So are you ready to start a magazine? Here are all the tips that anyone could ever need to start a magazine.


How to Start a Magazine? Understanding the Requirements

If you’re still convinced that you’re ready to start a magazine after reading my introductory post on The Beginners Guide to Starting a Magazine, and just as enthusiastic about launching your magazine, then this post will definitely help you further in starting your own successful magazine. My earlier post would surely have revealed the high odds of owning a successful magazine, but fret not, if you know how to go about it, you’d definitely be able to launch and run a successful magazine.

Before I go into the technical requirements of starting a magazine, I really must tell any entrepreneur about the emotional and physical needs of starting a magazine. On the other hand, if you’re an entrepreneur that’s backed well by a long, glowing resume, and a big venture capitalist, well then, good for you, life can be just a bit softer on you. But wherever the money comes from, you’ve got sleepless nights and tough decisions to take in the years to come, and sometimes, even hard work may not give you the positive results you expect or want.

Unfortunately, passion alone isn’t enough to run a successful magazine. Sometimes, your core team may have differences with you and you may have to sever ties, which can make circumstances quite ugly. I’ve been there and done that, and the road’s tough. There were days when I had to partner with companies even if it wasn’t profitable for me. But I had to take on the opportunity in the hope of continuing my dream. But years down the lane, it would all be worth it. At times, it is completely acceptable to take one step back, to jump three steps ahead.

Today, I can actually decline a proposition to partner with a company if I want to, and I’ve walked away from several prospective clients just because our business ethics and communication styles aren’t compatible. Running a magazine isn’t only about the money. It’s a lot about crucial associations and partnerships. And it’s always about long term plans. What might seem easy and perfect today isn’t really the best option unless you can project a positive growth curve in the years to come. So what are the real issues that you need to look into when you start a magazine? Here are a few tips that can help you take the first few baby steps.

Legal Requirements

This is a very important part of launching a media publishing house. Amidst the enthusiasm and the eagerness to bring out a magazine, some people forget these crucial requirements. If you really are planning on staying around and playing the game for a long time, build the right foundation. If you’re partnering with a few friends, then have all the details including the expenses shared and the revenue sharing ratios recorded. Create exit options in the contracts between the partners, just in case things aren’t going to be cushy and nice in the years to come. And most importantly, register a company name and copyright all the relevant logos, etc. Speak with a legal advisor who knows and understands the working of a publishing house so you don’t end up with the short end of the stick.

Title and Magazine Registration

Almost all people who want a start a magazine don’t know this crucial piece of information. You cannot start a magazine legally unless you have registered the magazine with your country’s newspaper and magazine council or registrar. Now each country has its own government body overlooking these procedures, so I can’t really advise everyone here. In India, we have the Registrar for Newspapers in India (RNI) which overlooks all these procedures.

Your first move would be to verify the name or title of your prospective publication. Most government bodies have their own websites where wannabe publishers can find out if a magazine title is available for use in their country. This process is similar to looking for new domain names on the internet. You would have to apply for your title and get an approval to go ahead with the process. After the Title Verification, the next process is the Registration of the magazine. In India, as I said previously, you would have to obtain a registration number before launching a magazine from your local district commissioner’s office. Only after you receive at least a temporary registration number can you launch your first issue. But it doesn’t end here, there are a few more processes that you would have to involve in. But once you get the first step right, the respective authorities would be able to help you further and tell you how to go about the other formalities in detail.

The only case when you have the option of skipping a registration number is if you don’t intend to sell the magazine. You may find this anomaly in a few internally distributed company magazines, that are not sold on stands and don’t have a price tag on the magazine. The only risk in such cases is if someone else applies for a title that is the same as an unregistered company magazine, and gets all rights associated with that title. Under such circumstances, all the legal rights of the title ownership would pass on to the person who has registered the title under their name, and guess what, the legal owner of the title could also sue the company!

These are the two basic steps that you would have to cover in detail, before you give a thought about working on the magazine. So even before you sit down to work on your content, or hire teams, hold the thought and finish these two steps.

So what next? Well, it’s launching a magazine! Click here to read about Planning, Executing and Launching a Magazine.