What are the most important requirements to start a magazine? There are quite a few, and you need to focus on all of them if you want to make a difference in the media industry.


Essentials and Requirements to Start a Magazine Confetti Media

I’ve written quite a few posts in this series on starting a magazine and running a media house successfully. And if you would like to read everything there is about launching a new magazine, I would recommend that you start this series with this post, The Beginners Guide to Starting a Magazine.

After you’ve read my earlier posts and understood all the details, you should now be ready to know the real requirements of a magazine, not a publishing house, but a real magazine. So what are the different teams that you would require to run a magazine successfully? There are a lot of people and teams that you would need in the long run, but for starters, you could split the requirements into six basic essentials. In this post, I will briefly explain about each requirement. If you need any information about any of these details, or would like to partner with my organisation on the same, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

Editorial Requirements

Content is King. It’s been said before and it’s still something that’s of utmost importance. Pay a lot of attention to good content because a magazine won’t have any faithful readers even after a series of well branded advertising campaigns if the content’s no good. Unless you are an excellent editor, it would be advisable to hire an editor. The problem with most writers is that they can’t judge their own writing skills without spell check, let alone edit other writers’ work. It’s always difficult to edit your own work, unless you’re really good at what you do. Every magazine needs a few writers, a copywriter, and a couple of editors to work on the editorial content. You could skip a few people here to start off, but then again, can the others cope with the burden of overworking while maintaining the quality at the same time?

You have to think as a businessperson here, and not take someone’s word in this case. Think about it, you must have come across several magazines with atrocious editorial content and grammatical errors. Does that mean the boss is a loser? Nope, it just means that he or she trusts their employees way too much, and allows their writers to cloud their judgement. Don’t fall in this trap. Always get second opinions and surveys to understand what people want and how good your writers and editors really are.

Photography Requirements

If Content is King, then I can safely say that Photography is Queen. Just as magazines need good content to connect with a reader, magazines also need great photography to complement the content and enhance the visual appeal. Some magazines also do focus a lot more on the visual appeal of photographic images to sell their magazines. There are so many magazines that actually sell only because of the titillating images that are splashed on the pages of the magazine. Half the men’s magazines belong in this category. But its importance and requirements depends on the content and type of magazine you wish to start. You would be a better judge of the kind of photographic requirements, so plan your steps to cater to your magazine’s needs. Hire at least a couple of photographers, or partner with a photography agency to obtain the images for your new magazine.

Design Requirements

Good content may be king, and great photography may be queen. But they really can’t look their best unless they’re dressed up for the occasion. And for that, you need an excellent design team. Just like a great editorial team, you also need to invest in a quality editorial team that involves designers, creative minds, and art directors. The editorial and the design team usually works closely together, so unfortunately for your money, the design team is a requirement that you just can’t afford to miss out on.

Marketing Requirements

A business is only as good as the money it brings in. That sucks, because it just shows that creative minds can’t really make money without being shrewd and street smart. But unfortunately for the creative people, this fact is true and truly harsh. The golden goose of every magazine publishing company is the division that brings in the money, i.e., the marketing department. You could run the magazine on your personal funds for the first couple of years, but if you can’t sustain the magazine with external funds even after a while, then there’s no use of launching a magazine, is there? You really aren’t performing a charity service for your readers. Hire a good marketing team to bring in the advertisements to fill your pages, or partner with a good marketing agency to help you during your start-up phase.

Distribution and Circulation Requirements

You could publish a great magazine, but you also need to distribute the magazine to newsstands across your state or country so people can get a chance to read it. Partner with a few distribution agencies to circulate your magazine to the newsstands, and also hire an internal team to ensure that the magazine is delivered from the printing press to the distributors. Additionally, your internal team should also keep track of the magazines and ensure that the magazines are distributed well to all the stands, and are prominently displayed in the magazine stalls. Getting the magazines to be displayed prominently is dirty business, and can also cost you a lot of money. You’ll understand this in first person when you start your publication. Every country has its own circulation strategies and involved expenses, so talk to a few newsstands and you’ll know how to go about it.

Printing Requirements

Quality of the paper plays an important part, depending on the type of magazine you intend to launch. If you’re looking at a weekly news magazine, a newsletter, or a tabloid, your readers may not really care about paper and colour quality as long as you provide your readers with great content. On the other hand, if you’re planning to launch a monthly lifestyle magazine, your readers will obviously expect you to bring out a glossy, colourful magazine that can be shown off! So based on your requirements, hire a printing press that can satisfy your requirements, and your delivery deadlines.

You do have to understand that all of these above essentials are equally important, even if I may have given unfair attention to a few essentials. After all, a spacecraft may have thousands of parts, but there’s no way it can complete an expedition with total efficiency even if a single part is missing.

So if you really do want your new magazine to go straight ahead on the road to success, don’t miss any of these steps. Do all this, and you just may have a good chance of making it big in the media business.

