10 Top tips for running a community magazine

Getting information to your local community should be an easy task.  There is always an abundance of people around that will submit pictures and write articles be it good or bad but the running of the business side of a community magazine.  So what so you need to think about an be mindful of to make your community magazine an ongoing success?

1. Keep a Paperwork trail – With so many communications over so many mediums i,e, email, letters, social media and face to face always follow conversations up with something in writing normally an email will suffice but it gives both parties clarification and a reference if either of you were in any doubt.

2. Accounts records – No matter the size of your magazine business you will need to keep financial records on all transactions in and out.  There are a number of options for you here if you do have the fortunate position of having an accountant then they are able to work with you to make sure you abide by HMRC rules and regulations and also help you be tax efficient.  Accountancy records not only keep you law abiding but also give you the processes to be able to track your debt and chase late payees.

3. Feedback  –  Do you actually know what your readers want to read in your community magazine? Some basic research into what news and information the majority of your readers want will not only stand you in good stead.  You may have spotted a niche in the local community magazine market but without truly knowing what your readers would be drawn to you will not make sustainable success of your magazine.

4. Think about your brand. Would your readers recognise your magazine if it was on a coffee table with others?  Your logo, look and feel will be the one main factor that differentiates you from the other magazines out there.  Think about the paper stocks you print on, the colours you use and fonts that define your magazine from the rest, use it to your advantage it is also the reason your readers pick up the latest edition.  What does your brand say about your local community? does it portray the right message you want it to.

5. Is your printed quantity right? Reaching the right amount of homes in your area can more often than not come down to cost of production, but your advertising rates your should be able to charge should reflect the amount of readers your advertisers should be able to reach making it commercially viable to reach the total readership.  As you are producing a community magazine make sure you know how many homes and residents are in ‘your community’ your local council will be able to tell you the right facts and figures under the freedom of information act.

6. Get your magazines out there into the community.  Local shops, post offices, pubs and restaurants will all want to help the locals so ask them to display your magazines and even put them into carrier bags with the goods they sell.

7. Get local people involved in producing your community magazine.  Time and time again we see locals working together creating artwork, writing articles and distributing a publication they are proud of.

8. Look at how other successful magazines are running their magazine.  We are all creatures of habit and take full advantage of the fact that there are very few new ideas in the world, only revamped old ones.  Look at their branding, target audience and frequency.  Why not talk to the publisher, they may be a very useful contact for you both to work on the same common goal and great as you’re not competing.

9. Don’t be precious about page counts.  Do you really think your readers will notice you dropping 4 pages one month?  We all have leaner months than others. Make sure you get a price matrix from us that gives you scalability and an understanding of your major overheads.

10.  Chase your debt!  I leave this last for a reason, its the singular most common reason for your community magazine being a failure.  Of course you will have some bad debts but make sure you do not spend the money before you get it in your hand this will only be the start of a downward spiral.  Do not be afraid to ask for money up front, your advertisers can only say no, then offer them a 50% up front deal perhaps.


Till next time…


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