a home? In her post Post Domino Life: What Shall We Do?, Elements of Style Blogger Erin Gates writes, “With all these magazines closing I feel there is a heap of responsibility on the shoulders of us design bloggers to fill the echoing void left in Domino’s (and others’) wakes. So what shall we do? I am tempted to try to start a monthly design e-zine or website with a bunch of other design minded and inspired people I’ve met on the ‘interwebs’…but do you think it would take off? Would designers send us their work? Would people tune in and/or pay for a ‘subscription’… I’d love to hear from you readers about what you think would be the most fabulous thing to do to soothe all the sad hearts out there clinging to their back stock issues of Domino…”

Gates manages to articulate thoughts circulating interior design Web communities and raises valid points. Is this a business opportunity for bloggers? Are bloggers capable of providing the same kind of original content and aesthetics found in magazines? Could a specialized paid subscription e-zine survive without alienating those readers who cling to paper or those who insist upon free Web content?

Ultimately the shuttering of Domino begs the question, what do you do with displaced readers and an open market?

Devoted to Domino’s democratic design ideas? These bloggers serve up inspiration for readers of all budgets:

Elements of Style

Design*Sponge

Apartment Therapy

Habitually Chic

decor8

sfgirlbybay

Please share your thoughts with us. Could this be evidence of a larger trend? Will we see more and more niche magazines closing and blogs filling those voids? How can media relations pros stay ahead of the game in this changing landscape?

About Heidi Sullivan

One of PRWeek’s 40 under 40 in 2012, Heidi Sullivan is Senior Vice President of Digital Content for Cision and a self-proclaimed social media metrics nerd. She leads the company’s digital and broadcast content teams, the global research team for Cision’s media database, Cision’s social media community team and the company’s content marketing strategy. You can find her on Twitter @hksully.

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