How magazines get started (continued): Occasionally, the Google News grid will reveal a business article in a local newspaper that profiles the founders of a new magazine in the area. For example, here’s one about the women behind the “children’s fashion” magazine, Boutique in today’s Newton (Bucks Co., Pa.) Advance.
After three years of maintaining this weblog, I’ve decided all these stories reveal the same basic process of starting a magazine. It goes something like this (illustrated with quotes from the linked-to story):
1. Be sitting around and come up with an idea for a magazine:
“Erinn and I were sitting in a playground talking about a need for something for ourselves…We wanted to work in a way that we could still be home with our children, and we started conjuring up what our dream jobs would be.
2. Do research and discover “there’s nothing out there like this idea.”
The concept of a children’s fashion magazine was a gaping hole in the publishing world…The more things she told me about it, about how it doesn’t exist and we’re going to do this, I began getting really excited about it…”
3. Convince yourself someone else is going to do it, so you’d better act fast.
…the next obstacle was to get the magazine out before any publishing company developed their own concept, especially after they came across an article in the Wall Street Journal about the success of Lucky Magazine…”This article…was saying how the new trend is magazines like Boutique that are not just fashion magazines but also shopping guides….They also mentioned a new one for men called Cargo. I read the whole article holding my breath that they wouldn’t talk about a baby shopping guide. They didn’t and…we thought it was the perfect time to introduce this.”
4. Get financing.
Personal funding out of their own pockets also played a large role in being able to get the magazine off and running.
5. Produce the first issue.
…”until we got the first issue out there, we were selling an idea that wasn’t there. But now that it’s out there, it’s very encouraging.”
6. Look for “success” markers.
It’s distribution is already reaching homes in eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. They’ve also heard responses from readers on the west coast and overseas in Europe who received the magazine as gifts from their tri-state readership….they’ve already accomplished their first-tier goal by getting their first two issues out. “For the first issue, I think we had four or five advertisers…For the next issue, we’re up to eight…We’ve actually seen a large increase for the holiday issue. We’re probably going to have double, at least 15 have already committed. Each issue has almost doubled which people have said is amazing…”
7. Have big dreams and long-range goals to get you there.
Their next concern was establishing longevity, which is a constant challenge in the competitive market of publishing where advertising dollars and a loyal subscriber base dictate the ability to fund a magazine for long periods of time…In five years, they hope to gain a national distribution like their New York counterparts in Lucky, Town and Country and In Style. In ten years, they hope to be a regular fixture on newsstands….They all love Oprah and want to one day appear on her show.