Frequently Asked Questions

One of the most frequently asked questions of me is this: "I have this great idea for a new magazine but I don't know what to do next?" It is for this reason that I have devised a simple checklist that will help you create your magazine from idea to print. Follow these steps one at a time and you will discover you have a business plan for your new magazine right in your very own hands.

The Concept
Write your mission statement, your guiding light, in no more than three sentences. In fact, if you can boil it down to one sentence, you're better off. Make it clear and concise, then memorize it like it's your own name.

The Contents
Break your magazine's contents down in to departments, columns, and features (don't forget the table of contents page and the letter from the editor). For the business plan, you'll need to drape four issues' worth of specific contents over this skeleton. This gives any potential investor a couple months' worth of ideas and stories so he'll have a better idea about what you're up to.

Letter from the Editor
It may seem premature, but go ahead and write the letter from the editor for the premiere issue. Remember, explain your motives to the readers, and make them feel like the magazine belongs to them.

Audience Analysis
Once you've done research on your audience, boil it down to demographics and psychographics. Lay it all out here for you potential investors and advertisers to chew on.

Competition Analysis
Scan the newsstand, check the reference books, and list your competition. Dedicate one page per major competitor, providing their circulation, ad rate, concept and above all, the weaknesses upon which you will capitalize. Then list your minor competitors, minus the individual weaknesses and without dedicating an entire page to each one. At the end of the list give a summary of the entire minor lot. Once you've got all competitors enumerated and analyzed, write a two or three paragraph executive summary detailing what you've found. This page should lead off this section.

Advertising Analysis
This is what we call the "wish list." Thumb through your competitors' publications and make a list of all the advertisers you'd like to steal from them. Then, add to the list all those advertisers they don't have but you want.

Circulation Analysis
Remember, circulation costs! T hat's why this section is so crucial. In this part of your business plan, lay out your strategy for moving your magazine from the press to the people. It's more complex than it seems and therefore can become expensive. But don't make it any harder than it needs to be and it won't.. Determine what percentage will go to single-copy sales, to direct mail and to promotional freebies.

Determine whom you will need and what you will pay them. Remember, employees can get expensive, but your magazine (and your marriage) will sink if you have understaffed. Find the balance.

The Budget
This is the most time-consuming and complex element in your business plan. You've got to lay out all of your expenses and revenues for the next four years. Your investor may turn to this section first, so take your time and do it right. Make the bottom line clear for each fiscal period and above all, be honest. You can't publish a magazine from prison.

The Contingency Plan
It's the home stretch. Take all of the above elements and boil them down to a single page. Your potential investors don't want to have to read the entire business plan on first sight. Instead, give them the highlights from each section so they can get an idea of what you're doing in five minutes or less.

Putting it Together
Once you've assembled each section of your business plan, once you've thought it all through, analyzed it, planned ahead, and prepared for the worst, put it all together in a well-organized folder or notebook. Don't believe the old saying that you can't judge a book by its cover. If your business plan looks amateurish, your investor will think he's wasting his time on a rookie, and he won't give you a dime.. Give it a little design.You could even borrow the services of your soon-to-be graphic designer to give it a little pizazz.

Grand Finale
Now is the time to put your words into action. As I mentioned more than once, magazine ideas come by the dozens and aren't worth a dime. It is the proper execution of the idea that will make a great magazine. So, without further delay, get out of your seat and launch the best new magazine ever published.

Need more help? Launch Your Own Magazine: A Guide For Succeeding In Today's Marketplace, leads you step by step to the creation of such a business plan.

Good luck,

Samir Husni, 2010


© 2010 Samir Husni, Ph.D. - Mr. Magazine™