Magazine publishers whose work is solely available online create and publish editorial content that might be supported by paid circulation or advertising revenue, or by a combination of both. Online magazines, also known as e-zines or digital magazines, feature articles, photography, typography and graphic layout design that can resemble print magazines. Some blogs are also published like e-zines, with guest post writers and advertising support.
Plan your Business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
What are the startup and ongoing costs?
Who is your target market?
What are the costs involved in opening an online magazine?
You could literally start your online magazine without spending a penny. That doesn’t mean that you should—but you can. It’s possible to build a website for little or no money, or publish on WordPress or Blogger platforms at no cost. You can promote your magazine for free via such social media venues as Facebook and Twitter. You could write all of the content yourself or get others to write for no cost except links to their own zines or blogs. Also, you could shoot your own photos and lay out your magazine with free graphic design tools.
Since your skills are probably sharper in some of these fields than in others, your magazine might not look or read as professionally as it would if you hired expert writers, graphic designers, photographers, illustrators, web developers, and marketing experts.
All of these subject experts can be hired on a freelance or project basis, for rates that might not exceed a few hundred dollars per issue. As your business grows, there might be a point when you decide that the time is right to hire full-time employees to handle some of these responsibilities.
What are the ongoing expenses for an online magazine?
Most of your expenditures will go to the creatives you hire, most likely on a freelance basis, to regularly supply your magazine with content. The cost for this can be as little as an exchange of links and a promo plug to several hundred dollars per article, or more. Naturally, you can expect a higher quality of content (and less time spent editing) if you pay a higher amount for professional writing talent. As with anything, you get what you pay for.
You might also get to the point where you’re able to explore online advertising opportunities or to hire marketing communications professionals to promote your magazine. This cost will vary by the talent you hire and the scope of work.
Who is the target market?
You’ll know your customer profile as soon as you’ve identified your magazine editorial slant. Many publishers start with their own lifestyle interests, hobbies or career fields, because these are topics they know well.
Furthermore, your customers will likely be readers and very involved in the digital world. (Although magazines with a greater mix of visuals and video content can be geared toward non-readers.)
How does an online magazine make money?
Most e-zine income is from advertising. You can either chase down the ads yourself or rely on an advertising app like Google AdSense. Google will figure out the ads that fit the theme of your digital magazine and place them as viewer links. In this pay-per-click model, every time a reader follows the link to the advertiser’s content you’re paid a fixed amount. The larger your traffic volume, the more clicks you are likely to generate, thus increasing your ad revenue.
You can also contact advertisers yourself, but this approach would likely succeed only if you have a niche theme that can cater to companies selling related products. For example, a long-distance running e-zine based in Ohio could run ads for different running shoes stores in Cleveland and the surrounding area.