Before the Internet, publishing tycoons and newspaper publishers dominated the magazine industry. Now though, the number of print magazines published is in decline.
Times have changed, and today it’s a more level playing field. Anyone can become a publisher and try to launch a successful online magazine.
If you have a dream to run an online magazine, there is nothing to stop you. But before you start, you should think about it as starting a business and do some research and planning before you jump into it.
How to start an online magazine? With good research.
What’s the difference between a blog and an online magazine?
What makes a great online magazine?
Lots of pictures, large images, ads and bucket loads of colour.
A magazine is all about the types of content that are entertaining and relaxing reading. Think about how people read a magazine by flipping through the pages, glancing at photos and only stopping to read when something grabs their attention.
On the other hand, a blog’s aim is to inform, solve problems and answer questions. There is usually a lot of text with possibly only a few images. This post is definitely not a magazine article.
An online magazine has to be of high quality and beautifully designed to appeal to your target audience. It’s all about the look.
You won’t need a graphic designer, but you will need to have a flair for what looks great and what will appeal to your target audience.
Check out what other people are doing
If you want to start an online anything, all you have to do is a Google search. When I first started in business many moons ago, I hated doing market research.
It was painstaking to check telephone books, business registries and drive around the city trying to spot my potential competitors. It took weeks or months to get enough information to start writing a business plan.
Now, all you need are a few clicks and you have all the information you need to find online magazines and magazine publishers for almost any topic.
Look at a lot of sites and think about what you like and don’t like about them. You can get inspiration and ideas that you can either copy or better still, improve upon.
First, make a plan
You don’t need to write a long business plan. But you should make a few notes about what you will need to get started.
The first notes should be about the subjects or topics for your new site. It’s always best to choose something you are really passionate about. Then your enthusiasm will keep you going in the long term.
If you plan to do everything for free, it is not going to happen. You won’t need to break the bank though.
You will definitely need a self-hosted WordPress site and a premium theme. Site hosting should cost less than $150 per year and top-class magazine themes range between $30 – $75.00.
You will need to register a domain name, but this only cost a few dollars a year.
If you are new to intensive daily writing, you might also need some help with your grammar and writing accuracy. I use Grammarly, but there are many online grammar checkers and proofing tools to choose from.
Because images are going to be very important, you might consider a digital camera as well as using a stock image service.
Once you have decided on what your topic will be, think about possible revenue streams, potential advertisers and how you are going to promote your new site.
Like all small businesses, you will want to make a little profit by generating revenue. The quickest way to monetize a new site is with ad income. Google Adsense is the obvious first choice, but you should also consider Amazon Associates banner advertising.
You might consider having premium content, but this is often hard to sell in the early stages of a new site. Once your site is more mature, it is a possibility.
For promotion, first, consider how you could use your social media network because it is free. Second should be how you plan to use SEO to get search engine traffic.
Many people think SEO is difficult, but it is not. If you take the time to learn a little, you will be rewarded with a lot of organic traffic.
There is always the option of using pay-per-click advertising with Google Adwords. But beware, it can become an expensive way to promote your new site.
I think it’s better to work on building your organic search traffic. It’s slower but doesn’t cost you anything except your time.
Ready, set, whoa, hold on!
If you make the decision to start a new magazine online, don’t rush into it.
First, choose your domain name very carefully. Look for a .com URL that is as short as possible but also gives a clear indication of your magazine’s name.
Then, take your time and carefully set up your new site, but not online and in real-time.
You will have a lot of work to do in making your web design look absolutely perfect, as well as writing lots of content.
You should only launch when you have everything absolutely perfect and you have enough pages and posts to satisfy new visitors and readers.
Also, don’t use an under-construction page. It’s a turn-off. Wait until you are ready, and then go live online.
When, how often and what you should publish
Unlike a blog, a magazine can have content that is timeless, plus content that is current. The front or home page should offer a reader a choice of both.
A professional WordPress theme will come complete with many options to showcase articles on the home page.
WordPress is, in fact, a content management system.
This means that your content can be displayed in so many ways. Categories are the most common way to sort articles into groups that can then be displayed on sliders or feature galleries.
Unlike a print magazine, there is no need to have a strict publishing schedule.
In the early stages, you should write a lot of new articles to build up the bank of content on your new site. You might think about even paying for freelance writers to help you.
But once you have fifty to sixty articles in the bank, you can relax a little. One or two new articles per week will be enough then to maintain visitor interest.
There are also many WordPress plugins that can help bloggers.
If you think that having your very own magazine is what you want to do, then there is nothing to stop you. It is inexpensive and if you are passionate about your subject it can be a very fulfilling part-time or even a full-time job.
In the early stages concentrate on great content and attracting lots of readers to your new site. Then later, when you have established your site, look at monetizing and selling ads.
You need a lot of traffic before any online ad income pays well. So concentrate on getting traffic first. If you succeed at this, the money will eventually roll in the door.
I started my working life as a lithographer and then spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of the Alps.
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