Her Campus – The scalable digital magazine

Business Model

Her Campus is an online magazine that prides itself in being the number 1 online community for college women. The company has more than 7,000 contributors from 290+ schools writing articles on topics such as style, beauty, career, love, real world, etc. Its content could either be of general interest of all college students or caters to students from one particular school. Individual schools (called “Chapters”) have representatives and editors that manage the content for the particular campus. This business model not only enables Her Campus to have low labor cost (contributors write for free), but also makes the magazine incredibly scalable.

Incentivizing and managing crowd

Contributors for Her Campus are college students. Since its founding, Her Campus has built a credible reputation as a channel for aspiring journalists to refine their craft through publishing articles and blog posts. Many of its former contributors have gone onto internships and jobs at publishing powerhouses such as Conde Nast, Huffington Post, The Washington Post, etc. College students are motivated to have content published because of the potential future career opportunities.

The company utilizes its Chapters to manage a vast number of contributors. Chapters have Campus Correspondents who are responsible for creating editorial content, generating publicity, growing and managing a dedicated team, and participating in marketing responsibilities. In starting a Chapter and becoming a Campus Correspondent, a student must submit a cover letter, resume, writing samples, and minimum of 5 students on campus interested in joining the team. In addition, an applicant is expected to submit a work product test, go through an interview, gather 100 signatures to demonstrate support from the school, prepare first week worth of digital content for approval, etc. The rigorous application process ensures Her Campus receives the highest quality talent, filters for the most passionate applicant, and generates enthusiasm. In using the chapter system, the company essentially created a system to manage a few hundred small business units as opposed a huge labor force of thousands, reducing the complexity of touch points required.

Value Creation

For readers, Her Campus content serve as credible and up-to-date reference point for college and high school students– I secretly wish someone gave ME the tips on how to be fashionable while I was in college. Its easy to navigate design and catchy content also makes it easy to linger on the site for a long time. For contributors, the experience in writing and managing a chapter create huge potential career opportunities. The demographic of young women also is one of the most sought after target population for advertisers.

Value Capture

The company generates revenue mostly from advertising and sponsorship for events. In addition, it recently published a book on college survival guide.

Growth Potential and Challenges

The growth opportunities are endless: Her Campus is aggressively expanding to more schools internationally. The company is moving beyond just the college campuses and stepping into high school. It hosts its Her Conference series to prepare high school women for the college experience and creates crucial publicity for its site. In addition, it is actively looking into other ways to expand: the company owns a set of 80 site names including “HisCampus.com”.

However, some challenges do exist. While the company boast a strong follower base, it is also easy to find complains on review sites such as Glassdoor.com; namely, that the company could improve its engagement with its contributors, better manage its chapters, create a more friendly/less rude environment. In addition, the competition from other digital media giants is a big threat to the company’s future growth.




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