You see them everywhere. In coffee shops, hair salons, dentists offices, waiting areas, etc., and you can’t steal them because they’re free!
I always wondered how magazine publishers could leave stacks of their magazines everywhere I went. Now I know. But I’m still curious about how to get them going and what type of money free magazines can make.
I was recently contacted by a couple of 14-year-old magazine publishers from the UK and they helped answer these questions.
Sean Spooner and Louis Porter started Corby Magazine in June 2010 and they’re preparing to release their third issue. In this email interview, Sean walks us through how they got started and how they’ve already turned a profit in four months with their free magazine.
1. What are a few critical steps to publishing a magazine?
A: The main step was to make sure that there was a need for the magazine. In the local area there weren’t any magazines. There was a newspaper, however, which already took up about 90% of the local market. So making sure that the magazine was economically viable was an important step.
We also had to check that clients were willing to pay for the advertising during these tough economic times.
Lastly, we signed up to as many press releases we could from the local area. This was to ensure that we were always on top of the news and things happening both locally and nationally.
2. What tasks are involved in producing, printing, and distributing a magazine?
A: The first task is always to plan (of course). Planning in our market is vital. We need to know what is happening and when. We need to ensure that there are recourses in place for us to get to an event, cover it and report on it, quickly.
The next two tasks are production and selling.
I take charge of the design and production, and Louis does the selling. We start with a basic page plan that’s not set in stone. We design and sell around this template. However, if something were to happen which makes big news in the area, we’d phase out another feature and report on the bigger piece.
There are then two steps left. The first is printing. Being a local magazine we keep it local and print with a local printer. By this time we have already contacted all of the printers in the town to get the best quote. The printing is paid for by the revenue made from the advertising.
Lastly we distribute. It takes a few days to get all of the copies into local hair dressers, doctors, dentists, community areas and reception rooms. (We decided early on not to distribute to houses, as they’d get binned, bring in a low readership and high costs.)
3. How do you make money from the free magazine?
A: We make revenue from Corby Magazine by selling adverts to local companies and organisations. Louis takes care of selling the advertising space. He starts by going to all of the small businesses in the town, conducting a short pitch, then answering any questions. This has proved rather successful for us so far.
We then go about designing the adverts. I take charge of this. The process is simple. We get a brief, design to the brief, the clients proof it, we take payment and that’s that.
4. What’s your vision for Corby Magazine?
A: My vision is simple; Corby Magazine to be in every home in Corby, every shop, and ever local business by 2012.
We plan to get there following the rate of growth that the magazine has already seen. Issue one broke even with 12 pages, issue two made a profit with 16 pages and issue three also plans to turn a profit with 36 pages.
In the future we plan to increase the amount that we distribute, the costs of this will be covered by the advertising rates being increased.
5. What advice would you give a young entrepreneur interested in magazine publishing?
A: If you’re going to do a magazine, make sure it’s something that you’re passionate about. Don’t do it about something you know nothing about. If you love it, it will come across in your writing.
Do not move too fast, and make sure that you check all of the printers; sometimes people can take advantage of the fact that you are young. Keep your wits about you, and do something amazing.
Confession: I had no idea they were young entrepreneurs until Sean pointed out that they were both younger than Savannah Britt, the world’s former-youngest magazine publisher. Due to they’re professionalism, I was thinkin’ mid-30’s. Go check out the awesome job they’re doing at CorbyMagazine.com and BiggishMedia.com.
Photo by: BrittneyBush