Starting a magazine business can be very profitable. With proper planning, execution and hard work, you can enjoy great success. Below you will learn the keys to launching a successful magazine business.
Importantly, a critical step in starting a magazine business is to complete your business plan. To help you out, you should download Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template here.
15 Steps To Start a Magazine Business:
- Choose the Name for Your Magazine Business
- Determine the Type of Magazine Business You Will Launch
- Develop Your Magazine Business Plan
- Choose the Legal Structure for Your Magazine Business
- Secure Startup Funding for Your Magazine Business (If Needed)
- Secure a Location for Your Business
- Register Your Magazine Business with the IRS
- Open a Business Bank Account
- Get a Business Credit Card
- Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
- Get Business Insurance for Your Magazine Business
- Buy or Lease the Right Magazine Business Equipment
- Develop Your Magazine Business Marketing Materials
- Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Magazine Business
- Open for Business
1. Choose the Name for Your Magazine Business
The first step to starting a magazine business is to choose your business’ name.
This is a very important choice since your company name is your brand and will last for the lifetime of your business. Ideally you choose a name that is meaningful and memorable. Here are some tips for choosing a name for your magazine business:
- Make sure the name is available. Check your desired name against trademark databases and your state’s list of registered business names to see if it’s available. Also check to see if a suitable domain name is available.
- Keep it simple. The best names are usually ones that are easy to remember, pronounce and spell.
- Think about marketing. Come up with a name that reflects the desired brand and/or focus of your magazine business.
2. Determine the Type of Magazine Business You Will Launch
The next step is to determine the type of magazine business you will launch. The four main types of magazine businesses are:
- Print Magazines – These are traditional printed magazines that may be sold in stores or through subscriptions.
- Digital Magazines – Digital magazines are digital-only publications, usually published on a website or app. They may have subscription fees and/or advertising revenue.
- Video Magazines – Video magazines are like “television shows” but distributed solely online. They may have subscription fees and/or advertising revenue.
- Podcast Magazines – Podcast magazines are audio-only publications, usually distributed via streaming services or podcast apps. They may have subscription fees and/or advertising revenue.
3. Develop Your Magazine Business Plan
One of the most important steps in starting a magazine business is to develop your business plan. The process of creating your plan ensures that you fully understand your market and your business strategy. The plan also provides you with a roadmap to follow and if needed, to present to funding sources to raise capital for your business.
Your business plan should include the following sections:
- Executive Summary – this section should summarize your entire business plan so readers can quickly understand the key details of your magazine business.
- Company Overview – this section tells the reader about the history of your magazine business and what type of magazine business you operate. For example, are you a print magazine, digital magazine, video magazine or podcast magazine?
- Industry Analysis – here you will document key information about the magazine industry. Conduct market research and document how big the industry is and what trends are affecting it.
- Customer Analysis – in this section, you will document who your ideal or target customers are and their demographics. For example, how old are they? Where do they live? What do they find important when subscribing to magazines like the ones you will offer?
- Competitive Analysis – here you will document the key direct and indirect competitors you will face and how you will build competitive advantage.
- Marketing Plan – your marketing plan should address the 4Ps: Product, Price, Promotions and Place.
- Product: Determine and document what products you will offer
- Prices: Document the prices of your products
- Place: Where will your business be located and how will that location help you increase sales?
- Promotions: What promotional methods will you use to attract customers to your magazine business? For example, you might decide to use pay-per-click advertising, public relations, search engine optimization and/or social media marketing.
- Operations Plan – here you will determine the key processes you will need to run your day-to-day operations. You will also determine your staffing needs. Finally, in this section of your plan, you will create a projected growth timeline showing the milestones you hope to achieve in the coming years.
- Management Team – this section details the background of your company’s management team.
- Financial Plan – finally, the financial plan answers questions including the following:
- What startup costs will you incur?
- How will your magazine business make money?
- What are your projected sales and expenses for the next five years?
- Do you need to raise funding to launch your business?
4. Choose the Legal Structure for Your Magazine Business
Next you need to choose a legal structure for your magazine business and register it and your business name with the Secretary of State in each state where you operate your business.
Below are the five most common legal structures:
1) Sole proprietorship
A sole proprietorship is a business entity in which the owner of the magazine business and the business are the same legal person. The owner of a sole proprietorship is responsible for all debts and obligations of the business. There are no formalities required to establish a sole proprietorship, and it is easy to set up and operate. The main advantage of a sole proprietorship is that it is simple and inexpensive to establish. The main disadvantage is that the owner is liable for all debts and obligations of the business.
