If you´ve been blogging for a while, and you´re making enough money as it is, it´s always healthy to look for new ways to expand your business.
I had never thought about creating a magazine from my blog The Wander Life, until my friend Rosario, who had seen my blog blossom from a humble personal travelogue into an authoritative site, came up to me one day and said, you should start a magazine with all of your blog´s content, people would be interested in buying it, and advertisers would follow you too.
At first, I thought she was crazy, but then, I did some research and, turns out, it was not such a bad idea after all!
If you thought you needed a big office with designers working at full speed to start your own magazine, think again. In the DIY era, anything is possible.
There are several free online services that will grab your blogs and format them into stylish customizable PDF magazines ready for printing.
Tabbloid is a creation of HP. It lets you input the URLs or feeds of your blog and then sends a clean PDF with a stylish design to your email. It is completely free, you don´t have to be an HP customer, and you don´t need to sign up for anything.
Zinepal is another service that lets you turn your blog into a magazine that can be read in print, kindle, ipad or other mobile devices. While the free version of the service is pretty cool, a pro account will let you edit, add advertising and customize designs. The free version only lets you add 5 stories to your magazine, and it will include a “Created by Zinepal” footer on every page.
The red lines you can see on the image (left) are warnings you will get when there is video or audio content that is unprintable; another drawback of the free user account.
To start a profitable magazine, you need to have a clear focus, you need to know the audience you are targeting very well. Blogs started out as online journals, where writers and ordinary people alike could write about whatever took their fancy.
A magazine, on the other hand, will die quickly if it doesn´t have a defined audience. When you are deciding which blogs to include on your magazine, think well about the audience you are targeting. Perhaps your favorite blogs do not fit, and you´ll have to leave them out, but you should always remember that focus will yield much more loyalty and sales in the end.
If you are not doing the fast DIY thing and you´re hiring a designer, I recommend that you look at magazines you like and buy first. Designers are nothing without clear guidance from the person hiring them. Magazine design is not about making things look pretty, it´s about making the magazine work, about attracting advertisers and satisfying readers.
If you have no clue where to start, I also recommend that you take a look at some books like 10 Influential Creators for Magazine Design and Magazine Designing (you can browse online through the latter).
One of the keys to making your startup magazine look amazing is finding a great magazine printing company. Once you have the layout and the content, your designer and your printing company will have to decide what kind of paper and format will best suit your magazine.
Digital printing has made this kind of service much simpler and affordable than it used to be, and the cost-benefit relationship can be enormous, if you market your magazine well.
If you are starting out with a very small investment, the best idea is to go LOCAL. Distributing your magazine in your area will mean that local shops will naturally be interested in having a presence there. More so, if you are putting out a quality product and distributing it for free.
Your blog´s sponsors may also be interested in the magazine, and you should always profit from a flowing offline-online dynamic.
When approaching advertisers for the first time, it is also a good idea to print out a mock isssue, so that they can see what the magazine will look like. This will work best with advertisers selling products that are somehow related to some of the feature articles in that issue.
MARKETING & PROMOTION
Here are some great ways to gain exposure for your magazine:
- Sponsor local events
- Use targeted advertising
- Social networking
- Develop Corporate partnerships
- Offer free magazine issues with related products
- Get endorsed by influential people in your niche
- Listen to your readers and advertisers
- Use co-creation tools
Now, go out there and start a magazine that people will remember. You can just use your own blog, or enter a joint partnership with a blogger that you like, whose themes are compatible with yours. That way, you can share expenses and minimise risks.
The only thing you will regret is not having tried, so just go for it, and don´t forget to send me a copy of your brilliant first issue. Happy magazine printing!