How expensive is starting your own magazine? Here’s the last part on how to run a successful magazine all by yourself.

Nicole Faria Miss India and Zaid Bin Nazir MTV Roadies on Confetti Magazine Cover Page

Talking about expenses involved seems to go on forever, though I’m really trying to keep the pointers as brief as possible. But anyways, this is my final post on expenses involved with a magazine, so you could probably work your own calculations to understand how expensive your new magazine would turn out to be on a per issue basis. But in case you’ve come here straight without reading my earlier post on expenses involved with a magazine, you could start by reading How much does it costs to start a magazine?

And if you want to know everything you ever need to know about starting your own magazine, including all the details from the smallest ones to the biggest ones, I have a series of posts that can turn you into a professional magazine publisher in no time. You can read the entire series by starting from this earlier post of mine, The Beginners Guide to Starting your Own Magazine.

Continuing on the expenses involved with the creation of your own magazine, we have the following expenses that can’t be missed.

Subscription Team

If you’ve read my earlier post on Partners you need when you launch your Own Magazine, you’d realise that subscriptions can actually bring in a good amount of pocket money for your media house. Along with that, subscriptions can increase the credibility of your magazine, and also help you win more loyal readers and get more advertisement offers. Overall, a good subscription campaign can make a big difference in the success of your magazine. Most media houses hire subscription agencies on part-time basis rather than full time because it’s just not worth the pain of have a hundred interns walking around the office doing nothing when there are no subscription drives. It’s easier to partner with an external team or hire an event manager to set the whole campaign up for you, a few months in a year.

In most cases, you can get away without spending any additional money, by parting with a percentage of the money generated by the subscription drive to the agency. But a bigger subscription agency may want a share and an additional retainer fee to work on a project. In either case, if you can get this right, there’s a good chance that you can make a decent sum of money, and help raise awareness, at the same time.


A birthday present just doesn’t feel right unless it’s all wrapped and tied on top with a pretty ribbon. Likewise, a magazine just isn’t good enough unless it’s printed on the appropriate paper with the right colours. Additionally, the cover page has to be laminated, and the spine of the magazine has to look firm and neat. As a general rule of thumb, printing is the bulk of the expenses for all print magazines, and generally costs around 50% of all the expenses put together to publish a magazine. But this also depends greatly on the number of copies that you would be printing, so at least for the first couple of years, this rule of thumb may not be applicable to your relatively new magazine. Speak to a few good printers and get the best rates you can get from them.

When it comes to printing, it is always a good idea to speak with quite a few printing presses so you can get the best quotes without compromising on quality or delivery time. Along with the expenses involved with the printing press, you would also need a production head or a print coordinator to ensure that the colours are set to perfection without any errors, just the way you want your final magazine copy to look like.

Surveys and Market Research

You may assume that you run a great magazine, and your editorial team too may be convinced that you are running a great magazine. But it’s not your opinion that matters, but the opinions of your readers and potential readers. Occasionally, you can partner with a research company or hire a few interns, or even partner with an event management company to conduct surveys and research into the type of content people want to read, and also to get a feedback from your loyal readers. This is not a fixed cost and can vary based on how detailed you want your responses to be, and depending on the number of cities in which you would want to conduct a research. You can also increase the awareness of your new magazine by conducting surveys as you would be able to reach out to more people, and also to potential readers who wouldn’t have heard of your magazine yet.

Cover Shoots

This is the most exciting splurge in the entire magazine, but it is also an expense that can make or break your magazine. We’ve heard the old adage, don’t judge a book by its cover, and we’ve come to believe it. But in the case of magazines, it’s all about the cover. There are hundreds of magazines available every month, and all of them are displayed together. What are the chances of someone finding your magazine, and deciding to pick yours up over all other magazines in the rack?

This is where a great cover makes all the difference. A good cover page automatically rouses curiosity and involuntarily makes a reader reach out to read more, even if it’s an unheard-of magazine. So always try to conceptualise the best covers that you possibly can create. Cover shoots involve a lot of people, and it’s crucial that you hire the best you can afford.

You would need everyone from renowned photographers, gorgeous models, hair stylists, make-up artists, costume designers, clothes stylists, concept designers, well-equipped studios and shoot coordinators and conceptualisers. And all of these involved people should deliver their best at the same time to ensure a great shoot. I can’t really put a price to a great shoot, but I can tell you that it is not going to be cheap. But here again, by creating favourable partnerships with all the involved parties, you can cut costs by a large extent.

So there it is, all of the basic expenses that are involved with the production of a magazine. I’m still warning you though, running a magazine doesn’t come cheap, and you’d probably have to be well funded to launch and run a great magazine that can compete with the best magazines available on the stands.

But then again, I started my first magazine with limited funds too! Remember that it is not easy. In fact, turning your first magazine into a successful media house is as hard as hard can be, especially for a start-up with limited funds.

If you’re passionate and dedicated and believe that you can become a success, well, no one can hold you down! Here’s me wishing you the best of luck!

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