So you want to start a magazine. What do you need to put your best foot forward and not miss a trick before you put your hand in your pocket.
Starting a magazine is a simple process from the start but the work needed to bring you into profit is where others fail. We talk to a number of publishers daily and all generally have the same processes, selling advert space or advertorial space to fund the production of the physical and online versions of the magazine.
In order to make your magazine work you need to work backwards with your processes this will help you manage timelines correctly and also keep costs to a controllable minimum.
In that case let’s start with Distribution, where are your magazines going to be read? Are you door dropping to a specific area which will need people to help get them out, volunteers are around but they will not be reliable. Look at local firms that can help get your area covered. What if you want to talk to a subscriber base? Who are your subscribers and how do you attract them? The two quick options are simple to implement (if you know how) the first would be to buy a mailing list, list brokers out there will be able to tailor a list of people according to your criteria. Now most of you will not want to give you magazine away, but does the advertising and revenues cover the distribution costs? This is an easier option obviously, otherwise you will have to send your prospective readership a sales letter telling them that you are producing the magazine that will change their life in order to entice them to subscribe. The second option is to entice people from online channels including your website and social media channels. Make sure you understand how to use social media properly to talk the right language and attract the right readers, you will be able to be proactive and reactive with your followers to test reactions giving you a guide on how to to steer your magazine content.
Have you thought about your Printing Specifications? When you look to get print prices for your magazine make sure you try to understand the differences between paper stocks and finishes to attract the right audience. It may be obvious to some but thicker paper stocks do costs more to produce but the true cost of printing is in the setup of the processes involved. As you are starting a magazine I would hazard a guess that you will be airing on the cautious side, but be aware of your unit costs as the economies of scale will quickly kick in once the machinery is setup and running. If you do not know what your are asking for, keep an eye out for magazines you like the look and feel of send them to us for reference and we can quote accordingly. Before going to print do not forget to get timelines together for the turnaround as you will need to plan your distributors to get you r magazine out on time. If you are printing off-shore make allowances for customs delays and even bad weather for shipping.
Are you designing your magazine by yourself or use an external supplier? If you are experienced in the art of design then you will instantly make yourself more profitable but if you are willing to give it a go make sure you learn 3 things to make your life easier 1. What bleed means 2. 300dpi for all adverts and 3. Everything in your world should be PDF’s to make your life easier. Regarding the design programs you should be using try looking at Adobe’s In-design and Illustrator for setting all things. Sadly Microsoft’s Publisher does a good job of making life easier for the inexperienced but it will not produce a polished job for you.
If you are sending you design work out to an external designer then you should have these basics in place. 1. An electronic flat plan even if it’s just in Word this will give you and your designer a direction and overall picture on what you are looking to achieve. 2. Shared files space for you and your designers for all text and image files 3. Set your pricing try getting a price per page or even a fixed price each issue this will help you set your overheads, but be aware that designers work on time so be fair to both parties and you will get the results you are after 4. Most importantly fix a timeline, so that you are all aware of when you will get the files to start designing when you are able to sign off proofs and when you need to get the completed artwork to the printers.
The last thing I’m going to mention is the sticking point for most starting a magazines. Money and processes around it. In an ideal world we would always suggest having a pot of funds to help you help you budget for 6 months if not 12 months of issues. The start-up magazines we see normally take 12 months to establish a stable readership if they are published more than once a quarter. As for the processes to run your magazine again in an ideal world you will have a CRM (customer relationship management) piece of software in place. This will enable you to track customer spending and create a communications trail for all advertisers in your business. The basic version of CRM is a simple spreadsheet you can keep customer records and spending habits up to date.
As we all know there are many theories on how to be a successful publisher. The main thing we see working is engagement with your audience, You need to get out there to tell the masses about your magazine, this will increase your readership on and offline, it might even entice some advertising revenue. Anyway, keep writing. Your next publication won’t create it’self.
Till next time…