So you wanna start your own magazine? Well you’ve come to the right place! Hurt2Healing Magazine has been blessed to celebrate 9 years of publication, and with a great deal of experience under our belt, I wanted to share some of the behind the scenes of how it all started!
I’ve been approached by many who are interested in launching their very own magazine. After speaking to a few aspiring publishers I decided to create this series to offer any assistance based on my experience in starting a digital magazine from the ground up AND with zero dollars! Yep, that’s right! I’ll touch on that shortly.
An important tip that must not be overlooked when starting a magazine: Make sure to become a student of magazine publications, both print and digital, before taking on the task of starting one. I would even go as far as suggesting to begin with newsletters just to get used to the workload of releasing a publication on a regular basis. It is how I kicked off H2H Magazine and it helped me tremendously in preparation for the big launch. It takes A LOT of work, research, late nights, editing, organization, networking, attention to detail, creativity, consistency, passion, love, patience, follow ups, enthusiasm, faith, confidence, motivation, dedication, PRAYER and help from others (writers, resources) to have the endurance for creating, launching and maintaining your publication.
As you can see I didn’t list money as a must have, because one can actually launch a magazine for zero dollars! Don’t believe me? I did! I didn’t start off with anything to spend. I was in graduate school full time, working full time, attending massage school part time and taking care of living expenses…plus my pastry business! But I had a plan, faith, determination and creativity on my side and it worked out, thank Allah (God)! So I’m going to share with you how I got started. The below are concepts that I had to begin with before actually getting to the publishing aspect of H2H Magazine. To be honest these are the most import keys to a successful magazine.
- Your Message and Your Target Audience: What is your message and who is your message for? Why is this message important? Why is it important to that group? It’s ideal to have a message that is timeless. What I mean by ‘timeless’ is something that can be advocated, expressed and expounded on infinitely. It’s okay to have events or causes with time stamps along the way that supports your message, but your message is what you stand for and what you believe is important and what you believe can and/or will change or challenge the norm.
Your target audience is very important. These individuals will be your community of supporters and those who will value your message because they can relate to it or knows someone who can. Not everyone will relate to your message and that’s okay. The mistake many make is overextending themselves to make everyone their target. Have a direct aim for who will benefit the most from your publication.
- Everything is in the name: Be sure to choose a memorable name or title for your magazine. Take your time developing this from your above message. Most magazines use a single word, however there are some who have up to three words, but those are also short. It’s important to make sure the magazine title is not too long, complicated, ambiguous, but one that describes what the magazine is about or what the readers will experience when they read it (i.e. Hurt2Healing, Virtue, Heart & Soul).
- Double Check Availability: Once you have a list of about 5 potential titles, take the time to double check each to make sure they’re not already in use. The worse thing to find out is that you’ve invested time and resources into a magazine with a title that already exists and have to start over. This step will help you save time and face!
- Poll Your Friends/Family: From there if there is still more than one title to choose from, you can do a few things to decide on a name: a) Send the list to your closest friends and family members to poll them for which title you should go with. Be sure to send them a short description of the magazine’s message so they can make the best choice. b) Make a grand announcement to all of your contacts via email and social media to invite them to be a part of the process and to generate excitement for your new magazine. Or c) Close your eyes and whichever one your finger lands on is the winner!
- Your Online Presence: Last but definitely not least; another important point to consider in choosing a name is the website domain. Whether you’re launching a digital publication or a print edition, you want to have an online space where people from all over the world can learn more about your message and access/subscribe to/order your publication. That is also a deciding factor concerning the title of your magazine. With your top 5 choices make sure all of them have an available domain. Domains are usually short and memorable as well. Use the title of your magazine (dot) com (EBONY.com, Essence.com) and/or add “mag” (Hurt2HealingMag.com, VirtueMag.com) or “online” (ClutchMagOnline.com) to allow more choices in landing the domain you want.
There are many companies that offer domains for as low as $1.99 such as Go Daddy. Now, I said you can start for free and that’s a fact. I actually started with Wix.com that offers free websites. The catch is that you’ll have “wix.com” attached to the custom domain you use.
However, if you would like to invest a couple of dollars in a stand-alone custom domain, which I would highly recommend because it gives a more professional touch, it is worth it! Once you find the right domain that matches the title of your magazine, snag it immediately! Even if you don’t plan to launch for another month or so, purchase the domain ASAP.
Another tip, and this is my personal opinion, I would recommend staying away from hyphenated domains (i.e. your-domain.com). From experience, it can be confusing when telling someone else the URL. It may not seem like a big deal, but we live in a world that appreciates simplicity. If people forget to put in the hyphen or where to put it and can’t find your website, they’ll move on to something else that was easier to find.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Before solidifying the domain, take it further to check social media handles. You want everything to be consistent; the magazine title, the domain and the social media handles. This makes it easier for readers and supporters to find you and connect with you. Once you have the green light for the domain and social media handles, go for it!
Believe it or not you’ve just accomplished the hardest part of starting your magazine! Next, we’ll get into more of what makes an amazing digital magazine such as choosing the right platform, layouts, images and tone, God-Willing!
I hope you enjoyed these tips and are even more excited about your magazine! Feel free to share! These keys can also be applied to starting a blog!
If you would like a more thorough breakdown about getting started with your magazine, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a one on one coaching session!
Peace & Blessings,
Ebony S. Muhammad, Publisher