How to Launch an Independent Magazine – Tips from the Experts, Part I

Writer Marcus Wratten recently attended an event put on by Delayed Gratification and has compiled a brilliant list of the best tips he picked up! 

Setting up an independent magazine is the dream. Setting up a successful independent magazine is even better. It’s a mammoth of a task and can often seem near enough impossible, but don’t give up too easily – here are some tips from the experts behind quarterly slow journalism magazine, Delayed Gratification.

After recently attending a How to Launch an Independent Magazine workshop at King’s College University in London, hosted by the aforementioned industry professionals, I’m going to relay some key bits of information to increase your chances of a successful magazine launch. It’s okay, we’ll all get there in the end. Hold tight!

PLAN AHEAD 

  • There are several components to a successful plan. First things first, you’ve got to find your niche. Without a niche, you’re just a small fish swimming in a very large pond with many other similar, more successful, greedy fish. Find your own niche. Own your own pond. Heck, own your own ocean.
  • Get the basics down. Once you’ve found a niche, think of a cool, interesting name. Think of a strapline that summarizes your entire concept in one short line. Will your magazine be a digital, or physical entity? Or both? What is your output frequency (quarterly is recommended)? Important questions people, important questions.
  • A solid business plan. This involves working out who is going to help you as part of your team and in what capacity. You need those who can write, design, those who are good at marketing – a good team means a good magazine. You need to pay these people. Don’t become a magazine with a reputation for not paying your contributors. You need to be prepared for more than just your debut edition. Who is your competition? How do you plan on becoming better than them? Send your business plan to your friends, your co-worker, a bemused neighbor who you’ve never spoken to. Make it perfect!
  • When we’re doing something we enjoy, it’s very easy to rush through the important stuff to get to the fun stuff. A lack of in-depth planning leads you down the path to failure. Take time, put in the effort, and you’ll get there – eventually. It’s all fun and games!

MAKE YOUR MAGAZINE

  • So you’ve got the content. The writing, the photography, all set and ready to go. Now you just need a magazine to put it all in.
  • First of all, download some design software. InDesign, Illustrator…do some research and select the software to suit your needs. Get some help from a friend or use self-help tutorials to teach yourself a little design know-how.
  • If that fails, hire a designer. Find a business partner who’s got a little experience in the field. Get the right people on board – it will do wonders when tackling uncharted territory.
  • Once you’ve got a design, stick to it. Making a design template that can be recycled for each issue will save both time and money. It’ll probably also increase consistency and brand identity. Everybody wins!
  • Think about your magazine’s desired pagination, the size of the text and the binding of the magazine. The smallest details matter and if you can get your head around those with a solid vision of how you’d like your magazine to look, you’re one step closer to seeing your dream become reality.
  • Finding someone to publish/distribute your magazine is a whole lot easier nowadays with the unstoppable power of the internet. A simple Google or Twitter search will reveal a host of companies with the ability to get your magazine made and ready to hit the shelves. If at first you don’t succeed, review your idea and try, try again…

For tickets and more information about the workshops put on by Delayed Gratification, take a look here: http://www.slow-journalism.com/our-new-infographics-and-magazine-masterclasses

— Marcus Wratten

Marcus is a London based writer and avid magazine junkie. You can see more of his writing on his blog, EvenSister. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @marcusmagnus22.

Read Part II to learn about making money and sustaining your indie magazine!

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2 Responses to How to Launch an Independent Magazine – Tips from the Experts, Part I

  1. Pingback: How To Launch an Independent Magazine – Tips from the Experts, Part II | A Cat We Have

  2. Pingback: Pocket Change: April 30th to May 6th | A Cat We Have

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