Leonard Woolsey, president and publisher of the Galveston County Daily News, shares ten steps to successful magazine development.
1. Identify your niche: No need to be No. 3 in a three-horse race. Bring something new and interesting to the market. If lifestyle is already done with two competitors beating each other up, you might consider looking for an overlooked category. Health, parenting, even dining are easy to access entry points.
2. Commit to being great: The world does not need another newspaper-style design on glossy paper. Study other successful magazines; determine what you believe makes an attractive and engaging magazine. Find like-minded people who wish to create something beautiful and impactful for the audience. You cannot mandate excellence — you must find the right people with the right passion.
3. No multiple personalities: What is the “soul” of your magazine? You need to project an emotional identity and give people a reason to attach an affinity to your product. Start out crafting a sentence or elevator pitch that captures who you are trying to attract, inspire and serve.
4. No room for super-sized egos: The goal is to make sure everyone is moving toward creating a product that serves your “soul.” Creating is an art form, and managing the personalities can be challenging. Everyone must be in the game for a successful outcome.
5. Find a network of local writers (paid or free): You will be surprised by the people you will find in your community who wish to be part of something as exciting as a high-profile magazine. Cultivate these relationships. Creative people doing creative things attracts other talented, creative people.
6. Photos matter: Find a photographer who understands the difference between a news photo and a magazine photo. Some newspapers contract with independent photographers; others discover they’ve got someone on staff who can step up after bit of education/guidance.
7. Keep advertising simple: Make your advertising sizes modular and limited to a few easy-to-digest sizes. Keep it simple and advertisers will appreciate you for doing so. Remember, confusion or too many choices kills sales buzz every time.
8. Sell smart: Design your advertising sales efforts to be based on 12-time or full-year frequency. A good benchmark is for your 12-time rate to be 50 percent of your one-time rate. This allows you to build a compounding advertising revenue stream.
9. Plug and play: Most magazines are built on a skeleton or group of regular departments — the balance of the magazine is filled with a couple larger feature pieces. The assembly is not as complicated as you might think. Do this and you’ll be less intimidated by the development.
10. Never get comfortable: Never publish an issue that you don’t comb with a critical eye looking for improvements. Also, be willing to cut regular departments that go flat or fail to generate traction with the audience.
This is meant as a good starting point, as this is a long journey that never ends. Dream big, commit and develop a network of friends in the business and you’ll be successful.
Also, below are few friends who could be helpful if you’d like to reach out. All of them are doing a wonderful job with creating successful magazines with distinctive personalities.
Jenniffer Ricks, Charm magazine / Lufkin, TX
Neice Bell, Hill Country Charm / Kerrvile, TX
Janie Gray, Baytown
David Compton, New Braunfels
JD Davidson, Paris Life / Paris