A partnership is a legal structure that is popular among small businesses. It is an agreement between two or more people who want to start a magazine business together. The partners share in the profits and losses of the business.
The advantages of a partnership are that it is easy to set up, and the partners share in the profits and losses of the business. The disadvantages of a partnership are that the partners are jointly liable for the debts of the business, and disagreements between partners can be difficult to resolve.
3) Limited Liability Company (LLC)
A limited liability company, or LLC, is a type of business entity that provides limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners of an LLC are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The advantages of an LLC for a magazine business include flexibility in management, pass-through taxation (avoids double taxation as explained below), and limited personal liability. The disadvantages of an LLC include lack of availability in some states and self-employment taxes.
4) C Corporation
A C Corporation is a business entity that is separate from its owners. It has its own tax ID and can have shareholders. The main advantage of a C Corporation for a magazine business is that it offers limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The disadvantage is that C Corporations are subject to double taxation. This means that the corporation pays taxes on its profits, and the shareholders also pay taxes on their dividends.
5) S Corporation
An S Corporation is a type of corporation that provides its owners with limited liability protection and allows them to pass their business income through to their personal income tax returns, thus avoiding double taxation. There are several limitations on S Corporations including the number of shareholders they can have among others.
Once you register your magazine business, your state will send you your official “Articles of Incorporation.” You will need this among other documentation when establishing your banking account (see below). We recommend that you consult an attorney in determining which legal structure is best suited for your company.
5. Secure Startup Funding for Your Magazine Business (If Needed)
In developing your magazine business plan, you might have determined that you need to raise funding to launch your business.
If so, the main sources of funding for a magazine business to consider are personal savings, family and friends, credit card financing, bank loans, crowdfunding and angel investors. Angel investors are individuals who provide capital to early-stage businesses. Angel investors typically will invest in a magazine business that they believe has high potential for growth.
6. Secure a Location for Your Business
Having the right space can be important for your magazine business, particularly if you’d like to meet clients or advertisers there. Some magazines outsource the printing, but you might opt to print them on-site.
To find the right space, consider:
- Driving around to find the right areas while looking for “for lease” signs
- Contacting a commercial real estate agent
- Doing commercial real estate searches online
- Telling others about your needs and seeing if someone in your network has a connection that can help you find the right space
7. Register Your Magazine Business with the IRS
Next, you need to register your business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which will result in the IRS issuing you an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Most banks will require you to have an EIN in order to open up an account. In addition, in order to hire employees, you will need an EIN since that is how the IRS tracks your payroll tax payments.
Note that if you are a sole proprietor without employees, you generally do not need to get an EIN. Rather, you would use your social security number (instead of your EIN) as your taxpayer identification number.
8. Open a Business Bank Account
It is important to establish a bank account in your magazine’s name. This process is fairly simple and involves the following steps:
- Identify and contact the bank you want to use
- Gather and present the required documents (generally include your company’s Articles of Incorporation, driver’s license or passport, and proof of address)
- Complete the bank’s application form and provide all relevant information
- Meet with a banker to discuss your business needs and establish a relationship with them
9. Get a Business Credit Card
You should get a business credit card for your magazine business to help you separate personal and business expenses.
You can either apply for a business credit card through your bank or apply for one through a credit card company.
When you’re applying for a business credit card, you’ll need to provide some information about your business. This includes the name of your business, the address of your business, and the type of business you’re running. You’ll also need to provide some information about yourself, including your name, Social Security number, and date of birth.
Once you’ve been approved for a business credit card, you’ll be able to use it to make purchases for your business. You can also use it to build your credit history which could be very important in securing loans and getting credit lines for your business in the future.
10. Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
Every state, county and city has different business license and permit requirements.
Nearly all states, counties and/or cities have license requirements including:
- General Business License: getting your Articles of Incorporation as discussed above
- Sales Tax License or Seller’s Permit: for selling products
- Zoning Approval: typically at the city or county level, this provides authorization for construction or use of a building or land for a particular purpose
Depending on the type of magazine business you launch, you will have to obtain the necessary state, county and/or city licenses.
11. Get Business Insurance for Your Magazine Business
There are a few different types of insurance that you may want to consider for your magazine business.
