How to Start a Magazine
Starting a magazine is not as hard as you would think. I have started several myself and successfully published them for years. It is hard work, but you can get your magazine off the ground if you can meet a few key requirements.
What are those few key requirements?
1) You need some money to do this – Every business start-up needs some capital, and magazines are no different. How much do you need? As little as a few hundred dollars will work (not including your printing costs) to get your first issue on the streets and newsstands. You will need thousands of dollars for a projected higher-end book, depending on what market you are entering and how big you are going right off the bat. The key will be to learn the skills you need to publish and do the tasks yourself rather than hire an office full of workers and payroll (I will hit on those skills in a minute and talk more about cash).
2) Equipment – At least one good computer capable of operating the various software you will need (Adobe InDesign and Adobe Photoshop), a good digital SLR camera like the Nikon D50, which runs about $750, a phone a dependable vehicle.
3) The ability to sell – Magazines’ big and small run-off advertisements and yours will be no different. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a solid sales strategy before you take on this project. I will talk more about selling further along.
4) Creativity – You can’t survive without offering something new to your readers in an attractive package, and for this being creative is a necessity.
Step #1 – Develop the Framework
You probably have an idea of what type of magazine you want to publish, but you need to construct some basic framework here. Pick a name for your magazine carefully; make sure you are not stepping on anyone’s trademark by searching the US trademark database.
Your website’s domain name is also to consider when choosing your name. Search for available domains that match your magazine’s name as closely as possible. It is okay to use a few sudo-odd takes on domains for magazines like magazinenameonline.com or magazine-name.com. Register your domain and contact a web development company that you like to start work on your magazine’s new website. I like 22 Creative as they specialize in websites for magazines. Your website does not need to be awesome right out of the gate, just something professional that is clear about who you are and what your book is about – expect to spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands here. A website is an essential part of this process though, do not skip out on this one.
Okay, you have a name and a website, what’s next? Figure out what you will include in your first issue by writing out an editorial outline. Fancy name, but in reality, just write out what you want to feature, how many pages you want to devote to each item and how many pages for ads you want to stash away (this will be dependent on how many ads you sell for your first issue). How many pages should your magazine be? Two factors are in play here. One is the cost of printing the magazine as it costs more to print a bigger magazine obviously, the second is how much editorial can or do you want to produce? You do not need a 100 page book your first go around so, dependent on what your competitors are doing, aim for around 50 pages for a local or lifestyle magazine and 90+ for a magazine you want to distribute on national newsstands.