Strategies for Bootstrapping a New Publication Monica Maldonado Williams Torquil Dewar GivingCity Austin October Custom Publishing
CONTENT Audience, sourcing, look and feel Start here if you can offer something no one else does. PRODUCTION Scheduling, deadlines, printing Start here if you need a plan first. READERSHIP Demographics, circulation, distribution Start here if you want to ensure mag’s success. ADVERTISING Media kits, rate cards, selling Start here if you want to make money. “Okay, I have an idea for a magazine. Now what?”
START WITH CONTENT Identify your audience Brides to be? MODERN BRIDE MARTHA STEWART WEDDINGS THEKNOT.com Car lovers? CAR & DRIVER ROBB REPORT MUSTANG MONTHLY EDMUND’S INSIDE LINE NEW STRATEGY: See who’s communicating to them already, in a mag, weekly email, website, DM. Find your niche in that. When you have a topic in mind, try to have a short story about why you’ve chosen that topic.
START WITH CONTENT Find writers! Scan similar publications Freelance writing sites freelance-austin.org Post to craigslist or job site journalismjobs.com, mediabistro.com You get what you pay for NEW STRATEGY: Hire a rabbit. Or at least a ringer. Invest in at least one solid piece. Even if you’re an expert on the subject, you shouldn’t be the only writer.
START WITH CONTENT DO NOT DESIGN IT YOURSELF Browse the newsstand Mags that always look good VANITY FAIR, MARTHA STEWART, GQ, WALLPAPER, NEW YORK, W, WIRED, GARDEN & GUN Judge art director only by their work NEW STRATEGY: Hire talented, experienced, professional with magazine design background. Do what he says. Looks matter…maybe even more than copy in the beginning.
START WITH PRODUCTION The editorial calendar How long does each phase take Distribution dates vs. cover dates Do a trial version NEW STRATEGY: Latch on to a known event your audience would care about – for coverage, distribution, ad sales, etc. – to time the launch. “I can’t function without a timeline. ”
START WITH PRODUCTION Printing…? Judging a printer Calculating the cost Distribution without printing NEW STRATEGY: Digital publishing. And only digital publishing. When choosing a printer, see which one “teaches” you the most. They will probably offer the best service.
START WITH PRODUCTION Digital production Still takes time Find a place to host it that will drive more downloads Difference between digital mag and Web NEW STRATEGY: Create it for on-screen reading. (See Texterity, GivingCity, Playback) It needs to retain it’s “magazine-ness.”
START WITH THE READERS Use bull’s-eye approach to identify your target. Industry pros with profit-driven reason Industry onlookers, influentials Pro consumers, boss demands they know Avid consumers Casual consumers Outsiders NEW STRATEGY: Social media marketing to help you build list. (Thanks to “Starting and Running a Successful Newsletter or Magazine” by Cheryl Woodard) Make it for readers who need it now…but make sure those readers will always exist.
START WITH THE READERS Somewhere between whom it’s for and whether you can contact them Email addresses or mailing addresses Purchase lists, DM Be part of existing email blast Grow organically Consider advertiser’s perspective Big number or niche-niche? NEW STRATEGY: Start with influentials. Their buy-in can help growth. Organic growth is painfully slow, but readers can turn into advocates.
START WITH THE READERS Subscription or ad model? All mags cost same, profit on efficiencies Mix of revenue sources Change how often, how much Develop new revenue sources NEW STRATEGY: Again, digital. Almost free using social media, online trials, etc. No magazine can survive on just subscriptions.
START WITH THE ADVERTISERS So you want to make money? Readers wants vs. advertisers wants Advertorials, free ads, etc. Multiple entry points to magazine Ads that look like dirt NEW STRATEGY: With digital, ads can link to site. Seek advertisers who want Web traffic. Here’s an idea for a revenue source – advertisements!
START WITH THE ADVERTISERS Ask them what they want High maintenance relationships – have lunch with these people Study media kits of mags with lots of ads Don’t be fooled by mags with lots of ads Sales vs. branding driven NEW STRATEGY: Digital mag ads can be branding but with a call to action… that’s not so ugly. For credibility, ads should align with your mission.
START WITH THE ADVERTISERS Interview them Who are their customers? How do they reach customers? When do they make media buying decisions? Do they have upcoming launch, event? And FOLLOW-UP. NEW STRATEGY: For digital mags, make sure they have a website – particularly one in which they’ve invested heavily. Consider their timing needs when approaching advertisers.
LIST OF SOURCES: HOW PROS DO IT American Society of Magazine Editors FOLIO: Magazine Mr. Magazine Magazine Death Pool Mediabistro Magazine Design TIPS: Read the industry Study good magazines Let yourself get emotional
LIST OF SOURCES: DIGITAL MAGAZINES FOLIO: Magazine Texterity Zinio Nxtbook Digital Magazine News (yuck) Adobe Reader TIPS: The flip gets annoying Web-based offers more functionality Mind file size
LIST OF SOURCES: DISTRIBUTION & GROWTH Wordpress or other blogging tool Twitter Facebook Your LinkedIn page YouTube Flickr ConstantContact TIPS: This is a full-time job Use the word “magazine” Create common look & feel
We’re still excited about magazines! TIPS: You’d better love it Mind your image online Make sure others know your story Hire pros as much as possible Magazines are emotional