How to Start a Magazine Business

March 15, 2014 | By | Reply More

stack of magazinesQUESTION ON How to Start a Magazine Business

My friends and I are starting our own magazine. We have a prospective client with a lot of money ready to invest in our magazine, and all we have to do is hook her. Since we aren’t yet on our feet, we need a little bit of help getting our stuff together before our meeting with her. We need some information on how to make ends meet for the first two years by finding our salaries, printing costs, office expenses, circulation costs, mailing, and how to boost income from advertising. We need a little bit of help getting all of this together. Is there anything you can do?

– Nicole


Advice by Susan Martin

Dear Nicole:

Congratulations on starting up your magazine Nicole! Excellent questions!

Advertising Your New Magazine

Whether you’re advertising to attract subscribers or to sell space to advertisers, you’ll need to develop a keen marketing strategy to define how you are known in the marketplace. The stronger your statement, the more attractive you’ll be to the right clients and subscribers.

David Ogilvy (a well known expert in advertising) said that the single most important marketing decision is how you “position” your product or service. Positioning means what your product or service will stand for in the minds of your prospects and customers. Marketing strategies ( of which advertising is one) are guided by positioning. To help you determine your positioning, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the business I’m in?
  • What benefits do I offer?
  • What image would I like to project?
  • Who are my ideal readers?
  • What are their needs?
  • What am I offering to my readers that other publications aren’t?
  • Who are my ideal advertisers? Why?
  • How do their products relate to my ideal readers?
  • What are my company’s strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are my competitions’ strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are the trends in today’s economy?

In answering these questions, you will start to understand how you want to “position” yourself in the marketplace, and identify what types of marketing strategies will be most effective for you.

Managing Your New Magazine Business

Some suggestions for managing your money and making ends meet for the first couple of years:

First, figure out how much it will cost to run your business: This will involve making assumptions and projections based upon the knowledge you have about your industry and the research you do.

Make a list of all of the things you’ll need to spend money on for the first year or two. Project how much you’ll need to spend on each of these items, and when the expenses will occur. Put all of this on a spreadsheet with weekly and cumulative totals on the bottom of each weeks column. This way you’ll be able to see what your weekly and total expenses will be.

What to Charge for Your New Magazine

Take a look at your competition again:

  • What do they charge for their magazines?
  • What do they charge for their advertising?
  • What is their circulation, their format?
  • Is what you are offering advertisers better than what they’re offering?
  • If so, does this difference justify charging more/less for advertising & subscriptions than your competition?

Through this research, you’ll get a sense of what advertisers and subscribers will pay. Next, take a look at your production costs. Factor these into the equation. Look at how much available space will there be for ads- and how much can you charge for them? How much of this available space can you plan on actually selling each week?

Then, again based upon your research, assumptions and projections; fill in how much money you hope to bring in, from what sources (selling advertising space, subscriptions, etc.) per week/month and estimate how long it will take to build up your sales to the point of breaking even.

Keep checking in with your initial projections – you’ll become business savvy more quickly by keeping accurate records of sales and expenses, and stopping to compare projections with actual figures on a regular basis.

Evaluate if you have the funds and other resources available to launch your business. If not, how might you come up with them? Look for ways to save on overhead expenses especially in the first few years, so that you don’t need quite as much money to get started. Many new business owners work other jobs (full or part time) while in the beginning stages to keep money flowing in to cover their expenses until the business is able to pay them a salary.

Hope this was helpful for you!

Warm regards,

Susan Martin
Recommended Resources on How To Start a Magazine

Article originally published in May 2001.

 Susan Martin created Business Sanity to help business owners and independent professionals who struggle with sales, marketing, management and productivity; and want to increase profits, avoid burnout and run their businesses most effectively. To find out how you can make more money with less effort and stress; visit Susan on the web at and subscribe to Business Sanity Tips or set-up your free consultation.

How to Start a Magazine Business
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How to Start a Magazine Business
My friends and I are starting our own magazine, with a potential investor ready to invest in our new magazine business. Can you give me tips on how to start a magazine business?
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