For quite some time we’ve been told print media is on the way out and digital is the future. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Research has shown that around 44% of consumers read 1-2 printed magazines a month. When you compare this to 27% of people who read 1-2 digital magazines a month, you can see there is still a strong demand for printed media.
Most people don’t have an established publisher to help them self-publish a magazine, but that doesn’t stop new ones appearing all the time. It’s a great way to share your passion and enthusiasm about a range of different topics. There’s a lot of hard work involved but it can also be incredibly rewarding. To help get you started, we’ve put together ten achievable steps to self-publishing and printing your own magazine.
- Do the research
Self-publishing a magazine can seem like a great idea, but it should also be financially viable and worth the large amounts of time and effort you will have to put into making it a success. Before committing any significant resources you should carry out research to assess the value in going to the next stage of the process. This includes:
- Competitor research
Look online and in stores to see who will be your main competitors. Investigate what appeals to the people that buy it, and try to understand why other fans of the topics they cover do not spend money on the title.
- Identify your unique selling point
If you believe other magazines aren’t fulfilling a niche or need in their field, think about how yours will achieve what they haven’t been able to do. If your magazine is completely unique and unlike any other, how would it appeal to your target demographic?
- Find your audience
It’s vital to know who your magazine will be aimed at, so the content can appeal to their interests. This is more than just knowing their gender and age. Talk to people who enjoy the topic to see what they look for in a magazine and find out what makes them tick.
- Plan your budgets
Of course, the goal is to become the most successful magazine of its kind and to blow away the competition. But it will take hard work to get there, and in the meantime, you’ll need to have a tightly planned budget in place to support your growth.
Once you know how much money you have to spend, you can then think about printing, distribution and additional investment. For example, as printing in colour costs more than black and white, how much can you afford to use? Think about your circulation target and how it will be distributed. Sponsors or advertisers could also be used to provide valuable income to support the economics of the magazine.
- Start marketing
To become a magazine mogul a lot will fall onto your shoulders to promote and sell it in the early stages. Even the most popular magazines had to fight for their right to get space in prime retail stores. The magazine should be supported by a website (which must be live before you publish your first print edition). Not only can you use the website to complement the magazine, but people can subscribe via the site too. Creating a professional looking website is easier than it’s ever been. There is a huge range of providers that do a lot of the hard work for you, all with low prices and flexible design options.
Then it’s time to get busy on social media to try and promote both the site and the magazine. Avoid spamming and sending out lots of irrelevant content. Target your audience by following some of the people who follow magazines similar to yours and start from there.
- Create great content
Content is the lifeblood of any magazine, on or offline. Do jot down all the important points that you want your magazine to house. The good news is getting hold of good writers who can contribute is easier than ever. Reach out on social media channels and get in contact with high traffic blogs who can reach out to their readers. Utilise freelance sites which put you in direct contact with a huge pool of writers. Not only will you build a network of writers who can supply good quality articles, but at the same time you’ll be advertising the magazine and generating interest.
- Start editing
This is a crucial stage of the development of your magazine each month. You’ll now have a stack of articles ready to use and you can select the best ones that will grab hold of your reader’s attention. Try to strike a balance between editing the content to match the needs of the magazine, without completely changing the writer’s perspective. Writers will be happy to continue working with a magazine that doesn’t totally alter their articles – especially if they are providing them for free.
Nowadays a lot of magazines start online –which is why it is worth releasing your content on your website and growing a community of potential readers before moving on to the later steps. Printing the magazine comes shortly after an online following is established.
- Organise the layout
This is where you can get creative. Use other magazines for inspiration and take note of the common structures they use to make the content eye-catching. You’re likely to need desktop publishing software like QuarkXPress (used by industry professionals) orAdobe InDesign, which will make it easier to manage this stage. Images are another important point to consider. Using stock photos like those on Shutterstock will help you avoid any copyright issues. Even better, and if you can afford to, hire a designer who can take care of all of this for you.
- Accurate proofreading
There is no room for mistakes with printed magazines. Where an online magazine can quickly be changed and updated, once a printer has gone to press, there is no going back. Proofreading the content yourself is the first step. But it always pays to have it proofread by at least one other person. They can spot mistakes you might miss. This applies to grammatical errors and spelling, while also checking the page numbers have been added correctly.
- Find the right print company
Finding the right print company to work with will play a crucial role in the success of your magazine. Ideally, you want to find a print company that makes the process as easy as possible, while providing an affordable, high-quality print with reliable delivery times. While looking for a magazine printing company, do check there previous work and quality of printing.
- Quality checks
It can be easy to forget that what you see on your computer screen won’t exactly reflect the finished product. While in terms of layout it will remain the same, when it comes to the quality of image and colour, there will be important differences to look out for.
Every picture being used in the magazine must a have a 300 DPI image resolution to ensure they look crisp and clear on paper. The designer should also include a 3mm bleed area and a 5mm quiet area. This ensures any images running off, or sitting close to, the edge of the page aren’t cut off when the pages trimmed to size after printing. This is also true for magazines that are perfect bound (which features a hard, square edged spine) or feature a high page count.
- Deliver the correct layout
Laying out the design of the magazine for your print company will make the process much easier for both parties. Send the completed PDF files to the printer in a single file with all the pages in the correct order, as this makes it easier to manage and organise on their part. Providing enough time for printing and delivery is another hugely important factor. Printers like Maxim will be as flexible as possible but the less time you allow, the less room there is for you to spot and change any mistakes made with the content. Ideally, you also do not want the printed magazines delivered the day before they are set to be distributed as this will cause you a huge headache.
If you have any questions, always make sure to ask, even if you think they are silly – remember you are paying for the service and shouldn’t assume you and the printer are always thinking the same thing.