Next Recommended Read: How much does it cost to start a magazine?

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You may want to start a magazine yourself, but a little help from the outside can help you go a long way. Here are a few partners that could help you run your new magazine successfully.


Confetti Magazine - Partners You Need When You Launch Your Own Magazine

In another post of mine, Starting a Magazine – Planning and Execution, I’ve mentioned the two most important partners that you would need when you launch a magazine by yourself. Here are a few other partners that you are quite necessary for a start-up company that wants to launch its own magazine.

Circulation Agencies

Creating a magazine is a difficult task, and requires a lot of effort. But all that effort can go to waste if you don’t know how to circulate your magazine. Magazine Circulation is to a magazine what SEO is to a website. You can have the best content money can buy on your pages, but what good is great content unless you optimise it enough so people can read it, enjoy it, and come back for more. The next time you go to a newsstand vendor or a magazine stall, ask the vendor to recommend a few good circulation agencies to help distribute your magazines. Once you speak to a few stalls, you’ll have a list of five to ten good circulation agencies you can contact and partner with. Speak with different circulation agencies and find out the terms and conditions on which they work.

Remember though, that circulation is a dirty job with a lot of secret hidden agendas and dark paths, and you usually never get paid for your magazines at the scheduled time of month. So maintain an aggressive yet good rapport with your circulation team, or chances are, a rival magazine may pay someone to keep your magazine off the stands! But no matter what, be wary of your dealings with circulation agencies and always have a backup plan, unless you want to risk storing all your magazines in a storeroom for the rats to read. There’s a lot more you need to know too, but I guess time will teach you all the strategies and secrets of circulation.

Subscription Agencies

A magazine breathes and gets its life through marketing activities, but for spurts of “pocket money” especially at the early months of your company, magazine subscriptions can play a lifesaver. To someone who doesn’t understand how subscriptions work, it may seem mysterious considering the low costs at which the magazines are given away and the additional gifts that come with them, but every move involved in the magazine industry is a strategy, and getting a high number of subscriptions can actually give the publisher a lot more than just money. If you can’t get subscriptions yourself, partner with a good subscription agency and let them handle all the activities for you. A good agency will also be able to bring in a lot of subscribers for you, at a small commission fee, of course.

Delivery and Mailing Agencies

When you start a magazine, you would be mailing a significant number of copies of your magazine every month to subscribers, agencies, clients, prospective clients, and a lot of other people. Sometimes, the number of copies distributed every month can number in thousands of copies. Partner with a good courier agency or mailing agency, so they can save your time, and also reduce the costs by a huge extent. And once you’ve partnered on a long term with a good delivery agency, not only will you ensure that your copies are delivered efficiently and on time, you can also save a lot of time on the inserting of magazines and pasting the addresses. After all, time is money, and every minute saved is a minute earned!

Digital Printing and Colour Testing Agencies

You may think you could spend an entire month working on your magazine, and take the magazine straight to your printer at the end of the month and have a ready magazine waiting for you on your next visit back to the printer. But it really doesn’t work this way.  If you want to create beautiful, well designed magazines every month, you need to spend a lot of time to ensure that your magazine looks good.  Partner with a good digital printing agency and colour test your prints every few days. A few good digital printers even have options to set the colours to match the original bulk printing colour and quality of printing presses, be it web or offset types. It may cost more, but it’s worth the money. This way, you can ensure that your digital prints will look exactly the same as your final prints. By tying up with a digital printer, and working on a contract basis, you can get better rates and also ensure that your regular digital printer knows your exact requirements, which can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

You would also require screen printers or digital printers as per your preferences and requirements to print your business cards and envelopes.

Hardware and Systems Agency

When you start a publishing house, you need many systems and software to ensure that your team can stay in tune with the current innovations and available software. This isn’t really a critical requirement if you or one of your team members know their way around new innovations in technology and how to install hardware and software. If you can handle this yourself, then you can skip this requirement.

Legal Advisors

Depending on the type of magazine you intend to start, this can play a crucial part in the process. If you intend to start a political or news magazine, then you would definitely need to partner with a good legal advisory or even hire a team full time. But on the other hand, if it’s a typical lifestyle magazine, you may need a legal team mostly to prepare your contracts, employment terms and conditions, etc.

The different partners that I have mentioned here would include almost all the media partners you would need to ensure that you have a publication free of worries and troubles in the long run. But then again, every individual magazine has its own requirements. Most media houses already have internal teams for each of these requirements. But as a fresh start-up magazine, ask yourself what you would require internally and externally, as a media partner, to ensure that your magazine takes off and runs successfully without any glitches.

Click here to read about the Six Essentials and Requirements to Start a Successful Magazine.

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What are the requirements of starting a magazine? What is the planning behind a successful magazine, and how do you execute it well? Find out here.

