Creating and Running a Profitable Online Magazine, Part I

By . Filed in Web 2.0

Digital text is the future of Internet media. We’re ushering into a new era with furthering technological advancements. Physical magazines today may be gone within the next 5-10 years. Magazines are moving online in a rapid succession.

It’s hard to imagine a world where all of our information is stored digitally, yet as we press closer smaller pieces are starting to fall into place. The idea of recycling and saving the green is stronger by day which is the reason why an online magazine makes sense perfectly.

In this 2-part series we’ll be going over some of the best actions to take in launching your own online magazine. In this first section we’ll discuss the grounds of manifesting a creative idea and how to go about the basic building blocks for digital content. Part II will be focused on some heavier responsibilities of a magazine startup. This includes writing consistent articles, marketing, and expanding your skillset into larger management.

It’s going to take some time and a lot of sweat and blood. The end result after months of mental labor will pay off in ways which are inconceivable to describe.

Align your Cardinal Goals

Before you even consider launching a magazine you have to set your goals in order. What do you hope to accomplish from the launch? The end result is generally a large enough profit to peacefully live on but there has to be more. What are your true passions? In what activities do you derive most of your interest and curiosity?

It can be difficult but sitting down for 10 minutes and create a list of what you’d like to see happen as a result of launching your magazine. Maybe you wish to simply quit your job and work for yourself. Another possibility is adding a small description of your magazine works in your résumé or Curriculum Vitae.

You may not be interested for money at all. Popularity and experience can go far in today’s world. Most popular entrepreneurs who run digital magazines didn’t get started because they wanted to reap heavy profits. They started blogging under an idea to get their name out there and generate well-known interest to the public.

You may have similar goals to write just because you hold a general interest in the site’s topic of choice, also called a "niche".

Define Your Magazine’s Niche

Determining a niche to write in isn’t always simple, though it may come easier for some. A niche is simply the topic which your magazine will be focused on. You may decide to write about fashion, digital trends, business, gaming, or quite literally any other topic.

If you hold a deep enough interest in a topic to launch a magazine and write articles about it, odds are good there’s other people out there interested in reading. Never worry about your market size being too small or too large. Your main concern comes with content.

Keep Plenty to Write About

The quintessential killer of most digital magazines is lack of content. Many will aspire to launch their site and run for 3 or 4 months before ultimately tiring of the process and giving up entirely.

The amount of knowledge you already hold on the topic is irrelevant. With so much information available at just the click of a button even an hour’s time is plenty to research and grow your knowledge. The true defining factor is how passionate you are to research these topics and write about them.

If you are lack of passion, it will illuminate itself through your writing. When picking a niche you’re in it for the long haul so make sure it’s a topic you truly cannot see yourself losing interest in. A good way to start is by limiting a list down to your top 2 or 3 topics.

Follow this up by creating a sub-list of 20-40 article headlines you can write about for each topic. If you certainty can’t find even 20 potential headlines then you know with that’s not your best choice. This activity is a two-fold as in, it does not only helps you define your niche but also gives you a great starting point for 20+ articles to write.

Plan your Growth Strategy

An imperative part of launching a digital magazine is to understand how you’ll be gaining readers. The old adage of "build it and they will come" doesn’t truly work in this sense. A small marketing strategy can go a long way in just a few months’ time.

Google is the best place to start. Research similar communities related to your niche and check out their userbase. You may consider registering an account on forums or networks and meeting new contacts with similar interests.

These communities are not only great places to start networking and building a small following but you may find people who are willing to write for your magazine. It can get tiring keeping up with new posts day after day. Knowing you have others of similar interest to fill in for some days will create a relaxing peace of mind.

Utilizing Social Media

Websites such as Digg and StumbleUpon have made it easier for the little guy to market and grow a small following. Create an account for yourself on all of the popular social news and sharing websites. Give them a test run, see if any catch your eye for marketing potential.

It would be unreasonable to run accounts on 30+ networks and market among all of them. Conclude which web applications have the best-suited structure and audience for your magazine and stick to those. Social media is a vast, deep ocean to explore in full.

Building a powerful presence on these communities helps with branding as well. Building a magazine brand is part of the marketing process and it’s crucial for visitors to recognize your name and avatar throughout all your profiles online.

Imagine your Perfect Design

You don’t need to be a professional web designer to visualize a powerful blog theme (although it doesn’t hurt). A fun way to get started with a design is to surf around the web for similar blogs or websites related to your niche. Pick and choose elements you like and make a collective list with backlinks to each individual site for future reference.

If you know your way around Photoshop or have money to hire a professional designer I always recommend getting a custom design created. However in the early days of a magazine launch it’s not essential to brand yourself. Keep ideas written down for what your ideal design would look like and if you can’t launch with it plan to get creative in a few months after you know this whole blogging thing is for you.

Borrow elements from physical design magazines. Inspiration doesn’t need to come directly out of the Internet just because that’s your medium of choice. In fact, trends in physical magazines can easily be carried over into the digital world.

Another simple exercise you may consider is checking out your local bookstore or magazine stand. Most places such as Borders or Barnes & Noble have open chairs. You can sit down and browse magazines without purchasing them. You may wish to bring a small notebook to take down ideas since you won’t be bringing the physical copy home.

Part II: Stay Tuned.

These are just a few elements you should consider before launching an online magazine. In part 2 of this series we’ll take an in-depth look into the writing and editing process that comes with magazine-style blogging. We’ll also go over tips for keeping motivated and on track with your goals.

It’s a tough battle but with deeper focus on writing and marketing techniques it’s a crafy business plan.

Author:

Jake is a user experience designer for both web and mobile platforms. Having over 4 years of freelance projects under his belt, he frequently writes articles on topics of modern design trends and social media. You can check out some of his work on Dribbble or follow his tweets @jakerocheleau.

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