How To Start A Magazine

The magazine industry is a tough world to break into if you are not sure where to start.  In the United States alone there are thousands of magazines dedicated to multiple niches and audiences.  That means putting a plan in place before you start your quarterly perfect bound or saddle stitch publication for your local market is vital to your magazine’s success.   There are almost 225 million magazine readers in the United States alone, so the audience is out there.  It’s your job as a publisher to captivate them with your magazine so today we’ll take a look at some of the basics for starting your own magazine from scratch.

Find Your Niche and Define Your Target Audience

You may have been writing a blog or posting stories online for a while when you start discovering the same core of people are reading your content day after day.  This is a good place to start when it comes to choosing your audience. If your passion is outdoors and the voice you write in speaks to those readers then the magazine should orientate towards that audience. The articles and images you provide in the magazine should focus heavily on the outdoor community.  You’re not only building a magazine but a community of readers who you’ll eventually want to see as paid subscribers (more on that later).

Dedicated Magazine, which started in early 2019, was conceived because of the need for storytelling within the community.  The creators were originally a part of the auto-scaling hobby and when they found the need for a publication that catered to their niche, they dove headfirst.  “There are magazines out there that showcase scaling and modeling but we were more focused on our niche market of low-riders and modern imports,” David said of the inception of the magazine.  They were focused on their core audience and brought them a product that they knew they would enjoy.

Instant Custom Magazine Pricing: Learn More

Free Magazine Templates: Learn More

It will be easier for you to publish content on an audience you know about or have been involved with.  Throughout the magazine process, you will have to outsource some writing but keeping it within a niche you know will keep those freelance budgets down.  It’s important to note that the audience isn’t just the reader but the advertiser. Advertising will be a big part of your magazine, which we discuss later, but they are also an audience you will need to understand.  So, if you’re magazine is an outdoor magazine, then your audience is also the camping store down the street and the content needs to make sense from their standpoint as well. It’s crucial you understand your community first before setting out on the magazine journey.


There are so many magazines being circulated today that it’s important you research other publications in the market you’re thinking about entering.  If you’re launching a magazine in a market with a population of 10,000 residents and there is a magazine in the area already providing content on similar material, you may want to reconsider your audience.  It comes down to value. Does your publication offer something your competitors don’t? If so, the readers might just migrate towards your magazine!

Assemble Your Team 

Starting out you’re probably going to wear a lot of hats, for the first issue or two.  You may find yourself writing articles, selling ad space, taking photos and much more! But, with proper funding in place and ad dollars rolling in, you will need to begin to consider assembling a robust team.  Some key positions you might want to think about:

  • Editor

The editor will ensure cohesiveness throughout the magazine.  This person will be your second in command and steer the direction of the magazine for your writers/photographers.  They tend to be decent spell checkers too! (winky face)

  • Sales Manager

Selling ad space in your magazine will be extremely important in determining the success of your magazine.  You’re going to want to hire a sales manager that can reach out to prospective advertisers and sponsors to support your magazine.  The sales manager will be a great promotor of the magazine as well, locking down key distribution points.

  • Photographer/Writer

The writers and photographers are vital to your magazine because they produce the content.  People pick up the magazine and subscribe because of relevant content, which means you should consider hiring experienced full-time writers and photographers.  There are options, depending on your budget to hire freelancers as well.

  • Graphic Designer 

Adding a graphic designer to the team will help with the layout and overall art direction of the magazine.  Graphic designers can also create ads for your advertisers when they don’t have the resources to do so; this is an excellent option for add-on sales!


According to MarketingCharts, “The consumer magazine ad market is expected to be worth $15.6 billion in 2019.”  There are advertisers out ready and willing to spend money in your magazine and it’s just a matter of you getting a piece of the pie.  The long term viability of your magazine will rely on your ability to create engaging content while enticing advertisers to buy space in your print publication.

A great place to start when it comes to ad sales is building out a media kit you can present to prospects.  Your media kit should have the standard information below:

1. Ad Space Sizes 

You can show how the ad would appear on the actual page of the magazine.  Each space should have the dimensions and orientation for them to see. Often, ad space in magazines is laid out by half horizontal/vertical, quarter and full-page ads.

2. Demographics 

Who is reading the magazine?  Advertisers need to know who is reading the magazine because it will help them determine their message.

3. Placements 

Magazines have key placements that add more value than regular placements in the publication.  The back cover will be a more expensive full-page ad than a full-page ad inside the magazine. It’s also important to add online placements in your media kit if you plan on having a corresponding digital magazine.

4. Rates

Price per ad will depend on a few factors.  Placement, size, and frequency will determine ad rates for your publication.  The larger the ad, the more it should cost. As advertisers start seeing a return on ad spend they are more likely to advertise again in the magazine, in which you will want to add-in discounted frequency rates for multiple runs.  A good example of such discounts can be found here where the monthly magazine splits discounts as 1x, 3x, 6x, 9x and 12x.

Instant Custom Magazine Pricing: Learn More

5. Distribution and Circulation

How many magazines will be printed and where can I find them?  Adding the stands around town or local stores to find the magazine will help sell the publication to potential advertisers.  If you plan on mailing the magazine to subscribers that number should also be included in the media kit.

Advertising is a great way to offset a lot of the start-up costs for your magazine.  In the beginning, there may be a small number of ads in the magazine but as the reach grows so should the ad revenue!

Circulation and Subscriptions 

Securing locations with a high volume of traffic will increase the reach of your print magazine.  Places like coffee shops, restaurants and libraries are hot spots for people to digest the magazine.  If you’re able to work with local shops and get them to buy bulk orders of your magazines then more eyeballs will be reading it.  Those eyeballs convert to dollars because advertisers are looking at how many people are actually reading the publication.

Another option is actively pursuing subscribers in your target audience.  Using social media and other marketing tactics, you can push the new publication.  Charging people that are interested in receiving the magazine monthly or quarterly a small fee of say $5.99 per issue.  This is a great way to pay for the printing costs.

Find A Printer

Whether you’re printing 250 magazines or going statewide and printing 3,000 plus magazines, you’re going to want to find a trusted printer.  PrintingCenterUSA has helped thousands of magazine publishers fulfill their dreams the past 40 plus years with affordable magazine pricing.

Below you can find some sample pricing for printing a small-run magazine.

Specs: 8.5×11, 64-pages, 80# gloss cover, 80# gloss text (inside), full-colorQuantity: 500Total printing cost (shipping not included): $2,337.30

Price per mag: $4.67

Now, if you’re able to get some subscriptions at $5.99/issue you’re already ahead of the game.  Let’s say the magazine is on its third issue and gaining some traction as the subscription base rises.

-100 subscribers at $5.99 each = $599

-12 advertising spaces sold: $4,900

  • Back-cover = $1,000
  • Inside-front = $800
  • 2 full-pages = $500/each
  • 5 half-page ads = $300/each
  • 3 quarter page ads = $200/each

Total Advertising Revenue = $5,499

That’s just the beginning!  There’s a good chance you can cover most of your expenses within the first couple of runs of the magazine.  As more and more vendors sign up and more advertisers see the value, the ad revenue will only increase. Eventually, the magazine will be able to add more pages which leads to more ad space!

Creating a magazine from scratch can be rewarding and it is just like starting a business.  It takes time to build a community of readers and businesses before your magazine can truly flourish, but it’s all possible.  If you build it, we’ll print it.

Please share, follow and like us:

Leave a Reply