Tips on Starting  a Magazine by Confetti Media

If you’ve read my two earlier posts on starting a magazine, The Beginners Guide to Starting Magazines and Understanding Publishing Requirements, you would be able to set a good foundation, and would be ready to launch a magazine, and a publishing house. A firm foundation is always a good start, but foundations are no good unless you have a good plan to make use of the foundation. Starting a publishing house involves legal procedures and official documents, but starting a magazine requires great planning and perfect execution. In this post, I’ll tell you the most important criteria to run a successful magazine business.

There are two primary requirements, other than passion and determination, to run a good media house. You will need the Right Team, and the Right Partners.

The Right Team

You may have watched a lot of movies over the years, and you may have seen a lot of one-man army movies where the good guy vanquishes an entire army of bad guys in one and a half hours of screen time. Those scripts make for great movies, but reality is far different from those scenarios. If you intend to start a magazine, you can’t do it all by yourself. I’m not saying it’s not possible. All I’m trying to say is that it is inefficient. You could start a magazine yourself, or with a friend, and you could spend endless nights and long days working on all aspects of the magazine production yourselves, and may still be able to bring out a great magazine. It works, believe me, I’ve been there and done that.

But over time, you’ll understand that your talent can be put to better use by focussing on a particular aspect like writing, or designing, or perhaps, marketing. By doing this, not only would you be able to learn more about a particular niche of magazine publishing in detail, but you also have a responsibility to achieve the targets and follow deadlines. If you’re writing and marketing a magazine, chances are, you may spend more time writing and less time running around making money, or vice versa. And this could lead to imbalances in successful magazine requirements. Sometimes, great multitasking capabilities can actually turn out to be a shot in your own foot.

Use one-man or one-woman army tactics only if you have no choice, or can’t afford an exhaustive team. But then again, I’ve said this earlier, running a magazine is expensive business. If you don’t have the money or don’t think you can be successful soon enough, it’s better not to enter this field in the first place. But then again, don’t let me stop you from pursuing your dream. Think about your options, and ask yourself if you’re ready to take the leap.

Get in touch with people you know for recommendations, or talk to a good hiring firm, and hire people that you can gel with. But you have to be careful about your first set of employees. After all, they are going to be the benchmarks in their particular fields. You need leaders who are passionate and willing to trust you to lead them to greener pastures. But at the same time, they should be independent enough to take great decisions for the benefit of your company. This is crucial, and in most cases, can go awfully wrong.

One bad apple can spoil your entire basket, and a month later, every single one of your employees may walk out on you if you pick the wrong team. I could go on here, but you know what they say, you’re not going to know what the Sistine Chapel smells like unless you’ve been there. So, you’ve got great tips on picking a team in this post, go figure the rest. It’s your world, your dream, and your instincts that should guide you to your dreams.

The Right Partners

Running a magazine requires a lot of effort from several divisions. And chances are, you wouldn’t be able to handle all those requirements internally. There are two important partners that you could use, and I’ve mentioned them below. For any other partners you may need, you can see the link that I’ve added at the bottom of this post.

Printing Press

Printing of a magazine is one of the primary divisions that is almost always outsourced to a printing press. A good printing machine can cost millions of dollars, and as a start-up company, instead of investing in a low-cost printing machine, partner with a high-quality printing press. Speak with a few printers in your city and find out if you can look at them as long term partners.

Find out about their delivery timelines, the sort of machines they use, and the paper options they offer, and the other printing options like number of colours, effects, etc., and the different fancy paper cutting options they can provide. One of the easier ways to find a good printer is by flipping through the pages of leading magazines available in your city. Find out where they get their magazine published, and there’s a good chance that you may be able to pick a good printer right away.

Marketing Agencies

You have to understand this well, you cannot run a magazine on your personal investment forever. If you intend to do that, you’re really not cut out to be a businessman. You need to create a source of revenue generation that can bring back money to your office, and sustain your daily bread and butter. For this, you need an excellent marketing team, and the best marketing teams are really expensive, even if they’re worth it.

To save costs on marketing teams, you can partner with another media house, or with a marketing agency, and pay them a monthly commission and perhaps, even a retainer fee, to generate revenues for your magazine. But not all of them are good, so be wise when you go on a selecting spree. But as a word of caution, know that marketing agencies will also work with other magazines just like yours, and you can actually end up killing your own company if you’re not careful about the other magazines that are marketed by your marketing agencies. My tip to you is this, hire a marketing agency when you start a magazine, but only until your company is established enough to have its own marketing team.

These are two of the most important partners that you would need when you start a magazine, on a lower budget. But the list doesn’t end there, in fact, there are several other partners that you would need to ensure that your magazine runs smoothly, and at a lower cost than regular publishing houses.

Click here to read the next part of this article on Partners that you would need when you Start a Magazine.

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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.