General liability insurance: This covers accidents and injuries that occur on your property. It also covers damages caused by your employees or products.
Product liability insurance: This insurance is important to have if you are selling products through your magazine business. This type of insurance can help protect you financially if someone gets injured by one of your products.
Business owner’s policy (BOP): The policy combines general liability and property insurance into one policy. This can be a helpful option for small businesses as it can be more affordable than purchasing the two policies separately.
Other business insurance policies that you should consider for your magazine business include:
- Workers’ compensation insurance: If you have employees, this type of policy works with your general liability policy to protect against workplace injuries and accidents. It also covers medical expenses and lost wages.
- Commercial property insurance: This covers damage to your property caused by fire, theft, or vandalism.
- Business interruption insurance: This covers lost income and expenses if your business is forced to close due to a covered event.
Find an insurance agent, tell them about your business and its needs, and they will recommend policies that fit those needs.
12. Buy or Lease the Right Magazine Business Equipment
Most magazine companies don’t need much equipment. To start a magazine business, you probably only need a computer, phone and internet access. You might also need office furniture.
When starting a magazine business, you can purchase or lease the necessary equipment. This may include:
- Computers: Computers are necessary for any type of magazine business. You will need computers to design and layout your magazine, as well as to manage your business finances and records.
- Printers: You will need printers to print out your magazine pages. You may want to invest in a color printer if you plan to print in color.
- Scanners: Scanners are helpful for scanning in photos and other graphics for your magazine.
- Software: You will need software to design and layout your magazine, as well as to create PDFs of your finished magazine pages. A popular software package for magazines is Adobe InDesign.
- Office Supplies: You will need office supplies such as paper, pens, pencils, staplers, scissors, etc. to run your magazine business.
13. Develop Your Magazine Business Marketing Materials
Marketing materials will be required to attract and retain customers to your magazine business.
The key marketing materials you will need are as follows:
- Logo: Spend some time developing a good logo for your magazine business. Your logo will be printed on company stationery, business cards, marketing materials and so forth. The right logo can increase customer trust and awareness of your brand.
- Website: Likewise, a professional magazine business website provides potential customers with information about the subscriptions and information you offer, your company’s history, and contact information. Importantly, remember that the look and feel of your website will affect how customers perceive you.
- Social Media Accounts: establish social media accounts in your company’s name. Accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or other social media networks will help customers and others find and interact with your magazine business.
14. Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Magazine Business
There are many different types of software that you may need to run your magazine business. The most important software for printing and designing magazines is Adobe InDesign. This software allows you to create layouts for your magazine, as well as to create PDFs of the finished pages. You can also find other software designed specifically for magazines, such as QuarkXPress and PagePlus.
You will also need accounting software to manage your business finances. Popular accounting software packages include QuickBooks and Peachtree. Other software that may be helpful for a magazine business includes contact management software, such as Salesforce, and design software such as Photoshop.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is also beneficial. Some of the most popular CRM programs include Salesforce, and Zoho.
15. Open for Business
You are now ready to open your magazine business. If you followed the steps above, you should be in a great position to build a successful business. Below are answers to frequently asked questions that might further help you.
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How to Start a Magazine Business FAQs
Is it hard to start a magazine business?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the difficulty of starting a magazine business will vary depending on the specific industry and market conditions. However, with a well-executed business plan and some hard work, you can start a successful magazine business.
If you follow the steps above, you should be able to start your magazine business without too much difficulty.
How can I start a magazine business with no experience?
If you have some journalism experience, that can be helpful when starting a magazine business, but it is not essential. There are many resources available to help you get started, including online how-to guides, books on magazine publishing, and even online courses.
Another option is to partner with an experienced magazine publisher. This can give you access to their expertise and knowledge, and can help reduce the risk associated with starting a magazine business.
Finally, don't be afraid to ask for help from others in the publishing industry. There are many people who are happy to share their knowledge and advice.
What type of magazine business is most profitable?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the profitability of a magazine business will vary depending on the specific industry and market conditions. However, in general, magazine businesses that focus on niche markets tend to be more profitable than those that compete in more general markets.
Another factor that can affect profitability is the size of the magazine. Generally, smaller magazines are more profitable than larger magazines, as they have lower overhead costs.
Finally, the type of advertising that a magazine business attracts can also affect its profitability. Ads for luxury goods or services tend to be more lucrative than those for mass-market products.
