How to start a magazine with no money, no connections, and no time

…in three easy steps!

1. Just start doing it. Blogs are free. Go to free events. Lose your inhibitions and introduce yourself to people you want to meet. Learn and keep an open mind.

2. Make business cards and tell people what you’re doing. Blog about the events. Talk a great art director into designing it. Start working on the content.

3. Work on more content. Keep telling yourself that it’s all going to get published in a new magazine.” (If you don’t believe it, no one else will. Working on it like it’s real is the only way you’re going to get it out the door.) Then publish it in your new magazine, which is a downloadable PDF from your blog, and send the link to everyone you know, including your mother.

If you missed my RISE Austin 2009 session earlier today, that’s the Clifs Notes version. If you’d like the entire PowerPoint presentation, you can download it here.

Good luck!


6 Responses

  1. Hi Monica,

    Thank you so much for the wonderful and very informative presentation you and Torquil gave. I really enjoyed it and the fact that you listed the “Content, Production, Readership, or Advertising” as distinct places to start after developing one’s magazine idea. And some of the ideas for print publications that y’all gave are equally applicable for online.

    It’s always great to meet someone so passionate about what they want to do in life! Good luck collecting additional magazine “first editions”. 🙂

    Walt Esquivel

  2. How do you prevent someone else taking your idea and making it happen before you can? I have a amazing idea for a new womens magazine, but i also know that it will take alot of time to make this happen, Im scared that if I advertise to much what Im trying to do that someone else will come along and have the funds and connections to creat it themselves. Any advice?


  3. Yeah, that worried me, too. Still does. I definitely hid my idea for a magazine from most people in the beginning. But as soon as I told people about it, it made creating that magazine so much easier.

    The thing is there are lots of people out there with the means to be publishers = tons of money. And they might even have an idea very similar to yours. But chances are, they’re not going to execute on it as well as you do because there’s will be driven by money rather than a love and knowledge of magazines. They might launch it, might sell ads in it, might even put out a decent-looking first few issues. But that’s usually when greed sets in and they decide to go cheap on everything – content, paper, delivery – and readers and advertisers notice.

    The other thing about those millionaire publishers is that they usually have such big egos, they wouldn’t dream of stealing someone else’s idea – because it couldn’t possibly be as good as theirs. (Even when it probably is.) When someone with the means launches their own publication without having to start from the ground up, they usually focus on salaries and paper choices rather than community building with readers and advertisers. They may start out further along, but it won’t take you long to catch up.

    So the best thing you can do, I think, is continually research your idea and the market for it. Then if you don’t have the means to launch a national magazine, start small and build it one supporter at a time. National mags are extraordinarily tough to sell right now, but if you can connect with local/regional advertisers AND readers, you’ll have a successful magazine.

    Take a look at the magazines you’d compete with and do better than they do. It won’t be hard. It’ll cost some money to make a quality magazine that connects with your audience, but it won’t be hard to beat the ones that don’t.

  4. Hi. Thanks for the tips! I believe there’s always room for another magazine if it fits an unfulfilled niche so it’s great to get some advice on how to start one, since I happen to have one such great idea 🙂 I can’t get the ppt download of your full presentation to work. Is there any other place I can access it from?

  5. Thanks for all the positive feedback! Please remember – and here’s where I get self-promotional – my company, OCTOBER CUSTOM PUBLISHING, can help you plan, launch, design, or even execute soup-to-nuts a digital or print magazine of your own. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

    UDATE: you can also view or download the PowerPoint presentation from SlideShare. Here’s where to get it:

  6. Hi my name is Star and I’m only 11 yrs. old! I’m trying so hard to start a magazine but I don’t know how. help!!!!

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