Business and Finance

10 Tips for starting a niche market targeted magazine in 2014

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As a publisher of an ethnic magazine, we often get inquiries from people interested in starting up a magazine. Based on our many years of experience, we have put together some tips to start a magazine

1. Determine your niche audience.
One of the most important steps is deciding who the target audience is. Consider ethnic, demographics like age, gender, income level and interests. Also consider psychographics, such as hobbies, activities, social concerns (environment, immigration, etc.).

2. Determine your delivery method.
Will your magazine be printed or online?
Let’s start with the print magazine, as most people who want to start a new magazine want it in print – often with high stock paper like our magazine the Promota Africa. But that is an expensive printing format. Will you be able to generate enough ad sales, subscriptions (or other income) to pay for printing?

A good way to help make that decision is to take a sample of the kind of magazine you want to print to a printer and ask for an estimate. You’ll want to have considered how many pages the magazine would be and how many issues will be printed. You also need to consider the amount of colour you’d want to use and the kind of paper. We can help to negotiate a better deal from our arrays of printers.

Knowing the “bottom line” for printing can help you realize the amount of income you’ll have to generate. Most magazines we have seen starting up in the UK, especially in the African ethnic community, don’t survive the first year. This is due to various factors and we can help you mitigate this.

If you have a print magazine, you will need to determine how it will be distributed, bearing in  mind distribution adds to your outgoing costs You may not be able to have staff stand around your targeted points handing out the magazine, if this is a free publication. You may have to pay someone (or at least pay for gas) to drop off your magazine at businesses willing to have them on site for customers to pick up.

An online-only magazine (e-Zine) eliminates the majority of the money requirements. You can set up an attractive magazine through for free or use a company like, Yudu, Scribd, Google Docs and MagCast, where you create your magazine as a PDF.

You can as well acquire hosted service and host it yourself.  This is an ideal option as you can as well earn revenue from affiliates banners like Google AdSense.
The challenge with the online magazine is promoting it so that your potential readers will find it.

3. Develop a business plan.
Once you’ve determined the delivery approach, you can determine your budget.
How often do you plan to publish – weekly, monthly, quarterly?

How much money will you need to generate? How are you going to manage that money?
You don’t want to put the money in your personal checking account, or that would appear to be personal income. You’d have to pay taxes on that. So you would need to set up a separate business account. In most cases, that requires setting up the business officially – with forms to fill out and fees to pay.

4. Conduct a market analysis that includes evaluating your competition.
In your targeted niche market, carry out a survey to evaluate your market and competition.
Who is your target niche market and how will you make them more interested in your magazine than the others currently available?

That process also helps you determine which businesses and services could be potential advertisers in your magazine. Most of those businesses would be advertising in the currently available publications, so how you would get them to switch to paying for ads in your magazine.

For an online publication, the easiest way to do this is to conduct a keyword search. This will show you how many people are searching for this term in your country and globally.

Utilise a free online tool to help you do this is Google Keywords or
Naming and branding your publication is another tough decision. Use tools like Knowem? and search over 550 popular social networks, over 150 domain names, and the entire USPTO Trademark Database to instantly secure your brand on the internet.

5. Determine your magazine’s content.
You have determined your niche audience and other media that could be competing for your audience.
So what will be your content and how is that content different from what is already available?
A good activity is to plan out an issue of your magazine. If you are planning on a traditional magazine format, plan out a page-by-page of the magazine. If you are planning a blog approach to the magazine, plan your page tabs and then what would be the content of each tab.

You’ll find that having a prototype of the magazine will be very useful in helping you understand your vision for the magazine and will let advertisers see your product. At the Promota, we can help you design and create any kind of proto-type.

Next, develop guidelines for your writers and photographers.

What kind of articles are you looking for – provide sample topics, word count and writing style — first person accounts, how-to explanations, reviews, Q&A interviews. If you are targeting an audience who is interested in fashion, you will want to have photos as well as stories about fashion trends. If you are targeting audience who are looking for something to do on weekends, you will want to have a calendar of events that is up-to-date and accurate. If it is a business magazine, then you need ideas of interviewing market leaders and business and market trend articles. If it is an ethnic magazine,  you need to understand the targeted market and what interest them, either politics, business or current affairs.
What are the expectations for photographs and captions?

That includes both the kind of photos and the technical aspects of the photo in terms of file size and photo resolution (which would depend on whether your magazine is print or online). If you are on a budget, you can reach out to photographers who just want a credit inclusion in your publication or request permission to use in exchange of credit on photos.

