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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So have you always wanted to started a magazine, or is it just a a passing whim? Either ways, this post should help you understand the costs involved with the starting of a magazine in a much better way.

How Expensive is it to Start a Magazine? Kitchen Magazine. Custom Publication by Confetti Media.

This post of mine is a continuation of How Much does it Cost to Start a Magazine? So if you’ve come by without reading the earlier posts, I’d suggest you start all the way from the beginning, The Beginners Guide to Starting a Magazine.

To the more informed ones who’ve followed my earlier posts, in this part of the post, we’ll continue with where we’ve left off. I’ve told you about the expenses involved with the editorial, marketing and the photography already, and here, I’ll tell you about the rest of the essentials and how much it could cost you.

Design Team

A design team comprises of designers, creative directors, and at times, illustrators. For a magazine to run successfully, the design team has to be competent enough to coordinate with the editor and the writers. But at the same time, they also have to be creative enough to come up with unique designs that aren’t just cut and pasted from other magazines.

Creativity, unique design creation and understanding of colour combinations are of utmost importance while hiring a design team. But most designers don’t really understand the most important aspect, that the designs created on the computer screen and the final design that appear in the magazine usually don’t look the same. Absorption of colours on paper can create significantly different looking colour combinations on paper, especially while working on gradients, or on CMYK and RGB options. And all these little tips and ideas actually make a big difference between a good magazine and a fabulous one. While hiring a design team, try to get people who have experience in print magazines. Expenses-wise, a good design team would cost you around the same as your editorial team.

Airbrushing and Colour Testing

Great magazines boast of having the perfect airbrush artists. Usually, it is the design team that works on airbrushing images and making images and people in the magazine look great. One tip you really should know is that every single image you use in your magazine definitely has to be airbrushed. It may look stunningly good on the computer screen, but it’s always going to lose almost half of that quality when you transfer it to paper.

Unless your design team is exceptional, outsource a very good airbrushing artist or top-notch designer to airbrush your images, especially your cover page. Remember, airbrushing is not an option, it is a definite requirement. Airbrushing artists can cost you quite a lot based on their experience and knowledge of print media. But then again, if you have a great design team, you wouldn’t be requiring an airbrush artist anyway.

Circulation Team

Just like advertising and branding a magazine, circulation too is an extremely variable expense. Depending upon how aggressively you want to promote a magazine at the point of purchase, you can spend the bare minimum or go all out and spend millions on a national scale. Basically, circulation of a magazine involves more than just distributing a magazine to newsstands and stores across your country. It also involves sticking of magazine posters, manufacturing little fancy magazine stands and clips with your magazine’s logo on it, and banners and small hoardings that can be hung over the newsstand. Along with this, some publishing houses also create branded shade umbrellas, and fancy awnings that are branded with the magazine logo. Additionally, you can also pay a significantly higher commission to the vendor for selling your magazines, or pay a bonus for every magazine sold, or just pay a retainer fee for displaying your magazine upfront in newsstands.

But all these methods are just like grains of sand in the ocean. Every day, circulation managers and executives come up with more unique ways to advertise and promote their magazine sales. To have a successful team that can come up with innovative ideas, you need to have at least one experienced circulation head or manager, and a few people to work on the circulation needs. Circulation expenses wouldn’t really be as high as your marketing expenses, but it would be a good option to hire an experienced team that already has a good rapport with the local newsstands and vendors.

Click here to read the last part on How much will you have to spend to launch a Magazine?


What are the expenses involved with the running of a magazine? How much does it cost to start a magazine and run it successfully? Find out here.

How much does it cost to start a magazine? Confetti Media

Over the last few posts, I’ve elaborated on all the requirements of launching a magazine, and now, you’re probably ready to read the part where we talk about the involved expenses. In either case, the last few posts of mine should help you understand everything there is about launching your own magazine even if you’re just a fresh entrepreneur who knows nothing about magazines, or how to go about starting them. Here is a list of posts I’ve written earlier that you definitely should read to understand everything there is about launching your own magazine.

1. The Beginners Guide to Starting your Own Magazine

2. How to Start a Magazine? The Requirements

3. Starting a Magazine – Planning and Execution

4. Partners you need when you Launch your own Magazine

5. Six Essentials to Start your own Magazine

With this information, you are probably ready to launch a magazine by yourself. And if anything does scare you even now, it’s probably just your nerves or your lack of experience. But we all have to start somewhere, don’t we? Do remember an important pointer that I’ve said before, running a magazine is expensive business. And to make matters worse, there’s a lot of competition. And money, at least in the beginning, comes in trickles. Unless you’re an exceptionally clever and shrewd entrepreneur who can make all the right associations, it is going to be a difficult journey ahead. And you need to put in a lot of effort, and need all the dedication and passion you can muster.

Now coming to the expenses involved with the running of a magazine, I’ve listed most of the generic expenses that you would definitely have to spend on. Any other expenses that may come across your way would probably be the added expenses involved with running a particular niche magazine like a travel magazine (which involves travel expenses) or a celebrity magazine (clicking celebs in compromising postures doesn’t come cheap, really!).

The different expenses that you would have to deal with, issue after issue, include:

An Editor

Just like how a ship needs a captain and an airplane needs a pilot, you need a great editor to steer your magazine in the right direction. Pick an editor with a lot of experience, or if you can’t afford a great one, hire an editor on freelance basis as a Consulting Editor. But yeah, even a consultant will cost you an arm. After all, a great editor can be the difference between a successful magazine and a miserable one.

Editorial Team

An editor may steer your magazine in the right direction, but you still need a great crew to assist the editor. A typical editorial team involves a lot of people, but for starters, you could do with a couple of feature writers, a copywriter and an executive editor. You could also take in a few interns on a stipend basis to help your short-staffed team, at least at the beginning.

Marketing Team

Marketing is the life-blood of any publishing company. And the faster you understand this, and harness the power of a great marketing team, the bigger your advantage of sustaining and profiting from your magazine. Most shrewd start-up entrepreneurs spend more on a powerful marketing team than on any other division involved in the magazine business. It’s a clever move, but could also backfire if the focus is shifted away from the real reason behind the success of a magazine, its editorial. For starters, get in touch with the biggest marketing man you can afford to hire, and see if you can work out a deal. Beyond this, hire a few fresh or less experienced marketing professionals from the city you’re based out of. And about other cities across your country, partner with freelance marketing professionals until you can afford them on a full-time basis.

Photography Team

We’ve been through this part in my earlier posts in this series, so this should come off as a clear pointer. Every magazine needs good photography to stand out of the crowd. If you’re alright with sharing images, and don’t really care if you use images that are also used by other low budget magazines, then stock images may be a decent option to start off with. Even stock options can turn out pretty expensive based on the exclusivity of the images you intend to use. When the money does come in, spend some money on producing your own photoshoots so you can move away from the tag of a low-budget magazine. Another way by which you could get good images for less is by creating partnerships with local photographers. Strike a retainer fee agreement for a certain number of images every month, and as long as you get good images, you’re going to have a good thing going on for you.

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Vinod Srinivas Confetti MediaVinod Srinivas is a leading media strategist and consultant. As the co-founder of Confetti Media, one of India’s leading custom media houses, he has partnered with several organisations to create successful media strategies over the years. Being one of the pioneers of Custom Media solutions in India, he is one of the most established experts in the application of Custom Media.
This blog discusses the relevance and profitable utilisation of Custom Media, and has definitive and illuminating posts on Social Media, Custom Publishing, Content Marketing, Custom Publications, and new innovations in the world.