How much does it cost to start a magazine business?
The cost of starting a magazine business will vary depending on the size and scope of the business, as well as the type of software and services used. However, in general, the cost of starting a magazine business can range from several thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.
The cost of starting a magazine business typically includes expenses for printing and postage, software and services, marketing and promotion, as well as any staff wages or freelance fees.
Before starting a magazine business, it is important to create a budget and stick to it. This will help ensure that you are able to cover all expenses associated with launching the magazine.
What are the ongoing expenses for a magazine business?
In addition to the initial start-up costs, there are a number of ongoing expenses that are associated with running a magazine business.
Some of the expenses you may incur when starting a magazine business include:
- Software licenses and subscription fees
- Website design and hosting fees
- Printing and shipping costs
- Staff salaries
- Advertising and marketing expenses
- Office supplies and equipment
- Professional services such as graphic design or legal advice
It is important to factor in all of these expenses when calculating how much money you need to get started. You should also consider how much you will need for ongoing operations, such as staff wages, printing costs, and advertising fees.
How does a magazine business make money?
A magazine business makes money by selling advertising space to businesses and individuals. Advertisers typically pay a fixed price for a certain number of print ads, which are then placed in the magazine.
Magazine businesses can also make money by charging readers for subscriptions. In some cases, magazines also sell back issues and other merchandise such as T-shirts, hats, and coffee mugs.
Finally, magazine businesses can generate revenue by providing consulting or other services to clients. For example, a magazine might offer marketing or branding services to help businesses promote their products or services.
Is owning a magazine business profitable?
Yes, owning a magazine business can be very profitable.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the profitability of a magazine business will vary depending on a number of factors. However, in general, owning a magazine business can be profitable if you are able to attract enough advertising revenue and subscribers.
The profitability of a magazine business will vary depending on the specific industry, geographical location, and other factors. However, there are a few things you can do to increase the chances of your magazine business being profitable.
Some of the key things you can do to make your magazine business more profitable include:
- Offering a variety of services, such as marketing, branding, and advertising
- Developing a strong online presence, including a well-designed website and social media platforms
- Focusing on quality over quantity when it comes to content
- Charging a fair price for your services
- Building relationships with clients and partners
- Offering discounts and promotions
- Networking with other magazine businesses to share resources
- Becoming familiar with digital marketing, such as SEO and social media
- Nurturing a niche
By taking the right steps, you can make your magazine business successful and profitable. Investing time and money into developing a strong foundation for your magazine business is essential for long-term success. With the proper planning and dedication, you can have a profitable business.
Why do magazine businesses fail?
Magazine businesses can fail for a variety of reasons, such as a lack of planning, poor execution, and not understanding the needs of their target market.
If you're not proactive about planning and executing your magazine business correctly, it's more likely to fail. It's also important to understand the wants and needs of your target market in order to create content that is valuable to them.
One of the main reasons that magazine businesses fail is a lack of planning. This can include not having a detailed business plan, not doing research on the industry, and not targeting the right customers.
Another reason is a lack of marketing and sales skills. This can include not creating a sales process and not have a clear and strong value proposition.
The last main reason is a lack of financial management skills. This can include not having a realistic budget, not tracking expenses, and not investing in the business.
Who are key players in the magazine market?
The magazine market is made up of a variety of different players, including small businesses, large enterprises, and even individuals.
Some of the key players in the market include:
- Bertelsmann SE & Co.
- CorporationTime Inc.
- Meredith Corporation
- American Media, Inc.
- News Corp
However, there are many other players in your specific target market, and it is important to research the market to identify the key players that may have the most direct influence on the success of your business.
How much should I charge for my magazine services?
Magazine fees can vary depending on the type of magazine services being offered, as well as the size and scope of the project.
However, some common magazine fees for projects and advertising include:
- A flat fee per issue
- A flat fee for the entire project
Examples of magazine advertising rates are:
- Full page ad: $1000
- Half page ad: $500
- Quarter page ad: $150
It is important to consider how much time and effort you are putting into the project, as well as how much value it will bring to your client. It can also be helpful to compare your fees with those of other magazine businesses.
Some magazine rate examples are:
- $5.99 per issue
- $29.99 for an annual subscription
- $9.99 for a back issue
The best way to determine the right fee for your magazine services is to research the rates of similar businesses in your industry, and to also consider the value that you will be providing to the client.