Any suggestions to improve my online poetry magazine, Free the Verse? 🍊

Last year I co-created a poetry magazine, Free the Verse (https://free-the-verse.com/)

We publish one issue per quarter, featuring 16-20 poets from around the world, plus weekly interviews with contributors.

We've made many design improvements over the last year and we're currently focusing on improving SEO to gain more organic submissions and rely less on ad spend to meet our submission thresholds.

We have around website 3k traffic per month, 2.3k Instagram subscribers and 1k mailing list subscribers.

Does anyone have any suggestions for us, i.e. ways we could improve the website / our offering in general? Bonus points for anything that could lead to some revenue or increase donations so we can cover our website fees.

Thanks in advance 🧡

Replies9

  • @george crisp Ah, thanks for the heads up – I've never come across paid comments before. Definitely worth considering when we have more people commenting.

    When we published our first interviews there were comments on all of them, but since then only very few people have commented. If it ever picks up I'll keep this in mind too. Thanks again :)
  • i have one other suggestion, which a few of the classier literary quarterlies in the States are doing. mind, these are more sociopolitical publications as opposed to arts & letters journals. if you have a comments section, which i've never seen on an arts site, you could charge for that. one great thing about this is that it would discourage trolls and your average nincompoop who just wants to see their name in the 'credits'. ('dig me! i said that!')

    don't know why newspapers and magazines, many of which are struggling, don't do this. they'd make a fortune and shut up a lot of morons at the same time.

    anyway, love the graphics and really like the interview section, de rigueur for any serious literary publication.
  • @george crisp Funny you should say this – we're planning to announce our first competition soon. We're still working out the practicalities of it and looking for ways to differentiate the competition winners from our published poets.

    I want to avoid charging for issue submissions until we can afford to pay our contributors. I like the idea of a competition because we can offer a prize to the winner without breaking the bank (and having to close the site) by paying dozens of contributors. I think we'll just have to test run the competition and see if we can expand in that direction – it would be amazing if revenue from the competition could cover our contributor fees in future.

    Thanks for your insight :)
  • one other thing and i'm sure you've thought of this, but you could run a competition. those entering would of course pay a small fee. everyone seems to do this, though it only seems to cover the cost of running it. you'd know better.

    then of course you could charge a submission fee. normally this puts me off, but it's the norm and lots of smaller publications do this (again, you know this). sadly, i've noticed that some of the older, more established publications, 'names' (proustian touch there), are starting to charge as well, in the belief that that will discourage lesser lights. granta, for instance, which is owned by the heiress to the tetrapak fortune, is doing this now. this seems rather mean imo. (they're definitely not going to discover anyone that way.)
  • @Zara Shams let me know if I can help - I’m a freelance writer and bloody love poetry 💕
  • @Amy Bonifas Thank you! We do have a weekly(ish) newsletter with updates on the status of submissions, plus announcements about poet interviews, but it's pretty low-maintenance due to our limited capacity.

    I think you're totally right - writing advice and more blog-style posts is likely our best bet to grow traffic. Thanks for taking the time :)
  • Love your site, you could look to widen your editorial content and tap into SEO opps (and obviously boost organic growth) at the same time with writing advice from the experts or round ups of inspiring poets etc.? Do you have a newsletter?

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