You can also solicit free articles from people who want to market products related to your magazine topic or mine articles from websites with free Ezine articles such as Ezine Directories, Articles base or Ezine Article Exchange. Don’t publish your magazine until you have content to fill the whole magazine.

6. Develop a staff structure and recruit your staff.
Decide what personnel you need to keep the magazine going. You don’t want just two or three of you to take on the whole operation. That could work for the first edition, but you’ll burn out.

You also don’t want to have so many section editors and managers that coordinating efforts is too complicated.

Whether your magazine is print or online will make a big difference. Will you need to have an advertising sales staff?

Will you need someone who knows enough about online to know how to tag photos and consider SEO (search engine optimization)?

If you are on a budget, utilise free services from students who are interested in writing or taking photographs for publication. In the UK, there is an internship programme where the government will pay for the interns. Many students are willing to contribute their efforts for free to have the resulting publication as part of their portfolio.

Develop an application process. Those who are interested could email the editor answering a few questions and providing an example of writing, photography or design.

You also need to determine what the compensation will be.
Will you have funds to pay staffers? Will everyone be working as a volunteer?
Decide how you will be meeting with the staff.

You may not need to meet with the whole group but can work with individual editors.

Meetings can be through Skype rather than trying to get everyone in the same location. is another good platform for freelancers; these can be web developers of your intended website.

7. Develop your social media plan.
Whether your magazine will be printed or online, you need a social media plan. Create a Facebook page for the magazine.

Set up a Twitter account. Determine how you will use each to create a buzz about the magazine. You don’t want to have great fanfare for two or three days around the distribution of the magazine and then silence until the next issue.

That’s just the start of the process. Other tasks include selecting a good title (that isn’t already taken), developing a deadline schedule, editorial theme and figuring out how to make people meet deadlines.

If you’re a full time employee who is looking for a side business, you also have to think about how to manage your own time to lead the magazine and balance it with your full time job.

Use to manage all your social media accounts at once to efficiently track conversations and measure campaign results.

8. Web presence
Get a name and a domain.
Do you want your e-zine to be daily, weekly, or monthly?

For starters, I would recommend monthly until you have enough experience—particularly if you have other freelance writing assignments. But leave the option open to become weekly since this frequency is just about right. Weekly is probably the best in terms of getting your name out in front of your subscribers frequently, but not so much that it is a burden to your readers or to you.

Next, think of some names for your e-zine. While it is tempting to go for a cutesy title (such as Knead to Know), what you want is a title that includes your key words, for example: africatravel, musiclovers, ourfirstwedding.

Next, find out if these URLs are available. Visit Yahoo Small Business to do a free check on these domains.

Decide if you’re going to hire someone to design your website or if you’re going to do it yourself. You can always design a simple, free website and then spend more on a professional one once your magazine gets off the ground. Use free hosting on or reach out to us and we can help with tips.


  • You can use a free WYSIWYG software called Yahoo Sitebuilder, which is available if you host your site on Yahoo.
  • You will also need to decide how you will send out your e-zine. There are a few options.
  • Provide a link in an e-mail signature that your readers can click on to get to the new issue, located online
  • Use Google Feedburner to distribute your content to subscribers
  • Put the entire e-zine on the website, so it is searchable by the web spiders and gets some clicks (and revenue).
  • You will also want to make sure that you have a subscription sign-up on each page of your site. Don’t try to manage your subscription by using your personal e-mail. When your list gets above 50, it will be too unwieldy for your e-mail program to handle; instead when you are starting out, opt for a free listserv or even start a business page on Facebook Pages.
  • You could also pay for an e-mail distribution service such as or Vertical Response—where you can place your entire e-zine within the e-mail and a link to an online version as well.

Whatever you do, don’t spam.

9. Monetize your magazine and funding access
Monetize your website with Google Adsense, Apt from Yahoo!, Microsoft Pub Center,  pay-per-click ads and/or by becoming an affiliate for good companies like,, ebay partners, Amazon and by companies that sell products related to your magazine topic.

Content monetizing is another new way of making money for publishers. You can register on, Skimlinks, Cleeng, Infolinks, VigLink, PivotShare.

If you are looking for investors, why not use platforms like Kickstarter and publish your business project. If people like your project, they can pledge money to make it happen.

10. Marketing your magazine
Advertise your magazine via e-mail, social networking sites, and discussion forums related to your topic, print media and word-of-mouth.

Facebook and Twitter can be a great tool and free to populate your content to potential subscribers. is highly recommended for the press release of your new publication, as well as

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